Wednesday

OMU: Iron Man -- Year Four

Tony Stark finally starts to emerge from the shadow of death during the next twelve months of his career as Iron Man. Though still dependent on the life-support system in his armor’s chestplate, his health begins to markedly improve, allowing him to return to active duty in the Avengers and generally become a more proactive superhero. Much of the year is taken up with Tony’s effort to reorder his company’s priorities, moving Stark Industries away from weapons manufacturing to less lethal technologies. This is accompanied by another shake-up in the supporting cast, with Jasper Sitwell and Whitney Frost being written out in favor of Tony’s new psychic fiancée, Marianne Rodgers, and his ill-fated engineer / sidekick Kevin O’Brien. Going forward, Tony’s fortunes will continue to improve.

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


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


January 1965 – Tony Stark prepares to deliver a speech at the United Nations, entitled “The Scientist’s Responsibility Towards Man,” in which he sees a chance to lay out his justifications for moving Stark Industries away from munitions to peaceful applications of technology. Before heading to the UN Building, though, Tony pays a visit to Jasper Sitwell in the hospital, where the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent remains in a coma following his confrontation with Spymaster last month. Feeling guilty, Tony leaves the hospital and drives along the East River. The next thing he knows, Tony is in his private office a week later, his mind a jumble of vague memories and bizarre hallucinations about dragons, demons, and mechanical monsters. Kevin O’Brien is there, and he shows Tony the blueprints for a new nuclear weapons system that Tony suddenly ordered him to start building after blowing off his speaking engagement at the UN. Realizing he must have been the victim of some form of mind-control, Tony dons his Iron Man armor and goes out to investigate.

On the banks of the East River, Iron Man is attacked by a squad of armored men with jetpacks, but he loses them in the murky waters of the river. At the bottom he discovers a strange submarine and, breaking in, finds a Chinese man and woman whom he recognizes from his fever dream. The woman rants and raves about her plan to frame Tony Stark for an atomic explosion that would have devastated New York. Suddenly, their monitors show Stark Industries being destroyed in a massive nuclear blast. Sickened by the sight, Iron Man disables the sub and heads for the surface. As he rockets out of the water, an explosion from below signals that the submarine has self-destructed. Upon reaching his factory, though, Iron Man discovers that Kevin O’Brien worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. to fool the villains with a fake catastrophe after realizing that the weapons system was designed to fail. Immensely relieved, Iron Man compliments Kevin for his quick thinking.

Tony is disturbed to learn that, while he was under the influence of the Chinese agents, he created a weaponized prosthetic hand for the wealthy African-American businessman Lionel Dibbs, whom he had initially rebuffed. Dibbs then used the weapon during a racially charged confrontation with the police in San Francisco, though he was stopped by Thor. Furthermore, Tony missed the culmination of his joint project with Reed Richards and Charles Xavier to capture and cure the Hulk. Richards informs Tony that their plan failed, as the Hulk somehow vanished into thin air as soon as he was captured. As a result, General Ross suspended the project indefinitely. Learning that he was even flying around recklessly as Iron Man while not in control of himself, Tony decides to create a basic suit of armor for Kevin O’Brien to use in emergencies.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Tony receives a strange letter of resignation from the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, which claims that Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America personally disbanded the team. Confused, he calls an emergency meeting of the original members. Thor, Captain America, and Ant-Man soon join Iron Man at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. When the Vision regains consciousness, he recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Iron Man, Thor, and Cap assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Reed Richards realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. Iron Man recognizes them as Mandroids, which he designed himself for S.H.I.E.L.D. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that his king, Black Bolt, has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt has been exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, so Cap suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, however, saying the rescue of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind, so Thor generates a spacetime vortex that transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Iron Man, Thor, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and with help from Thor’s enchanted hammer, they are able to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Iron Man and Thor pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Iron Man watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

Over the next couple of days, Tony and Kevin O’Brien complete Kevin’s emergency back-up armor. As a nod to his Irish heritage, Kevin paints the suit green and starts training himself to use it. Also, Tony finally delivers his much-delayed speech to the United Nations, though he decides to hold off on formally announcing that Stark Industries is divesting itself from munitions.

Several days later, Tony is called to appear before a Senate subcommittee in Washington, DC, and he invites Marianne Rodgers to accompany him. He’s decided he really likes her, though she seems very high-strung. In fact, when the plane lands in the nation’s capital, Tony is forced to change into Iron Man when part of the airport terminal begins to collapse. Marianne has an emotional breakdown when she discovers that Tony has “disappeared” and runs off. When the crisis has passed, Tony tries to find Marianne, but is unable to locate her before having to head to the Capitol Building. There, he finds that his old college friend Ben Crandall, also an industrialist, has been called to appear before the same subcommittee. The hearing is convened by Senator Ernest McJavit, who accuses both Crandall and Tony of using shoddy materials and substandard workmanship on their government contracts. Tony is shocked and insulted, but the hearing is interrupted when the building begins to shake and the ceiling starts to collapse. In the confusion, Tony slips out and changes into Iron Man. His armor detects the same ultrasonic signal that he noticed at the airport terminal and tracks it back to the saboteurs—a pair of bickering villains called the Slasher and Demetrius. Despite their second-rate super-powers, they manage to give Iron Man a hard time, and during the fight he learns they are working for someone called Mister Kline. Marianne then stumbles upon the scene, apparently causing Demetrius to have some kind of fit. Iron Man knocks out the Slasher with a repulsor-ray blast and rushes to Marianne’s side as she faints. To his surprise, she deliriously calls him “Tony” before slipping into unconsciousness. After the police arrive and take the villains into custody, Iron Man flies Marianne to their hotel. He changes back into Tony Stark, and Marianne eventually recovers. She claims to have had psychic visions suggesting that his life is in danger, but Tony isn’t sure what to make of it.

After a restless night, Tony receives a call from Ben Crandall, who asks if Iron Man can meet him at the Capitol as soon as possible. When Iron Man arrives, Crandall informs him that Senator McJavit holds them responsible for yesterday’s disasters and claims the Slasher and Demetrius are just a couple of patsies. McJavit appears then and has Iron Man taken into custody. The Golden Avenger is determined to cooperate, but when he has a hallucination of Marianne being turned into a monster, he loses control of himself and smashes out of prison. Realizing he is being manipulated, Iron Man is suddenly teleported to a hellish landscape, where he is confronted by a man called Soulfather, who claims to have been granted godlike powers by Mister Kline. Seeing Marianne is being held prisoner, Iron Man attacks Soulfather, but is easily defeated. Iron Man is chained up, but he escapes and battles Soulfather a second time, only to fare worse than he did before, with his armor’s power levels reaching dangerously low levels. Finally, Soulfather transports Iron Man and Marianne to his throne room, where two bulky armored creatures attack, intent on smashing the transparent floor and sending the hapless pair into the jaws of a gigantic serpent below. In desperation, Iron Man channels all remaining power to his repulsor rays, sweeping the chamber and blowing up Soulfather and his minions. Unfortunately, this causes Iron Man’s life-support system to fail, so Tony has a heart attack and collapses. They are rescued by Kevin O’Brien in his green armor, who reveals that the hellish landscape was a fake and their foes were all robots. Stunned by this revelation, Tony lapses into a coma.

When he regains consciousness, Tony finds himself back at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan. Kevin and Marianne are both there to look after him as he recovers. Kevin explains that he got Tony to Avengers Mansion in time to repair his chestplate and save his life, though he had to scuffle with Captain America, who mistook him for a supervillain. Kevin reports that his armored suit worked better than expected under actual combat conditions, though he’s a bit worried the power might go to his head. Dismissing Kevin’s concerns, Tony asks him to find out all he can about Mister Kline. After Kevin has left, though, Tony and Marianne are attacked by the Night Phantom. Despite his ill-health, Tony manages to don his Iron Man armor, and quickly discovers that the Night Phantom is another robot sent by Mister Kline. During the battle, Marianne reveals that she’s already figured out that Tony is Iron Man. Using an emergency power-booster, Iron Man overwhelms his robotic foe and destroys it.

In the aftermath of the battle, Tony checks in with his secretary, Claire Greer. She reports that Jasper Sitwell has finally woken from his coma and has started working with a physical therapist. Tony is glad to hear that Jasper’s prognosis is good. She also informs Tony that Senator McJavit has disappeared and his subcommittee has been disbanded, with all charges against Iron Man dropped. Relieved, Tony takes a shower and, fearing that his death from heart failure will soon come, he resolves to spend his remaining days with Marianne as man and wife. However, he soon receives a telegram informing him that the Stark Industries board of directors intends to oust him as company president tomorrow. Tony suspects that it’s a power-grab orchestrated by Simon Gilbert, the recently elected chairman of the board. Still, due to his fatalism, he finds it difficult to care, and proposes to Marianne. She accepts tearfully, and they spend the next several hours having sex. Finally, Marianne senses that something is seriously wrong at Tony’s factory complex on Long Island and, willing to trust her ESP, he dons his Iron Man armor and goes to check it out. Before leaving, Tony tells Marianne that the last few hours have been the best of his life.

