Susan Scarbo is the twin sister of Minister Blood (Melvin Scarbo). Both siblings were trained to become master hypnotists called Scarbo and Sister: Hypnotists Supreme. Susan became adept at creating illusions, rendering herself invisible to others, being seen as a different person or placing people under her control. Susan also received martial arts training, focusing on karate, being the greatest female blackbelt Karate Master of all.
The Scarbo siblings initially used their skills as stage performers. But later turned to crime. In Captain America Vol.1 #123 (March, 1970), Susan was seen as Suprema. She had just finished training her own private army. Her followers believed she is a genuine sorceress. Her initial operation was an attempt to take over the criminal syndicates of New York City.
She targeted a large number of crime lords. All fell easily under her control, granting her access to their money and other resources. Her next target was SHIELD. She used an electronic device to locate an active agent, Dum-Dum Dugan, and had him reveal the location of the director. She was led directly to Nick Fury. She effortlessly added Fury and the agents around him to her private army. All except Captain America.
The Captain's shield somehow interfered with her powers, rendering him immune. Minister Blood and various agents attempted to subdue the Avenger. With predictably poor results. Captain escaped them and returned to New York City. He first headed to the Daily Bugle and convinced J. Jonah Jameson to let him into its archives. Then visited Tony Stark to ask for a specific electronic device.
The Captain had found out that Suprema was Susan Scarbo and that her only powers were hypnotic. He also figured that her powers were artificially amplified. He used Stark's device to sort out her amplifier and release the SHIELD agents from his control. Then used sleeping gas to render her unconscious. Struggling to stay awake, Suprema tried to convince her foe that they could be partners. He refused. But the Captain was also distraught that someone with genuine "talent" like Susan had been wasting her potential.
Mother Night/Suprema was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1970 and first appeared in Captain America # 123.
Major Story Arcs
Sisters of Sin
"Captain America" #350 (February, 1989) details the life history of the Red Skull. Said story includes the birth of his daughter Sinthia Schmidt. He had wanted a son and contemplated killing the child. But decided otherwise. He hired a nanny to raise the child. Arranging that he would visit his daughter once a month. The nanny was left unnamed in the issue. But was later retconned to have been Susan Scarbo.
Susan was next seen in "Captain America" #356-357 (August-September, 1989). She had assumed a new identity: Mother Night. She had taken over the teenaged Sisters of Sin and had them lure other teenagers to her. She created Camps of Hate where runaway kids would be turned into hate-filled soldiers. Some of the boys were interested in her legs. But she had disrespect beaten out of them. Unfortunately for her, one of the new recruits happened to be a de-aged Steve Rogers (Captain America). He had asked Sersi to give him a youthful appearance to investigate what had happened to the missing runaways.
As a a powerless teenager, Rogers suffered mental and physical abuse at the hands of the Sisters of Sin. But when the spell wore off, Rogers returned to adulthood. He easily knocked out the teenaged villains and then attacked Mother Night. He used her hypnotic powers to appear invisible to him. But kept speaking to him, giving away her location. He grabbed her by the throat, choaking her to unconsciousness,. Then called the authorities to arrest her.
Searching for the Red Skull
Mother Night was next seen as a member of the Skeleton Crew, a group of operatives loyal to the Red Skull. In "Captain America" #369 (April, 1990), their mission was to locate their leader. Their only information was that the Skull had been abducted by Magneto, a high-tanking member of the Hellfire Club. So they invaded the Club through their sewers. Various operatives of the Club arrived to attack them but easily fell under the control of the Voice.
But then Black Queen/Selene arrived. Selene was influenced by the Voice. But used one of her powers to strangulate him. Mother Night rendered herself invisible and quietly approached Selene. But even at close range, she failed to hypnotize the vampiric mutant. Crossbones next sent an arrow through Selene's heart. Selene simply pulled it out and kept fighting. The situation seemed grim for the Crew. But then Captain America and Diamondback arrived. The new arrivals distracted Selene, giving the Crew their chance to escape.
