Thursday

OMU: Daredevil -- Year Six

Over the next twelve months of his life, Daredevil only occasionally runs into superpowered menaces, spending most of his time in costume making life difficult for less glamorous criminals, mobsters, and street thugs. Much of his time is taken up with Matt Murdock’s duties in the office of the Manhattan district attorney. His love affair with the Black Widow continues to limp along, although they spend the year living on opposite coasts. This may, in fact, be one of the loneliest periods of Matt’s life, as he is too often isolated from the few people close to him.

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!


January 1967 – On New Year’s Day, the subversive organization Black Spectre engineers a race riot at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Police in riot gear storm the demonstrators and beat them with clubs, causing outrage across the nation and fueling further political polarization. During the fracas, Black Spectre issues a statement claiming credit for the crisis. Afterwards, Daredevil investigates but is unable to find any clues that might lead him to his quarry. In the days that follow, Matt Murdock is officially reinstated as Assistant District Attorney and manages the office while the D.A., Franklin P. “Foggy” Nelson, remains hospitalized in the intensive-care ward with injuries sustained in an assassination attempt. Matt tries to keep his old friend informed of the office’s activities, though Foggy’s girlfriend, Debbie Harris, is very protective of him. Matt tries to avoid Foggy’s younger sister, Candace Nelson, whose flirtatiousness makes him uncomfortable. He continues staying at the New York Hilton Hotel, not sure how long he’ll remain in the city due to his unresolved romantic entanglement with the California-based Black Widow. At night, Daredevil also searches the city for his old foe, the Beetle, while disrupting a variety of street-level criminal activity. Matt soon realizes how glad he is to be back in his hometown, having felt out of his element during his long sojourn in San Francisco.

February 1967 – Several weeks later, Black Spectre installs a large wreathed swastika on top of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital, soon issuing a statement claiming credit for the prank. The National Park Service has the offensive symbol removed as quickly as possible. Matt is frustrated that he’s made no real progress in his investigation into Black Spectre’s activities, either through the D.A.’s office or in his role as a superhero. To Matt’s relief, Foggy is finally moved out of intensive care, though he experiences complications that necessitate him remaining hospitalized. Between his parents, sister, girlfriend, and colleagues, Foggy has a strong support network and is able to keep his spirits up.

March 1967 – Early in the month, Black Spectre drapes Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in black shrouds, as if to signify a nation in mourning. Again, the National Park Service soon has the drapery removed from the building. His investigation stalled, Matt wonders what all these relatively harmless pranks are leading up to. Unable to find any trace of the Beetle, Daredevil begins to wonder if the villain has been killed by Black Spectre agents.

April 1967 – Matt is furious when Black Spectre uses some kind of laser device to carve Adolf Hitler’s face onto Mount Rushmore in South Dakota overnight. Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. assists the National Park Service with restoring the monument. Slowly regaining his strength, Foggy is eager to spend more time attending to his duties as district attorney, though Matt is wary of overburdening him.

May 1967 – Daredevil finally catches a break when he finds Black Spectre agents dumping large amounts of counterfeit cash—made with the government printing plates they stole last Christmas Eve—off a rooftop on Wall Street, driving thousands of people to riot in the street, nearly mad with greed as they try to grab as many of the fluttering bills as they can. To his surprise, Daredevil realizes that all of the Black Spectre agents at the scene are women, their gender hidden by their bulky uniforms and helmets but revealed by his hypersenses. They try to recruit the hero to their cause, but he ignores their outlandish rhetoric. Suddenly, the Beetle joins the fight, determined to get revenge on Black Spectre for ruining his Christmas Eve heist. Realizing they’re overmatched, the terrorists flee into the frenzied crowd and escape. The Beetle then catches Daredevil off guard and throws him into a wall, knocking him out. When he comes to, Daredevil is confused to find San Francisco Police Commissioner Robert “Ironguts” O’Hara looming over him. O’Hara explains that he has just returned to the United States from Africa, where he went to bury his murdered brother last fall, and wants to lend a hand against Black Spectre. Daredevil suggests he go meet with District Attorney Nelson at the hospital, then makes sure to beat O’Hara there and quickly change back into Matt Murdock. When O’Hara arrives, Foggy, confined to a wheelchair but able to hang out in the hospital’s solarium, shows him photo enlargements he’s had made of the scenes of Black Spectre’s recent outrages, revealing that a dirigible was present each time. They wonder why a terrorist organization would use such an unlikely mode of transport. Unexpectedly, the Commissioner’s niece, Dr. Shanna O’Hara, enters the room with two pet leopards, called Ina and Biri, and announces that the leader of Black Spectre is the same man who murdered her father last year in Africa. Gerald O’Hara, she explains, made a fortune in the African diamond trade before being kidnapped a little over a year ago by a mutant terrorist known as the Mandrill, who commanded his own private army. Shanna spent several months trying to find him, only to learn last November that her father’s body had turned up in Cape Town, South Africa. She was shocked to discover that her father’s will bequeathed all the assets of the diamond business to someone named “Hensley Fargus,” which she suspects is an alias used by the Mandrill. Though she has no proof yet, Shanna is convinced that her father’s fortune is being used to finance Black Spectre. Matt’s hypersenses tell him that Shanna is not telling all she knows, though he is intrigued by her unusually high levels of physical fitness and self-confidence. Foggy thanks her for the information and promises to follow up on it.

The next evening, Daredevil is swinging through the city on his billy-club cable when an explosion atop a skyscraper he’s passing sends chunks of masonry raining down on the street below. Twisting to avoid the debris, Daredevil loses his grip on his billy club and falls, though he manages to save himself by grabbing onto a construction crane. Learning from a police officer that the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters was the source of the explosion, Daredevil determines to give the superhero team a piece of his mind. In the lobby, he runs into the Thing, who has come down to see if anyone was hurt by the falling rubble. Inviting Daredevil upstairs, the Thing explains that the blast was caused by an alien man named Wundarr, who, despite his dangerous superhuman powers, has the intellect of a toddler. In the tower, Daredevil meets Wundarr and retrieves his billy club with some help from Mister Fantastic. He is intrigued by the high-tech costume Mister Fantastic has created to prevent Wundarr from being a “walking bomb” any longer and wonders why the cantankerous Thing, of all people, seems to have been made Wundarr’s primary caregiver. Daredevil then goes to meet Shanna O’Hara at her hotel room and hears again her tale of the Mandrill, still convinced that she’s withholding some vital information.

Frustrated, Daredevil continues on to Greenwich Village, where he changes back into Matt Murdock. Matt has somewhat reluctantly agreed to accompany Candace Nelson, a graduate student at Empire State University, to a patriotic avant-garde stage play called America Shall Endure. Along with the rest of the audience, Matt and Candace are horrified when an actor dressed as Captain America savagely beats another actor playing a Civil War-era slave, only to be shot dead by a third actor portraying Adolf Hitler. That actor then shoots himself in the head, blowing his brains all over the stage, before Matt can even decide what to do. The audience panics and stampedes out of the theater, so Matt takes advantage of the chaos and allows himself to be separated from Candace. He then changes into Daredevil and pursues a Black Spectre agent out the stage door into an alley behind the theater, realizing the terrorist must have somehow hypnotized the actors to cause the bloodbath. Unfortunately, he is ambushed by Natasha Romanoff, who helps the terrorist escape in the organization’s dirigible. Daredevil is bewildered, wondering if the Black Widow could possibly be so angry at him for leaving her last Christmas Eve that she would join a group like Black Spectre. Intent on finding out, he races back to the Baxter Building and tries to commandeer the Fantasti-Car. He is stopped by the Thing, but after learning of the dire situation, the Thing agrees to join him in his pursuit of the dirigible. When the two heroes catch up to the villains’ airship, though, they discover it is actually a jet aircraft disguised as a dirigible. The Thing smashes his way through the airship’s electrified hull and starts fighting with Natasha, numerous Black Spectre agents, and a mutant woman calling herself Nekra, Priestess of Darkness. By the time Daredevil drops into the vessel as well, the Thing has battled his way into another room. Nekra and the Black Widow team up against Daredevil and quickly knock him out. Regaining consciousness, Daredevil finds himself and the dazed Thing plunging toward the ground in the Fantasti-Car. He manages to get the vehicle’s engines restarted and pull it out of its nose-dive, giving the Thing the chance to come to and bring it to a safe landing on the New Jersey Palisades. On the way back to Manhattan, the Thing reveals that he saw the face of Black Spectre’s leader, and it was not recognizably human—lending credence to Shanna’s assertion that the organization is led by the Mandrill. Frustrated that they lost the fight, the Thing is ready to go back for round two, but Daredevil insists that he’s more effective when he works alone.

Around midnight, Daredevil manages to capture two Black Spectre agents whom he finds running through a back alley. His hypersenses confirm that they, like all the others, are women. He calls the police and has the terrorists taken in for questioning. While the pair is being interrogated, Daredevil phones Commissioner O’Hara at his hotel and asks him and Shanna to come down to the station. The frustrated cops then inform Daredevil that the suspects have refused to say a word since being brought in. Daredevil is surprised when one cop mentions that both women have strange tattoos on their faces, but he tries to cover up the fact that he was unaware of something a sighted person would find glaringly obvious. No sooner have the O’Haras entered the station (with the two leopards) than the interrogation room is blown apart by a tremendous explosion. The charred remains of the two terrorists are found in the rubble, and it is determined that they committed suicide rather than betray their compatriots. Exhausted, Daredevil heads back to his hotel to get some sleep. However, he is surprised to find the Mandrill there, waiting for him along with another of his female agents. Chortling, the Mandrill reveals that the Black Widow has informed the terrorists of Daredevil’s secret identity. The hero is shocked by this betrayal, but the Mandrill explains that both he and Nekra are mutants, their parents having been exposed to radiation while working on the Manhattan Project. Ostracized for the early manifestations of their mutations, the pair met as young runaways and, upon coming into their full powers as teenagers, decided to strike back at the society that had rejected them for being different. Over time, the Mandrill realized that, in addition to his monkey-like appearance, he had the power to mentally dominate women and bend them to his will—including Nekra. Daredevil realizes with some relief that this is how they managed to get Natasha to join their organization and reveal his secrets. Having heard enough, Daredevil attacks his foe, and their battle carries them down to the busy sidewalk on W. 53rd St. When police arrive on the scene, the Mandrill decides to retreat. Daredevil is unable to pursue him as the jostling crowd moves in, overwhelming his hypersenses.