When he arrives at the factory, Iron Man sees that a mob of student anti-war protestors has stormed the complex, and Kevin, wearing his green armor, has apparently fired on them, seriously wounding four of the students. Horrified, Iron Man tries to intervene, but the protestors refuse to listen to him as Kevin slips into the administration building. Unwilling to use force against the students, Iron Man takes to the sky, where he sees the police are on their way. Emboldened, the protestors storm the building, and one of them hits Kevin with a Molotov cocktail. Though it explodes harmlessly against his armor, Kevin is enraged and drives the protestors back with a barrage of repulsor rays. As the first police cars arrive on the scene, Iron Man crashes into the boardroom and confronts Simon Gilbert and the other executives. For some reason, Kevin sides with the board against Tony, and the two armored men get into a fight which soon carries them back outside. Kevin fires on the protestors again, causing them to flee, so Iron Man presses his attack. Kevin soon retreats inside the administration building, leaving the battle unresolved. Since the protestors have dispersed, Iron Man secures the perimeter and settles things with the police riot squad. He then heads back to Manhattan and rejoins Marianne, deciding to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

The next day, Tony and Marianne hear news reports about last night’s battle and are relieved to learn the four wounded protestors are expected to recover. The papers are calling Kevin “the Guardsman,” a name he apparently came up with himself. Marianne suspects that Kevin is infatuated with her and betrayed Tony out of jealousy. In the evening, Tony gets a call from the factory security office, reporting that hundreds more protestors have descended in response to last night’s violence and the situation is getting out of hand. Tony agrees to send Iron Man at once. However, Marianne insists on going with him, so they drive out to the complex together. There, Tony and Marianne find Kevin, still wearing his armor, smashing up the executive boardroom. Refusing to listen to reason, Kevin heads out to deal with the latest wave of protestors. Simon Gilbert laughs at Tony, telling him he’s washed up. Enraged, Tony punches Gilbert, knocking him down, but Marianne admonishes him for getting violent. She gets an ESP flash that something terrible is about to happen between Kevin and the protestors, so Tony dashes into his private office, changes into Iron Man, and flies out to intervene. To stop Kevin from opening fire on the protestors, Iron Man attacks him and they start brawling. When Kevin rolls a barrel of napalm at Iron Man and ignites it with a laser blast, Tony realizes that his friend has gone completely insane. As Iron Man staggers through the flames, Kevin keeps ranting about how Tony stole Marianne from him and ruined his life. Kevin then activates an experimental flying tank outfitted with a laser cannon. Iron Man is forced to blow up the tank, hoping that Kevin’s armor will protect him from the blast. Unfortunately, Kevin is mortally wounded and dies, professing his love for Marianne. The protestors disperse, and Tony is horrified by what he has done.

In the morning, the police disrupt Kevin’s funeral while trying to bring Iron Man in for questioning. Furious, Iron Man drives them back with repulsor rays, causing Marianne to become distraught. He flies off to the factory and broods about all the weapons he’s built over the years, all the death and destruction he holds himself responsible for. Tony questions whether he should just give up being Iron Man, but decides it still serves a worthwhile purpose. Thus, Iron Man submits to questioning by the police and explains the circumstances leading to Kevin’s death. After all the numerous witnesses have been questioned, Iron Man is cleared of any wrongdoing.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Feeling personally responsible since he recruited Goliath to the team back when he was called Hawkeye, Tony returns to Stark Industries to try to devise a technological solution to the problem. Iron Man is immediately called upon to deal with some intruders, but blacks out suddenly. When he comes to, Iron Man finds himself in the weapons lab with the Vision and members of a paramilitary group called the Warhawks. Like Iron Man, the Warhawks have no idea how they came to be there. The Vision insists that they need to rendezvous with the rest of the team at the Midtown Hotel in Manhattan, where the leader of the Warhawks, a man called Mr. Tallon, has somehow incited a mob against a Chinese delegation staying there. Along the way, the Vision tells Iron Man of how they fought each other in the weapons lab because Iron Man was suddenly determined to start World War III by any means necessary. Tony is frustrated to hear that he had once again fallen under some form of mind control. When they arrive on the scene, they find Thor holding the mob at bay, but Iron Man blacks out again. When he comes to, he finds the crowd dispersing and learns that “Mr. Tallon” was really the Greek god of war, Ares, who was using the hypnotic pipes of Olympian satyrs to bring people under his control. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, though, Ares teleported away to safety. Suddenly, Hawkeye emerges from the crowd, dressed in an unfamiliar costume, and reveals that he’s found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear, fight off the Avengers, and kidnap Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Iron Man heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Iron Man is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Thor’s enchanted hammer, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. Iron Man is quickly knocked out of the fight, and when he recovers, he finds the others have already defeated Ares and rescued Hercules. The Hulk has captured the Enchantress on his own, but Thor decides to leave her to face the justice of Zeus. The Avengers return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England. After what he’s just seen, Iron Man knows he can no longer dismiss Thor’s tales of Asgard as mere fantasy.

March 1965 – Due to the Guardsman fiasco, Tony reasserts total control over his company, firing Simon Gilbert and forcing the entire board of directors to resign. He then leaves town to inspect his munitions plants in Bay City, Michigan, with an eye toward converting them to other product lines. The executive shake-up spooks investors, and the company takes a tumble in the stock market. At a cocktail party outside Bay City, Tony has a few more drinks than usual in an attempt to take the edge off. When he nearly picks a fight with a pessimistic shareholder, Marianne drags him out of the party for a moonlit drive. However, Tony speeds recklessly and is pulled over by a cop. Recognizing that Tony is still blaming himself for Kevin’s death, she urges him to put that behind him now. They are interrupted by a call from the local plant security office, as the facility is under attack by Firebrand. Tony immediately changes into Iron Man, flies to the plant, and fights with the high-tech saboteur. During the battle, a ceiling collapses, revealing that Simon Gilbert has set charges to destroy the factory. Iron Man grabs Firebrand and flies him out, barely getting clear in time before a series of massive explosions brings the building down. Seeing that Simon Gilbert, who was trapped inside, has been killed, Firebrand goes berserk and tries to roast Iron Man with his thermal-blasters. Though his armor starts to melt, Iron Man manages to reach Firebrand and knock him out. As he is being taken into custody, Firebrand reveals that Simon Gilbert was his father and swears vengeance on Iron Man.

Returning to his headquarters on Long Island, Tony destroys the armor that was wrecked fighting Firebrand and starts designing a new version. His employees give him a vote of confidence as he vows to turn the company’s fortunes around. However, his executive secretary, Claire Greer, gives her notice as she has recently gotten pregnant and plans to resign when the baby is due. Tony then focuses all his time and attention on diversifying the company’s product line and steering it away from munitions.

April–July 1965 – Rebuilding and refocusing Stark Industries continues to be Tony’s top priority over the next several months as he recruits a new board of directors more in tune with his new vision. He makes only a few routine appearances as Iron Man after completing his new armored suit. He continues to provide various devices to capture and contain the Hulk for the Air Force’s Project Greenskin, but foregoes any other new military contracts. His munitions plants are gradually refitted to produce advanced computers and aerospace technology rather than weapons. Tony and Marianne begin planning for a November wedding, though he becomes increasingly skeptical of her ESP and grows annoyed at her vague prognostications.

August 1965 – Tony is contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury with an emergency request: an advanced Life Model Decoy android of a green-skinned alien woman named Jarella is needed to counteract a dimensional instability that threatens to cause the sun to go supernova. Tony suspends all other projects and has the amazingly lifelike android finished within eighteen hours. Fury and his right-hand man, “Dum Dum” Dugan, personally deliver the android to General Ross at Hulkbuster Base in New Mexico. Tony learns later that the LMD was destroyed by an assassin sent to kill Jarella, but Bruce Banner, Hank Pym, Reed Richards, and Peter Corbeau together managed to return Jarella to the Microverse in such a way as to allow the sun to return to normal.

September 1965 – While visiting Avengers Mansion, Iron Man meets several of Thor’s friends from Asgard—Sif, Balder the Brave, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde—as well as a couple of extraterrestrial acquaintances, Tana Nile and Silas Grant. Thor explains how they’ve all been marooned on Earth after questioning Odin’s judgment and will be staying at the mansion for a while. The thunder god suddenly realizes that they haven’t seen their other comrade, Volstagg, since a recent battle. Having heard Thor’s stories about the Warriors Three, Iron Man jokes that Volstagg must still be hiding in a basement somewhere.