In #370 (May, 1990), Mother Night complained that they should have captured Selene. Arguing that they could offer her to Magneto in exchange for the Skull. Crossbones considered Selene too dangerous for any such plan. He instead suggested hiring psychic Tristan Micawber and have the guy locate the Skull. Tristan asked for a personal item of their target. Susan offered one of Johann's ties. Crossbones was surprised that she had it on her. She reluctantly replied that Johann had left it behind during a previous visit to her quarters (The implication being that the Red Skull stripped down in her chambers, in other words the two were lovers).
Tristan led them to a grave. Red Skull had been buried alive by Magneto. They found him severely dehydrated but still alive. But the experience had cost him the will to live. Crossbones and Mother Night spend some time trying to remind the Skull that he still had reasons to go on. They failed. But then decided to lure Captain America to the Red Skull's room. The Captain was too honorable to act against the exhausted Skull. But simply seeing his opponent, reminded the Skull of a very important reason to survive. To continue his endless struggle with Rogers. Exactly what Susan and Brock had in mind.
Against the Avengers
Mother Night was next seen in "Avengers" vol. 1 #319-324 (July-October, 1990). The birthday of the Red Skull was approaching and Mother Night was planning to celebrate it with a plot against the Avengers. She schemed with her brother and Machinesmith to gain access to the Mansion. She did so by targeting the support staff of the Mansion: Edwin Jarvis, Michael O'Brien, Fabian Stankowitz, Peggy Carter and John Jameson. She approached each of them in the guise of their loved ones. Then confronted them with their suppressed feelings of guilt, inadequacy and (in Jameson's case) being unable to control their inner demons (Man-Wolf). Properly tortured, each one of them fell under her control.
In #325 (October, 1990), their plan was the main plot. The enslaved support staff was able to place surveillance devices in every room of the Mansion. The trio had to only wait for an opportunity to act. They chose a party that Sersi was organizing. Many Avengers and associates would attend. The plan was to supply the support staff with weapons. They would start firing during the party, ensuring a high number of casualties. Susan was happy enough to flirt with Machinesmith and playfully attempted to kiss him. He playfully reminded her that he was no longer interested in women.
Their plan was almost foiled when Vision located Machinesmith. But they knocked each other out and Machinesmith transferred his consciousness to a spare body. Susan and her brother threw the damaged bodies in the harbor. Days later, the party took place. Susan and her brother infiltrated as members of the catering staff. They provided the staff members with weapons and triggered their rampage.
But the duo were then confronted and knocked out by Vision. He had repaired himself and had thwarted their plans. Even the weapons had been filled with blanks. Now someone had to remove the post-hypnotic suggestions from the minds of the support staff. Sersi vowed to concince the two villains to undo their own work. Or experience life as pieces of furniture.
In "Captain America" #387 (July, 1991), Susan attended a party at the Masque Club, Washington, D. C. It was a high-profile night club owned by the Skull. The two chatted for a while with Baron Strucker. But their party mood was quickly killed. Arnim Zola alerted Johann that the various clone bodies of the Skull, held in storage, had been destroyed by unknown assailants. The Skull was enraged and assigned to Skeleton Crew with locating those responsible. They were unaware that this was merely the first step in a campaign of the Schutz Heligruppe against the Red Skull.
By #389 (August, 1991), the Heligruppe had already captured the Red Skull. Mother Night joined the rest of the Skeleton Crew in a rescue operation. Unknown to them, they were all secondary targets for the German superheroes and were heading towards a trap. In #390, they followed their targets to Berlin. They initially seemed to have an easy time getting past the defenses of the Heligruppe. But they were then confronted by Blitzkrieger and Hauptmann Deutschland. Mother night relized her handgun paused no threat to them. But then started using her hypnotic powers against them. She failed to realize there was a third member of the enemy group. Zeitgeist easily knocked her out.