Daredevil then pays a visit to Shanna, rousting her and her leopards out of bed. She summons her uncle from his adjoining room, whereupon Daredevil confirms her suspicion that the Mandrill is the leader of Black Spectre and reveals what he’s learned about the villains’ mutant powers. Thoroughly exhausted, he suggests they meet with Foggy at the hospital in the morning to decide what to do next. He then swings off on his billy-club cable, only to be immediately ambushed by an armored Japanese swordsman calling himself the Silver Samurai. Daredevil is shocked as his foe’s sword effortlessly cuts through stone walls and iron lampposts. He realizes that, due to his fatigue, it’s all he can do to avoid getting killed. Fortunately, Ina and Biri leap into the fray, with Shanna close behind. Working together, they are able to force the Silver Samurai to retreat, and Daredevil is very impressed with Shanna’s athletic prowess. She is eager to pursue the villain, but Daredevil insists on getting some sleep first.

Thus, several hours later, Daredevil meets up with the O’Haras and Foggy in the hospital solarium, where Shanna admits to withholding information because she wanted to deal with the Mandrill herself. However, she now realizes that his mutant power to control women makes that impossible. Shanna explains that she has battled Nekra before—in fact, Nekra murdered her boyfriend—and during the months she was searching for the villains in hopes of rescuing her father, she was working closely with an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and they found evidence that the Silver Samurai was working for the Mandrill. As if on cue, the Silver Samurai then crashes through the solarium windows, accompanied by several Black Spectre agents. They kidnap Shanna after stunning her leopards, and though Daredevil makes a valiant attempt to stop them, he gets knocked out by Nekra. After regaining consciousness, he changes into Matt Murdock and returns to the solarium. There, Candace informs him that Foggy is back in his private room and Commissioner O’Hara is being treated for minor injuries. Needing some time to recover from the battle himself, Matt invites Candace to the hospital coffee shop and learns that she has gotten herself into some kind of trouble at school, though she refuses to discuss it.

At dusk, Daredevil finds Black Spectre’s phony dirigible hovering over the Empire State Building, where the Silver Samurai and several female agents are sabotaging the 200-foot TV transmission tower on the roof. Daredevil confronts them but quickly realizes he is badly outnumbered. He decides to storm the aircraft instead and confront the Mandrill directly. While climbing up the ship’s rope ladder, he senses the transmission tower crashing to the street below, killing several people on impact. Nekra climbs down the ladder to deal with him, but Daredevil evades her using his gymnastic skills. He climbs into the ship, only to be immediately attacked by the Mandrill and kept busy until Nekra can climb back up and knock him out again with a karate chop. Daredevil comes to later and finds himself being held prisoner alongside the unconscious Shanna somewhere within the airship. He overhears the Mandrill telling Nekra that he plans to dissect Daredevil’s brain to find out how his radar sense works. The villain is also intent on discovering why Shanna is immune to his influence, a revelation Daredevil finds interesting. When the pair has left the area, Daredevil pleads with the Black Widow to set him free, but she refuses. When Shanna comes to, she suggests that an emotional shock might overcome the Mandrill’s influence, so Daredevil reminds Natasha of their contentious parting last Christmas Eve. The gambit succeeds and Natasha releases Daredevil and Shanna, leading them to where all the Black Spectre jetpacks are stored. After Natasha has rigged the jetpacks’ fuel source to explode, she, Daredevil, and Shanna fly out of the ship, discovering that it is now hovering above the White House in Washington, D.C. Daredevil senses a large simian-shaped idol on the lawn with a blazing cauldron in its lap. Numerous Black Spectre agents have shed their bulky uniforms and are dancing around the idol. A contingent of soldiers have them surrounded but aren’t taking any action for some reason. The three heroes crash into the Oval Office, where they find the Mandrill seated at the President’s desk. Daredevil attacks him immediately while the Black Widow takes on Nekra and Shanna deals with some of their agents. The battle soon leads the two men up to the roof, where the Mandrill manages to gain the upper hand. Luckily, he is distracted when the phony dirigible blows up and crashes to the ground, enabling Daredevil to break the villain’s grip and kick him off the roof. Convinced that the Mandrill must have broken his neck when he landed, Daredevil races back to the Oval Office. He is relieved to find that the Black Widow has already defeated Nekra, who was likewise distracted by the exploding airship. Shanna is furious when no trace of the Mandrill’s body can be found, and she castigates Daredevil for not verifying that he was dead, thus allowing her father’s killer to escape. The Black Widow tries to comfort Shanna, and Daredevil feels terrible. The soldiers finally move in and take the remaining Black Spectre agents into custody. Due to her dangerous mutant powers, Nekra is remanded into the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daredevil is further dispirited when the Army general overseeing the mopping-up operation suggests that the proper response to the incident is further mistrust and oppression of those who are different—the very attitude that drove the Mandrill and Nekra to a life of crime in the first place.

A few days later, Foggy is finally released from the hospital, although Debbie continues to fuss over him. Matt then takes Natasha, Shanna, and Commissioner O’Hara to the airport for their flight back to California. At the gate, Matt suggests he may move back to San Francisco eventually, after he helps Foggy get the district attorney’s office back on track following his extended hospitalization. After the O’Haras have boarded the plane, Matt and Natasha bid each other an awkward farewell, as neither can quite find the words to express their feelings. Finally, Natasha just kisses Matt, then turns and boards the plane without another word. He is left reeling with conflicting emotions.

June 1967 – Following the kidnapping of Gail Callan, the teenaged daughter of a wealthy industrialist, the kidnappers demand that Assistant District Attorney Matt Murdock deliver the ransom, since he is blind and won’t be able to identify them. However, Matt’s hypersenses soon reveal the villains to be his old foes, the animal-themed Unholy Three. After handing the ransom over to Cat-Man, Matt changes into Daredevil and follows him, hoping he’ll lead him to where Ape-Man and Bird-Man are holding Gail. Unfortunately, Spider-Man interferes, mistaking Cat-Man for a burglar. Thus, Daredevil picks a fight with the web-slinger, to prevent him from apprehending the crook. Once Cat-Man has fled the scene, Daredevil stops the fight and explains the situation. Spider-Man agrees to team up with Daredevil to rescue Gail, whereupon they track Cat-Man to Steeplechase Park, a closed-down section of the Coney Island amusement complex. While Daredevil keeps the Unholy Three busy, Spider-Man sneaks Gail out and carries her to safety. The heroes quickly defeat Bird-Man and Cat-Man, but Ape-Man manages to grab Gail again and take her to the top of a roller coaster. Spider-Man sends the roller coaster cars crashing into Ape-Man, causing him to drop the terrified Gail into Daredevil’s arms. After webbing up the Unholy Three and summoning the police, Spider-Man departs. Daredevil makes sure that both Gail and the ransom are safely returned to her father.

When Candace Nelson is kidnapped by the Gladiator, Matt and Foggy learn that she was grabbed while being arrested by the FBI; the Gladiator nearly killed the two FBI agents and stole a set of papers that were the subject of the federal investigation. Matt remembers Candace mentioning some trouble at school, so he heads over to Empire State University and questions her mentor, journalism professor Charles Laing, who reveals that Candace was working on an exposé about the school’s involvement in questionable military research during the 1950s. She had discovered files in the university archives relating to a top-secret project dubbed Operation: Sulfur, led by a member of the chemistry faculty named Theodore Sallis. Dr. Sallis was apparently trying to develop a serum that would alter human biochemistry to allow people to survive even the most toxic industrial pollution—in effect by mutating them into pollution-breathing monsters. Sallis eventually turned against the project and had it shut down. Matt is frustrated to learn that Sallis disappeared a couple years ago while working on a new project in the Florida Everglades, but he reasons that the Gladiator may try to track down Sallis as well, if he’s interested in the Operation: Sulfur research. Thus, Matt decides to head down to Florida at once, after checking in with Foggy.

Arriving in Citrusville, Florida—where Sallis was last seen—a few hours later, Matt meets radio disc jockey Richard Rory, who has done some reporting on Sallis’s disappearance. Rory reveals that Sallis’s abandoned laboratory out in the swamp was the site of a mysterious triple-murder just two months ago, but then he starts going on about the local swamp monster, known as the “Man-Thing,” claiming to have seen the creature himself. Incredulous, Matt has Rory drive him out to the lab, which turns out to be little more than a wooden shack. There, Matt’s hypersenses immediately detect both the Gladiator and Candace within the dilapidated structure. Unfortunately, the Gladiator comes charging out and attacks them, knocking Rory unconscious. Matt is able to dash into the trees and change into Daredevil, but the fight does not go well—his leg is injured and he is knocked out when his foe’s wrist-mounted buzzsaws send a heavy branch crashing down on him. Coming to several minutes later, Daredevil is shocked to find the Man-Thing, a hulking creature made of muck and slime, struggling with the Gladiator. Where the monster is touching his bare flesh, the Gladiator’s skin is burning, producing a horrible smell. Nearby stands a wraith-like figure whom the Gladiator calls Death-Stalker—mostly just a blur to Daredevil’s radar sense, with no discernable heartbeat. When Death-Stalker causes the Man-Thing to collapse to the ground with a mere touch of his hand, Daredevil pounces on the phantom and tries to punch him in the face. To his shock, Daredevil discovers there is nothing under his foe’s hat but a void of numbing cold. Laughing, Death-Stalker easily avoids Daredevil’s clumsy follow-up attacks and renders the hero unconscious just by laying a hand on his shoulder.

