Wednesday

OMU: Iron Man -- Year One

Six weeks after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Marvel Comics introduced readers to Iron Man, their first superhero powered by applied technology rather than science run amok. Iron Man’s origin story was featured in the 39th issue of the anthology series Tales of Suspense, and promised an action-adventure serial that was unusual in its timeliness. Since the summer of that year, 1962, there had been a rapid expansion of the number of U.S. “military advisors” in Vietnam, and the situation in Southeast Asia was beginning to eclipse other parts of the globe in the American consciousness. Thus it is telling that we find the hero of the story, Tony Stark, in that war-torn part of the world demonstrating his inventions for the American military. Furthermore, the scientific wonders that Stark performed were credited to his use of transistors, a technology that had only in recent years left the laboratory and entered the awareness of consumers. Communist insurgents were responsible for the incident that led to Stark’s creation of his high-tech suit of armor, and Communist agents served as the villains in the majority of the character’s early stories. To a greater degree than any of Marvel’s other franchises, Iron Man drew upon and acknowledged the current state of the world, and thus his chronology lends itself particularly well to my timeline for the Original Marvel Universe.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now initiating… The True History of the Invincible Iron Man!


January 1962 – Anthony Stark begins his sixth year as head of Stark Industries, a Long Island-based contractor for the United States government that provides advanced technology to various agencies. The company’s main focus at this time is designing and building new weapons systems for the military, although they are also working on projects for the nascent intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D., including ongoing construction of the airborne command center dubbed the Helicarrier. When he’s not sleeping at the factory or in his luxurious penthouse apartment, Tony maintains a residence at his family’s mansion on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, overlooking Central Park, where he is catered to by a full staff of servants and his faithful butler Edwin Jarvis. Young, handsome, and extremely wealthy, Tony has cultivated a reputation as a ladies’ man, and is considered one of the most eligible bachelors in New York. However, while vacationing on the French Riviera, Tony meets a beautiful blonde named Joanna Nivena, who hails from Long Island also, from the tiny hamlet of Montauk. The more they talk, the more they find they have in common, and Tony begins to think he has found a woman he could spend his life with.

February 1962 – Tony follows with interest news reports of the Fantastic Four when they establish their headquarters in New York City and protect the metropolis from the menace of the Sub-Mariner. The leader of the new superhero team, Reed Richards, is a scientist and inventor whom Tony holds in high regard. After a whirlwind romance, Tony and Joanna get engaged, and begin planning a magnificent June wedding.

May 1962 – Tony travels to Vietnam to demonstrate a new weapons system for the military. After being greeted by his head of Asian operations, Toshi Kanada, Tony follows the American troops into the jungle to personally observe a test of his inventions against the Viet Cong. The attack is a success, but on the way out, Tony stumbles into a booby trap and is caught in an explosion. Shrapnel from the crude bomb lodges dangerously close to his heart. Toshi Kanada and Tony’s military escort are all killed in the blast, and three days later Tony awakens to find he has been taken prisoner by a local pro-Communist warlord named Wong-Chu.

Tony is forced to build a weapon for Wong-Chu in a makeshift laboratory in the warlord’s compound. Here, Tony meets another captive, the renowned physicist Ho Yinsen, whom the world believes dead. Rather than cooperating with the Communists, Tony and Yinsen build an ingenious suit of iron armor for Tony to wear, which will not only keep his injured heart beating, but should also enable them to escape. They soon begin referring to their work as “Project: Iron Man.” When the armor is complete, Tony puts it on and they begin charging its power cells. Unfortunately, Wong-Chu grows suspicious, but before he can interrupt them, the elderly Yinsen sacrifices himself to buy Tony time. Tony vows to avenge his friend’s death. Quickly mastering the clunky armor, Tony confronts Wong-Chu’s troops, sending them fleeing into the jungle. Not willing to let Wong-Chu escape, Tony blows up the camp’s ammo dump, killing the warlord in the process. Tony then dons a trench coat and flop hat and sets off into the jungle, hoping to find his way back to the American defense perimeter.

Half an hour later, Tony comes across a downed American helicopter and its pilot, Lt. James Rhodes of the United States Marine Corps. After saving “Rhodey,” as he prefers to be called, from a Viet Cong patrol, Tony recharges the power cells in his armor by draining the chopper’s batteries. Instinctively, Tony refuses to reveal his identity to Rhodes, introducing himself instead as the “Iron Man.” During their trek through the hostile jungle, the unlikely pair discovers a camouflaged Viet Cong rocket base. They fight their way to an enemy helicopter and make their escape, destroying the base in the same manner as Wong-Chu’s ammo dump. Once back in American-held territory, Rhodey drops Iron Man off at Stark’s local facility and then continues on to Saigon. Tony is terrified what effect news of his mortal wound would have on his personal life and his business, so he locks himself in the laboratory workshop and begins refining the design of his iron chest plate so that it can be better concealed beneath ordinary clothes. When Rhodey is released from the base hospital in Saigon several days later, Tony is sure to be there to meet him. Thanking Rhodey for saving his “friend” Iron Man, Tony offers the Marine a job when his tour of duty ends. Rhodey says he’ll keep the offer in mind.

Tony then finally returns to New York, and is met at the airport by Joanna, his fiancée. He keeps her at arm’s length, however, afraid she’ll feel the chest plate concealed beneath his suit. She drives him to Stark Industries’ headquarters in Flushing, talking about wedding plans all the way, but Tony is distant and preoccupied and she becomes worried. In the days that follow, Tony tries vainly to settle into his old routine, but sinks into a profound depression as he broods on the strange twist of fate he has suffered. Believing himself to be a cripple unworthy of her love, Tony finally tells Joanna they shouldn’t see each other anymore.

June 1962 – Accepting that he needs his chest plate to stay alive, Tony decides to make the best of a bad situation and explore the armor’s commercial potential. He holds a press conference to unveil the second-generation suit, built entirely at Stark Industries, referring to it as “The Human Machine” and emphasizing its applications to the construction industry. However, Tony soon reconsiders marketing the technology after thieves attempt to steal the armor to use in a bank heist. He realizes he can’t take the chance that it could fall into the wrong hands. Later, Joanna returns to confront him about the end of their relationship, and, finding that he truly loves her, Tony agrees to tell her everything. Sympathetic to his ordeal, Joanna talks him into accompanying her to a tennis tournament in Forest Hills, Queens, to take his mind off his troubles. However, the match is disrupted by militant anti-war terrorists who threaten to detonate a bomb unless the U.S. agrees to withdraw from Vietnam. The crowd panics, but Joanna convinces Tony that the armor is their only chance. He slips below the grandstand, dons his armored suit, and defeats the terrorists. The crowd cheers him as a hero, and later, when the media picks up the story, Iron Man is lauded as a champion of the people. Tony’s depression begins to lift as he sees a new purpose to his life. However, Joanna has realized that Tony cannot be a hero and also give her the kind of life she needs, so she breaks off their relationship tearfully. Though he is heartbroken, Tony knows she is right.

Iron Man then continues his crusade to protect the public, whether it be from gun-toting gangsters or mad scientists with shrinking rays. Meanwhile, Tony not only resumes his hectic schedule at work, but also starts dating again, although he quickly realizes he can’t let women get too close to him without risking his secret. While escorting a young lady named Marion to the circus, Tony leaps into action when the lions and tigers suddenly break free and the crowd panics. However, after donning his armor, which he has managed to conceal in a specially-designed attaché case, Iron Man finds the children are as frightened of his bulky gray armor as they are of the big cats. Therefore, after the situation is resolved, Tony takes Marion’s suggestion and coats his armor with a gleaming gold paint.

After a quick trip to Africa, where his new golden armor makes its public debut, Tony attempts to pick Marion up at the airport for their latest date, only to learn that her hometown, Granville, NY, has walled itself off while he was out of the country. All contact with the inhabitants has been lost. Determined to investigate, Iron Man tunnels into the city, where he discovers the residents, including Marion, have been hypnotized into worshipping a giant Neanderthal man known as Gargantus. During the ensuing battle, Iron Man defeats Gargantus, who turns out to be a robot. With Gargantus destroyed, Iron Man reveals that the dark cloud looming over the town conceals a flying saucer from outer space. Once discovered, the craft quickly ascends to the stars and leaves Earth behind. Finally, Iron Man smashes a hole in the wall encircling the town, setting the residents free.

The following week, Iron Man assists the FBI in apprehending some Soviet spies. Later he prevents two ships from colliding with nothing more than his fantastic armored strength. Meanwhile, Tony continues to refine his armor’s design, replacing the pneumatic system in his boots with jets that allow for sustained high-altitude flight. He also continues testing new inventions for the Navy, the Army, NASA, and other governmental agencies.