In #391, Red Skull, Crossbones, Mother Night, and Machinesmith were all blindfolded, gagged and ready to stand for trial. It was mostly a kangaroo court. That Johann would be executed was a given. The fate of the others had yet to be determined. Susan was terrified that her "darling" was about to die. In #393 (October, 1991), Machinesmith managed to free himself and started an escape attempt for all four of them.
The battle became more complicated when the Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor) arrived to claim the prisoners. They pointed that Red Skull and the others held American citizenship, not a German one. They knocked the prisoners out and took them into custody. The Heligruppe reluctantly allowed them to leave on a Quinjet. These Avengers were actually creations of Arnim Zola. The Red Skull used the opportunity to fake his own death, taking the Skeleton Crew with him.
Replaced by Viper
In #394 (November, 1991), Captain America was investigating the corpses of Red Skull, Mother Night and Crossbones left in Washington, D. C. Which were all creations of Arnim Zola. Meanwhile the real trio had relocated to the Rocky Mountains. But the events had caused two significant changes. First, the Red Skull was left in a particularly foul mood and took out his anger on his employees. In Susan's case by becoming verbally abusive. Second, he had decided that their organization needed new blood and picked Viper for recruitment.
Crossbones protested that Viper was a lunatic. He was fired on the spot. Mother Night was assigned to find a replacement for him. She later had a private conversation with her departing friend. She too was certain that Viper would betray the Skull and probably try to kill him. Crossbones pointed that Susan viewed Viper as a romantic rival as well. Susan attempted to convince Crossbones to stay, hoping that Johann would change his mind. Brock pointed that the Skull did not outright kill him. Leaving a room for him to be recalled when needed. For the time being, Brock considered himself on vacation.
In #395 (December, 1991), Red Skull and Viper got properly acquainted and first shared a hot bath together. (With an implication that they shared more than that). Susan spied on them and felt hurt that Johann betrayed her. But she still had to find a replacement for Crossbones. Three men had applied for the job: Cutthroat, Deathstroke and Mangler. Their motivation was to get the seven figure-salary that Skull was offering.
Mother Night did not care much for the Mangler's overly polite behavior and extensive vocabulary. But still offered the job to whoever would be still standing after a three-way-fight. She left the three men alone for a while. Then returned to find all three of them bleeding on the floor. She was worried that they were all dead. But then Cutthroat lifted himself up. Wounded but the clear victor.
In #396 (January, 1992), Mother Night arranged for Cutthroat to receive private tutoring lessons by the Taskmaster. The master mercenary was left to believe that Red Skull himself had hired him. Susan confided to Machinesmith that this was actually her own decision. Johann was too pre-occupied with Viper to pay attention to what his employees were doing. She was tempted to leave him. But afraid that she would never be able to return. Machinesmith realised that Susan "got it bad" for Johann. And while "Smithy" was sympathetic, he pointed out that a robot has little advise to offer on a woman's "love life".
In #397 (February, 1992), Mother Night was summoned by the Red Skull once more. Only to find him openly flirting with the Viper. Johann had a new task for his former lover. Captain America was in one of their old hideouts, engaged in combat with Blackwig and a new Jack O'Lantern/Mark Levine. The two villains were giving a surprisingly good performance. He wanted Mother Night to get them out of there and into the ranks of the Skeleton Crew. Mother decided to take Cutthroat with her. She failed to notice that the mercenary was charmed with her.
Mother Night used her hypnotic powers to smuggle the two villains out of the battlefield. But the Captain exposed her to Jack's hallucinogenic weapons. Susan was confronted with visions of who she feared and hated the most: the Viper. She was left terrified and easily captured by Cap.
In #398 (March, 1992), Mother night found herself locked in a cell within a police precinct. Outside, Cutthroat was trying to convince Batwing and Jack that they needed to rescue her. He claimed that this would get them the Skull's favour. (Though the implication was that he was trying to rescue the woman for personal reasons). The three were surprised to see Susan walk out from the precinct. She had made bail for herself. She accused them of failing to help her in any way and slapped Cutthroat. But Cutthroat explained that Cap had Thor guarding her transportation. She was quick to apologize when figuring this out..