October 1965 – After the Hulk is captured by the military’s Hulkbuster unit, he is brought to Stark Industries and placed in a specially-designed confinement chamber. Tony explains its operation to General Ross, assuring him that the Hulk will not be able to escape from it. The general is understandably skeptical.

A couple days later, Iron Man unveils an advanced computer system called Nimrod by hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision are also present. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. While the others try to intercept Tippit, Iron Man heads back to Stark Industries, where he builds a device to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. The work goes surprisingly quickly, and Iron Man feels almost as though an angel guides his hand. Finally, the Avengers bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine, which Iron Man then activates. As Tippit regains consciousness, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the Earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Tony is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion for a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes its way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. Her first lead takes the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America, where a trio of Chilean scientists has been abducted by strange men with superhuman powers. Iron Man joins the Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Thor, and Sif on the mission. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Iron Man defeats Equilibrius in single combat while his teammates take care of the rest of their foes. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

The next day, back at Avengers Mansion, the Scarlet Witch continues to search for clues to her brother’s disappearance. Fandral offers to help her, to give himself something to do. She soon calls Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther into the communications room to show them a news broadcast Jarvis had recorded while they were away. Suddenly, however, the console shorts out, and Iron Man is baffled when he finds the device has been completely rewired. While the others leave to check out the Scarlet Witch’s lead, Iron Man remains behind to put the communications system back together.

In the morning, Tony takes Marianne to tour the Brand Corporation, another large research & development installation on Long Island. Still looking for new directions to take Stark Industries in, Tony is curious about the cutting-edge research into genetics being conducted at Brand. They meet a prickly young researcher named Hank McCoy and his sexy assistant, Linda Donaldson. Marianne insists to Tony that her ESP indicates that Linda is not what she seems, prompting Tony to return after nightfall as Iron Man to investigate. He is immediately attacked by a shaggy, ape-like creature that calls itself the Beast, but Iron Man is able to knock his assailant unconscious. The Brand security team arrives then, but Linda Donaldson shows up and tells them to stand down, certain that Iron Man must have a good reason for being there. The Beast revives and tackles Iron Man from behind. The guards open fire, but the Beast proves to be bulletproof. Inexplicably, the Beast goes into a trance for a few moments, then suddenly leaps through the nearest window, screaming about having killed Iron Man. Confused, Iron Man departs, leaving the Brand personnel to protect their own factory. Impressed with Linda Donaldson, Tony dismisses Marianne’s intuition about her.

Iron Man checks in at Avengers Mansion the following day to see how the search for Quicksilver is progressing. The Falcon turns up to warn the team that a Captain America impostor is on the loose. The real Cap is vacationing in the Bahamas with his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, and the Falcon needs help getting down there to warn him about the impostor. When the Vision reports that Captain America took over monitor duty just ten minutes ago, the team realizes that the impostor must have just discovered Cap’s whereabouts. They provide the Falcon with a Quinjet and he takes off immediately for the Bahamas.

Iron Man is testing his armor’s defensive systems at the Stark Industries proving ground the next morning when the Beast appears, wanting to discuss their recent altercation. A couple of security guards come rushing up and one of them shoots the Beast in the shoulder, but the wound heals instantly. Iron Man rebukes the guards, then shakes the Beast’s hand, calling him a brave man. The Beast appreciates being called a man and they part on friendly terms. Iron Man then fires his trigger-happy employee.

Two days later, Tony is in his office when Marianne rushes in, distraught over a psychic vision of Iron Man dying when a catwalk gives way and he falls into a vat of acid. Tony tries to assure her that it was just a bad dream, but she has another flash about danger at Avengers Mansion. To humor his fiancée, Tony decides to check it out and flies over to the team’s headquarters as Iron Man. Sure enough, he finds the Super-Adaptoid has returned, and they get into a fight that carries them across the street into Central Park. Iron Man manages to overpower his android foe, leaving the Super-Adaptoid buried under a pile of rubble. However, the power-levels in Tony’s armor have been drained to life-threatening levels. He hurries back to Avengers Mansion to recharge, finding Marianne waiting for him on the roof. She panics and runs away, though, convinced by her psychic visions that she will cause his death. Desperate, Iron Man drags himself inside, shedding parts of his armor as he goes, and finally manages to plug his chestplate into a wall socket. When his life-support system is fully charged, Tony gathers up his armor and returns to his factory, stunned and angry at the way Marianne deserted him when his life was in her hands. Over the next few hours, Tony convinces himself that he needs to break off their engagement.

Later, while announcing Stark Industries’ shift in priorities to the media, Tony is attacked by Princess Python and her gigantic snake. She tries to hold Tony for ransom, but he causes his chestplate to emit a powerful electric shock that stuns the serpent. Tony flees the scene, changes into Iron Man, and returns to capture Princess Python. He pursues her into a nearby factory building, where he ends up tossing her pet python into a large vat of acid. Clearly hysterical, the villainess makes a suicide jump off a catwalk, but Iron Man catches her before she falls into the vat. As soon as they’re back on the catwalk, though, Princess Python shoves Iron Man off the edge, hoping he’ll follow her snake into the acid. He saves himself with his boot jets, though they’ve been malfunctioning intermittently. As his unhinged foe is taken away by security guards, Iron Man notes the similarities to Marianne’s prophecy, but becomes more convinced than ever that her ESP is a sham.

That evening, Tony is frustrated when the rocket scheduled to carry his new weather satellite into orbit malfunctions shortly after launch and self-destructs. He returns to his private quarters and is infuriated to find Marianne there. They argue about her earlier behavior and Tony breaks up with her, demanding that she leave her engagement ring with his secretary. Humiliated and furious, Marianne storms out. Just then, Tony gets a call from one of his research teams, begging for Iron Man’s help. Tony puts his armor back on and flies over to their lab. Seeing the distraught Marianne running blindly towards the danger, Iron Man swoops down, snatches her up, and deposits her on a catwalk in a nearby chemical-storage warehouse. Marianne babbles about her psychic visions, but Iron Man ignores her and flies away. Smashing into the research lab, the Golden Avenger discovers a scary-looking robot with a huge battle axe that calls itself the Cyborg-Sinister. As they fight, they crash into the warehouse where Marianne is, and she screams to Iron Man that he should flee for his life. Annoyed, Iron Man blasts the Cyborg-Sinister with his repulsor rays, but the recoil causes him to fall off the catwalk toward a large vat of acid. Using his boot jets to avoid death again, Iron Man yells at Marianne to get out of there and never come back. As she runs off in tears, Iron Man tips the vat over, spilling the acid onto the Cyborg-Sinister. The creature is destroyed, so Iron Man orders the clean-up crew to seal its remains in an airtight container and put it in storage. Tony is left with no clue as to where the Cyborg-Sinister came from or why it attacked him.

Soon after, Tony’s executive secretary, Claire Greer, leaves the company to go have her baby. One of the girls in the secretarial pool is promoted to replace her. Upset about his breakup with Marianne, Tony retreats into his private lab for several days and tinkers with his Iron Man armor, upgrading its offensive and defensive capabilities. He designs a solar-powered recharging system to prevent any more brushes with death like he just experienced.

A couple weeks later, on Halloween, Iron Man joins Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Black Panther in searching Manhattan’s East Village for a man who reportedly vanished into thin air. The four Avengers soon fall into a trap set by the Space Phantom and his new partner-in-crime, the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper considers the Vision to be his “brother” (since the synthezoid’s mind is based on the brain patterns of his actual brother, the late Simon Williams) and is confident the Vision will soon join him against the Avengers. Iron Man struggles to free himself from the Space Phantom’s anti-gravity field, but to no avail.

November 1965 – Some hours later, Iron Man is relieved when Captain America and the Vision come to the rescue. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves trapped once again in the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes, but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, Iron Man is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

When Ant-Man goes missing for several days under mysterious circumstances, Iron Man phones the Wasp to find out what’s going on. However, she puts him off, not wanting to talk about it. Tony then turns his attention to the second attempt at launching his new weather satellite into orbit. This time, the mission is a success, which gives Tony hope that he will be able to pull Stark Industries out of its current slump and make it profitable again. He is stunned, though, when the newspapers report that Ant-Man and the Wasp are believed to have perished when their home in Southampton, New York, burned down. Iron Man meets Bill Foster at the site of the fire and scans for the Pyms’ insect-sized bodies. Finding nothing, Iron Man assumes their remains were consumed by the flames. Foster insists that they might still be alive somewhere, but Iron Man doesn’t want to give him false hope. However, Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When the villain is defeated, Ant-Man leads Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Vision to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

Tony takes a trip out to Los Angeles, California, where he checks in with his business interests on the west coast. He also spends a few days golfing, sailing, scuba-diving, and dating numerous women. He convinces himself that his engagement to Marianne only tied him down, and now it’s time to move forward again. At a beach party, Tony spots a wildfire starting up in the Santa Monica Mountains and decides he’d better lend a hand as Iron Man. This leads him into conflict with a man calling himself Raga, Son of Fire, who can generate intense heat from his body, enough to turn the ground molten. Raga is part of some kind of hippie cult led by a mysterious figure called the Black Lama, who uses his mystical powers against Iron Man. The world seems to melt away as Raga grows to giant-size, claiming that their battle will take place on a “mystic plane.” Nevertheless, Iron Man presses his attack and overcomes his foe. As things return to normal, the Black Lama announces that Raga has lost the fight and teleports away. Growing fearful, Raga loses control of his powers and causes an avalanche that carries him into the Pacific Ocean, where he drowns. After making sure the forest fire has been extinguished, Iron Man returns to the beach party and changes back into Tony Stark.