July 1962 – At a Children’s Hospital Charity Dance in Washington, DC, Tony Stark announces to the crowd that he has convinced Iron Man to entertain the sick children the next day, and the event will be broadcast live on national television. As scheduled, Iron Man appears at the hospital and puts on an elaborate show, juggling seven cars in mid-air, catching cannonballs, and performing similar feats. However, after the exhibition ends, Tony’s mind is overcome by ultra-frequency waves that hypnotize him. Helplessly, Iron Man trundles to a nearby maximum-security prison, where he smashes in and frees the criminal mastermind Karel Stranczek, known in the press as “Dr. Strange, Master of Evil.” When Tony comes to, he has no memory of his actions under hypnosis. He is horrified to learn he has freed an arch-criminal and vows to redeem himself. However, that very evening, Stranczek detonates a 200-megaton nuclear bomb in high-earth orbit, and then hijacks all radio and TV transmissions to issue his demand to be made absolute dictator of earth. A full-scale nuclear strike on his stronghold in the Atlantic Ocean proves fruitless, due to its powerful force-field. However, Iron Man storms the villain’s fortress by burrowing up from below. During the attack, his armor’s power supply becomes dangerously depleted, but when the villain’s defiant daughter Carla assists Iron Man, Stranczek panics and flees, disappearing without a trace.

The following week, Iron Man again co-operates with the FBI to smash a spy ring run by a brutal Soviet general known as “The Red Barbarian.” This leads Tony into conflict with a master of disguise known only as the Actor, whom he intercepts behind the Iron Curtain after the Actor steals the plans for a new disintegrator ray. Leaving the Actor trapped in his mangled car, Iron Man delivers an empty briefcase to the Red Barbarian while posing as the Actor. He then returns to the Actor, sets him free, and makes tracks for friendly territory, counting on the Red Barbarian to deal with the Actor when he discovers he’s been tricked.

August 1962 – When a wind-tunnel experiment goes haywire, Tony claims that Iron Man just happens to be visiting the factory and will deal with the situation. After his armored alter-ego smashes the out-of-control equipment, Tony returns to the site of the accident to survey the wreckage. Suddenly, a large crystal materializes around Tony and carries him down through the ground into an enormous cavern, in which he finds a fantastic metropolis. He soon meets the cruel and imperious Queen Kala, who reveals that he has been brought to the Netherworld to devise a means of transporting their invasion forces to the surface. Kala tells Tony a bit about the history of the Netherworld, how it was part of the nation of Atlantis that sunk beneath the sea in the Great Cataclysm some 20,000 years ago. Tony readily agrees to help, claiming to be interested only in saving his own skin. However, he uses Kala’s facilities to build a replica of his Iron Man armor, with which he attacks and defeats Baxu, the leader of the Netherworld’s armed forces. Iron Man convinces Baxu to stage a coup and seize the throne for himself, then flies Kala to the surface, where exposure to the sun’s radiation causes her flesh to shrivel, giving her the appearance of an old woman. Horrified, Kala agrees to call off her invasion plans. Iron Man takes her back to the Netherworld, where the aging effect quickly wears off. He heads for home after Kala agrees to marry Baxu and share her throne with him.

Soon after, Tony learns that one of his competitors, Bruno Horgan, has been using inferior materials on his government contracts. When Tony informs the military, all Horgan’s contracts are cancelled and awarded to Stark Industries. Though Horgan is bankrupted, Tony feels he has not only scored a coup but done his patriotic duty in the process.

September 1962 – Tony Stark travels to Egypt to assist an old friend on an archeological dig, searching for the tomb of Hatap, known as “the Mad Pharaoh.” Tony offers the assistance of Iron Man, and the next day, uses his armor’s sophisticated probes to locate the tomb, where Hatap’s mummy lies inside his sarcophagus. Later, however, Hatap revives, revealing to Tony that he used sorcery to escape Cleopatra’s armies by entering a death-like sleep for two millennia. He then produces a golden charm, the magical Chariot of Time, and forces Tony to travel back into the past with him to use modern science against Cleopatra’s forces. Luckily, Tony takes his attaché case with him, and changes into Iron Man as soon as they have materialized in the past. He then tracks down Cleopatra, winning the trust of the Egyptians by routing the Roman legions that are attacking her palace. Tony is immediately smitten by Cleopatra’s great beauty. However, he resolves to seize the golden charm from Hatap and use it to return to the 20th century. Iron Man throws Hatap’s army into utter chaos, and the Mad Pharaoh dies when he falls on the sword of one of his own fallen soldiers. After returning to the present day, Tony and his friend discover Iron Man’s adventure immortalized in hieroglyphics.

Soon afterward, back at Stark Industries, one of the girls in the secretarial pool, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, discovers an accounting mistake made by Tony Stark himself, thus saving the company from making a major blunder. Impressed with Pepper’s spunk, Tony promotes her to become his personal Executive Secretary. They soon develop a playfully antagonistic relationship.

A couple of weeks later, a bored Tony Stark intercepts a radio message from the Teen Brigade asking for help in finding the green-skinned brute called the Hulk. Curious as to whether the Hulk is, in fact, real, Tony decides to investigate. Upon arrival at the Teen Brigade’s ramshackle headquarters in Quemado, New Mexico, Iron Man is joined by three other superheroes: Thor, Ant-Man, and the Wasp. Thor leaves suddenly, but Iron Man and Ant-Man agree to help the concerned teen-agers. They soon find the Hulk pretending to be a robot at a nearby circus, and Iron Man pursues him across the desert. However, the Hulk lands a solid punch that wrecks one of the batteries that power Iron Man’s boot jets. After quickly repairing his armor, Iron Man tracks the Hulk to an auto factory in Detroit, Michigan, where their battle continues. The fight is interrupted by Thor, who returns with his evil step-brother Loki in tow. Thor reveals that Loki had orchestrated the events that brought the four heroes into conflict with the Hulk, and will be returned to his prison in Asgard. Before the heroes go their separate ways, Ant-Man and the Wasp suggest that they band together as a permanent team. Intrigued by the possibilities of what such a powerful group could accomplish, Iron Man agrees to the proposal, and thus is born the Avengers.

A few days later, Tony tells his butler, Jarvis, to expect some unusual guests for dinner, as he has offered the mansion to the Avengers as a meeting place. Upon hearing that the Hulk is coming, the rest of the staff quits in an uproar, leaving the faithful Jarvis to prepare the meal alone. Even so, the meeting is a success, though Iron Man is somewhat frustrated when Ant-Man seems to be the only other member serious about discussing the team’s organizational structure and by-laws.

October 1962 – While Tony is driving in a celebrity race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the power supply in his chest plate begins to fail and he goes into cardiac arrest. His car spins out of control and crashes, catching fire. Tony is trapped in the wreckage and quickly realizes that, bereft of his Iron Man armor, he is doomed. However, a pugnacious stranger bursts from the crowd, wrenches the steering wheel away, and pulls Tony from the burning wreck just seconds before the gas tank explodes. Fading fast, Tony offers the man a fortune if he’ll take him back to his hotel room, no questions asked. Once alone in his room, Tony plugs his chest plate into a wall socket, and he is soon back on his feet. Then, in the cocktail lounge, Tony learns the name of his dour savior, Harold “Happy” Hogan, an ex-prizefighter. As a matter of principle, Hogan rips up the $50,000 check Tony has written to him and says the millionaire industrialist can better show his gratitude by offering him a job. Suitably impressed, Tony offers to hire Hogan as his chauffeur/bodyguard. He then writes a more modest check for relocation expenses, which Hogan takes with no complaints. Thus, the following Monday, Happy Hogan reports to work at Tony’s Fifth Avenue mansion and drives his new boss to work. Tony introduces Happy to Pepper Potts, with whom Happy is instantly smitten.

Later that day, Tony fires one of his own scientists, Professor Gregor Shapanka, when Iron Man discovers him trying to break into Tony’s private vault with an acetylene torch. Shapanka’s ravings show him to be seriously disturbed, and so Tony decides to be lenient. Rather than calling the police, he merely has Shapanka escorted off the grounds. Tony realizes it is growing increasingly difficult to account for Iron Man’s frequent appearances at Stark Industries. Nevertheless, Iron Man is present a few days later for the test of an experimental manned missile. Moments after launch, the missile’s electrical system goes haywire and the craft spins out of control. Iron Man intercepts it in mid-air and brings it safely to the ground. Examining the craft later, Tony and his engineers are baffled by what went wrong.

The Avengers return to the Stark mansion for their next weekly meeting, where Iron Man and Ant-Man continue to hammer out the details of the team’s charter. The bad-tempered Hulk and his teenage pal, Rick Jones, are little more than an annoyance. The Wasp flirts incessantly with Thor, whose pronounced mood swings give the others pause. Tony begins to worry whether such volatile personalities can be forged into an effective team.

In the days that follow, Stark Industries falls victim to a string of acts of sabotage, with over a dozen plants across the nation experiencing massive electrical failures. Some installations are all but destroyed by massive explosions. Unable to stop the attacks, Tony finds himself in danger of losing his government contracts. Worse, Tony receives word that there are rumblings on Capitol Hill that his loyalty to his country may be called into question, for certain senators are speculating that if Tony were a communist agent, he might have caused the crisis himself.

Following a well-publicized crime spree, the sub-zero scourge known in the media as “Jack Frost” storms into Stark Industries and traps Happy, Pepper, and several security guards inside big blocks of ice before bursting into Tony Stark’s office. Iron Man is waiting for him, and immediately recognizes the villain’s voice as that of Gregor Shapanka. The battle is brief, as Iron Man produces a powerful heating element that thaws Shapanka’s frozen form, destroying Tony’s executive office in the process. Later, Tony claims Iron Man just happened to be having a secret conference with him when Jack Frost attacked, but nasty rumors begin to circulate that Tony may be slipping the armored hero some money to protect his industrial complex.

