Michael Smith was an obsessive-compulsive telephone repairman who lived in Pacific City, California.
As a young boy, he fell in love with a very obscure, short-lived comic book series called Enigma.
While still a child, Michael lost his father when a tremendous earthquake struck the Pacific City area and his home was swallowed up during the quake. His father's body was never found. The loss took an especially harsh toll on Michael's mother who abandoned her son on the side of the road when Michael was only nine.
Michael drifted through the system and passed in and out of a string of orphanages until he was sixteen. He repressed the memory of his father's death, and hardly remembered why his mother even left him. At this point, he struck out on his own and soon became involved with a girl named Sandra.
Michael and Sandra's courtship was not what one would call a whirlwind romance. Michael maintained a rigid schedule of activities which included sex on Tuesdays and socializing on Saturdays. Although Sandra liked Michael, she wasn't really in love with him. By the late winter of 1992, Sandra had been carrying on an affair with Michael's best friend, Joe, for over six months.
At this time, Michael began having dreams of a mysterious man in a long, flowing black cape and a white theater mask. He didn't make the connection that this vision was of the Enigma character from his old comics.
While working for Pacific Fone, Michael answered a service call to retired stage actor Victor Lamont. He was present when Victor received a mysterious parcel in the mail. Although this incidental encounter did not appear noteworthy at the time, it would soon prove to have profound significance in Michael's future.
At this time, a serial killer known as the Brain Eater had claimed ten victims in over a week. Michael watched the news reports detailing the crimes and became obsessed with this figure. He also began having dreams of the masked man again. He didn't know what was going on, but he knew that something big was happening.
While driving home on a Saturday evening, Michael spied a small, green lizard floating past him through the air. He got out of his vehicle and began following the lizard which led him to the apartment of a police officer named Bob. Officer Bob had been one of the attending cops at the latest Brain Eater crime scene. As luck would have it, the Brain Eater (who actually referred to himself as the Head) was attacking Officer Bob at the moment that Michael rushed into the apartment. He was too late to save the cop, but his presence caused the Head to flee. Michael chased him outside into an alley whereupon the Head turned and attacked him. He shoved a metal pipe into Michael's nose and began extracting portions of brain matter through his nostrils. Suddenly, the man of Michael's dreams, the Enigma appeared and killed the Head. Michael was rushed to a hospital where he was put on life support. The doctors contacted his girlfriend Sandra and told her that they would be pulling the plug on Michael.
Early the following morning, the Enigma appeared in Michael's hospital room and used his powers to heal his injuries. Michael sprung upward in his hospital bed and shouted, "the Enigma!" He suddenly remembered his old comics and now realized that both the Enigma and the Head were living incarnations of these old comic characters. He had Sandra bring his old comics to him and used them as a pseudo-road map for things to come. Perusing the final issue of the series, he discovered that the Enigma was fated to die while fighting another bizarre villain called the Truth.
Coincidentally, his client from the week prior, Victor Lamont, had been transformed into the personification of the Truth and was using his powers to slaughter more than sixty people in the area.
Michael decided to track down Titus Bird, the creator of the original Enigma comic series. He first traveled to Arizona, then south to Texas to find him. He found Titus and rescued him from a flock of rabid Enigma fans dubbed Enigmatics. He explained to Titus about what had been taking place and convinced him to return to Pacific City with him. During this initial encounter, Titus made a homosexual pass at Michael, who took great offense to the gesture. As a result, Michael punched him in the jaw, and warned him against any further advances. The two made peace and traveled back to Pacific City.
They went to Saint Peter's Cathedral, where police had cordoned the area off in the hopes of trapping the murderous Truth. Michael broke through the police barricade and ran into the church, but the Truth accosted him and used his powers to stare into Michael's soul. The Truth reacted surprisingly pained by the interaction, but before Michael could understand what the Truth saw in him, the Enigma arrived and killed him.
Michael and Titus then rented a temporary apartment and used this as their base of operations for as long as it took to unravel the mystery of the Enigma.