December 1965 – At Avengers Mansion, Iron Man chats with the Scarlet Witch, whose search for her missing brother continues. They also discuss her burgeoning romance with the Vision, and Iron Man worries that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later in the day, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Knowing Hawkeye to be hot-headed and impulsive, Iron Man doesn’t think much of it.

Tony travels to Seattle, Washington, to visit his facilities there, which have been hit hardest by the company’s change in priorities. Seeing his employees need a morale boost, he flies to the plant as Iron Man. However, he suddenly loses control of his armor and finds himself flying out over the Pacific Ocean. When the Sub-Mariner appears, Iron Man is forced to attack him. As they fight, Iron Man tries to convince Namor that he’s not in control of himself, but Namor doesn’t believe him. The battle quickly moves from the sky to beneath the waves, where Iron Man is at a disadvantage. Spotting a submarine lurking nearby, Iron Man assumes whoever is controlling his armor must be inside. An errant repulsor-ray blast strikes the submarine and damages it, freeing Iron Man from the unseen villain’s control. He beats a hasty retreat, leaving the Sub-Mariner far behind. Tony then spends the next week hanging out with his employees in Seattle.

Returning to New York, Iron Man attends the Avengers’ Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. A couple days later, the Scarlet Witch convinces her teammates that Hawkeye’s letter is a forgery and he may be in trouble. Iron Man, Thor, Vision, and Black Panther join her in traveling to California, where they find Hawkeye held prisoner by Champion in the Mojave Desert. The Avengers overcome Champion and his horde of masked henchmen and foil their plot to detonate a string of bombs along the San Andreas Fault. Hawkeye refuses to rejoin the team, though, so the Avengers leave him in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Tony Stark’s adventures continue in Iron Man #39 and following. While under the influence of Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, Tony creates the weaponized prosthetic hand that Lionel Dibbs is seen using in Amazing Adventures #8. At this point, I doubt Tony would have agreed to do it otherwise, so it makes for a convenient explanation. Iron Man is still under his foes’ mental domination when he appears in Avengers #88, though his memories of those events are erased by Psyklop in any case. Presumably, Reed Richards informed Tony of the failure of their joint project to cure the Hulk soon afterwards. When he has recovered from his brainwashing ordeal, Iron Man joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War across Avengers #94–97, during which Iron Man meets the Inhumans and travels into outer space for the first time. The Mister Kline storyline kind of fizzles out here, but will be resolved in Daredevil #84. Tony never learns the truth about Mister Kline and his mysterious master, which is probably for the best. The Avengers then foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #98–100.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Iron Man finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

August 1965 – Tony Stark builds the Jarella LMD behind the scenes in Hulk #148.

September 1965 – Iron Man meets Thor’s entourage in Thor #204.

October 1965 – Tony oversees the confinement of the captured Hulk in the first part of Hulk #153. Iron Man then helps deal with the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the Avengers appear at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in the latter half of Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Iron Man makes a cameo appearance during the “negative time” effect in Marvel Team-Up #7. It is Spider-Man who rewires the Avengers’ communications console, which causes it to short out when time resumes its normal flow. Iron Man then meets the newly mutated Beast in Amazing Adventures #12 and is hanging out at Avengers Mansion when the Falcon shows up in Captain America #154. The Beast comes to find Iron Man at Stark Industries in Amazing Adventures #14. Unknown to Iron Man, the “Cyborg-Sinister” that he battles in Iron Man #51 is really the Super-Adaptoid, which has been retrofitted by a diabolical mastermind from the Microverse. Following his bad breakup with Marianne, Iron Man is captured along with his fellow Avengers by the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper, as seen in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – The Space Phantom / Grim Reaper story concludes in Avengers #108. Iron Man then appears in Marvel Feature #9–10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – Iron Man helps the Avengers rescue Hawkeye from the megalomaniac Champion in Avengers #109. The team’s annual Christmas charity benefit occurs behind the scenes, as usual. This brings us up to Iron Man #54, in which the Golden Avenger is forced to battle the Prince of Atlantis by Moondragon (who for some reason is calling herself “Madame MacEvil”), though Tony remains unaware of this fact.


Jump Back: Iron Man – Year Three

Next Issue: The Modern Prometheus!

Friday

OMU: Daredevil -- Year Four

The next twelve months in the life of Daredevil see a major shake-up of the status quo. After breaking up with his original love-interest, Karen Page, Matt Murdock hooks up with Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow. He also ends his professional partnership with Foggy Nelson and leaves New York’s Hell’s Kitchen to move out to San Francisco with his new girlfriend. Daredevil has a steep learning curve when faced with the Black Widow’s feminism, which provides some interesting new character dynamics. All these radical changes are mitigated somewhat by return engagements with most of Daredevil’s familiar rogues gallery from the first year of his crimefighting career—Electro, the Owl, the Purple Man, Mister Fear, the Ox, Stilt-Man, and the Gladiator. Also, these issues enjoy a welcome visual consistency provided by penciler Gene Colan, who’s nearing the end of a landmark run.

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


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


January 1965 – Matt Murdock is in Los Angeles investigating the murder of Ross Archer, Karen Page’s co-star on the gothic soap opera Strange Secrets. As Daredevil, he attends Archer’s funeral so he can evaluate the other members of the cast and crew with his hypersenses. Unfortunately, Daredevil is spotted by Lieutenant Nately, the LAPD homicide detective assigned to the case, who tells the hero to leave. Daredevil complies, but hides out on the roof of the church as the mourners exit. He is annoyed when Karen emerges from the building arm-in-arm with the handsome actor Vince Sterling. The next day, Daredevil lurks around the studio as production resumes on Strange Secrets. He discovers that the head of the special-effects department had created a strength-enhancing exo-skeleton for the monstrous character “Brother Brimstone” and realizes the murderer must be trying to steal the suit. Learning that Karen has been lured to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum a few miles away, Daredevil races to the scene and rescues her from “Brother Brimstone,” who is revealed to be Sterling. When the villain sinks into the sticky tar, Daredevil is unable to save him. Having lost its two lead actors, the studio decides to put the show on hiatus.

A few days later, Karen gets a call from producer Ray Stevens, who offers her a lead role in the pilot for the Stunt-Master TV series. After Karen accepts the job, Stevens asks her to see if she can convince her friend Daredevil to sign on as well. Matt is reluctant at first, but finally agrees to change into Daredevil and meet with the producer. At the studio, Daredevil discusses the project with Stevens and his star, George Smith, a.k.a. Stunt-Master. During the conversation, Daredevil thinks someone is watching them from outside the window, but when they check, they find no one there. Finally, Daredevil accepts Stevens’ offer of $50,000 to guest-star in the pilot episode.

About a week later, Daredevil arrives at the filming location to shoot his first fight-sequence with Stunt-Master. While Karen is doing a scene, Daredevil takes a phone call in her trailer from New York District Attorney Franklin P. “Foggy” Nelson, who has discovered that Matt is not in Florida as he claimed he would be. Daredevil reassures Foggy, then returns to the set. As filming begins, Daredevil quickly realizes that Stunt-Master has been replaced by an imposter who turns out to be Stilt-Man. Their battle disrupts the production, but Daredevil easily overcomes Stilt-Man’s clumsy attempt to kill him. Later, observing as Karen and Stunt-Master shoot a love scene, Matt is so filled with jealousy that he tells Karen that Foggy needs him back in New York. Forced to choose between her lover and her career, Karen hesitates. Matt gets angry and storms off, catching the next flight back to New York City.

Arriving at the district attorney’s office the next day, Matt finds that Foggy is taking on a crooked boxing syndicate. He is intrigued to learn that the syndicate’s top middleweight fighter, Kid Gawaine, is training under “Pop” Fenton, who worked with Battling Jack Murdock around twenty years ago. Matt immediately heads out to their training camp, where he meets Gawaine and catches up with Fenton. When the members of the syndicate get violent, Matt decides he’d better keep an eye on the young boxer until his championship bout in a few days. Thus, Daredevil intervenes the next evening when a carload of thugs try to beat up Gawaine in an alley. However, upon arriving at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, Matt overhears the crooks plotting to use a high-tech device to make Gawaine lose the fight. Thus, Matt disguises himself as Kid Gawaine and enters the ring with his opponent, Slugger Sloan. Matt overcomes the device’s effects, knocks out Sloan, then apprehends the leaders of the syndicate, with some help from “Pop” Fenton.