Daredevil is relieved to regain consciousness sometime later, for he felt as if he were dying. However, he finds himself and Rory tied to chairs inside Sallis’s shack, which is burning down. There is no sign of Death-Stalker or Candace, so Daredevil quickly frees himself and carries the still-unconscious Rory out of the collapsing building. He then senses the Man-Thing lurking nearby, with the Gladiator—also knocked out cold—in its arms. Daredevil approaches cautiously, but the monster makes no move against him. It merely drops the Gladiator to the ground and shambles back into the swamp. Mystified, Daredevil loads Rory and the Gladiator into the disc jockey’s Volkswagen bus and drives them to the Citrusville hospital, where he changes back into Matt Murdock and has his leg treated. Gladiator’s burns are likewise treated before he is taken into custody by the sheriff. Rory finally comes to and, after being treated for a concussion and minor smoke inhalation, is released. Confused by the day’s events, Rory wishes Matt luck in tracking down the kidnapped girl. Matt finds a payphone and calls Foggy, but when his old friend mentions Daredevil being in Florida, Matt realizes that Death-Stalker must now be holding both Nelson siblings prisoner. Worried, Matt hurries back to the Miami airport and catches the next flight to New York. There, Daredevil finds Foggy and Candace tied up in Foggy’s apartment and manages to drive Death-Stalker off with the help of a passing police officer.

After bringing Foggy up to date on the strange events in Florida, Matt convinces him to stash Candace in a hotel room rather than turning her over to the FBI, arguing that her life will be in danger as long as Death-Stalker knows where she is, given the villain’s ghost-like abilities. Foggy relents and goes to confer with the federal authorities, leaving Candace with Matt at his hotel. Candace again flirts with Matt, but when he gets irritated, she explains that she’s just trying to keep from being overwhelmed by the situation. As they discuss the case, Candace reveals that the Operation: Sulfur papers show that Sallis expected his test subjects to be immune to germ warfare as well as pollution, whereupon Matt realizes that Death-Stalker must be trying to sell the research on the black market. Determined not to let that happen, Matt makes up an excuse to step out, then changes into Daredevil and sets off in search of his foe. After a few hours, he finds him inside a chemical factory in Queens belonging to Osborn Laboratories, Inc. Though the facility has been shut down since Norman Osborn’s death last year, Daredevil detects activity within. Sure enough, the hero locates Death-Stalker and a gun-toting chemist on a catwalk above a huge vat of hydrochloric acid. After a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Daredevil causes Death-Stalker to plunge into the vat of acid, losing his billy club in the process. He then disarms the villain’s accomplice and tosses his pistol into the acid as well, along with the file of Sallis’s research, knowingly destroying the evidence in the government’s case against Candace. He justifies his action by telling himself that the papers were too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands. Realizing that he didn’t actually hear Death-Stalker being dissolved by the acid, Daredevil wonders if his foe managed to escape.

Returning to his hotel at dawn, Matt informs Foggy and Candace that Death-Stalker died fighting Daredevil and the Sallis papers were destroyed in the melee. To his surprise, Candace is upset by the news, since she won’t be able to do her exposé now. Foggy is relieved, however, and he and Matt spend the rest of the day in the office of the federal prosecutor arranging for the charges against Candace to be dropped. Then, following a worrisome phone call from Natasha, Matt catches a red-eye flight out to San Francisco. As Daredevil, he heads back to the north shore mansion they once shared, only to discover that the owner has evicted Natasha and Ivan for failing to pay the rent. While searching the city for the Russian expatriates, Daredevil comes across two gun-toting thugs menacing innocent bystanders and tackles them. During the ensuing brawl, the Black Widow shows up and lends a hand. With the gunmen subdued, Daredevil and the Black Widow embrace and kiss with surprising passion as the crowd around them cheers and applauds. Unfortunately, one of the thugs manages to slip away while the heroes are thus distracted. After a little while, they give up looking for him and start discussing Natasha’s financial woes. She explains that she has depleted her savings, having been unable to find gainful employment due to her notoriety, and so for the past week she and Ivan have been living out of her Rolls-Royce. Shocked, Daredevil insists that he would have helped her out if she’d let him know, but she insists that she’s been too proud to ask for his help until now. Suddenly, they are attacked by the Owl, who is backed up by a gang of armed henchmen in a helicopter. As it turns out, the two thugs whom the heroes beat up earlier were in the Owl’s employ, working as part of a protection racket he’s been running in the city. The Owl manages to poison Daredevil, and before losing consciousness, he senses the Black Widow being gunned down by the men in the helicopter.

When he regains consciousness sometime later, Daredevil finds himself strapped to a metal table in the Owl’s secret lair. His thoughts are muddled, and he overhears the villain and his henchmen discussing some kind of mind-probe they have subjected him to, using a device that has since been damaged by the Black Widow. Daredevil is relieved to know that Natasha is still alive. Then, the Black Widow enters, carrying Shanna O’Hara in her arms—apparently having made a deal with the Owl to kidnap her in exchange for Daredevil’s freedom. However, Daredevil can tell that Shanna is merely feigning unconsciousness. Unsurprisingly, the Owl attempts to double-cross the Black Widow, at which point Shanna springs into action, using karate against the henchmen and freeing Daredevil from his bonds. The Owl activates jets of tear gas concealed in the floor, but Daredevil nevertheless manages to punch the villain into his mind-probe machine, completely demolishing it. The Owl then tries to escape, but with the help of a couple of death-defying leaps, Daredevil captures him. Afterwards, Daredevil is pleased when Ivan Petrovich turns up with Lt. Paul Carson of the San Francisco Police Department. He and Carson take some time to get caught up while the Owl and his henchmen are taken into custody. Over the next few days, Matt and Natasha spend some quality time together while Ivan uses his mechanical engineering skills to build Daredevil a sophisticated new billy club. Finally, Daredevil and the Black Widow say goodbye to each other atop the Golden Gate Bridge. He asks her again to come back to New York with him, but she refuses, feeling it’s important that she maintain her independence despite being in love with him. For both of them, it’s a painful parting.

Back in Manhattan, Matt pays a visit to the Waldorf Astoria hotel to give an official warning to a trio of San Francisco-based martial arts experts—Lin Sun, Abe Brown, and Bob Diamond—who have been linked to recent acts of large-scale destruction on the west coast. However, as he is approaching their suite, the three men come charging out and race to the elevator. Matt senses about half-a-dozen unconscious ninja assassins on the floor of their hotel room and is impressed by the trio’s fighting prowess. A few hours later, a section of the Queensboro Bridge is bombed and collapses, though there’s no evidence tying Sun, Brown, and Diamond to the disaster.

July 1967 – Daredevil continues his crimefighting crusade in New York City, though he finds himself second-guessing his decision to leave San Francisco and Natasha. He foils a plot by the Circus of Crime to rob their audience using a colony of bats controlled by their newest member, a man called Blackwing. The Ringmaster, Princess Python, Ernesto and Luigi Gambonno, and the Human Cannonball are among those taken into custody, though Blackwing manages to escape. Matt and Foggy are frustrated when Princess Python immediately breaks out of prison.

On a rooftop one evening, Daredevil is recruited for a mission to save the world by Nighthawk, whom he remembers as a fraudulent superhero he fought with a couple years ago. Nighthawk insists that he is now a bona fide hero and works with a team called the Defenders, which has so far kept its existence a secret. Though Daredevil is dubious, his hypersenses tell him that Nighthawk is not lying, therefore he agrees to help. Immediately, they are both teleported onto a large platform drifting in a void, where the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and a woman who calls herself the Valkyrie are waiting for them. An alien known as the Grandmaster then explains that the Defenders are to serve as his pawns in a game against a mystery opponent, with the fate of the earth hanging in the balance—if they win, the world will be left alone; if they lose, the human race will be enslaved; and if they refuse to cooperate, the planet will be destroyed. Daredevil is intrigued when the Grandmaster mentions that he gave Nighthawk his powers when forming a team called the Squadron Sinister to battle the Avengers in a similar game some years ago. While the Grandmaster is making his preparations, Nighthawk describes the alien as a “galactic gambling addict.” Soon, Daredevil and the Sub-Mariner are teleported to a highly volcanic world that stinks of sulfur, where they are supposed to fight two strange-looking aliens to the death. The chaotic environment wreaks havoc with Daredevil’s hypersenses, and almost immediately he is thrown into a magma geyser and incinerated.

A moment later, however, Daredevil finds himself resurrected on a small space station, where he is reunited with the Defenders. The Grandmaster declares himself the victor in the contest, but decides to renege on his pledge, believing Earth can provide him with generations of gladiators for his amusement. Outraged, the Defenders attack him, only to be easily brushed aside. Daredevil decides to try a different tack and, remembering Nighthawk’s words, goads the Grandmaster into wagering Earth’s freedom on a simple coin toss. Thus, Daredevil pries a metal disk off a bank of machinery and scratches an X on one side. As he flips it into the air, though, he uses his hypersenses to ensure that he wins the toss. The Grandmaster graciously accepts defeat and teleports the heroes back to New York City. Doctor Strange expresses his gratitude to Daredevil, though he has some reservations about risking the fate of the human race on the toss of a coin. Chuckling to himself, Daredevil assures the Defenders that the outcome was never in doubt.

Later, Matt is shocked to wake up and discover that everyone in New York City has been unconscious for two days. Reports of strange occurrences start coming in from around the globe, but then the Fantastic Four announce that it was all part of an alien invasion plot that they have foiled.