Days later, the mysterious saboteur finally shows himself, and proves to be a Soviet agent called “The Crimson Dynamo,” whose suit of armor grants him electricity-based powers. He identifies himself as Russian scientist Anton Vanko, and says his mission is to destroy Iron Man. Unable to best the Crimson Dynamo directly, Iron Man instead convinces Vanko to defect to the West before his masters in the Kremlin decide he is too dangerous and try to liquidate him. Disaffected with the Soviet system, Vanko agrees to cooperate with the FBI, and Tony offers him a lucrative position as head of his electrical research department.

The defection of Anton Vanko is a coup that gives Iron Man leverage in negotiating with the government for the Avengers’ security clearance, bolstered by Ant-Man’s own record of defeating Soviet agents. In the end, the government agrees to give the superhero team its full cooperation. The five members finalize their charter and by-laws and Iron Man accepts the honor of being the team’s first chairman. They hold a press conference to announce the coming of the Avengers to the world.

November 1962 – Stark Industries comes under attack by another high-tech saboteur, this one calling himself “The Melter” due to his chest-mounted energy ray, which instantly liquefies anything made of iron. Unfortunately, the ray proves all too effective on Iron Man’s armor, and his entire left-arm assembly melts away, leaving Tony’s flesh exposed. Realizing he needs a better strategy before his identity is exposed, Iron Man retreats, managing to drive off the Melter by rupturing the power plant’s main steam pipe. Unfortunately, the next morning, Tony is called to appear before a special congressional committee and must travel to Washington, DC. Once there, the senators threaten to revoke all his government contracts unless he can defend his plants against sabotage. Returning to his Long Island factory, Tony tells his beleaguered maintenance crew that Iron Man will lend a hand, which merely reinforces people’s belief that Tony is paying the armored hero for his services. Shortly after Iron Man begins work, however, the Melter returns, storms the plant, and challenges Iron Man directly. However, having deduced the Melter’s limitations, Tony had quickly constructed a suit of armor out of extruded aluminum. Although lacking most of the standard offensive weaponry, the armor is good enough to cause the confused Melter to beat a hasty retreat. Tony resolves to devise some way to protect his real armor from the Melter’s energy beam.

At the Avengers’ first meeting for the month, an argument between Thor and the Hulk is cut short by the arrival of the Wasp and her partner, now calling himself Giant-Man. After the Hulk volunteers to deal with an intruder in the mansion, he returns more hostile than ever. Fed up with the green goliath’s attitude, Iron Man decides to put him in his place. However, the Hulk merely smashes through the wall and stalks off into the city. Tony is furious that he now must call in a crew to repair the damage to his house. Not long after, Tony is informed that the Hulk has stolen a new weapon right off the testing platform. And so, Iron Man soon intercepts the Hulk in the skies over Flushing and a battle ensues. Giant-Man and the Wasp appear on the scene and try to stop the fight. However, the Avengers quickly discover that they are being plagued by an alien who calls himself the Space Phantom, for he can assume any of their forms by sending the originals into the dimension of Limbo. The interplanetary plunderer then becomes Giant-Man and battles Iron Man and the Hulk, using Stark’s experimental equipment as makeshift weapons. Soon, Iron Man, too, is cast into Limbo, where he lies insensate for a time. But when he returns to Earth, Thor informs Iron Man that the Space Phantom has been defeated, cast into Limbo himself when he tried to assume Thor’s godly form. Disgusted with the way the others have treated him, the Hulk angrily quits the team, but Tony is not sorry to see him go.

When one of Stark’s main steel suppliers suddenly cancels his contracts, Tony drives out to meet with the company’s CEO, Charleton Carter, at his coastal estate. However, he finds Carter being menaced by a costumed man who calls himself “Mister Doll.” Iron Man attacks, only to be suddenly overcome by intense agony as the crook fashions a small clay doll he is holding into Iron Man’s image. Wracked with pain, Iron Man stumbles backwards off a balcony and tumbles into the surf below. Regaining consciousness hours later, Iron Man barely manages to make it back to Stark Industries before collapsing to the floor. He finally comes to the next morning, and decides to do a radical redesign of his armor, to make it more powerful while putting less strain on his injured heart. The result is a streamlined, more dynamic red-and-gold Iron Man. Mister Doll soon arrives, intending to force Tony Stark to sign over his fortune, and Iron Man finds that his more lightweight armor allows him to better withstand the pain that Mister Doll causes him with his magical talisman. With this advantage, he is finally able to defeat his foe. Iron Man summons the guards and orders them to turn Mister Doll over to the police, though Happy Hogan is incensed at being ordered around by the armored Avenger.

The next day, Tony decides to deal once and for all with the public perception of his relationship with Iron Man, to explain the hero’s too-frequent appearances at Stark Industries and to end the rumors of payoffs that are tarnishing Iron Man’s reputation. He issues a press release stating that Iron Man is, in fact, a full-time employee of Stark Industries, whose true identity must remain a secret for security purposes, and is his personal bodyguard. Tony also officially announces that he is bankrolling the Avengers in the interests of the greater good and has donated his family residence on Fifth Avenue to the team to serve as their permanent headquarters, which will henceforth be known as Avengers Mansion.

A few days later, Iron Man meets the mysterious team of adventurers known as the X-Men, when an accident over Stark Industries causes the Angel to become deranged. Feeling responsible, Iron Man determines to save the Angel himself. He discovers the winged mutant dropping sticks of dynamite around the city from high in the air and confronts him. Unable to outmaneuver the Angel, Iron Man takes a desperate gamble and allows his boot jets to exhaust themselves high in the sky. As Iron Man begins falling back to earth, the Angel realizes that he can’t let a man die, and rescues Iron Man in the nick of time. The other four X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, and the Beast) meet them on the ground and express their gratitude to Iron Man for bringing Angel back to his senses. Before leaving, Angel offers the X-Men’s help to Iron Man should he ever need it. As Iron Man flies back to Stark Industries, he receives a telepathic message from the X-Men’s mysterious leader, Professor X, expressing his thanks.

Iron Man convinces the Avengers that the Hulk is too dangerous to be allowed to run around loose. To initiate the search for their erstwhile teammate, Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men in turn, but none of his fellow heroes have any news of the Hulk’s whereabouts. Thor suggests they merely contact Rick Jones in New Mexico and ask for his help. Rick agrees to conduct a search, and the next morning, Tony receives a call from Rick with the Hulk’s location. After alerting the rest of the team, Iron Man heads for the desert outside Quemado, where the Hulk immediately attacks him. Even the arrival of the rest of the Avengers barely slows the Hulk down, and he soon makes his escape after dealing them an ignominious defeat. After a fruitless search, the Avengers return to New York, where they receive a radio message from Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, claiming that he and the Hulk have joined forces to challenge the Avengers to a showdown at the Rock of Gibraltar. Thus, the Avengers are soon making their way across the Atlantic Ocean in an experimental Stark Industries submarine. As soon as the heroes enter the network of caves and tunnels under the promontory, they are attacked by the misanthropic duo. While Thor goes off after the Hulk, Iron Man and Giant-Man engage the Sub-Mariner in pitched battle. Unfortunately, the Sub-Mariner damages Iron Man’s chest plate, forcing Tony to abandon the battle while he affects repairs to his life-support system. Luckily, the Hulk disappears as well, and the outnumbered Sub-Mariner retreats to the ocean depths. Thor and Giant-Man agree to let him go, but Iron Man fears they may live to regret that decision.

A few days later, Iron Man is summoned to a high-level meeting at the Pentagon, where he is asked to find out all he can about a mysterious Chinese menace known only as “The Mandarin.” Iron Man agrees to investigate, and soon leaves for his mission deep inside Red China. A U.S. spy plane takes him into China’s interior, where Iron Man storms the Mandarin’s fortress, overcomes his defenses, and meets the despot face-to-face. However, the golden Avenger realizes he may be in for more than he bargained for when he discovers the Mandarin wears ten ornate rings, each of which is a lethal weapon. Nevertheless, the Mandarin first attempts to humiliate his armored foe in hand-to-hand combat, demonstrating his martial arts prowess. Despite a malfunction in his systems, Iron Man is able to turn the force of the Mandarin’s blows back on him, knocking him out. Iron Man then retreats, making his rendezvous with the spy plane for a ride back to America.

Returning to his penthouse apartment one evening, Tony discovers his place has been ransacked. Then he and Happy Hogan find the perpetrator attempting to break into the wall safe. Happy attacks the crook, who is dressed up as a scarecrow, while Tony slips into another room to change into Iron Man. However, “The Scarecrow” proves to be a slippery opponent, and he outfoxes the golden Avenger, escaping with some vital blueprints. Later, the Scarecrow phones Tony and offers him the chance to buy back his stolen plans for a small fortune. After installing a fail-safe device in the briefcase he’s using for the ransom, Tony meets with the Scarecrow. The criminal takes the briefcase but refuses to surrender the plans, and makes his getaway in a speedboat. Iron Man pursues him to his rendezvous with a Cuban gunboat. Unfortunately, the Scarecrow escapes, but Iron Man manages to retrieve the blueprints, sink the gunboat, and leave the Cubans to be rescued by the Coast Guard.