The district attorney’s office arranges for Vietnam vet and former Green Beret Billy Carver to infiltrate an African-American street gang known as the Thunderbolts. Carver passes along information that a certain warehouse in Harlem is to be robbed one night, so Matt makes sure to be on the scene as Daredevil. When the gang members arrive, Daredevil beats up three of them, but the fourth tries to escape, only to crash his truck into a brick wall. Daredevil is surprised to discover the injured driver is a boy of about fifteen. Unexpectedly, the Black Panther turns up and helps Daredevil get the boy to the hospital, where he explains that the boy is Lonnie Carver, one of his students at the Harlem high school where he teaches. Matt realizes that Lonnie is Billy Carver’s little brother and must be unaware that Billy is working for the D.A., so he and T’Challa track down the Thunderbolts gang to pull Billy out. After a brutal battle in a warehouse, the gang members are taken into police custody. Daredevil and the Black Panther take Billy to the hospital to see Lonnie, who is relieved to discover his brother has not embarked on a life of crime after all. The two superheroes then head to a nearby all-night diner to relax and get caught up.

A few days later, Daredevil is passing the New York Hilton Hotel at Rockefeller Center when he senses a large crowd of protestors confronting newly-inaugurated Vice President William E. Miller and his Secret Service detail. Deciding he doesn’t need to get involved, Daredevil heads home to his Sutton Place townhouse, where he receives a phone call from Karen. He is disappointed to learn that she is not coming back to New York, but rather wants his advice about taking a job on a film starring the legendary Buck Ralston, who’s become notorious in recent years as an extreme right-wing rabble-rouser. Matt tells her she should do the film, and Karen assures Matt that she does love him. Then, he gets a call from Foggy, summoning him to the Hilton, where the protest is getting out of hand. Matt decides he’d be more useful as Daredevil, so he heads back to Rockefeller Center in costume. When he arrives, he senses a trio of men carrying bags of dynamite and attacks them. During the fight, one of the sticks of dynamite explodes, and Daredevil is caught in the blast. Thus, he’s too dazed to intervene when the police arrest three of the protestors for the bombing instead.

The next evening, while walking through Times Square, Matt comes upon a costumed man with a 500-pound leopard at his side. When the man sics his leopard on a beat cop, Matt changes into Daredevil and intervenes. The leopard attacks Daredevil and is about to maul him when the costumed man calls the animal off. Identifying himself as Tagak, the Lord of the Leopards, the man announces that he must resume his hunt and disappears into the night. Frustrated, Daredevil returns home to treat his arm, which is badly scratched and bleeding. Several days later, Daredevil tracks down Tagak and learns he is a blind superhero from another dimension, who has come to earth with his seeing-eye leopard Opar to track down an extradimensional cat burglar named Quothar. Thus, Daredevil and Tagak team up and track Quothar to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they capture him. Unfortunately, Opar is shot dead by the museum guards, so Daredevil must lead Tagak and his prisoner back to the warehouse where their interdimensional portal is located. Tagak invites his fellow hero to visit his world, but Daredevil declines.

Two days later, a sudden outbreak of blindness paralyzes the city and enables a gang of crooks calling themselves “the Committee” to go on a crime spree. With the help of four citizens who were already blind—pawn shop owner Doc Tinker, Vietnam vet Dutch Potter, street musician Slate, and city worker Cindy—Daredevil determines that the criminals caused the wave of temporary blindness by poisoning the city’s water supply. The sightless quartet also helps the hero apprehend the gang and turn them over to the police. Over the course of the day, the blindness wears off and the city returns to normal.

February 1965 – Matt accompanies Foggy on a state-sponsored fact-finding mission to the South American nation of Delvadia. Foggy encourages him to think of it as a paid vacation, but Matt knows the American ambassador there was kidnapped two weeks ago and thinks Daredevil might be able to rescue him. Once they arrive in Delvadia, though, Daredevil fails to prevent two more embassy officials from being kidnapped by a local revolutionary known as El Condor. Daredevil is also captured by the revolutionaries and taken to their hideout in a cave system in the mountains. When El Condor lifts off in his helicopter to attack the capital city, Daredevil breaks free and attacks him. The fight causes the helicopter to crash outside the cave, and El Condor is crushed in an ensuing avalanche. Daredevil swears the hostages to secrecy so Foggy will remain unaware of the hero’s presence in Delvadia. After a few days, Matt and Foggy complete their fact-finding mission and return to New York.

Feeling lonely, Matt agrees to have drinks with a woman from the D.A’s office named Christine. She stands him up, though, so he changes into Daredevil and goes swinging around the rooftops with his billy-club cable. Suddenly, he finds himself amidst a crowd in Central Park, unsure of how he got there. The other people seem confused as well, but Daredevil shrugs it off and heads home. As he reaches his apartment, he hears the phone ringing, but by the time he answers it, the caller has hung up.

A few days later, Daredevil is on a rooftop ruminating about the coming trial of the “New York Three” for the bombing of the Hilton Hotel. Sensing a fistfight breaking out on the sidewalk below, he swings down to intervene. However, the fighters are actually process servers, who staged their scuffle to draw him out so they could serve him a summons to appear as a witness for the defense. Later, at home, Matt receives a phone call from Foggy, who’s come down with a severe illness and may miss the start of the trial. Matt realizes he’s in a bind, as he can’t very well cross-examine his own alter-ego in a courtroom. He then calls a contact at the Daily Bugle and asks him to run a front-page appeal for witnesses to come forward. Thus, Matt spends the weekend hanging around the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village and meeting with protestors who witnessed the events outside the Hilton last month. Nothing useful comes to light, however, leaving Matt and Foggy frustrated.

When Daredevil saves a young couple from getting mugged by a trio of thugs, he finds himself drawn into a scheme to transform people into half-human / half-animal monsters. At a hidden laboratory on the Hudson River waterfront, he battles a minotaur-like creature called Bull Taurus. A chase through Hell’s Kitchen takes them to the Theater District, where Daredevil finally manages to trip Bull Taurus with his billy-club cable. The creature tumbles into a brick wall, which collapses on top of him. Luckily, the creature then changes back into a normal man and is taken into custody by the police. Daredevil limps home to nurse his wounds. Matt then has a chance to recuperate as the rest of the week is taken up with jury selection for the trial of the “New York Three.”

Early Monday morning, Matt and Foggy arrive at the courthouse for the start of the trial. They find another demonstration outside, which has brought the police out in force. Matt claims to have a migraine and asks Foggy to get started without him, as he wants to sit in the car until his head clears. Reluctantly, Foggy agrees and goes inside alone. Matt then slips off, changes into Daredevil, and takes a seat in the courtroom. However, as soon as the doors have closed, a masked man calling himself the Tribune emerges from the judge’s chambers and announces that the defendants will be tried for treason and then executed. Before Daredevil can attack him, all the policemen in the room reveal themselves to be the Tribune’s henchmen. Worried about the safety of the hostages, Daredevil agrees to take the stand and testify for the Tribune’s mockery of justice. Fortunately, Daredevil’s hypersenses detect the hum of electronics in the Tribune’s belt, so he snags the device with his billy-club cable and smashes it. The henchmen immediately emerge from a hypnotic trance, allowing Daredevil to go after the Tribune. The masked villain bolts for the roof, leaving behind a statue of “blind justice” inside which Daredevil detects a bomb. He grabs the statue and follows his foe to the roof, but is too late to stop him from taking off in a waiting helicopter. Desperate, Daredevil tosses the statue up into the helicopter, where it explodes. Unfortunately, the Tribune is killed in the explosion and his body is burned beyond recognition. His henchmen prove to have no memory of what happened to them, so the Tribune’s identity remains a mystery. As a result of the disruption, the trial is postponed.

The next evening, Daredevil comes across the Owl’s henchmen robbing Macy’s department store. During the fight, the police arrive, so the crooks make a run for it. One pulls a gun and shoots at Daredevil, but manages only to graze his forehead. Undaunted, Daredevil chases his foes down the street to where the Owl himself appears in a helicopter to pick up his men. Leaving the henchmen to be captured by the police, Daredevil leaps aboard the helicopter and fights with the Owl. The villain loses control of his craft and it crashes into the Hudson River, taking Daredevil with it. The Owl, however, manages to escape using the glider technology hidden in his cape. Tangled in the sinking wreckage, Daredevil loses consciousness. When he comes to, he is lying on a dock, but his mysterious savior is nowhere to be found. Though he tries to get some much-needed rest, Daredevil is soon drawn to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York when the Owl and his men smash their way in with an armored vehicle. When Daredevil arrives, he finds the Black Widow is already on the scene, battling the robbers. He makes short work of the henchmen, then knocks out the Owl with a punch in the face. As the police arrive, Daredevil notices that the Black Widow is annoyed with him. She reveals that it was she who rescued him from the river. However, Daredevil blacks out at that moment, and when he comes to, the Black Widow has departed. Having taken the Owl and his henchmen into custody, the police thank Daredevil for his help. He then heads home to rest and recuperate.