August 1967 – Matt is elated to receive a somewhat cryptic telegram from Natasha informing him that she’s planning to return to New York before the end of the year. She just needs a few months, she says, to straighten out her finances and settle her debts in San Francisco. Later, at the district attorney’s office, Matt learns that Candace is heading to Washington, D.C. for the next few months, to serve as the star witness in a congressional investigation into Operation: Sulfur. Candace is clearly excited to get her chance to expose the horrific research project, hoping to prevent other such abuses of science. Afterwards, Matt returns to his old neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, to meet with “Pop” Fenton, his dad’s old boxing trainer, at Fogwell’s Gym. Fenton explains that he got a grant to convert the gym into a non-profit afterschool sports center for the neighborhood teens. He and his former protege, Kid Gawaine, who has given up boxing to study for the Catholic priesthood, then tell Matt about a promising bantamweight boxer named Juan Aponte, who has become the subject of unethical augmentation experiments conducted by a former city coroner, Dr. Jakkelburr. The experiments are apparently based on research Jakkelburr carried out on the corpse of the Crusher, a mutated Cuban strongman who died fighting Iron Man three years ago. They are concerned because the treatments seem to be altering Aponte’s personality and making him dangerous. Matt offers them some legal advice, but then Aponte and Jakkelburr turn up, accompanied by some hired thugs, intent on preventing Fenton and Gawaine from interfering with Aponte’s first heavyweight bout that night. In the ensuing scuffle, Matt allows himself to be shoved into the locker room, where he changes into Daredevil. The hero then confronts Aponte, who has transformed into a 12-foot giant with superhuman strength. Their battle wrecks the old building, and Aponte is mortally wounded when he impulsively saves Fenton and Gawaine from a collapsing wall. Reverting to his normal form, the dying Aponte apologizes for his rampage, saying he couldn’t control himself after his transformation. Sympathetic, Daredevil captures Jakkelburr and his thugs and turns them over to the police.

When Manhattan is rocked by a series of unnatural earthquakes, Daredevil heads out to help rescue people from damaged buildings. Though the earthquakes seem to have two epicenters—one in Washington Heights at the north end of the island and the other in the Financial District on the island’s southern tip—Daredevil focuses his efforts on the southern zone, which is closer to the district attorney’s offices. There, he senses Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Fantastic Four have also joined in the rescue efforts.

Matt is curious when the American Museum of Natural History announces a gala opening of their new exhibit—the Man-Thing. The day after the opening, though, Matt learns that the creature became so agitated that it broke out of its enclosure and took off down the street. The Man-Thing made it as far as Columbus Circle, where it collapsed into the fountain. The museum then made arrangements to have the monster shipped back to the Florida Everglades, with help from Stark International. Remembering his recent encounter with the Man-Thing, Matt thinks it’s for the best that it be left alone in its natural habitat.

September–November 1967 – Daredevil continues to plague New York City’s criminal underworld, focusing mainly on street crime. Confident that he won’t be returning to San Francisco, Matt finally moves out of the New York Hilton Hotel and into a brownstone in the Lennox Hill neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. His new place is near the Queensboro Bridge, which has been undergoing reconstruction since the summer, and is not too far from Avengers Mansion, where, he learns, Moondragon has been staying. Though tempted, Matt decides not to look her up, anticipating Natasha’s arrival.

December 1967 – For about 18 hours, Daredevil finds himself trapped within a force-field bubble. Try as he might, he is unable to escape. Finally, the force field vanishes as mysteriously as it appeared. He then learns that while he was trapped, Loki led an invasion force of Asgardian warriors against Washington, D.C., only to be repelled by Thor and the U.S. Army.

On New Year’s Eve, Matt goes to LaGuardia Airport to pick up Natasha and Ivan. Their reunion is disrupted by a gang of machine gun-toting terrorist hijackers, but Daredevil and the Black Widow quickly beat them senseless in the baggage claim area. Leaving Ivan to deal with the luggage, the two costumed lovers head out into the falling snow to discuss their relationship. Though reluctant at first, Natasha finally opens up and admits that she doesn’t like feeling like Daredevil’s sidekick when they’re out fighting crime together. He is disturbed by the thought that Natasha believes their love affair is eroding her sense of fierce independence and decides to change the subject. Entering his new apartment, Daredevil pulls out his tuxedo and tells Natasha to change into something sexy for a swanky New Year’s Eve party. When Ivan finally arrives, he grumbles about changing into a tuxedo as well but complies when Natasha insists. Matt is nervous, knowing that the party is being hosted by Foggy, against whom Natasha still holds a grudge for prosecuting her on a false murder charge. When they arrive at Foggy’s apartment and are greeted by his fiancée, Debbie Harris, Natasha gets angry and nearly storms out before Matt stops her. He insists that Foggy deeply regrets what happened and was being manipulated by the villain Mister Kline—and very nearly resigned as D.A. as a result. Ivan urges Natasha to let bygones be bygones, and she finally agrees to remain at the party for Matt’s sake. Noticing that Natasha is standing beneath some mistletoe, Foggy approaches her sheepishly and offers his apologies. Before Natasha can respond, a horde of HYDRA agents crashes through the windows.

The HYDRA agents spray a sedative gas around the apartment, knocking out most of the guests, including Ivan and Debbie. Matt bolts into a bedroom and changes into Daredevil, his hypersenses revealing that the leader of the HYDRA commando squad is a Hispanic man calling himself the Jaguar and they are there to kidnap Foggy. Daredevil swings back into the apartment through another window and attacks the Jaguar, ducking under his slashing claws to turn out the lights. Unfortunately, the Jaguar is able to see in the dark, and their furious battle quickly trashes Foggy’s apartment. Daredevil finally gains the upper hand, only to be distracted by the arrival of Nick Fury, along with over a dozen of his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The Jaguar smashes down the front door and flees, but Fury insists that his agents will apprehend him. However, Contessa Valentina Allegra de La Fontaine soon enters and reports that the Jaguar slipped through their security perimeter, as they were not prepared for his superhuman speed. Daredevil is irate that Fury’s agents let their foe get away. Foggy and Debbie are confused as to why they would be targeted by HYDRA, so Fury explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. is considering Foggy for its new board of directors. The agency is being reorganized, he reveals, and will no longer be under the direct command of the President of the United States. Several candidates for the new board of directors are being considered, chosen from various sectors of public service. Foggy is honored but says he’ll need to think it over. Debbie is worried about HYDRA attacking them again, but Fury insists S.H.I.E.L.D. can protect them. When Ivan wonders aloud where Matt has gotten to, Daredevil takes the hint and swings off, wishing Foggy good luck. He then sneaks back in through the bedroom window, changes out of his costume, and rejoins the others, claiming to have been knocked out during the fight. Fury and his agents take Foggy to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to debrief him for a few hours, leaving a small detachment to guard Debbie. Matt, Natasha, and Ivan say goodnight and head back to Matt’s townhouse. After dropping off the two lovers, Ivan drives back to keep an eye on Foggy’s apartment building. Happy to be reunited at last, Matt and Natasha ring in the new year together.


Notes:

January–May 1967 – Daredevil’s adventures continue in Daredevil #109 and following. Black Spectre’s activities cover significantly more time than is apparent in the story as written. Daredevil teams up with the Thing, learns of Shanna O’Hara’s recent ordeal, attends the ill-fated stage play, encounters the Black Widow, and meets Nekra in Marvel Two-in-One #3. Presumably, the hypnotized actors were not performing America Shall Endure as written, but were forced into a catastrophic sort of improv. Shanna’s tale recounts the events of her short-lived series Shanna the She-Devil, part of Marvel’s half-hearted attempt to expand their female readership. Her immunity to the Mandrill’s influence is probably due to the inhabiting spirit known as the Queen of the Pride that she inherited from her mother (as revealed in Marvel Fanfare #59). In addition to destroying the TV transmission tower atop the Empire State Building, Black Spectre agents also sabotage similar media infrastructure across the country, disrupting television broadcasts nationwide, as well as cutting long-distance telephone lines and jamming shortwave radio frequencies. Furthermore, the Mandrill tells the U.S. military, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four that he has an atomic bomb ready to destroy New York City should they interfere with his plans to overthrow the federal government—a claim eventually revealed to be a hoax. The Mandrill does indeed escape at the end and flees with some of his thralls to South America. The disposition of the unconscious Nekra is revealed in the flashback in Spider-Woman #16.

June 1967 – Daredevil and Spider-Man join forces against the Unholy Three in Marvel Team-Up #25. The triple-homicide in Ted Sallis’s swamp shack takes place in the Man-Thing text story in Monsters Unleashed #8–9. Daredevil is unaware that he battled Death-Stalker three years ago, when the villain was known as the Exterminator, as chronicled in Daredevil #39–41. The explosion that seemingly killed the Exterminator actually left him partially phased into an interdimensional limbo, where he mutated into the Death-Stalker. Matt’s brief encounter with the Sons of the Tiger occurs in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #8.

July 1967 – Princess Python’s jailbreak is revealed in Captain America #180. Daredevil teams up with the Defenders for the contest between the Grandmaster and Doctor Doom’s Prime Mover robot in Giant-Size Defenders #3, where he and the Sub-Mariner are handily defeated by Dumog the Fomalhauti and Teju the Reptoid. The people of Manhattan are then rendered insensate for 48 hours by alien invaders in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #3, in which Matt Murdock remains behind the scenes.

August 1967 – Interestingly, it’s entirely possible that Dr. Jakkelburr’s research on the Crusher formed the basis for Karl Malus’s later augmentation work for Power Broker, Inc. Earthquakes strike Manhattan in Marvel Team-Up #28, courtesy of a pair of disgruntled scientists being manipulated by They Who Wield Power. The Man-Thing makes his New York City debut in Giant-Size Man-Thing #2. Matt again remains behind the scenes.

December 1967 – Various superheroes are seen trapped within Loki’s magical spheres in Thor #233. Nick Fury’s attempt to recruit Foggy Nelson brings us up to Daredevil #121. The reorganization of S.H.I.E.L.D. is likely in response to last year’s Secret Empire plot, which involved their leader becoming President of the United States, as detailed in OMU: POTUS – Part Three.



