William "Bill" Baker, aka Flint Marko, aka the Sandman
Scott's Mirror (played by David Keith)
Much like in the Cinematic Spider-Man universe, Bill Baker aka Flint Marko was a thief who stole to pay for medical care for his critically ill daughter, Penny. After escaping incarceration and while on the run from the police, Baker, who used the name Flint Marko while dealing with the underworld, fell into a particle accelerator and was molecularly bonded with sand, giving him his powers.
Before all this, Baker was a good man, although poor. In similar fashion to his comic book history, he grew up in Queens, New York, his father having abandoned him and his mother when Bill was only three years old. By the time he was sixteen he had dropped out of school to take care of himself, seeing himself as a burden on his mother. Not having any skills, he did physical labor, eventually meeting Patricia, the woman he would marry.
Patricia didn’t care that they were poor; she was happy because she was with the man she loved, and Bill was happy with Patricia. Unfortunately Patricia had a problem pregnancy and died giving birth to Penny. Bill’s world was shattered. And worse, Penny was not a healthy child. Sure people cared and people donated, but the treatments for Penny’s congenital heart condition became more and more expensive. This is what drove Baker to commit crime.
After his arrest, Penny went into the system. Bill was tried and convicted for theft, and although a “super-villain,” Spider-Man testified at his trial, resulting in Bill’s sentence being substantially lessened to seven years. Given his abilities, confinement in a regular prison would not suffice, and so he was imprisoned in the Vault, his first and only cellmate after two years being Jonathan Larkin.
While in prison Baker and Larkin did bond – both had done what they thought they had to do to save the life of someone they cared about, a very different “story” than most of the prisoners in the Vault (and why they were cellmates). But it was still prison which meant there were no outlets for either Baker or Larkin to express certain frustrations. And they were both honest with each other, so much that Scott told Bill about his past in gay-for-pay porn. And that opened the door for Baker, mentally speaking, to express his frustrations on Scott. And Scott complied, able to lose himself.
After both were paroled, both Bill and Scott ended up (not by chance) with Malcolm Arnold Duncan as their parole officer, and both have tried to stay clean. But unlike Scott who lost the person he was trying to save, Bill’s daughter Penny received the necessary care while in state custody where she remains. Bill wants to get her out, but to do so he’s going to need to be able to provide the care Penny needs, so for Bill it has become a question of lose his daughter to the system or lose his daughter to death. And then there exists a third option – getting enough money… somehow… to get Penny back and provide for all her needs.
Bill presents a mirror for Scott – he has suffered in much the same way and is confronted with the same problem of caring for someone else and having no way to change his own situation. He also represents, in many ways, what can go wrong if Scott gives in to his past, that part of Scott that sabotages his own survival.
It also doesn’t help that Bill and Scott have remained friends and, secretly, Scott and Bill use each other – Bill uses Scott to “let off stress” by engaging in “prison sex” (Bill actually isn’t gay, but he also can’t just go get sex from a prostitute as he’s on probation and he wants to appear to have a good home for Penny), and Scott uses Bill as a form of escape by being an object upon which Bill lets loose his frustrations.
There is the glimmer that both Bill and Scott can come away from the present “arrangement” as more than each other’s “fix.” Again, both are “good people caught in a bad situation.” But how long can Bill stand not to be in touch with his only remaining family, and what happens if Scott suddenly decides not to let Bill vent his frustrations?