A couple days later, Foggy informs Matt that the case against the “New York Three” has been dismissed, as they were able to show that the bombing had been carried out by the Tribune’s hypnotized henchmen. Matt is relieved that Daredevil won’t need to testify in court after all. When news breaks of the sudden disappearance of movie star Buck Ralston, Matt realizes the film Karen was supposed to do won’t be happening. Not having heard from Karen for a while, Matt assumes their relationship is over for good. He tries to convince himself that he never really loved her anyway.

One night, Daredevil is lured to Central Park by the Scorpion, who has apparently discovered the hero’s secret identity and kidnapped the Black Widow. Though he uses some kind of ray-gun to gain the upper hand, the Scorpion suddenly goes into a trance and then makes a run for it. Daredevil tracks his foe to a skyscraper construction site, atop which he finds the Black Widow tied up. While the villain is distracted trying to contact his employer, Daredevil frees the Widow, then they attack the Scorpion. During the melee, however, the Scorpion loses his footing and falls to his death. When the police arrive on the scene, a night watchman accuses the Black Widow of murdering the Scorpion, so the officers try to take her in for questioning. Convinced that she won’t be treated fairly by the American criminal justice system, the Black Widow flees, forcing Daredevil to go after her. He catches up to her on a nearby rooftop, and when he refuses to let her go, she declares that they are now enemies. With that, Daredevil overpowers her, confiscates her weaponized bracelets, and turns her over to the police. She is furious, but Daredevil assures her he’ll put in a good word for her with the district attorney. After changing out of his costume, Matt informs the Black Widow’s chauffeur, Ivan Petrovich, that she’s been arrested. The man goes into a fit of rage, but Matt understands their fear of being persecuted for being Russian nationals.

In the morning, Matt goes to the D.A.’s office, where he finds Foggy ranting about “irresponsible vigilantes” and vowing to make an example of the Black Widow. Angered, Matt announces that he plans to serve as the Black Widow’s defense counsel and storms out. He heads over to the jail, where he tells the Black Widow that Daredevil sent him. The meeting goes well and she agrees to hire him. Matt then submits a formal letter of resignation to Foggy, giving up his position as Assistant District Attorney.

March 1965 – Two weeks later, the trial of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, begins. Matt wonders why Foggy has done everything he could to get the trial started as quickly as possible, when it makes it look like the defendant is being railroaded. Still, Foggy lays out a pretty tight case for the prosecution, leaving Matt frustrated. Feeling there was something strange about the Scorpion, Matt decides to break into the morgue late at night to examine the body. When Daredevil arrives, though, he is immediately attacked by Mister Hyde, who uncharacteristically starts tossing grenades around. When the villain is about to detonate a whole belt of grenades, Daredevil leaps out the nearest window. A tremendous explosion destroys the morgue, and, caught by the shockwave, Daredevil is knocked out. When he comes to, the morgue is an inferno, and both the Scorpion and Mister Hyde have been incinerated. Confused, Daredevil limps home and goes to bed.

In the morning, Matt presents Foggy with a motion to dismiss the case, and, strangely, the district attorney agrees. In court, Matt gives an impassioned speech to the jury, describing the trial as blatant persecution of his client due to her Russian heritage. He then escorts Natasha out of the courthouse and asks her to lunch. She declines, saying she needs to leave the country for a while to get her head together. Still, she leaves open the possibility that they may see each other again someday. Finding he’s become seriously infatuated with the Black Widow, Matt becomes depressed after her abrupt exit and spends much of the rest of the month going out as Daredevil and beating up criminals. Disgusted with Foggy’s recent behavior, Matt refuses to speak to his old friend and stays away from the D.A.’s office.

April 1965 – After stopping a burglary at a jewelry store, Daredevil runs into Foggy Nelson on the street. Foggy is desperate to explain his strange behavior and reveals that he’s being blackmailed by a man named Mr. Kline, who forced him to prosecute the Black Widow and then instructed him to drop the charges. When he then tried to contact Kline again, Foggy learned that the blackmailer had left the country. Daredevil’s not sure how to respond to Foggy’s self-recriminations. When he returns home, Matt receives a phone call from Natasha, asking him to join her at a ski resort in Switzerland. He agrees at once and makes his travel arrangements. But first, he decides to check out Foggy’s story. Daredevil soon finds that Kline’s mansion had been recently abandoned, and evidence found in the basement suggests some huge piece of machinery had been dismantled and moved out. Further investigation reveals that Kline chartered a cargo plane to Switzerland, but it disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Matt suspects that this Mr. Kline must have been the mysterious employer behind the Scorpion and Mister Hyde.

When he arrives in Switzerland the next day, Matt is met at the airport by Natasha and Ivan. On the way to the resort, Natasha tells Matt she’s met a Russian surgeon, Emil Borgdsky, who may be able to cure his blindness. However, when Matt meets Borgdsky at the chalet, his hypersenses provide some very strange impressions, convincing Matt that the man is not what he seems. After dinner, Natasha joins Matt in his room, and some intimate conversation soon yields to several hours of mind-blowing sex. Later, after Natasha has made a discrete exit, Matt senses Borgdsky outside, hiking into the mountains. Quickly donning his costume, Daredevil follows the man to a strange, high-tech installation, where he learns that Borgdsky is, in fact, Mister Kline. Eavesdropping on Kline’s conversation with his “master,” a computerized voice calling itself “Baal,” Daredevil is shocked to discover that Kline is really a robot sent back from 12,000 years in the future to prevent Foggy from running for governor of New York. Just then, Kline detects Daredevil’s presence and attacks him. During the fight, Kline confirms the hero’s suspicions that he had used android replicas of the Scorpion and Mister Hyde, and also reveals that he had employed the Owl and was also targeting Tony Stark for some reason. The Black Widow arrives on the scene just as Kline starts to malfunction due to the damage Daredevil has inflicted. She convinces Daredevil to make a run for it, and seconds after they get outside, the installation is destroyed in a tremendous explosion that triggers a massive avalanche. However, Daredevil and the Black Widow are saved by two shiny robots who appear suddenly and teleport them to safety. Telling them to enjoy their lives together, the two robots just as suddenly vanish. Bewildered, the heroes hike back down the mountain to the resort. Daredevil admits to Natasha that he is Matt Murdock, and they spend the next three weeks having a torrid romance.

May 1965 – Matt and Natasha spend several days in London, England, before deciding to head home to New York City. Unfortunately, their transatlantic flight is hijacked by the Gladiator and four hired henchmen. Natasha and Ivan provide a distraction that enables Matt to slip into a bathroom and change into Daredevil. After fighting with the hijackers, Daredevil and the Black Widow are forced to surrender when they discover the henchmen have bombs strapped to their chests. The heroes are tied up, but Daredevil is freed by a helpful passenger. Hoping to ingratiate himself with the overprotective Ivan, Daredevil leaves Natasha tied up and goes to defeat the hijackers on his own. Natasha is, of course, furious. Daredevil is able to take the henchmen out one by one, then attacks the Gladiator in the cockpit. In the struggle, the instrument panel is damaged and, after the Gladiator is knocked out, Daredevil must bring the plane in for an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. In the subsequent confusion, Daredevil is able to switch back to Matt Murdock. A little later, as Matt, Natasha, and Ivan are walking through the airport terminal, Karen Page suddenly comes running up and embraces Matt. As they kiss, Matt realizes he is still in love with Karen, despite his attraction to Natasha. Karen introduces her agent, Phil Hichock, whom she’s obviously been dating, and says they were about to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. Matt asks her to stay in New York and Karen agrees. Natasha and Ivan make their excuses and leave, and Matt takes Karen back to his apartment to have make-up sex.