Jump Back: Daredevil – Year Five

Next Issue: Thor – Year Six


Friday

OMU: Captain America -- Year Six

The career of Captain America goes sideways during the next twelve months of his life as writer Steve Englehart digs deep into who Steve Rogers is and what makes him tick. Utterly disillusioned after discovering that the President of the United States was at the center of a conspiracy to turn the nation into a fascist dictatorship, the hero abandons his patriotic identity to become a bitter loner called Nomad, the Man Without a Country. This alienates him from his partner, the Falcon; his lover, Sharon Carter; and his colleagues in the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., forcing him to explore and re-evaluate his personal philosophy. The storyline ran for an impressive eight issues before the status quo was restored to mark the character’s 34th anniversary. Englehart closes the Nomad saga with his summation of the overarching theme of the Original Marvel Universe at this point: “There are many risings and advancings of the spirit.”

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.


Continuing on with... The True History of Captain America!


January–April 1967 – Burdened by the revelations from the recent Secret Empire fiasco, Steve Rogers continues performing routine duties as Captain America, though his heart is no longer in it. He attends Avengers meetings, works out in the team’s training facilities, and occasionally visits with the convalescent Whizzer—a former teammate from World War II whom he barely remembers due to the lingering effects of his post-cryogenic amnesia. Feeling the other Avengers don’t understand what he’s going through, Steve prefers to spend his nights sleeping on a cot in the office in Harlem where Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon, performs his day job as a social worker. He grows increasingly bitter about the way the public turned against him as a result of the Secret Empire’s smear campaign, believing that all the charity work and public service he’s performed over the last four years should have earned him the benefit of the doubt. He wonders if people have just come to take Captain America for granted, devaluing his heroism. On the other hand, old-fashioned hero worship has proven to have a dark side—all the corrupt politicians in league with the Secret Empire won the respect and admiration of a broad swath of the American public. Plus, no longer united by a common enemy like the Nazis, he realizes, Americans have slowly fragmented into squabbling factions, resulting in several competing notions of what the nation stands for. How is he supposed to embody such diverse, often mutually exclusive ideals?

Steve is infuriated when the subversive organization Black Spectre continually gets away with carrying out offensive pranks and outrageous sabotage, such as inciting a race riot at the Statue of Liberty, installing a swastika atop the Washington Monument, draping Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in black shrouds, and carving Adolf Hitler’s face into Mount Rushmore. S.H.I.E.L.D., which assists the government with repairing all the damage, assures Steve that it’s doing all it can to stop Black Spectre.

May 1967 – The situation with Black Spectre goes from bad to worse when they claim to have an atomic bomb hidden somewhere under Manhattan, which they threaten to detonate if the Avengers interfere with their overthrow of the U.S. government. Soon after, the terrorist group invades Washington, D.C. and storms the White House, only to be defeated by Daredevil and the Black Widow. The bomb threat turns out to be a hoax. Steve is relieved, but the incident makes him wonder if Captain America is really even needed anymore.

Steve takes a Sunday stroll through Central Park with his girlfriend, former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, with whom he’s been spending a lot more time lately. Finding that several large animals have been set loose in the zoo, Steve dutifully changes into Captain America to check it out. However, he quickly discovers that the Thing has the situation well in hand. Inviting the couple back to the Baxter Building for coffee, the Thing explains that the commotion was caused by his young charge, Wundarr, a super-powered alien with the body of an adult and the mind of a toddler. Fortunately, the Sub-Mariner’s cousin Namorita and her college roommate have agreed to take responsibility for Wundarr, to the Thing’s great relief. When they arrive at the Fantastic Four’s headquarters, Cap and Sharon are greeted by Mister Fantastic and Medusa, who are performing maintenance on the team’s time machine. An accident causes a young woman named Tarin to materialize from the year 3014. Cap is horrified by Tarin’s tale of how she has spent the last seven years as a slave of the Badoon, vicious aliens who conquered the solar system, wiping out most of the human race in the process. The few humans who survive in slavery remember Captain America, she reveals, as a symbol of liberty and hope. In fact, the leaders of the resistance movement, known as “the Guardians of the Galaxy,” have even named their spaceship after him. Feeling personally invested in Tarin’s plight, as it reminds him of all those who suffered under Nazi domination during World War II, Cap asks to accompany Tarin back to the future. Sharon and the Thing eagerly volunteer as well. Uncertain of the dangers involved, Mister Fantastic offers them 24 hours in the future for a scouting mission. After briefing them on the time machine’s operation, Mister Fantastic sends Cap, Sharon, the Thing, and Tarin to the New York City of the 31st century.

Unfortunately, the three time-travelers are almost immediately captured by an armed patrol of zombie-like police—humans altered by the Badoon so they can neither feel pain nor be knocked unconscious—and a semi-armored creature known as the Monster of Badoon. Tarin manages to escape in the chaos, but the others are dragged before the alien leader, Sovereign Drang, and his sadistic aide, Inquisitor Ebor. Cap is subjected to a painful mind-probe but is soon rescued by the Thing, and with help from Sharon, they fight their way out of the palace and lose themselves in the darkened city streets. After several perilous hours, they finally make contact with the Guardians of the Galaxy when Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Martinex, and Yondu rescue them from a Badoon patrol. Cap is fascinated by Astro’s tale of his own years spent in suspended animation, having left Earth in the late 1980s bound for Alpha Centauri aboard a sleeper ship. When he finally arrived a millennium later, Astro found himself a “man out of time,” much like Cap himself, as technological advances had allowed later human colonists to get there ahead of him. Learning that it was Astro who named the Guardians’ spaceship the Captain America, to honor his boyhood hero, Cap is a bit disheartened to realize that his legend has survived into the 31st century only because of this transplant from his own era. They soon rendezvous with Tarin and the rest of the human resistance movement, whereupon they stage a daring raid on the imperial palace and manage to capture Sovereign Drang despite sustaining heavy losses. Drang remains defiant, pointing out that the Badoon have conquered the entire solar system, so one rebel victory is inconsequential. Cap insists that the human war for independence is just beginning, a sentiment echoed by the Guardians of the Galaxy. A few hours later, the time machine’s glowing platform reappears and Cap, Sharon, and the Thing wish their new allies good luck before returning to the present day. After leaving the Baxter Building, Steve becomes dispirited by the thought that, despite whatever the Avengers may accomplish, humanity will be nearly wiped out by lizard people in a little over a thousand years.

Steve is annoyed when S.H.I.E.L.D. fabricates a story that former U.S. president Morris N. Richardson has died as a result of the health problems that led to his reported resignation last November. Steve knows this is part of the cover-up the agency engineered to prevent the public from learning that the duly-elected President of the United States was behind the Secret Empire’s conspiracy to turn America into a totalitarian dictatorship. Unaware of this, however, the media follows with numerous tributes hailing Richardson as a true American hero and patriot, much to Steve’s disgust. What little remaining faith Steve has in what Captain America represents collapses.

June 1967 – At Avengers Mansion one stormy evening, Thor, Iron Man, the Vision, the Falcon, and Peggy Carter try to talk Cap out of abandoning his costumed identity, but his mind is made up. He has realized that he can no longer embody a nation that allowed its noble ideals to be turned into a cynical sham. The others are stunned by this turn of events and wonder what could possibly have happened to him inside the White House during the battle with the Secret Empire, but Cap maintains that he is not at liberty to discuss it. Sharon is supportive of his decision, so Steve locks his costume and shield away in a vault beneath the mansion and officially resigns from the team. The next morning, Steve gets into an argument with the Falcon, who can’t seem to accept that Captain America is no more. Finally, the Falcon flies off in a huff, so Steve heads over to Sharon’s Park Avenue townhouse. Along the way, he finds that Captain America’s retirement is the talk of the town. Most people seem either saddened or angered by the news, leaving Steve feeling even more isolated than before. Sharon insists that she’s happy with the choice he’s made and is looking forward to spending the day together. Later, however, while strolling past the city jail, they discover the Falcon has been beaten up by two assailants who have fled the scene. Falcon is furious that his partner was not there when he needed him, but Steve insists that he’s just a sympathetic bystander now. As the Falcon storms off, Steve wonders if quitting his superhero life is going to cost him all his friends. Sharon does her best to cheer him up.

The following day, while working out at a gymnasium in Brooklyn, Steve meets a jocular kid named Roscoe Simons, and they discuss Captain America’s mysterious retirement. Roscoe suggests that Cap should make a public appearance to explain why he’s no longer making public appearances, and Steve appreciates his wry sense of humor. He then heads over to Sharon’s townhouse to take her out for a day at the beach. The mood is spoiled, though, when Peggy arrives, distraught over Captain America’s “disappearance.” She is desperate to find him, having convinced herself that the man she loves is in terrible danger. Peggy still does not realize that her sister’s boyfriend Steve is the costumed hero she fell in love with during World War II. Gabe Jones, Peggy’s S.H.I.E.L.D. trainer, has brought her home due to her rapidly deteriorating emotional state and tries to guilt Steve into dealing with the situation before it wrecks Peggy’s new career. Steve is frustrated with the way he and Sharon have handled things since Peggy emerged from her catatonic state last year. As usual, though, Sharon doesn’t want to talk about it.

Several hours later, Steve is heading back to his cot in Sam Wilson’s office when he sees the Falcon blasted out of the sky by a trio of bulky robots that he’s fighting. Horrified, Steve realizes he can’t just walk away when his former partner is in such peril, so he dashes into a sporting goods store and buys a ski mask to disguise himself with. He then confronts two identically dressed villains, both of whom call themselves “Lucifer,” and stops them from killing the unconscious Falcon. During the ensuing battle, Steve maneuvers the robots into destroying each other, at the same time berating himself for leaping into action at the first opportunity despite all his agonized soul-searching. One after the other, the two villains collapse to the ground, convulsing in pain, and Steve realizes that “Lucifer” is actually some kind of entity—possibly demonic—possessing both men, and its malevolent energy has burned out its host bodies. There is nothing Steve can do as the two men die horribly. When he unmasks the two dead men, Steve finds that one is Rafe Michel, an acquaintance of the Falcon’s girlfriend, Leila Taylor, whom he met a couple years ago. The other is Grover Raymond, who served as the second Aries in the international crime cartel Zodiac until being arrested last November following their defeat by the Avengers. When Falcon comes to, he is humiliated and angry that Steve has swooped in to rescue him despite refusing to continue on as his partner. Falcon berates Steve for his ‘white savior’ act and tells him to stay out of his business from now on. Steve is discouraged, feeling that his new life is falling apart all around him.