The following week, Iron Man joins the Avengers as they search the North Atlantic Ocean for the Sub-Mariner, who has been terrorizing coastal areas since his defeat at the Rock of Gibraltar. Near the Gulf Stream, the team discovers the body of a man in tattered Army fatigues drifting in the open ocean. Bringing the soldier aboard their submarine, the Avengers make a startling discovery: the man is alive, albeit in suspended animation, and beneath his rotted uniform is a colorful costume that identifies him as Captain America, the lost hero of World War II. Revived from his comatose state, the disoriented Cap reacts violently and scuffles with his rescuers. The Avengers are baffled, but Captain America convinces them he is the genuine article. They piece together what happened to him in the winter of 1945 and how he came to be preserved in ice for almost 18 years.

Docking at a pier in New York, the Avengers are met by a crowd of reporters, who are looking for a scoop about Namor. Suddenly, however, there is a blinding flash and everything goes black. The next thing Iron Man knows, he is in a warehouse facing Captain America and a green-hued extraterrestrial, who had turned the Avengers to stone as part of a deal with the Sub-Mariner. The Avengers agree to help the alien salvage his spaceship from the bottom of the ocean with no strings attached. They soon reach a small rocky island in the Atlantic, from which they raise the sunken ship. However, they are then attacked by the Sub-Mariner and his elite guard. Iron Man takes on Namor in single combat while Thor battles his troops. When Namor reveals he is holding Rick Jones hostage, Captain America finally joins the fray. The battle comes to a sudden stop when the launching spaceship causes a massive shockwave that rocks the island. Namor leads his forces back to the sea, convinced his enemies will perish when the island sinks. But the island is not completely destroyed, and as the dust settles, the Avengers invite Captain America to join the team. Cap accepts the offer, and they return to New York and the ensuing media frenzy.

For his first official team mission, the Avengers take Captain America out to New Mexico to investigate sightings of the Hulk, but even with the help of Rick Jones, the trail is cold. Hearing news reports that the Hulk is now on a rampage in New York City, the Avengers race back to their Fifth Avenue headquarters. The Fantastic Four have failed to stop the Hulk’s rampage, and the green-skinned brute arrives at the mansion to confront his former teammates. Believing they have betrayed him, the Hulk attacks the entire team at once. The brawl only ends when the Hulk grabs Rick and smashes out of the building. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four converge on the Hulk down the street, but the two teams only trip each other up, allowing the Hulk to get away with Rick. Setting aside their pride, Iron Man and Mister Fantastic agree their two teams should work together, and so they pursue the Hulk to a construction site on East 63rd Street. The half-finished skyscraper is demolished in the battle, but despite the best efforts of the assembled heroes, the Hulk manages to dive into the river and escape. Though disappointed, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four part on friendly terms. Iron Man returns with his teammates to their headquarters to inspect the damage, and then they all go their separate ways. After removing his armor, Tony sees to having the mansion repaired.

December 1962 – Over a week later, Tony receives two visitors from the Soviet Union, the beautiful Madame Natasha and a man she claims is her brother Boris. Smitten with her, Tony takes Natasha to a swanky dinner club while Boris gets a tour of the factory. However, their dinner is interrupted by an urgent call from Happy Hogan, telling Tony a raging fire has broken out in Anton Vanko’s lab and has spread rapidly. Returning to Stark Industries, he leaves Natasha at the perimeter of the complex, then dons his Iron Man armor and enters the burning building, where he finds the Crimson Dynamo, apparently attempting to save an experimental laser device. Iron Man lends a hand, only to be betrayed by the Dynamo and shot in the back. The golden Avenger comes to sometime later and finds himself aboard a Russian submarine. After recharging his armor, he smashes out of his cell and finds Vanko being held prisoner as well. While flying him back to the factory, Iron Man learns from Vanko that Boris and Natasha are KGB assassins, and it was Boris who was wearing the Crimson Dynamo armor earlier. Unfortunately, Iron Man once again fails to overcome the Crimson Dynamo armor, but Vanko uses the laser device to stop Boris. The prototype weapon blows up, killing both men. Tony is disheartened by Vanko’s death, and he learns later that Madame Natasha, who escaped in the confusion, is the notorious spy known as the Black Widow.

Soon after, Iron Man finds himself back in Vietnam, to oversee a secret test of a new artillery launcher Stark has developed. The test goes awry when the unit is attacked by the Viet Cong. Iron Man is knocked out by multiple explosions, and when he comes to, he finds all the American troops have been slaughtered. A single VC soldier shoots at him, but when Iron Man attacks his assailant, he discovers it is only a boy, who is totally blind. Iron Man decides to carry the boy back through the jungle to his encampment, but when they arrive, he finds everyone there has been killed by Stark’s new weapon. Sickened by the carnage, Iron Man blasts a mass grave into the ground. Finally, with a heart full of grief, the armored Avenger carries the blind boy to the nearest American base. On the long flight home, Tony Stark begins a difficult process of soul-searching, questioning his dual role as a manufacturer of weapons and as a superhero.

The following week, the Avengers return to New Mexico to investigate a series of disasters caused by powerful sound waves. There they discover a gigantic rock slowly rising out of the ground. Iron Man tunnels down to find the source of the monolith, and discovers an advancing army of Lava Men, bent on invading the surface world. Thor attacks the legions of Lava Men while Iron Man returns to the surface to guard the mouth of the tunnel while they try to figure out a way to safely destroy the monolith. However, the team is suddenly attacked by the revenge-seeking Hulk. The Avengers turn the situation to their advantage by maneuvering the Hulk into the right spot to destroy the monolith before its sonic blasts can do any more damage. The resulting implosion stuns the Avengers, and when they recover, they find the ground where the monolith stood has been transmuted into a sheet of glass. With the threat ended and the Hulk nowhere to be found, the Avengers head for home.

The Avengers are soon called to arms again when New York City is menaced by a squad of super-villains calling themselves the Masters of Evil, including the Melter, the Radioactive Man, and the Black Knight. The villains wreak havoc by spraying Adhesive X, a super-strong glue, all around town. The Avengers are helpless until they obtain an extremely powerful solvent from an incarcerated criminal known as Paste-Pot Pete; then they initiate a bold plan with the help of Rick Jones’ Teen Brigade. Captain America is convinced that the mastermind behind the rampage is an old adversary from the Second World War, the Nazi scientist Baron Heinrich Zemo. Cap formulates a strategy that sends Iron Man into battle with the Radioactive Man, whom he traps in an anti-radiation device intended for use in atomic research labs. However, the golden Avenger is then attacked by the Melter, but he tricks his old foe into turning his beam upon a fire hydrant. The Melter is knocked out by the resulting high-pressure jet of water, and Iron Man turns the criminals over to the police. Rejoining his teammates, Iron Man witnesses Baron Zemo’s airship fleeing the scene. However, thanks to Cap’s quick thinking, Zemo has mistakenly taken a canister of tear gas rather than the solvent he was after. As a result, Zemo loses control of his ship and is forced to make an emergency landing. Unfortunately, the war criminal still manages to escape capture.

A week or so later, Iron Man organizes the Avengers’ first annual Christmas charity benefit, which garners the team some good press. After the party, Iron Man steps down as Avengers chairman, and Giant-Man is elected to take over those responsibilities. Enjoying a drink at home later, Tony Stark muses to himself that, despite everything that’s happened to him in the last year, his life is pretty amazing.


Notes:

January 1962 – Tony Stark is seen vacationing on the Riviera in Tales of Suspense #39. Joanna Nivena was introduced in Iron Man #244, in an extended flashback that added her relationship with Tony to the established origin story. Curiously, Jarvis almost never appears in tellings of Iron Man’s origin, even though it has been stated that he was Tony’s butler prior to the formation of the Avengers. I can only assume that Tony spent very little time at the mansion due to his busy schedule.

May 1962 – Iron Man’s origin is presented in Tales of Suspense #39, and revisited in Iron Man #267–268. Toshi Kanada is introduced in the later version, which also reveals that Wong-Chu was a servant of the Mandarin, who watched these events from afar. Tony’s first meeting with Rhodey was chronicled in Iron Man #144. Evidence suggests that in the Marvel Universe, the Vietnam War heated up a few years earlier than it did in the real world, and certainly may have escalated significantly once the Secret Empire’s Number One became President of the United States.

June 1962 – Iron Man’s career as a superhero is launched in Tales of Suspense #40, and continues in all subsequent issues. I’m curious whether the trip to Africa Tony mentions in that issue was in fact a mission to Wakanda to obtain samples of vibranium. If so, there may be an Untold Tale of the Original Marvel Universe featuring Iron Man’s first meeting with the Black Panther.

July 1962 – The villainous Dr. Strange appeared a couple of months before the sorcerer of the same name debuted in Strange Tales #110, and was, understandably, never seen again. The real name of this criminal genius was never revealed in any canonical story, so I fashioned this one for my own convenience. I assumed his name was similar enough to “Strange” to inspire the newspaper editors to call him that, and Stranczek, a Czech name, works perfectly. Karel I derived from his daughter’s name, Carla, figuring that such a megalomaniac would surely have named his offspring after himself, regardless of the sex. It is also, incidentally, the name of the Czech writer who coined the term “robot,” Karel Čapek.

August 1962 – The unscrupulous Bruno Horgan will soon return to menace Stark Industries as the Melter, as seen in Tales of Suspense #47.

