As an escape from growing up poor with abusive parents, Cynthia Burrows grew fascinated with stage magic, soon learning simple tricks from books and vowing to become the greatest magician of all time. Immersing herself in school, she developed an interest in physics, beginning to apply it in a very promising career on the stage.
Though her love and command of her routine helped her relax, academic pressues were taking their toll on her mind and an attempted assault by her mentor, the chairman of her university's physics department, proved too much for her already fragile sanity. Assuming her stage persona of Tophat, magician extraordinaire and merciless criminal, Cynthia Burrows had pulled a disappearing act.
Many criminals ply their trade in the shadows whereas Tophat favors carrying hers out in a center ring of her own devising, complete with flash, glitter, and spilled blood.
A woman of remarkable intelligence, Tophat is prone to sadistic cruelty. She shares a mutual grudge with Stiletto for unknown reasons although their similar backgrounds may have something to do with it.
Far from limiting herself to smoke and mirrors, Tophat's repertoire includes clever use of concealed teleportation devices and precise explosives.
Weapons include throwing daggers, a spring-loaded device concealed inside her hat for knocking out undesirables and a cane with a doll's head-shaped handle aptly named Baby Face hardened for more brutal bludgeoning.
Peter Grey reads the final issue where Tophat encounters fellow villains Widowmark and Desperado at the entrance of the Thrillsville amusement park, all three apparently having received invitations from their common enemy, Darksheer. The others soon agree to team up against the vigilante after she points out his recently having taken a harder stance against their ilk, the three of them the only ones remaining at large and alive.
As they enter, Darksheer reveals his presence only to disappear from sight with a captured Widowmark. He tries to take her down without harming her but is interrupted by Desperado calling him out. The ensuing duel ends with Desperado impaled on a sharp piece of broken wood. He pursues Widowmark onto the top of a nearby roller coaster structure where the two grapple until she is thrown off, plummeting to her death.
As a gunshot wound to the arm and the venom of Widowmark's darts begin to take their toll Darksheer sinks to his knees and Tophat appears to deliver him a shocking blow to the face with her cane. She reveals she watched him dispatch the others with fascination but is about to end his life only to be interrupted by Darksheer's partner Stiletto arriving on the scene, delivering a savage kick from behind.
Darksheer berates Stiletto for barging in but orders her to deliver the unconscious Tophat to the authorities along with the dead bodies.