She led the men to the Rocky Mountains. Then arranged a private meeting with Johann. He was initially pleased that she had succeeded in her mission of recruitment. But she then reported on her arrest. She herself pointed that this blew the cover of her faked death. Probably alerting Cap that Johann was alive as well. Red Skull went berserk and physically assaulted her. She did not raise a finger to protect herself. Even begging him to kill him. This calmed the Skull down. He made it clear that he hated Mother for her failure. But that he found pleasure in abusing her. He planned to keep on it for years. He then exited the room. Susan was left bruised, bleeding and crying.
In #402 (July, 1992), Mother Night wore dark sunglasses. Cutthroat removed them to see what had happened to her. He noticed two black eyes, another "gift" from the Skull. She tried to justify the actions of Johann. But Cutthroat reminded that she did not deserve all this abuse. He then surprised her with a kiss on the lips.
By #407 (September, 1992), Mother Night and Cutthroat had become lovers. They were on a first name basis, calling each other Susan and Daniel. Their secret was not well kept, known to the members of the Skeleton Crew. But Red Skull failed to notice it. But something changed with the return of Crossbones. He wanted to return to his old job and had brought a peace offering: Diamondback. He had spend his vacation abducting her and brainwashing her. She was ready to be used as an operative. Cutthroat was furious. He explained to his lover that Rachel happened to be his "baby sister". He started contemplating the rescue of his sister.
In #408 (October, 1992), Cutthroat felt threatened by Crossbones. He decided to first kill his rival and then properly recruit Rachel into the Skeleton Crew. Meanwhile, Susan and Brock renewed their friendship. Finding them chatting in Susan's bedroom, Cutthroat became jealous. he informed Susan that this was her last chat with this particular friend. He explained his plan to assassinate Brock. That same night, Daniel entered the bedroom of Brock. He attempted to use a sword to kill his sleeping opponent. But Brock was expecting him and rose from the bed. The two fought for possession of the sword for a while.
Susan eventually rushed into the room. She was too late, finding Brock standing above the decapitated corpse of Cutthroat. In #409 (November, 1992), Red Skull held a brief investigation over the murder. Nobody in the Skeleton Crew let their boss know what was going on within their ranks. Susan sought out Machinesmith for advise. She explained her relationship with Cutthroat. But also that she could not let Daniel kill Brock. She was the one who had alerted Brock, out of loyalty to her friend. She hoped to stop the battle before anyone got seriously hurt.
She was wrong. Now she felt guilty over the death of her newest lover. She contemplated releasing Diamondback to honor Daniel. Machinesmith advised her against it. Pointing that such an act could land Susan in a coffin. Later, Johann sent Mother Night to get Diamondback for him. Susan entered the cell of Rachel, still conflicted with what to do about the "poor girl". Unfortunately for her, the prisoner knocked her out, exchanged clothes with her and attempted an escape.
In #410 (December, 1992), Captain America and Falcon attacked the Rocky Mountains headquarters of the Skull in an attempt to rescue Diamondback. Mother Night headed defense efforts. Meanwhile, Diamondback escaped on her own. The two women confronted each other again. but Susan was no match for an enraged Rachel. The battle ended with most of the Skeleton Crew captured but relatively unharmed. Only Crossbones had been left in a critical condition, courtesy of a berserk Diamondback.
Mother Night resurfaced in "Captain America" vol. 5 #3 (March, 2005). She was still in the service of the Red Skull. She had been stationed in London, preparing to firebomb the city. She only expected a direct command by the Skull. That command never came. Crossbones alerted her that Johann was dead. But he instructed her to go on with the plan anyway. She had trouble comprehending that her former lover was dead and was left distraught.
Her unit was subsequently attacked by the Winter Soldier. Her corpse was discovered by Union Jack. Captain America was asked to identify the body, confirming her identity.