September 1962 – Iron Man debuts in his second regular feature in Avengers #1, at which point he becomes a major player in the superhero community. The team’s first official meeting is shown in flashback in Avengers #280.

October 1962 – Chronological analysis of Iron Man’s encounters with Jack Frost and the Crimson Dynamo, presented in Tales of Suspense #45–46, reveals that these stories interweave in a very complex manner.

November 1962 – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes encounter the Space Phantom in Avengers #2. Iron Man’s time in Limbo, during which he was unconscious, can be seen in Avengers #267–268, due to the timeless nature of that mysterious realm. Iron Man’s first red-and-gold suit of armor makes its debut in Tales of Suspense #48. Mister Doll was apparently supposed to be called Mister Pain, but for some reason the comic book censors took issue with that moniker, and it had to be changed at the last minute. The epic battle between the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk was presented in Fantastic Four #25–26.

December 1962 – Iron Man’s return trip to Vietnam is shown in flashback in Iron Man #78. This brings us up to Tales of Suspense #52 and Avengers #6.


OMU Note: Iron Man’s final canonical appearance is in Avengers #339.





Tuesday

Wolverine Illustrated

As I stated in a previous post, I have my own ideas about certain visual elements of the Original Marvel Universe, and this holds as true for the later period as it does for the early years. Due to factors such as artistic license, variations in drawing styles, editorial mandates, industry trends, and technical limitations, the actual comics Marvel produced between 1961 and 1991 do not always present a true and accurate depiction of what “really” occurred in the OMU reality. The printed page serves as a guide; the actual story takes place in my imagination. It is there that the characters live, move, and speak in a vivid three-dimensional world. And in my mind’s eye, irregularities are smoothed out, errors are corrected, and bad decisions are reversed. As an active reader, I have that right. I am not a slave to the text. Now, this may lead to the occasional drastic revision, when the overall thrust of the OMU leads me in a different direction than an individual issue is trying to make me go. A case in point is Wolverine #50, the last canonical issue of that title, and the final appearance of the OMU Wolverine.

In the issue, written by Larry Hama with art by Marc Silvestri & Dan Green, Wolverine is investigating the mysteries of his own past and the false memories that were implanted in his brain during the Weapon X project, and he comes closer than ever before to finding the people responsible for his adamantium skeleton and claws. For some reason that is not really adequately explained, Wolverine resumes wearing his old yellow-and-blue costume, which hadn’t been seen for about 12 years at that point. There’s something to the effect that he is regressing mentally to a more savage state as a result of recent emotional traumas. The real reason was that Marvel simply wanted to get him back into his yellow-and-blue costume; it did not grow organically from the storyline, it was imposed from outside. Well, I take issue with this decision.

At the time the story was published, Marvel was in the process of undoing much of the character development that had occurred over the previous decade and returning their characters—or more appropriately, their properties—essentially to square one. The editors feared Marvel’s bankable characters had strayed too far from their initial conceptions, and so Wolverine, for example, was to revert to the unpredictable berserker and emotionally-stunted loner he had been in the late 1970s. In essence, they were building the much-derided Second Marvel Universe, which quietly replaced the original one. Another factor in the decision to change Wolverine’s costume may have simply been a desire on the part of Jim Lee and/or Marc Silvestri to draw the character the way he looked when they themselves were young fans. That seems a bit selfish to me, and not a very good reason to move a character backwards instead of forwards.

That said, I have no problem with Wolverine getting a new costume at that point in his life, but I prefer to see something more in keeping with the natural evolution of the character. So I designed one myself.

Wolverine’s seldom-seen original costume, shown here, was provided to him by the Canadian government when he worked for their superhero program Department H. He wore it on his first major mission, when he took on both the Hulk and the Wendigo in the woods of northern Quebec. It was quite colorful, and with the cute whisker motif on what looks basically like a ski mask, it does seem like a superhero costume designed by a government committee.



Wolverine didn’t care for that mask, apparently, for he adopted a different one shortly before he joined the X-Men several months later.



He wore this second version, perhaps his best-known look, from the time he joined the X-Men until the death of Phoenix. Wolverine had fallen in love with that version of Jean Grey, and he took her death quite hard. Since his costume had been destroyed during the battle to save her, Wolverine took the opportunity to make a change.

He adopted a modified costume with a new, more somber color scheme, seen here. 



He wore this costume for several years, though after the X-Men’s supposed deaths in Dallas, Texas during the “Fall of the Mutants” storyline, he would often forego wearing this costume in favor of other attire. After he started spending a great deal of time on the island of Madripoor (in the early issues of his own series), he sometimes went into action wearing an all-black sleeveless outfit with wrist-length leather gloves and no mask. But after the world learned the X-Men were still alive, Wolverine was more likely to wear his costume in public.

Wolverine was clearly moving into darker territory, both emotionally and sartorially. So I decided to create his new costume by combining elements of his previous looks, trying to make it stylish and masculine while keeping it dark and instantly recognizable as Wolverine. Here it is:



I maintain that Wolverine adopted this look prior to his battle with the Shiva robot and wore it in the years following the cessation of OMU stories until his eventual retirement from the X-Men. After that, who knows?



Sunday

OMW: Ghost Girl

For the latest entry in my series of portraits of Obscure Marvel Women of the Original Marvel Universe, I present the never-before-revealed life story of one of Britain’s first super-heroines, whose brief career would nevertheless help inspire a nation during the dark days of World War II.

Ghost Girl

Ann Digh Trask was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1920, and as a child, she was fascinated by the city’s rich heritage of the paranormal. As she grew older, this developed into a keen interest in science, which eventually led her to the University of London, where she studied at the Bedford College for Women. However, by this time, the Second World War had begun, and the university was heavily bombed during the Blitz, forcing it to close for the duration. Rather than return to Scotland, Ann felt it was her patriotic duty to do her part for the war effort. Thus, she volunteered for the Mechanized Transport Corps and, like many other women, became a driver for various military and governmental personnel. She found her service in the MTC very exciting, but still wished she could do more.

Then, in the early weeks of 1942, Ann encountered an uncouth and somewhat disreputable taxi driver who called himself “Alfie.” After chatting her up a few times, much to Ann’s annoyance, Alfie then revealed that beneath his gruff Cockney exterior he was, in fact, a government agent, and was looking to recruit her into the hush-hush Project Crusader. Ann was intrigued, and was told that the British government sought to create a team of costumed super-agents to rival the Invaders, most of whom were Americans. Stirred by patriotic fervor, Ann readily agreed.

She was taken to a seedy warehouse on the River Thames, where Alfie presented her with a costume that incorporated sophisticated technology that would endow her with a superhuman ability, namely the power to refract light from her body, rendering her invisible while casting an image of herself several feet away. She donned a silver bodysuit and a mask with a long silvery wig attached, and it was decided that she would thenceforth be known as Ghost Girl.

Soon, Ann met the others Alfie had recruited into the Crusaders, though for security purposes, the team members were kept ignorant of each other’s secret identities, as well as of the precise workings of the devices that empowered them. Alfie informed them that, to keep them from going rogue, he carried the power source for their costumes on his person, and that he could switch off their super-powers at any time. The team accepted this as a sensible precaution. Like Ann, they were all enthusiastic about fighting the Nazis, and they trusted Alfie implicitly. Subsequently, the team met on a large, dilapidated boat moored on the Thames, where they were drilled in the use of their powers. The other Crusaders were as follows:

Dyna-Mite: Though he was suffering from near-total amnesia, his real name was Roger Dane Aubrey, and he had by some mysterious means been miniaturized to approximately five inches in height. Captain Wings: Kept out of the Royal Air Force by a heart murmur, Dr. Harry Gice, Jr. had been equipped with a pair of golden wings that enabled him to fly. Thunderfist: The taciturn Connor Lily had been outfitted with green gauntlets that greatly magnified his blows to explosive force. Tommy Lightning: Another Cockney, Randall F. Ripley-Thorp wore a costume that enabled him to absorb, channel, and discharge massive amounts of electricity. The Spirit of ’76: The only American on the team, William Samuel Nasland received a bulletproof, flameproof cloak and a costume reminiscent of the American Revolution.

In February 1942, the Crusaders made their public debut when a German bomber crash-landed in London after an aerial battle. Ghost Girl joined the Spirit of ’76 and Dyna-Mite in capturing the plane’s trigger-happy crew while the others helped control the fires caused by the bombing. The Invaders arrived on the scene moments later, as Ghost Girl and her teammates posed for photos with the defeated Luftwaffe airmen. After showing off their powers to the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Toro, the three Crusaders rejoined their comrades and disappeared into the night.

The next day, the press reaction to the new British super-team was enthusiastic, with the tabloids even claiming the Crusaders had made chumps of the Invaders with their lightning-fast response to the crisis. This perception was reinforced that same day when the Crusaders were again first on the scene to foil an assassination attempt on King George VI. In gratitude, the King asked the team to replace the Invaders as his official Guard of Honor at a ship-christening ceremony the following day. The Crusaders were an immediate national sensation.

That night, at a team meeting on the boat, Alfie appeared and gave the Crusaders some shocking information: the Invaders were actually double-agents for the Nazis. He presented the incredulous team with photographic evidence and revealed that the Crusaders were created to counter just such a threat. Alfie then left them to mull over what they’d learned, and to speculate about what branch of the government he actually reported to. As the meeting ended, Ghost Girl failed to notice that Dyna-Mite had suddenly disappeared.