Over the next week or two, Daredevil wages an all-out war on crime in New York while also making up for lost time with Karen. Remaining committed to her acting career, Karen convinces Matt to move out to Los Angeles with her, and he finally agrees. Matt and Karen then announce their engagement. Shortly after, they attend a lavish party hosted by the well-known socialite Raymond Carter. Natasha, Ivan, Foggy, and Phil Hichock are also in attendance, which proves awkward for all concerned. Matt overhears that Natasha is planning to relocate to San Francisco, then Foggy pulls him aside and explains that Mister Kline had been blackmailing him with incriminating papers he’d been given to sign by Mason Hollis last year, before discovering that Hollis was the mob boss known as Crime-Wave. Foggy is ready to give in to calls for him to resign following the botched trial of the Black Widow, but Matt convinces him to stay on as district attorney and make up for his past mistakes through public service. Matt is then about to apologize to Natasha for ditching her at the airport, but the Ox suddenly smashes through a window and attacks Foggy. Matt is confused, as he was sure the Ox had died after falling off a 20-story building a year and a half ago. He slips off, changes into Daredevil, and swings through the window to draw the villain away from Foggy. Unfortunately, the Ox is surrounded by a strange aura that occludes Daredevil’s radar sense, giving the villain a chance to knock Daredevil out with a powerful backhand.

When he comes to several hours later, Matt finds himself on his sofa. Karen is there, but she rushes out for a meeting with a producer. Annoyed, Matt puts his mask back on and goes to hunt down the Ox. He soon finds his foe barricaded inside an armory with the police surrounding the building. Ignoring the officers’ objections, Daredevil enters the armory and confronts the Ox. The villain insists that it was really Karl Stragg who died, after somehow exchanging bodies with the Ox. Trapped in Stragg’s body, the Ox was sent to prison, where he was irradiated during a botched experiment. Terminally ill, he was released from prison, he explains, but the radiation then caused him to mutate into a simulacrum of his true form. Realizing the radiation in the Ox’s body is building to critical levels, Daredevil leaps out a window. However, he is caught in the blast as the Ox explodes, hitting his head on a wall. Groggy, Daredevil makes his way home to recuperate, and grows bitter when Karen is gone all the rest of the day. When she finally returns that evening, they admit that they’ve been fooling themselves and the love they once felt is gone. Matt and Karen share a parting kiss, then she leaves to return to Hollywood. Matt reconnects with Natasha, who’s willing to give him a second chance, and they start dating again.

June–August 1965 – Matt and Natasha get to know each other better as they rekindle their romance. They also occasionally fight crime together as Daredevil and the Black Widow. Toward the end of the summer, Natasha convinces Matt to move out to San Francisco with her. Feeling he needs a change of scene, Matt is ready to leave New York behind and start a new chapter in his life.

September 1965 – Matt, Natasha, and Ivan move into a furnished townhouse on San Francisco’s north shore. After spending the day unpacking, Matt goes exploring the city as Daredevil before meeting Natasha for dinner. When she arrives at the restaurant, Natasha notices a strange glow emanating from Coit Memorial Tower up on Telegraph Hill, so they decide to check it out. Accustomed to working alone, Matt tries to get Natasha to stay behind, but she insists that they’re equal partners. Thus, Daredevil and the Black Widow head up to the tower, where they find Electro menacing the police. Fearing the officers will be electrocuted, Daredevil pushes past them and attacks Electro, quickly driving the supervillain away. San Francisco Police Commissioner Robert “Ironguts” O’Hara, who arrives on the scene, is not happy to have a pair of “New York superhero types” horning in on his territory, though, and warns them that he won’t tolerate vigilantes. Nevertheless, Daredevil spends the next week establishing himself as a crimefighter in the city. At the same time, Natasha becomes strangely distracted after receiving a visit from a mysterious man called Danny French.

Ivan becomes concerned about Natasha’s behavior and confides in Matt, explaining how he saved Natasha from a burning building during the siege of Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942 and became a surrogate father to her. Natasha interrupts them and declares that Danny French is none of their business, then storms out. Concerned, Matt changes into Daredevil and follows her, but gets sidetracked by a robbery in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. Daredevil soon realizes he’s in bigger trouble than he bargained for when he discovers that the robbers are being controlled by his old foe Killgrave, the Purple Man. Killgrave orders a group of bystanders to attack Daredevil, and they overwhelm the hero and beat him into unconsciousness. When he comes to, Daredevil finds himself a prisoner of the Purple Man, and listens helplessly to his foe’s gloating. Luckily, Ivan breaks down the door, tosses in a tear-gas grenade, and hauls Daredevil out of there before Killgrave can recover. As they make their way home, Daredevil berates himself for his abysmal failure. In the days that follow, he tries to track down Killgrave, without success.

October 1965 – Matt receives a phone call from the U.S. Air Force informing him that the Hulk has been captured and is to be put on trial. The Hulk’s alter-ego, Bruce Banner, has requested that Matt represent him. He heads at once to San Francisco International Airport and boards a plane to Las Vegas, where Banner is being held at a special military containment facility. There, Matt meets the officer in charge, General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, and confers with his new client. However, Banner is so sedated he is barely coherent, and Matt worries he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. The next morning, Ross and his staff fly Matt and Banner to New York aboard an Air Force 747 jumbo jet, and Matt argues with Ross about the high dosage of tranquilizers being used. Worried about a mistrial, Ross finally relents and orders a stimulant be administered. However, as Banner comes out of his stupor, he becomes so agitated that he turns into the Hulk. Matt is able to keep the Hulk calm, though, until the plane lands. Then, Hulk smashes out through the fuselage, only to find the Fantastic Four waiting for him on the tarmac. Matt slips off and changes into Daredevil to try to help recapture the Hulk. Spider-Man also shows up to lend a hand, but in the end, Mister Fantastic knocks out the Hulk with some kind of ray-gun. Matt then heads over to the district attorney’s office and consults with Foggy on the case.

Just three days later, Matt heads to the New York County Courthouse for jury selection, concerned that the courts are rushing the case to trial due to the danger of keeping the Hulk confined in the city. Mister Fantastic meets Matt outside and informs him that he’s working desperately on a cure for the Hulk, but may not have enough time to complete his experiments. The next morning, the trial begins, with the federal prosecutor presenting a straightforward case against the Hulk, who is bound and gagged in a wheeled titanium chair. Matt’s objections to the Hulk’s treatment are overruled. The prosecution rests by lunchtime, and Matt is given the afternoon to present the case for the defense. He first calls the Avengers to testify, but the judge determines that their views have no bearing on the case. Next, Matt calls the Hulk to testify in his own defense, hoping he can show that the brute is mentally incompetent. Despite the Hulk’s limited intellect, the judge denies Matt’s motion and orders that the trial proceed. Stymied, Matt rests his case, intending to appeal to a higher court. However, Mister Fantastic enters the courtroom then and claims to have a device that will change the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. The judge allows him to try it, but the device merely gives the Hulk the burst of strength he needs to break free of his bonds and escape. Matt suspects that Mister Fantastic knew that would happen, but the scientist refuses to confirm or deny his suspicions. After having dinner with Foggy, Matt catches a red-eye flight back to San Francisco.

Daredevil immediately resumes his search for Killgrave, but after a few days he manages only to have another run-in with the villain’s henchmen. Returning home afterwards, Matt receives a call from an old friend from law school, Larry Cranston, who offers Matt a position at his law firm. Matt says he’ll consider it, but then gets off the phone to confront Natasha about her strange behavior of late. She will only reveal that she and Danny French were involved in something called “Project Four” several years ago, and she’s afraid it will come back to haunt her. Claiming to be tired, Natasha goes to bed, but Matt later realizes she’s snuck out of the house. Changing into Daredevil, he goes after her, but when he catches up to her, Natasha says that she has to deal with this situation on her own. Daredevil turns the tables on her by reminding her that they’re equal partners now. Suddenly, they are attacked by Electro and the Purple Man in a hovercraft. Daredevil leaps aboard the hovercraft and attacks Killgrave, leaving the Black Widow to fight Electro. The ship goes out of control and crashes into a building, exploding in a huge fireball. Daredevil leaps clear and rejoins the Black Widow, finding she has just defeated Electro. Killgrave’s body is not found in the wreckage, and the police assume he was incinerated.

A few days later, after she starts having inexplicable panic attacks, Natasha tells Matt and Ivan more about Project Four. She reveals that Danny French was her contact in Los Angeles for her first espionage mission outside the Soviet Union, back in 1958. They broke into a private research installation in Nevada to steal a strange levitating sphere. To cover their escape, French threw a gas grenade, which, to their shock, proved to be a deadly toxin. Realizing they’d been betrayed by their handlers, French took the globe and went underground, later becoming a mercenary. Now, Natasha fears that the Project Four sphere makes Danny French a very dangerous man. When Daredevil starts having similar panic attacks, Natasha assumes French is responsible. However, Daredevil recognizes it as the handiwork of his late foe, Mister Fear, who was murdered by Starr Saxon last November. When Matt visits the law offices of Broderick, Sloan, and Cranston to discuss their job offer, he detects the telltale scent of Mister Fear’s old fear-gas on Larry Cranston. Sure enough, Cranston proves himself to be the new Mister Fear when he attacks Daredevil that very night, using a jetpack for optimum maneuverability. Mister Fear boasts that Daredevil’s relationship with the Black Widow made it obvious that he is Matt Murdock. The villain’s next intended victim, his law partner Jason Sloan, arrives on the scene, but Daredevil knocks Sloan out before Cranston can expose his secret identity. As they fight, Cranston admits to Daredevil that he stumbled upon the dying Zoltan Drago last year and learned where to find Mister Fear’s cache of costumes and equipment. Cranston was inspired to get revenge on all the people who’d ever made him look bad. Suddenly, Mister Fear punches Daredevil in the face and jumps off the roof, intending to escape using his jetpack. Unfortunately, he’d lost the jetpack during the fight and plummets to his death. Matt returns home, only to discover that the Black Widow has disappeared.