Over the next couple weeks, Steve gets to know Roscoe Simons better during his daily workouts at the gym in Brooklyn and is buoyed by the kid’s upbeat attitude. He also spends time with Sharon every day, for she often seems to be the one bright spot in his now-mundane life. On the way back to Sharon’s townhouse from the grocery store one afternoon, Steve tells Sharon that it’s time to let Peggy know the truth about their love affair, feeling it’s wrong to allow her to persist with her romantic fantasy from the 1940s. He knows they did it to protect Peggy’s feelings, but now he fears it’s doing more harm than good. Suddenly, the couple is attacked by a costumed supervillain calling himself the Golden Archer, who shoots trick-arrows at them while speaking in a faux-Shakespearean style. Steve is concerned when he realizes the Golden Archer knows he used to be Captain America. Sharon is frustrated that the shadow of Steve’s former life is still hanging over them.

Later, the Golden Archer attacks again while Steve is working out at the gym, and Roscoe is amazed by Steve’s athleticism as he chases the villain off. Steve then returns to Sharon’s townhouse, where he broods on the fire escape until Peggy comes home from her day as a S.H.I.E.L.D. trainee. Keeping to the shadows, Steve calls out to Peggy, calling her by her old code name, “Mademoiselle.” Her joy quickly dissolves into tears as Steve informs her that what they had together during the war just can’t exist in the present day. Peggy runs off sobbing, and feeling like a heel, Steve is about to go after her when the Golden Archer intervenes. Enraged, Steve chases the villain across the rooftops, but the Golden Archer finally dazzles him with a flash-arrow and escapes. Fed up, Steve heads back to Sam Wilson’s office and sets a trap for his foe, propping up a dummy behind a window shade and then concealing himself on a rooftop across the street. Sure enough, the Golden Archer soon appears, whereupon Steve tackles him and quickly beats him into submission. The Golden Archer surrenders and pulls off his disguise, revealing himself to be Captain America’s former teammate Hawkeye. Steve is shocked, but Clint Barton quickly explains that he wanted to convince Steve that giving up being a superhero was a big mistake. Also, Clint is grateful that Steve took him under his wing after he joined the Avengers and helped him become a better man—now he wants to return the favor. Steve appreciates Clint’s good intentions but insists that Captain America is not coming back, despite what everybody seems to think. Clint suggests that Steve create a completely new superhero persona instead, so his skills and abilities won’t go to waste. Disenchanted with his civilian life, Steve admits he’s intrigued by the idea.

July 1967 – Over the next few days, Steve convinces himself that Hawkeye’s idea really has merit—he could return to the life of action and adventure that he loves without being burdened with conflicting ideas about what America symbolizes. However, when he tells Sharon of his decision to become a superhero again, she gets upset and reveals that she supported his decision to retire because she always saw his Captain America identity as an impediment to their relationship. She accepted it then, she explains, because Steve was firmly established in that role when they met—but she doesn’t want to go back to that life of constant danger, hoping instead they could settle down and live like a normal couple. Steve admits he hadn’t thought about it from her perspective but insists that being a superhero is something he was born to do. He suggests they go to Sharon’s parents’ estate in Virginia to devise his new identity and work out his plans, but she refuses, telling him to go by himself if it means that much to him. Stunned, Steve leaves her townhouse and makes his way back to Harlem, wondering why things will never just come together for him.

In the morning, Steve leaves New York and rides his motorcycle down to Virginia, where he is greeted warmly by Harrison Carter and their butler, Smithers. After retiring to his room, Steve sketches out various costume designs, eventually deciding to keep it simple and not too different from what he had before, though he does add a flowing cape for some superhero panache. While making his new black-and-gold costume, he considers a number of possible codenames. Realizing that he has come to feel like “a man without a country,” Steve settles on the name Nomad. Thus, in Washington, D.C. a few nights later, Nomad makes his public debut. Steve realizes he hasn’t felt so free and unfettered since his first missions as Captain America way back in 1941. As luck would have it, he stumbles upon the Serpent Squad—the Cobra, the Eel, Princess Python, and a female Viper—kidnapping a man in front of a movie theater as his wife screams for help. Chasing the villains into the theater, Nomad is distracted for a moment when he realizes the film being shown is a documentary about Captain America. During the ensuing fight, the Eel reveals that his brother, the original Viper, has been killed by the police. It is then that Nomad recognizes the new Viper as none other than Madame Hydra, proving that she did survive their previous encounter. She claims to have taken up the Viper identity in tribute to the slain villain. Though the crooks berate him as an amateur, Nomad fares quite well against his four foes until he trips on his own cape and slams his jaw into the floor. While the hero is stunned, the Serpent Squad escapes with their captive. Furious with himself, Nomad rips off his cape and throws it away. When the police arrive moments later, Nomad learns that the kidnapping victim is Hugh Jones, the C.E.O. of the Roxxon oil conglomerate. He vows to track down the Serpent Squad and free their captive.

Frustrated by his lack of leads, Nomad stops by the Lincoln Memorial in search of inspiration. There, he runs into the Sub-Mariner, who is hunting down his nemesis, Warlord Krang. Namor shows little interest in Captain America’s new identity as Nomad, but when he mentions that Krang is in league with the Serpent Squad, Nomad suggests they combine forces. From a nearby car radio they hear Krang announcing that the Serpent Squad is responsible for kidnapping the head of Roxxon Oil. Hugh Jones then reads a prepared statement, but there’s something odd about his voice, which Namor recognizes as resulting from the influence of the Serpent Crown, an ancient mystical artifact from the sunken civilization of Lemuria. Nomad then phones S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and speaks with Nick Fury, who recognizes his voice. Fury confirms that Roxxon has an oil-drilling platform near the coordinates mentioned by Nomad, so the two heroes board Namor’s submarine, moored in the Potomac River, and set off at once for Lemuria at high speed. A few hours later, after passing through the Panama Canal, the submarine arrives at the Roxxon oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where it is still daylight. Wanting to prove himself in battle, Nomad asks the Sub-Mariner to hang back in the sub while he confronts the villains. Namor agrees, so Nomad climbs aboard the rig, where he finds Jones wearing the Serpent Crown and looking like he’s in a trance. The Cobra, the Eel, Princess Python, Viper, and Krang are present as well, so Nomad, seeing a strange disturbance in the water near the platform, attacks them without delay. Their brawl is interrupted by the arrival of Roxxon helicopters that strafe the platform with machine guns. Krang snatches the Serpent Crown off Jones’s head and tosses it to Viper. She and the Cobra escape in their aircraft while the others are pinned down by the shooting. Jones quickly comes out of his trance and informs his security forces that he’s shut off the pumps to prevent Lemuria from rising, though Nomad’s not really sure what he’s talking about. Nomad loses his temper when the Roxxon security guards treat him with contempt, punching one guy in the face. Though the Eel and Princess Python are taken into custody, Krang leaps into the ocean and escapes. Thus, Nomad hurries back to the submarine so he and Namor can pursue the fugitive Atlantean warlord.

When they lose Krang’s trail in the western Pacific, the Sub-Mariner agrees to drop Nomad off in Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam, where they’ve learned the Avengers are on a mission. Nomad soon catches up with Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, the Vision, and Mantis and tells them what he’s been up to. They are glad to see he’s back in action, though they find his new costume hard to get used to. They inform him of the Swordsman’s death in Peking, China, late last month at the hands of Kang the Conqueror, and of how his burial was disrupted by the Radioactive Man, the Titanium Man, and the Crimson Dynamo. Nomad is surprised to hear that the Swordsman sacrificed his life to save Mantis, given his criminal past. When Hawkeye checks in with the team’s butler, Edwin Jarvis, he reports that the fugitive Serpent Squad members have been spotted in Los Angeles. With that news, Nomad bounds off, promising to keep the Avengers apprised of his activities. When he arrives in California the next day, however, Nomad finds that his quarry has already left town. He soon tracks them north to Seattle, Washington.

Nomad finds Viper and the Cobra holed up inside an abandoned house in Seattle, firing machine guns at the police who’ve established a cordon around the property. He introduces himself to the police as the superhero who captured the rest of the Serpent Squad out in the Pacific Ocean, but not knowing anything about him, they stop him from charging the building. One cop hits Nomad in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking him out cold. When he comes to, Nomad finds himself handcuffed to the front wheel of a police cruiser. To his horror, the police have advanced on the building and are getting mowed down by the villains’ gunfire. He uses his super-strength to tear the wheel off its axle and break out of the handcuffs, then storms into the house. He finds the Cobra cowering in a corner, convinced they’re both going to die, as Viper continues firing at the cops outside. A fire has started in the basement, filling the ground floor with smoke mixed with tear gas. Nomad confronts them, whereupon the Cobra offers token resistance while Viper rants about nihilism in service to the Serpent Crown. When Cobra tries to make a run for it, Viper shoots him in the back, intent on making him a martyr to her cause. Nomad is about to tackle her when he is knocked back by the stream of water from a firehose outside. The fire-damaged building suddenly collapses, burying Viper in rubble, but Nomad is able to grab the Cobra and get him outside to a waiting ambulance. The medics determine that the Cobra’s body armor saved the villain’s life. However, Nomad writes off Viper as dead when a gas main ruptures, obliterating the house in a tremendous explosion. Though a thorough search of the wreckage is made, no trace of the Serpent Crown can be found.