Come morning, the Crusaders escorted the King to the docks where the battleship H.M.S. Hornblower was to be launched. It was only then that they realized Dyna-Mite had gone missing. However, just as the King was about to christen the ship with a bottle of champagne, the Invaders disrupted the ceremony. Convinced that Captain America and company were traitors to the Allies, the Crusaders attacked. Ghost Girl confounded Toro with her image projections, but the flaming lad nevertheless seized the champagne bottle from the King and passed it to the Sub-Mariner, who hurled it into the river. When the champagne bottle then exploded in a tremendous fireball, Ghost Girl and her teammates realized at once they had been duped by Alfie, who owed his true allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Alfie at once fled the scene, pursued by the Human Torch. Desperate to evade capture, Alfie lost control of his taxi and plunged off a bridge. The car exploded before hitting the water, and with the power source destroyed, the Crusaders suddenly found their super-powers nullified. Horrified at having been pawns of the Third Reich, the team disbanded on the spot. Ann’s career as Ghost Girl was finished.

Later, Ann learned that Dyna-Mite had hidden himself in Alfie’s coat pocket after the meeting, and thereby learned their boss was a Nazi spy. He’d managed to tip off the Invaders in time to stop the plot. However, not wanting to dispirit the public, the government decided to hush up the truth of the matter, and so the media reported that the Crusaders had gone on a top-secret mission deep inside occupied Europe. Thus, the Crusaders quickly passed into popular legend. In fact, the government was impressed with the team’s courage and fighting spirit, and offered the former Crusaders positions in the Special Operations Executive, Britain’s wartime espionage agency. Ann accepted and went on to have a successful career as a spy, using the alias “Nan Darksight,” an anagram of her real name. After the end of the war, she continued to do intelligence work for MI-6. Eventually, she retired and returned to Edinburgh, where she became a well-reputed ghost hunter.

When a new generation of superheroes emerged in the 1960s, such as the Black Knight and Captain Britain, Ann Digh Trask took satisfaction in the knowledge that Ghost Girl had played a small part in paving the way.


First Appearance: Invaders #14

Final Appearance: Invaders #15




Wednesday

Whence Comes... S.H.I.E.L.D.

The origins of S.H.I.E.L.D., the clandestine espionage network of the Marvel Universe, have always been kept murky, and have only grown more so over time due to the elastic nature of Marvel history. When the agency was introduced in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965), it was already a going concern with its mammoth airborne headquarters, the Helicarrier, fully operational. The reader’s point of introduction to S.H.I.E.L.D. was Nick Fury coming on as the agency’s second director, the first having been assassinated by their evil counterpart, the worldwide terrorist syndicate HYDRA. Not much in the way of backstory was revealed. Later, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe merely described the organization as having been created in the 1960s, with little elaboration on its actual origins. Further information has been offered over the years, though often ignored by subsequent writers, and the fracturing of Marvel continuity prevents a clear picture from emerging.

However, in the Original Marvel Universe, the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. are intertwined with the early days of Tony Stark, and thinking about my forthcoming Iron Man chronology has led me to contemplate how and when and why S.H.I.E.L.D. came about in my OMU timeline. As usual, eliminating the so-called sliding time scale helps everything make a lot more sense, and the story hangs together better within a fixed historical framework. Also, that history informed many of my speculations on the series of events that led to the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. And so, my own take on the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. is described below, as well as my reasoning when it differs from what there is of an “official” version.

I started by thinking about the acronym itself. Though revised in recent decades, it originally stood for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division. This always seemed a bit awkward and forced, which is undoubtedly why it was eventually changed to Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate. (The recent Iron Man movie revised it again, to Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, the least clumsy of the three. Whether that will be carried over into the comics remains to be seen.) Clearly, Stan Lee was inspired by SHAPE—Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe—the central command for NATO’s military forces, originally led by General Dwight D. Eisenhower during the Korean War. But what did the S.H.I.E.L.D. acronym mean within the context of the Marvel Universe?

It seems to suggest that International Espionage & Law-Enforcement is a Division of the Supreme Headquarters: (Supreme Headquarters)(International Espionage & Law-Enforcement)(Division). This in turn suggests that there may be other divisions of the Supreme Headquarters. But the supreme headquarters of what?

It was established early on that S.H.I.E.L.D. was actually run by a shadowy council of anonymous members. These were Nick Fury’s inscrutable bosses, who insisted on communicating with Nick via videophone even though their faces remained obscured in deep shadow. (If you don’t want your face to be seen, why use a videophone in the first place? Why not stick to plain audio? I never understood that oft-used comic book convention.) The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe stated that there were 12 members of this council. With the benefit of hindsight, I see some interesting parallels between this mysterious council, of which Tony Stark may or may not have been a member, and the purported quasi-governmental body known in UFO conspiracy circles as MJ-12 (or Majestic 12 and variants). MJ-12, supposedly a secret council of a dozen science, military, and intelligence bigwigs created by President Truman in the wake of the 1947 Roswell flying saucer incident, is said to oversee, control, and censor all UFO-related activity and information for the government. However, MJ-12 did not really enter UFO/conspiracy lore until the late 1980s, long after the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and several years after the Marvel handbooks were written. (The idea was popularized through books and TV shows like The X-Files in the ‘90s.) Still, the story of MJ-12 could serve as a useful model.

The Helicarrier was another important piece of the puzzle. Obviously, such an awesome aircraft would take a number of years to design and build, even with the geniuses of Stark Industries at the helm. I looked at the development of its closest real-world kin, the aircraft carrier, for guidance in constructing a timeline for its creation. Assuming it was launched even a few months before the events in Strange Tales #135 (which occur in March 1963 on my OMU timeline), that puts the initiation of the project around the mid-to-late 1950s—right about the same time that Tony Stark inherited the family business. In fact, the Helicarrier may even have been Tony’s first major contract.

That suggests that planning for S.H.I.E.L.D. began in the mid-1950s. And I had already established that the story in Uncanny X-Men #161, in which Charles Xavier and Magneto meet for the first time and battle Baron Strucker and his nascent HYDRA organization, occurred in the spring of 1956, so the timing was right for the United Nations (or somebody) to decide a new agency needed to be created to combat the threat HYDRA posed. And so, roughly, planning began in 1956, work on the Helicarrier started in 1957, with actual construction commencing in 1960, and S.H.I.E.L.D. officially opened for business on January 1, 1963 under its first Executive Director. The Helicarrier was launched soon after, and in February, the first class of agent trainees was inducted, among them Contessa Valentina Allegra de La Fontaine and Clay Quartermain. (Before their graduation one year later, the agency was staffed entirely by transfers from other intelligence organizations and the military.) When the first director was assassinated, Nick Fury was brought in (early spring 1963) and the stories go on from there. But I still wanted to fill in some of the details.

I liked the idea of there being other “divisions” of the “Supreme Headquarters” of which S.H.I.E.L.D. was one, although perhaps none of the others made it past the planning stages. As I thought about it, it seemed more and more like this “Supreme Headquarters” and its 12-member ruling council were basically a shadow government of the New World Order variety, although perhaps with the best of intentions. Thus, I created the umbrella organization S.H.A.D.O.W.—Supreme Headquarters, Alliance for Democratic Order Worldwide.

In addition to their paramilitary peacekeeping force S.H.I.E.L.D., they also envisioned the S.H.O.P.P.E. (Supreme Headquarters, Operations & Public Policy Evaluation) to handle socio-political / legislative matters and S.H.E.R.I.F.F. (Supreme Headquarters Economics, Risk-management, International Funding & Finance) to manage the world economy for the benefit of all. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately), these two agencies never came to fruition. However, they did manage to launch S.H.A.R.D. (Supreme Headquarters Advanced Research & Development) and S.H.R.E.W.D. (Supreme Headquarters Radical & Experimental Weaponry Division), although these were both folded into S.H.I.E.L.D. under the revised, scaled-back plans. [Ah, I love acronyms!] So, ultimately, the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage & Law-enforcement Division was the only part of the plan to succeed.

But where did S.H.A.D.O.W. come from? It grew out of the 12-member council established by President Harry S Truman in 1947, following the crash of a Skrull scout ship in Roswell, New Mexico. (I can do without the rest of the claptrap from Marvel: The Lost Generation, thank you very much, and I don’t believe the Skrulls were running rampant on Earth prior to Fantastic Four #2, either. Sorry, 3-D Man.) Anyway, they called themselves the S.H.I.R.E. (Secret Headquarters for Investigation and Repulsion of Extraterrestrials), and a prominent member of the group was Howard Stark, head of Stark Industries and father of boy-genius Tony Stark. It was because of Howard Stark’s involvement in the group that Stark Industries got the Helicarrier contract, despite 21-year-old Tony’s inexperience. [On a more sinister note, perhaps Howard Stark (along with his wife) was killed by the group to silence him? He was a known alcoholic, like his son, and perhaps couldn’t deal with the stress of being in a secret cabal out to dominate the world for its own good. Depends on how conspiratorial you want to get.] Another member of the S.H.I.R.E. may well have been Dr. Vernon Van Dyne (father of the Wasp, he was a wealthy scientist known to conduct experiments involving outer space). The other ten were certainly unknown to Marvel readers except as historical personages. So, for nine years they grew in power and influence until the threat of HYDRA, as well as extraterrestrial menaces, convinced them to evolve into S.H.A.D.O.W., an organization accountable to no government and free of the constraints shackling the United Nations. The group would have continued as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s executive council until they were all murdered by the Deltite and replaced with androids (Life Model Decoys, to be precise), as seen in the Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. mini-series of 1988.