Later, Michael and Titus began investigating another string of bizarre murders; this time committed by a trio of costumed villains called the Interior League. Michael found an artist's rendering of what was believed to be the League, and he couldn't help but notice something familiar about them. He would later learn that the League's costumes were patterned after the wallpaper and carpet from his childhood home.
One evening, Michael decided to take a walk. He ultimately found himself inside a gay bar called the Mother Lode. Although it went against his regular behavior, Michael couldn't help but find himself attracted to one of the bar patrons, Stephen. Michael and Stephen found a room and spent the evening together.
The following day, he met up with his girlfriend, Sandra, and broke up with her. He explained that he felt as if he had come off a drug, and couldn't commit himself to her until the Enigma matter was settled. Michael knew that he shouldn't take joy in all of the chaos that had been erupting around him, but secretly, he loved the excitement of it all.
Mike and Titus continued to investigate and learned that Roger Cliff, the Head, had a surviving brother named Barney. They contacted Barney Cliff who agreed to tell them everything he knew about Roger, providing they could pay him a stipend of five-thousand dollars. Reluctantly, Titus and he agreed. They learned very little from Barney except that Roger Cliff had once visited the scene of a brutal murder at a ranch in Arizona more than twenty-five years ago.
Soon after, Michael began having dreams of a strange figure known as the Envelope Girl. Envelope Girl was actually fashion model Victoria Yes. The dream drew Michael to the Pacific Folk Museum where he found Envelope Girl waiting for him. Michael tried to remind Envelope Girl of her other life, but the villain wouldn't listen. Instead, she used her teleportation powers to transport Michael to Arizona. He arrived at the Collins Ranch where the murder that Barney Cliff spoke of took place. Michael interviewed the current owner and learned that the ranch once belonged to Jimmy and Ellen Collins. Twenty-five years ago, Ellen shot her husband in the face, killing him. Knowing that this incident was directly tied to the Enigma, Michael returned to Pacific City.
The incident inspired him to seek out the ruins of his childhood home. He discovered that it was now being used as the private hideaway of the Enigma. The Enigma came to him and explained that he discovered the ruins as well as Michael's old Enigma comics. Having read them, he decided to take the form of the book's title character. In order to maintain his new identity as the Enigma, he also transformed several people into villains featured in the series (the Head, the Truth, Envelope Girl), as well as a few of his own creation (the Interior League). The purpose behind this was so the Enigma would have villains to fight, thus solidifying his "world" and sense of identity. Since the comic issues that the Enigma read once belonged to Michael, it enabled him to forge a psychokinetic bond with him. This was why Michael had dreams of the Enigma and also why the Enigma always spontaneously appeared whenever Michael was in danger. The Enigma also explained that he altered Michael's personality profile, turning him into a homosexual. Michael was furious at him after learning this, but soon realized that he was happier now than he was before the Enigma manipulated his personality.
The Enigma brought Michael with him to confront the last of the surviving villains he had created - Envelope Girl. The Enigma brutally attacked her, bringing her to the point of death. Michael pleaded with the Enigma to spare her life, citing that unlike the others, Envelope Girl was not an inherently evil person. The Enigma capitulated and Envelope Girl was taken to the hospital.
Michael, Titus Bird and the Enigma soon learned that the Enigma's birth mother, Ellen Collins, had broken free of her padded cell at a local asylum. Ellen had absorbed some of the Enigma's power and it transformed her into a grotesque, murderous creature. Ellen attacked the group at the hospital, killing Envelope Girl and nearly killing Enigma.
Michael took the injured Enigma back to his old home and nursed him back to health. The Enigma knew that Ellen would never stop until he was dead. Michael and Titus agreed to stand by him and all three faced Ellen Collins in the middle of a desolate field on the outskirts of the city. The results of this reunion have never been recorded.
- 9 Appearances of Michael Smith (Enigma)
- 3 Images featuring Michael Smith (Enigma)
- Quotations by or about Michael Smith (Enigma)
- Character Gallery: Michael Smith (Enigma)
This character exists under the Vertigo Imprint which is intended for Mature Readers. Vertigo titles although they may cross over into regular DC continuity.
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