When he finally calls Sharon’s townhouse, Steve learns from Peggy that Sharon has left New York and moved back to their family estate in Virginia. Assuming Sharon has broken off their relationship, Steve is saddened but determines to carry on as Nomad. Having cast himself as a wanderer, he decides not to return to New York in favor of exploring the wide-open spaces of the American west on his motorcycle.

August–November 1967 – For the next four months, Nomad wanders the western United States, fighting crime, helping people out of jams, and enjoying his freedom. However, he is disturbed by the dark mood of the country and the political polarization caused by racial inequality and the ever-escalating Vietnam War. Eventually, he starts making his way across the Midwest, heading inexorably back towards New York City.

December 1967 – For about 18 hours, Nomad finds himself trapped within a force-field bubble. Try as he might, he is unable to escape. Finally, the force field vanishes as mysteriously as it appeared. Nomad then learns that while he was trapped, Loki led an invasion force of Asgardian warriors against Washington, D.C., only to be repelled by Thor and the U.S. Army.

A week before Christmas, Nomad arrives in New York and goes looking for the Falcon. He comes across a Harlem costumed criminal called the Gamecock and his two henchmen and gets into a fight with them that ends abruptly when someone on an adjacent rooftop fires a bazooka at them. Before he can pursue either party, Nomad is confronted by Leila Taylor, who watched the fight from a safe distance. She reveals that the Falcon has been missing for three days, ever since he was seen in the company of a junior Captain America. Nomad isn’t sure what she means by that but rushes off, growing more concerned about his former partner’s whereabouts. After a frustrating encounter with street protestors valorizing the Serpent Squad as anti-corporate crusaders and trying to make Viper out to be a martyr, Nomad checks Sam Wilson’s office for clues. There, he runs into Gabe Jones and Peggy Carter and realizes that Peggy must have finished her training by now and become a full-fledged agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The pair is dismissive toward Nomad, thinking him to be a novice superhero, and assure him that they are already investigating Sam’s disappearance. Perhaps when Nomad has gained more experience, they suggest, S.H.I.E.L.D. will be willing to work with him. Reminded of how the Roxxon security detail treated him, Nomad decides not to argue the point and leaps out the window.

Next, Nomad shakes down the Harlem-based crime boss called Morgan, who admits to having hired the Gamecock to kill the Falcon but insists he has no idea where the hero disappeared to. Sensing Morgan is telling the truth, Nomad leaves, wondering what his next move should be. He comes across an irate crowd outside a recently robbed bank and calms them down by reminding them that their accounts are insured by the FDIC. He then stops at the Gem Theater in Times Square to consult with the super-detective Luke Cage, only to find that the “hero for hire” is out of town. Stumbling upon another crowd of panicky customers at the site of a second bank robbery, Nomad is subjected to a conspiracy-minded rant by a man convinced that the Committee to Regain America’s Principles heroically exposed Captain America as being in league with the Secret Empire. He cites Cap’s abrupt retirement as proof of his assertions. Frustrated by all the unforeseen negative consequences of his actions, Nomad berates himself. Then, he remembers that the Falcon had once mentioned following up on Professor X’s suggestion that his rapport with his pet falcon, Redwing, may mark him as a mutant. Thus, Nomad phones Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and speaks with the Beast, but none of the other X-Men are available. Beast assures Nomad that, if the Falcon is a mutant, he may just need some time alone to come to terms with that fact. It’s taken him a couple of years, he reveals, to deal with his own transformation into his current furry form and to find a measure of self-acceptance. Nomad is heartened by these words, but then Redwing swoops down, squawking at him. Realizing the bird wants him to follow, Nomad sets off across the rooftops again.

A few minutes later, Redwing leads Nomad to the body of a young man dressed as Captain America, hanging upside-down from a chimney. To his horror, he realizes the dead man is Roscoe Simons from the Brooklyn gymnasium where he used to work out, and that this must be whom Leila was referring to earlier. Nearby, Nomad discovers the Falcon, badly beaten and hogtied, dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia. As he is freed, Falcon identifies their attacker as the Red Skull. Nomad is shocked, having thought the villain died in Las Vegas a year and a half ago. The Red Skull is clearly looking for a showdown with Captain America, but Steve is at first determined to maintain his Nomad identity, reasoning that Cap was merely a patriotic fantasy fueled by the onset of World War II. He could represent America while the country was united against external threats like the Axis powers, he feels, but in the five years since he emerged from suspended animation, he’s seen how badly things went awry in his absence, as evidenced by the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the Secret Empire taking over the government. When the people entrusted with America’s future abused that trust, they proved themselves every bit as bad as the Red Skull. But then Steve asks himself how, if he was fully prepared to fight foreign enemies, could he balk at fighting domestic ones, even if they held positions of authority? His view of America was clearly too naïve and simplistic, he suddenly realizes, and his conception of his own role was all wrong—Captain America is not meant to represent the American people or their politics but to fight for the American Dream. And as Roscoe’s gruesome death makes clear, he can’t allow anyone else to wage that war for him. A grim determination comes over Steve, and after getting the Falcon to the hospital, he returns at last to Avengers Mansion, discards his Nomad suit, and gets his Captain America costume and shield out of storage. Donning his familiar red, white, and blue garb, Captain America vows to face all the nation’s enemies, whatever the threat and wherever it may originate.

For the next two weeks, Captain America and the Falcon hunt for the Red Skull. Though their quarry eludes them, the heroes know it’s only a matter of time until the inevitable clash with their ultimate foe.


Notes:

January–April 1967 – Black Spectre’s pranks are detailed in Daredevil #109.

May 1967 – Black Spectre is finally defeated in Daredevil #109–112 and Marvel Two-In-One #3, during which the Avengers remain behind the scenes. Captain America and Sharon Carter then guest-star with the Fantastic Four in Marvel Two-In-One #4–5. For more on President Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

June 1967 – Steve Rogers charts a new course for his life in Captain America #176 and following. The “Lucifer” who possesses Rafe Michel and Grover Raymond is not a demon, but an alien—the same alien responsible for crippling Charles Xavier. However, Steve never has the chance to learn of Lucifer’s true nature.

July 1967 – Madame Hydra actually killed the original Viper herself and stole his gear, then told the Serpent Squad that the police were responsible. Nomad catches up with his old teammates in Avengers #131. The aftermath of the battle with the Cobra and the new Viper (and her escape) is revealed in a flashback in Marvel Team-Up #84.

August–November 1967 – Most of Steve Rogers’ career as Nomad remains an Untold Tale of the Original Marvel Universe, as more time elapses between the last two installments of the Nomad saga than is apparent in the story as written.

December 1967 – Various superheroes are seen trapped within Loki’s magical spheres in Thor #233. Steve’s taking up the mantle of Captain America again brings us up to Captain America #183.



Jump Back: Captain America – Year Five

Next Issue: Daredevil – Year Six


Saturday

OMU: Ant-Man -- Year Six

Henry Pym, known variously as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket, spends the next twelve months of his life happily conducting biochemical research in the private laboratory facilities within his Long Island home. His wife and former crimefighting partner, the Wasp, however, is growing restless, longing to return to their life of adventure. The couple remains behind the scenes in comic book character limbo throughout, except for a single guest-appearance in Giant-Size Defenders. Even so, as founding members of the Avengers, they maintain an interest in the activities of the superhero community.

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.


Continuing with… The True History of Ant-Man!


January–April 1967 – Hank Pym and his wife, Janet Pym, enjoy their brand-new house in Southampton on Long Island, where he continues to study the dormant microbe in his bloodstream left behind by the A.I.M. virus he was once exposed to. He is careful not to reactivate the microbe by overusing his size-changing abilities, lest it leave him trapped at ant-size again. This does not overly concern him, as he is happy to have retired from his role as a superhero. Hank continues to collaborate occasionally with Bill Foster, who rents his own lab facilities from Jan elsewhere in the city. For her part, Jan devotes her time to the local social scene and various philanthropic pursuits.

May 1967 – Hank and Jan are relieved when the subversive organization Black Spectre is finally brought down by Daredevil and the Black Widow. The group had spent months carrying out offensive pranks and outrageous sabotage, such as inciting a race riot at the Statue of Liberty, installing a swastika atop the Washington Monument, draping Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in black shrouds, carving Adolf Hitler’s face into Mount Rushmore, and disrupting the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. With help from S.H.I.E.L.D., the government is able to repair all the damage.

June 1967 – Hank and Jan are dispirited to learn that Steve Rogers has decided to quit being Captain America, leaving his costume and shield in a storage vault beneath Avengers Mansion. However, they are happy to hear that Quicksilver has gotten married to Crystal, a member of the Inhumans’ royal family, in that race’s hidden refuge on the other side of the world. They hope married life will smooth some of Quicksilver’s rough edges.

July 1967 – A couple weeks later, Hank and Jan are surprised to learn that the Scarlet Witch and the Vision have also gotten married, in a double-wedding with Mantis and the Swordsman, who subsequently left Earth. Jan thinks this rash of weddings is all very romantic, though she is annoyed that she didn’t get to attend either of them. The Pyms are then baffled by a midsummer snowstorm in New York City. Reports of bizarre weather phenomena come in from around the globe, but the cause remains a mystery. Soon after, they are further alarmed when everyone in Manhattan is rendered unconscious for two days. Efforts to investigate the situation are hampered when it is found that anyone who goes to the island likewise passes out. After everyone revives, reports of strange occurrences start coming in from around the world, but then the Fantastic Four announce that it was all part of an alien invasion plot that they have foiled.

August 1967 – When Manhattan is rocked by a series of unnatural earthquakes, Hank and Jan are relieved to learn that the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil have joined in the rescue efforts. Soon after, a character calling himself Maa-Gorr, the Man-God, hijacks all television and radio broadcasts to demand that he be worshiped as the one, true god. Despite his threat to seize control of the world’s energy resources, the lunatic is quickly dealt with by S.H.I.E.L.D.