After waiting most of the next day for word from Natasha, Matt and Ivan decide to go out searching for her. They split up, with Ivan heading downtown while Daredevil canvasses Chinatown. Though briefly distracted with stopping the robbery of a convenience store, Daredevil searches all night, but has no luck locating the Black Widow. He finally returns home shortly before dawn and falls asleep in a chair. Ivan wakes him up a few hours later and reports a similar lack of success. However, another problem presents itself when a local TV news reporter speculates on the air that, given their close relationship with the infamous Black Widow, Matt Murdock and Daredevil are likely the same man. Hoping to salvage his secret identity, Matt immediately phones the Black Panther in New York and asks him to come pose as Daredevil. When T’Challa arrives, he dons Daredevil’s costume with a latex facemask, then waits outside for the inevitable assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Matt goes off to search for Natasha in his civilian identity. Several hours later, Matt hears a report that “Daredevil” is battling a martial-arts master known as the Blue Talon back at the house, so he takes a taxi home, finding numerous police cars and TV news crews on the scene. Finding Commissioner O’Hara, Matt introduces himself. The fight ends when the Blue Talon accidentally ruptures a gas main and blows himself up. “Daredevil” then joins Matt out on the street, where the attorney is telling the story of the death of Mike Murdock and his replacement by a second Daredevil who still watches out for his predecessor’s blind brother. O’Hara and the reporters seem to be buying it hook, line, and sinker, so Matt breathes a sigh of relief. Later, T’Challa drops off Matt’s Daredevil costume and heads back to New York.

Matt spends most of the next day researching Project Four, then goes out as Daredevil in the evening to continue searching for Natasha. Suddenly, the Black Widow attacks him, clearly under the influence of some form of mind-control. Daredevil is able to knock her out quickly and carries her home, where Ivan becomes infuriated to learn all that Matt has discovered about Project Four. Determining that Natasha had been held prisoner in Oakland, Matt decides to call Jason Sloan and ask if he knows anyone in the Oakland area who is very rich and “potentially dangerous.” Sloan tells Matt about Damon Dran, a former munitions magnate who’s become extremely paranoid about nuclear war. Matt decides to check out Dran’s estate in Berkeley, and when he arrives, Daredevil finds the place is a veritable fortress. The hero’s hypersenses lead him to an underground bunker, where he discovers Damon Dran in a strange suit of armor, weirdly mutated by the Project Four sphere, holding Danny French prisoner. Dran attacks Daredevil with disintegrator beams, wrecking his own equipment and setting the place on fire. After damaging Dran’s armor, Daredevil rescues French and gets him out of the bunker before the place explodes. However, Dran emerges from the rubble, having grown to giant-size, with the Project Four sphere levitating beside him. No match for Dran’s newfound power, Daredevil and French take cover in the trees. Unable to find them, Dran stalks off toward the city, intent on bringing the human race to its knees. Daredevil and French then rendezvous with Natasha and Ivan at the townhouse, where they watch TV news coverage of Dran’s slow but steady progress across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the face of heavy resistance from National Guard troops. Finally, the Black Widow leads the three men out to stop Dran before he makes it across the bridge. Daredevil and the Black Widow attack Dran, who proves to be invulnerable until the Project Four sphere suddenly explodes. They are then able to bring Dran down, and he screams in agony as the strange energies in his body consume him. Though the battle is won, Daredevil and the Black Widow are horrified to learn that Danny French sacrificed himself to destroy the sphere with a makeshift javelin. Having redeemed himself, the former spy and mercenary dies in Natasha’s arms.

November 1965 – Matt finally accepts Jason Sloan’s job offer and is given Larry Cranston’s old office. The firm’s name is changed to Broderick, Sloan, and Murdock, Attorneys-at-Law, though Matt has yet to meet the semi-retired senior partner, Kerwin J. Broderick. After work one day, Matt returns home to find that Natasha and Ivan have been attacked by a minotaur-like creature who called himself the Man-Bull. Matt realizes it must be Bull Taurus back for revenge. He changes into Daredevil, then goes out with the Black Widow to hunt their foe down. Along the way, he fills the Widow in on his encounter with the Man-Bull back in February. They soon find the monstrous crook robbing a jewelry store and attack him. During the fight, though, Daredevil is shot in the shoulder by a sniper and blacks out from the pain. He regains consciousness later in a hospital bed. Natasha is there, as well as Commissioner O’Hara, who admires Daredevil’s bravery in spite of himself. Revealing that the Man-Bull escaped, Natasha leaves to track him down on her own. Daredevil struggles to get out of bed, but is too weak. A few hours later, while being interviewed by a TV news reporter, Daredevil learns that there has been an outbreak of strange mutations reminiscent of the Man-Bull, and he realizes the creature’s creator is trying his scheme again. Daredevil drags himself out of the hospital and meets up with a friend on the police force, Lt. Paul Carson, who agrees to lend a hand.

At dawn, Daredevil and Lt. Carson find the Man-Bull and his creator at a waterfront warehouse in Sausalito. They are arguing over their ransom scheme, with the Man-Bull refusing to turn the antidote over to their victims. Daredevil leaps down and attacks the criminals, but the fight does not go well due to his shoulder wound. Even so, Daredevil manages to tangle the Man-Bull up in a rope attached to an anchor and knock him off the pier into the water. When the Man-Bull does not resurface, Daredevil assumes he’s drowned. Lt. Carson arrests the scientist, who surrenders the antidote. Daredevil then learns that the Black Widow was gored by the Man-Bull’s horns and has been hospitalized. He meets up with Ivan at the emergency room and is relieved to learn Natasha is expected to recover.

December 1965 – Due to their injuries, Daredevil and the Black Widow are out of action for the remainder of the year. Matt settles into his new job, accounting for his injuries by saying the Man-Bull came after him for revenge, since he helped the New York District Attorney prosecute Bull Taurus back in February. He credits his buddy Daredevil with saving him. In the evenings, Matt recuperates at the townhouse, where Natasha works on her fashion designs and does some networking in the local fashion industry. Matt, Natasha, and Ivan then celebrate Christmas together and look forward to what adventures the new year will bring.


Notes:

January–February 1965 – Daredevil’s adventures continue in Daredevil #66 and following. The extended timeframe of the trial of the “New York Three” in Daredevil #70–71 causes this story to interweave with subsequent issues, so that the showdown with the Tribune, who is really Buck Ralston in disguise, actually occurs after DD’s battles with Tagak, the Committee, El Condor, and Man-Bull. The Vice-President is drawn to look like Spiro Agnew, but this is merely a topical reference. For more information on Vice President Miller, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three. In Daredevil #77, Matt’s memories of his encounter with Spider-Man and the Sub-Mariner are erased by Princess Tuvia when she departs for her home dimension. The phone call Matt misses at the end of the issue is from Karen, who’s trying to let him know she’ll be in New York. Interestingly, in Daredevil #82, Matt says to himself that he’s been Daredevil for four years, even though the series has been running for 7½ years. This is an early indication of “Marvel Time” and evidence that the “sliding timescale” has gone into effect. In the OMU, Matt has been fighting crime as Daredevil for less than 2½ years at this point.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Daredevil finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

April 1965 – The sexual nature of Daredevil’s relationship with the Black Widow is glossed over in the original comics, due to the censorious Comics Code Authority. For Natasha’s perspective on these events, see my Black Widow Chronology.

October 1965 – Matt briefly returns to New York for the trial of the Hulk in Hulk #152–153, which is Daredevil’s only appearance outside his own title during this period. At the end of Daredevil #89, Killgrave actually survives the crash and relocates to an underground base out in the desert, as seen in his next appearance. With issue #92, the series’ cover title was changed to Daredevil and the Black Widow, as part of Marvel’s 1972 push to expand their female readership. The company’s new quasi-feminist titles, Claws of the Cat, Night Nurse, and Shanna the She-Devil, would debut in the next two months. However, they were all cancelled within a year, and a few months later the cover title reverted to Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. Though Damon Dran seemingly dies at the end of Daredevil #94, he actually survives, as revealed in the Black Widow story in Marvel Fanfare #13.

November 1965 – The Man-Bull also survives his apparent death and moves to Chicago, as revealed in his next appearance. This brings us up to Daredevil #96.


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