Later, Fury would form a new S.H.I.E.L.D., the aforementioned Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, from the ashes of the old. This was originally a more streamlined (and less corrupt) taskforce, but Marvel has since built it back up into the byzantine organization it was before the Deltite Affair. (Although those events occur outside the scope of the Original Marvel Universe under discussion here, and so are not relevant.)

Nick Fury may well have been the only identifiable Marvel character to know the true and complete history of S.H.I.E.L.D., which accounts for why the above information was never revealed in any canonical story.


Notes:

In 2001, the first Executive Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was revealed to be a man named Rick Stoner. With all due respect to writer Barry Dutter, “Rick Stoner” is a really stupid name, especially for the first Executive Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. And since my attitude toward any and all information revealed in stories set in subsequent Marvel universes (post-1991) is ‘take it or leave it,’ I’ll definitely leave it. For purposes of the Original Marvel Universe, Rick Stoner is non-canonical.

There is some textual evidence that can be taken as suggesting the involvement of both Howard Stark and Vernon Van Dyne in such a group as described above. Iron Man #28 contains a flashback to a disagreement between Howard Stark and his teen-aged son over Tony’s choice of girlfriend. Howard Stark says, “I’ll see you married to a Martian before the daughter of my number one competitor!” As this scene occurs in the summer of 1953 on my OMU timeline, it definitely shows Howard Stark had extraterrestrials on the brain at that time, as he would were he a member of the S.H.I.R.E. Vernon Van Dyne pays a visit to Dr. Henry Pym in Tales to Astonish #44, ostensibly to ask for Pym’s help with a research project. However, as Pym immediately points out, their specialties do not really overlap. Pym at the time was best known as a biochemist and cellular biologist, whereas Van Dyne was a noted astrophysicist and pioneer in gamma-ray astronomy. It is far more likely that Van Dyne’s true purpose was to recruit Pym into S.H.A.D.O.W., which would also explain why he brought his flighty socialite daughter along with him. While vetting Pym, Van Dyne would doubtless have noticed the resemblance between Janet and Pym’s deceased wife Maria, and counted on his daughter to at least get Pym’s attention. Thus, if Pym rebuffed Van Dyne’s initial approach, as he ultimately did, his interest in Janet might give Van Dyne another chance. Hank and Jan’s meeting, therefore, was no coincidence. Of course, Vernon Van Dyne’s plans for Henry Pym were cut short when he was murdered by a monster from outer space. Both Howard Stark and Vernon Van Dyne were dead by the time S.H.I.E.L.D. actually opened for business, and had certainly been replaced on the 12-member governing council.




Sunday

OMU: Daredevil -- Year One

The last superhero franchise of Marvel’s initial creative explosion was Daredevil, billed as “The Man Without Fear,” who debuted in his own title early in 1964. The character was distinctive in that, along with the requisite superhuman powers, there was an additional gimmick: he was blind. Stan Lee recalls that he had some trepidation about how a handicapped hero would be received, and was relieved when the response from disabled children was enthusiastic.

However, though the book got off to a stylish start under veteran artist Bill Everett, it stumbled out of the gate when Everett was unable to meet deadlines. The book was quickly handed off to another industry veteran, Joe Orlando, but he was out of his element with superheroes, and his issues lack the dynamism of the emerging “Marvel style.” Within the year, the book changed hands again, passing to the legendary Wallace Wood, who designed DD’s now iconic all-red costume and got the book back on its feet. Unfortunately, his tenure would also prove to be short-lived, as, like Everett, his personal problems prevented him from continuing. This revolving door in the artistic department, which would continue into 1966, certainly hurt the book, and Daredevil was considered a second-tier title for many years.

Still, I find Daredevil’s early years interesting because he has one of the most protracted origin stories of any of Marvel’s heroes, as well as having had major elements added to the story decades later, primarily during Frank Miller’s groundbreaking run.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Here comes… The True History of Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!


1937 – Matthew Michael Murdock is born in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York City to professional boxer “Battling” Jack Murdock and his wife Grace. The economic crisis of the Great Depression has hit the couple hard, and their marriage is strained by constant stress and worry. Plus, when Jack gets drunk, he can become violent. Finally, while Matt is still a baby, Grace Murdock can stand no more. She abandons her family and disappears, leaving Jack to raise their son alone.

1942 – Jack Murdock is approached by a crooked manager named Roscoe Sweeney. Knowing Sweeney’s reputation for fixing prizefights, Jack tells him to get lost. Sweeney mocks him, knowing the day will come when “Battling” Jack Murdock’s not so proud anymore. Though it’s a constant struggle, Jack manages to make an honest living as a boxer.

1945 – Jack realizes that young Matt is already an exceptional student, and has the potential to grow up to have a lucrative professional career. As such, he insists that his son put schoolwork ahead of everything else, including playing with the other kids in the neighborhood. Knowing Hell’s Kitchen is overrun with violent Irish-American street gangs, Jack fears the local kids would be a bad influence on his son, and he makes Matt promise never to fight. Thus, Matt becomes increasingly isolated from his peers. He becomes an easy target for teasing, and the kids mock his sedentary lifestyle by calling him “Daredevil” Murdock.

1947 – While Matt is walking home from school one day, he is accosted by some local bullies. One of them begins tearing pages out of an expensive book that Matt’s dad struggled to buy for him. The bully’s taunts cause Matt to lose his temper and lash out in a rage. He manages to give the kid a black eye and breaks the nose of another. Finally, Matt returns home bruised but triumphant. However, he finds his dad drunk, and Jack is enraged that Matt would fight like a common thug. Without thinking, Jack smacks him hard, drawing blood. He is horrified by what he’s done, but Matt only glares at him and runs out of the apartment. Matt wanders the streets of New York until finally arriving at the Brooklyn Bridge, where he spends the night pondering the nature of right and wrong, of rules and laws, and his own future. It is this experience that sets him on the path to become an attorney.

1948 – When Matt’s out of school for the summer, Jack takes him to Fogwell’s Gym, where he’s working with his trainer, “Pop” Fenton. There, Matt befriends a boy named Johnny Squarejohn, the son of another fighter using the same facilities. They enjoy playing together in and around the gym, and Matt enjoys being more active. “Battling” Jack Murdock, on the other hand, realizes he’s past his prime and struggles to get enough prizefights to pay the bills.

1950 – Now a teen-ager, Matt decides he’s tired of getting picked on, and starts working out at home when his dad’s not around. At first he only intends to get in shape, but the more he trains, the more he enjoys it. His fitness regimen only improves his performance in school, and his self-confidence soars. Matt sees Johnny Squarejohn less and less, especially after Johnny joins a notorious street gang.

1951 – Johnny’s gang accosts Matt in an alleyway, and Matt begs Johnny to help him. However, Johnny is loyal to his gang and stands by doing nothing while the others give Matt a savage beating.

1952 – “Battling” Jack Murdock finds his career is on the skids, and, seeing no other option, he finally agrees to sign with Roscoe Sweeney, the notorious “Fixer.” Sweeney sees to it that Jack starts earning more money, and Jack is glad he’ll be able to manage sending Matt to college, knowing he can retire once Matt graduates. However, tragedy strikes when Matt tries to save a blind man from an out-of-control truck on a crowded Manhattan street. The truck is carrying radioactive materials, which burst open during the crash and hit Matt in the face, leaving him permanently blinded. In the hospital, Jack tells his son how proud he is of Matt’s selfless act, and vows to one day make Matt equally proud. Soon after, Matt begins a slow, difficult period of rehabilitation. He begins to notice his remaining four senses seem heightened to an uncanny degree. Learning to use Braille books, Matt works hard to catch up on the schoolwork he missed during his convalescence.

1953 – Matt begins working with a crusty old martial arts master known only as “Stick,” who is also blind. As they train, Stick helps Matt develop a “radar sense” that gives him full awareness of his physical surroundings despite his lack of eyesight. Additionally, Stick teaches Matt how to take his gymnastic abilities to a much higher level, and trains him in a variety of fighting techniques. Matt proves to be as adept at these studies as with his book-learning, but, being naturally introverted, he discusses his new abilities with no one other than Stick.

1955 – Matt graduates from high school and enrolls in Columbia University, where he meets his new roommate, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, who is also in the Pre-Law program. Stick summarily decides that Matt’s training is done and disappears. Busy adapting to college life, Matt accepts this and the two see no more of each other. A week or two into the semester, Matt meets a new student named Elektra Natchios, daughter of a Greek ambassador. Smitten, Matt works up the courage to ask her on a date, and reveals to her the secret of his hypersenses and gymnastic abilities. Elektra falls for him and they soon become lovers. It is the first time for both, and for the next year, they are happy.