December 1967 – For about 18 hours, Hank and Jan find themselves trapped within force-field bubbles. Try as they might, they are unable to escape. Finally, the force fields vanish as mysteriously as they appeared. They then learn that while they were trapped, Loki led an invasion force of Asgardian warriors against Washington, D.C., only to be repelled by Thor and the U.S. Army.

When his friend Trixie Starr is severely injured in a car-bomb explosion, Hank decides to come out of retirement and seek vengeance against Egghead, her uncle, whom he assumes to be responsible. Rather than act as Ant-Man, however, he suits up as Yellowjacket instead, feeling that identity to be more appropriately intimidating. Refusing to allow Jan to accompany him, Yellowjacket visits Trixie in the hospital and then hunts down Egghead, finding his arch-enemy living as a homeless bum in the Bowery. A shadow of his former self, Egghead admits to the bombing, claiming he wanted to maim Trixie and thereby end her career as a fashion model. Yellowjacket punches him out and turns him over to the police.

Returning to the hospital, Yellowjacket learns that Trixie’s left arm has been amputated. He then discovers that her boyfriend, the wealthy businessman Kyle Richmond, who was also wounded by the explosion, is secretly the reformed supervillain Nighthawk. Richmond had assumed he was the target of the bombing and has sent his teammates in a superhero group called the Defenders— the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the Valkyrie—after his former associates in the Squadron Sinister. Remembering when the Squadron Sinister fought the Avengers a few years ago, Yellowjacket agrees to lend the Defenders a hand. During the ensuing battle, Yellowjacket acquits himself admirably, singlehandedly defeating the villainous Whizzer. The Defenders defeat Hyperion and Doctor Spectrum, foiling their plan to kidnap Richmond. The heroes celebrate their victory, though Yellowjacket knows the Wasp will be furious at having missed such an epic superhero donnybrook.

Hank and Jan are happy to learn that Steve Rogers has decided to become Captain America again, having retrieved his gear from the Avengers. The Pyms then celebrate a festive Christmas at their home in Southampton.


Notes:

May 1967 – Hank and Janet Pym remain behind the scenes as Black Spectre wreaks havoc in Daredevil #109–112.

June 1967 – Disillusioned after the Secret Empire affair, Steve Rogers quits in Captain America #176. The wedding of Quicksilver and Crystal occurs soon after in Fantastic Four #150.

July 1967 – The Scarlet Witch marries the Vision and Mantis marries the Swordsman (or rather his corpse reanimated by an alien) in Giant-Size Avengers #4. The bizarre weather phenomena result from Dormammu taking Gaea prisoner in Doctor Strange v.2 #8–9. The people of Manhattan are then rendered insensate for two days by alien invaders in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #3.

August 1967 – Earthquakes strike Manhattan in Marvel Team-Up #28, courtesy of a pair of disgruntled scientists being manipulated by They Who Wield Power. Maa-Gor publicly issues his demands in Ka-Zar, Lord of the Hidden Jungle #4.

December 1967 – Various superheroes are seen trapped within Loki’s magical spheres in Thor #233. Hank and Jan make their only appearance for the year in Giant-Size Defenders #4. Steve Rogers takes up the mantle of Captain America again in Captain America #183.



Jump Back: Ant-Man – Year Five

Next Issue: Captain America – Year Six


Sunday

OMU: Ant-Man -- Year Five

Henry Pym, known variously as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket, continues to enjoy his retirement over the next twelve months of his life, keeping a low profile and largely staying out of the path of danger. His crimefighting partner and wife, the Wasp, remains supportive, though she would prefer to return to their life of adventure. They remain behind the scenes in comic book character limbo throughout, except for a random guest-appearance in a couple issues of Captain Marvel. Even so, as founding members of the Avengers, they maintain an interest in the team’s activities.

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.


Continuing with… The True History of Ant-Man!


January 1966 – Hank Pym and his wife, Janet Pym, continue to stay at their ritzy hotel in Manhattan while their house in Southampton on Long Island is rebuilt. Jan prefers living in the heart of the city, but she accepts that her husband needs a more remote location to safely carry on his various scientific research projects. Hank continues to collaborate occasionally with Bill Foster, who rents his own lab facilities from Jan elsewhere in the city. When Hank discovers a leftover microbe from the A.I.M. virus still in his bloodstream, he decides he’d better avoid using his size-changing abilities whenever possible, lest the microbe be reactivated and trap him at ant-size again. This does not overly concern him, as he is happy to have retired from his role as a superhero.

February 1966 – Hank and Jan send their best wishes to the Scarlet Witch and the Vision at Avengers Mansion after news breaks that the mutant woman and synthezoid man have fallen in love. Their relationship proves to be extremely controversial, but Jan thinks it’s all very romantic, despite not understanding why Wanda would want an artificial lover.

April 1966 – Hank and Jan are shocked to learn that the Avengers have inducted their old enemy the Swordsman into their ranks. Their former teammates assure them that the Swordsman really seems to have reformed this time, thanks to his Vietnamese girlfriend, a martial-arts expert called Mantis.

May 1966 – Hank is shocked when Jan inexplicably changes into a hideous, demonic monster and attacks him. Their battle wrecks their hotel room as the entire city transforms into a weird, alien landscape. Finally, less than an hour after it began, the fight ends as Jan reverts to normal along with the rest of the city. She is in a daze until a few minutes later, when all the damage is suddenly undone, as if by magic. Later, Hank contacts the Avengers, and they explain that the phenomenon was part of one of Loki’ schemes, but the god of mischief has been defeated. Hank and Jan are irritated when the government subsequently insists that it was all the work of a mutant terrorist.

July 1966 – Hank and Jan finally move into their rebuilt house in Southampton, which includes laboratory facilities tailored to Hank’s needs. He is excited to get back to full-time biochemical research and starts studying the dormant microbe in his bloodstream. Jan devotes her time to the Southampton social scene.

November 1966 – Hank and Jan are very concerned when, after a relentlessly negative media campaign tarnishes his reputation, Captain America is accused of murdering a small-time supervillain known as the Tumbler. Breaking out of jail, Cap becomes a fugitive from justice until he clears his name during a battle on the White House lawn with agents of the Secret Empire, a subversive organization bent on conquering America. The Pyms are relieved that their former teammate has been exonerated. Immediately afterward, President Morris N. Richardson appears on television and resigns from office, citing unspecified health problems. Vice President Miller is sworn in to succeed him.

December 1966 – While attending a biochemistry conference in Chicago, Illinois, Hank and Jan hear a report that Rick Jones has been hospitalized in the city after being exposed to a deadly nerve gas. They race to the hospital to see if they can help, whereupon they meet Carol Danvers, a friend of Rick’s who works as a security advisor for the Department of Defense. Carol informs them that Rick was not actually exposed to the nerve gas—that story was a publicity stunt arranged by his manager, Mordecai P. Boggs—though the youth has gone into an unexplained coma. Suddenly hearing the sounds of battle coming from Rick’s room, Hank and Jan change into Ant-Man and the Wasp and charge in to find their old foe the Living Laser menacing the comatose Rick, Boggs, and Rick’s singing partner Rachel Dandridge. The Living Laser reveals that he is working for a group called the Lunatic Legion, which sees Rick as an impediment to its plans to destroy the world. His ranting gives the Wasp the chance to sabotage the control panel on his belt so as to disable his laser weapons. However, when he then tries to activate them, they short out and the Living Laser is electrocuted. The Wasp is horrified to think she might have accidentally killed him, but when a doctor examines the body, he reports that the Living Laser was some kind of cyborg. Examining their foe’s weapons, Hank and Jan are curious to find highly polished moonstones incorporated into the control panel. Hank wonders if the name “Lunatic Legion” is some kind of inside joke, since the word lunatic derives from the Latin word for moon.

A little while later, Rick emerges from his coma and demands to know if there is an antidote to the nerve gas. Carol assures him that there is, and that some was delivered to the hospital in case he needed it. Rick leaps out of bed and leads Carol and the Pyms to a room down the hall, where they find Captain Marvel lying unconscious on the floor. Hank and Jan realize that Rick must have traded interdimensional places with Mar-Vell as soon as he entered the room. As it turns out, Captain Marvel was the one exposed to the nerve gas, and, after the antidote has been administered, he makes a full recovery. The Pyms share their ideas about the Lunatic Legion with Mar-Vell, who confirms that the evil organization has crossed paths with Rick twice now. Hank suggests they may actually be based on the moon, and Mar-Vell agrees to check it out. Later, Hank reports to the Avengers that the Living Laser is dead.

Returning to New York, Hank and Jan celebrate a festive Christmas at their home in Southampton.


Notes:

January 1966 – The dormant microbe in Hank Pym’s bloodstream will be revealed in Giant-Size Defenders #4.

February 1966 – News of the love affair between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision breaks in Avengers #113. Janet’s opinion of the Vision is revealed in Avengers West Coast Annual #4.

April 1966 – The Swordsman joins the Avengers (for real this time) in Avengers #114.

May 1966 – Hank and Jan remain behind the scenes in Avengers #118 when Dormammu, working with Loki, tries to merge Earth with his own mystical realm, the Dark Dimension. The Avengers decide to conceal the truth about that event from the public to avoid mass panic, a fact that President Morris N. Richardson’s anti-mutant administration would surely take advantage of.

November 1966 – Captain America’s travails at the hands of the Secret Empire are chronicled in Captain America #169–175. The Morris Richardson who resigns on camera is actually a Life Model Decoy, part of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s cover-up of the President’s role as leader of the Secret Empire.

December 1966 – Ant-Man and the Wasp make their only appearance for the year in Captain Marvel #35–37. (They are behind the scenes in #36, which is mostly a reprint.) The Living Laser is actually an android duplicate and not Arthur Parks transformed into a cyborg, as Hank would have known if he’d examined the body himself. Apparently, he just took the doctor’s word for it.


Jump Back: Ant-Man – Year Four

Next Issue: Ant-Man – Year Six