1956 – Early in their sophomore year, Elektra and her father are taken hostage on campus by a group of terrorists. When Matt’s super-sensitive hearing reveals they are planning to kill Elektra, he disguises his face with a red scarf and leaps to the rescue, using his blind man’s cane as a weapon. However, his plan goes awry when he accidentally knocks one of the gunmen out the window, causing the police outside to think the hostages are being killed. A police sharpshooter opens fire into the window, mistakenly killing Ambassador Natchios. Elektra is traumatized by the incident and her relationship with Matt falls apart. Finally, she decides to drop out of Columbia and leave the United States. Matt is heartbroken.

1958 – “Battling” Jack Murdock’s career continues its upward trajectory as Roscoe Sweeney starts setting him up as a champ by arranging for his opponents to throw the fights. Jack, now in his mid-40s, is billed as “the middle-aged sensation.” During this time, while Matt is walking through the old neighborhood one evening, he happens across Johnny Squarejohn getting shaken down by a couple of thugs. Matt casually beats the two thugs senseless, pulling his “clumsy blind man” routine. Johnny is flabbergasted, and Matt, feeling he’s achieved a moral victory as well as a physical one, continues on his way.

1959 – Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson graduate from college and enroll in Columbia Law School to pursue their Juris Doctor degrees.


February 1962 – On the Columbia University campus, Foggy reads Matt a newspaper article announcing that “Battling” Jack Murdock will face Rocky Davis at Madison Square Garden next month, with the winner getting the chance to fight world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. Thrilled that his dad has made the big time, Matt tells Foggy he’s already gotten a pair of tickets.

March 1962 – On the night of his father’s big fight, Matt takes Foggy to the Garden, located in his old neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. Knowing his son is in the audience, “Battling” Jack Murdock gives it everything he’s got. However, Davis manages to knock him down, and as he struggles to rise, Sweeney reminds Jack that he’s been ordered to throw the match, just as all his previous bouts had been fixed. Matt’s hypersensitive hearing picks up the exchange, and he is stunned by this revelation. But Jack refuses to give up, believing it may be his last chance to make Matt proud of him. With a surge of adrenaline, Jack Murdock gets up and beats his opponent senseless. Matt and Foggy visit him in the locker room afterwards to celebrate his victory, and they decide to meet later for a drink. However, as Jack leaves the Garden, he is gunned down in the street by Sweeney’s enforcer, Slade. When Matt learns his father has been murdered, he is distraught. He immediately suspects Sweeney, and his suspicions are supported by Jack’s old friend and trainer “K.O.” Unfortunately, the police investigation goes nowhere, and Matt fears justice will not be done.

June 1962 – Both Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson graduate from Columbia Law School. Matt has been named class valedictorian, and he gives a stirring speech at commencement. Meanwhile, he continues to quietly investigate Roscoe Sweeney and the operation he runs out of Fogwell’s Gym in Hell’s Kitchen.

July 1962 – Matt and Foggy take the New York State Bar Exam. Foggy tells Matt that once the results are posted and they have their licenses, his wealthy father has promised to help set them up in their own law offices. In the interim, they take entry-level positions at the Public Defender’s office.

September 1962 – Inspired by the numerous “superheroes” who have appeared on the scene in recent months, such as the Fantastic Four, Ant-Man, Thor, Iron Man, and Spider-Man, Matt realizes that by adopting another identity, he can circumvent the promise he made to his father not to solve problems by fighting. Thus, he develops a red-and-yellow costume with a mask. Deciding to call his alter-ego “Daredevil,” after his childhood nickname, he adds a large “D” to his shirt and small “horns” to the cowl. Then, remembering how useful his cane was when fighting the terrorists at Columbia years before, he converts it into an all-purpose “billy club” weapon.

October 1962 – Matt continues to train for his new role as Daredevil, learning how to use his billy club effectively in a combat situation. He finally concludes his investigation of Sweeney when he becomes convinced that the evidence needed to bring “the Fixer” to trial just doesn’t exist. Therefore, he decides, he will have to take matters into his own hands.

November 1962 – Matt and Foggy learn from the New York State Board of Law Examiners that they passed the bar and are now fully-licensed attorneys-at-law. True to his word, Edward Nelson rents them some office space and advances them the money to hire a secretary. Foggy selects a pretty young blonde named Karen Page and introduces her to Matt. Though he is instantly attracted to her, Matt is so obsessed with bringing his father’s killer to justice, he can hardly concentrate on anything else. When he finally feels ready, he dons his Daredevil costume, storms into Fogwell’s Gym, and brawls with Sweeney’s henchmen. When Sweeney and Slade enter, Daredevil attacks them as well, and they make a run for it. Using his hypersenses, it is an easy matter for Daredevil to hunt them down, even in the crowded streets of the city. After beating Slade to a pulp, Daredevil chases Sweeney into a subway station, where the crook suddenly suffers a massive heart attack and dies. Intimidated by Daredevil, Slade confesses to the police that he shot Jack Murdock. Satisfied that his father has been avenged, Matt returns to the offices of Nelson & Murdock to begin his career as an attorney.

December 1962 – Finding he enjoys the thrill of action, Matt continues to take on the city’s criminal element as Daredevil. His reputation grows rapidly, though no one suspects the new hero is blind. He soon turns his attentions to a ring of car thieves, which he captures for the police. This brings him to the attention of the ringleader, the costumed menace known as Electro, who escaped from police custody following his recent battle with Spider-Man. Then, returning to work, Matt learns that the firm has been retained by the Fantastic Four to check over the lease agreement on their Baxter Building headquarters. Matt goes to inspect the premises while the team is out of town and discovers Electro, who is attempting to take advantage of the FF’s absence to steal their secrets, which he plans to sell to a hostile nation. Matt switches to Daredevil and attacks the villain, but Electro easily knocks him out. When he regains consciousness, Daredevil finds himself aboard the Fantastic Four’s Intercontinental Passenger Missile, rocketing into orbit. Using his hypersenses, he is able to change course and bring the ship to a rough landing in Central Park. He races back to the Baxter Building to confront Electro, and a chase through the city ensues. Daredevil pursues the villain into a palatial theater, disrupting a musical stage revue, where Electro is finally defeated. The police, having figured out a way to deal with Electro’s powers, take him back into custody. Daredevil has defeated his first super-villain. However, the Fantastic Four are upset upon their return since, in addition to their headquarters being trashed, Matt has not gotten around to working on their lease. They decide to take their business elsewhere, much to Foggy’s consternation.

When the accountant of an unscrupulous financier commits suicide, the police discover papers that implicate his employer in illegal activities. The financier, one Leland Owlsley, nicknamed “the Owl” for both his financial wisdom and his odd appearance, is so certain he’ll beat the rap that he hires the inexperienced firm of Nelson & Murdock to defend him. Foggy is at first reluctant, but Matt is intrigued by the case and accepts it. When Owlsley fails to appear in court the next morning, Matt switches to Daredevil and goes to hunt him down, but is unsuccessful. However, after closing up the office for the evening, Matt senses Owlsley in the building, along with some mob muscle. It turns out that Owlsley, having lost the veneer of respectability, has decided to set himself up as a crimelord, and has brought some thugs to intimidate Murdock into fronting for his fledgling criminal empire. Donning his Daredevil costume, Matt crashes through the window and fights them. Things go awry when Karen Page re-enters the office, having forgotten her purse, and is grabbed by the Owl. Daredevil surrenders, and the two captives are taken to the criminal’s outré owl-shaped mansion on the New Jersey Palisades, where they are imprisoned in giant birdcages. The Owl then summons the leaders of New York’s criminal gangs to a meeting, at which he plans to make himself their “overlord.” However, Daredevil escapes, frees Karen, and fights the Owl. A booby trap sends Daredevil careening into the Hudson River, but he manages to disrupt the villain’s speedboat escape by jamming his billy club into the propeller. The boat capsizes and the Owl disappears beneath the waves. Karen has summoned the police, and when the mob bosses arrive, they are all arrested. The Owl, however, is not found, and Daredevil is frustrated that he got away. Resuming his civilian identity, Matt escorts Karen back to her apartment in Manhattan. Though his hypersenses suggest that Karen is attracted to him, Matt refuses to believe a girl as lovely as Karen would be interested in a blind man.


Notes:

1937 – Grace Murdock re-enters Matt’s life in Daredevil #229–230. Matt’s date of birth is based on his academic career.

1945 – Matt’s childhood is revealed in flashback in Daredevil #1 and revisited in Daredevil #164.

1947 – Matt’s dad smacks him around in Daredevil #191.

1948 – “Pop” Fenton is introduced in Daredevil #68. Johnny Squarejohn appears in Daredevil #209.

1953 – Matt’s history with Stick is revealed in Daredevil #176.

1955 – Matt’s relationship with Elektra is detailed in Daredevil #168.

February–November 1962 – Matt’s superhero career begins in Daredevil #1. His origin story is somewhat revised in Daredevil #164. The numerous re-tellings and re-workings published since 1992 are not part of the Original Marvel Universe.

December 1962 – Out of all the law firms in New York City, why did the Fantastic Four hire a couple of novices like Nelson & Murdock? It’s possible that their leader, Reed Richards, who earned a degree at Columbia University himself, read Matt’s commencement speech in the alumni news and was impressed enough by it to give him a chance. The battle with the Owl brings us up to Daredevil #3.


OMU Note: Daredevil’s final canonical appearance is in Daredevil #300.