Daredevil's Dangerous Relationship With the Hand, Explained
As Daredevil and Elektra gear up to stop the Hand once and for all, revisit Matt Murdock's dark, sordid history with this sect of ninja assassins.
In the Marvel Universe, there are few organizations as deadly as the Hand. A group of mystical ninjas specializing in assassination, the Hand has posed a major problem for a lot of key characters, including Wolverine and the X-Men. However, they’re perhaps most associated with Daredevil, AKA Matt Murdock, and for good reason: the Hand has nearly destroyed the Man Without Fear on several occasions and often brings out the worst in him.
With Murdock and Elektra Natchios looking to take down the Hand in the pages of DAREDEVIL (2022) by writer Chip Zdarsky and artists Rafael De Latorre and Marco Checchetto, here’s what you need to know about the Man Without Fear’s relationship with these deadly warriors.
The Hand Joins the Marvel Universe
Created by Frank Miller, the Hand was originally introduced in DAREDEVIL (1964) #174 as a group of mystical ninja assassins-for-hire tasked with killing Murdock. Elektra overheard the order to kill her ex-boyfriend and stepped in to defend him.
Of course, Elektra herself had a complicated relationship with the group. Years prior to that story, she had been a member of the Chaste – a group that opposed the Hand – under Stick, Murdock’s mentor. She attempted to infiltrate the cadre of mystical assassins to prove herself to Stick, but in the end, the Hand tricked her into killing one of her mentors and turned her into a deadly assassin. Eventually, Elektra left the Hand, and the ninja warriors maintained a standing order to kill her if possible.
After Bullseye murdered Elektra, the Hand attempted to resurrect her as a servant. As a result, Murdock teamed up with Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, and Stone, a member of the Chaste, to stop the group. Stick even gave his life in the resulting battle, sacrificing himself to protect his allies. While Murdock and his team defeated the Hand, the pitched battle nearly turned against them. Luckily, Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin, stepped in to help his longtime enemy and claimed the act served as proof that they need one another. In the end, Murdock purified Elektra’s soul and her body disappeared.
Over the next few decades, the Hand played an occasional, but key role in Daredevil’s stories. In one notable instance, Daredevil teamed up with Danny Ketch’s Ghost Rider to stop the Hand from sacrificing several New Yorkers to the Beast, a powerful and malevolent demon worshipped by the group. Murdock was also forced to take on the Snakeroot, a secret cadre within the Hand that is responsible for some of its most nefarious deeds.
Daredevil Takes a Dark Turn
In early stories featuring the Hand, Daredevil stood in opposition to the ninja group and worked against them, but writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark’s “Lady Bullseye” and “Return of the King” storylines set the stage for the Man Without Fear’s darkest turn.
Master Izo, the founder of the Chaste, conspired to have Daredevil become the leader of the Hand, hoping to use him to reform the group from within. Izo manipulated Lady Bullseye, a member of the Hand, into systemically ruining Murdock’s life on behalf of the Hand. Among other things, Lady Bullseye killed Angela Del Toro’s White Tiger and Carlos LaMuerto’s Black Tarantula and resurrected them as servants for the Hand. She also used Murdock’s affair with private investigator Dakota North to give Milla Donovan’s parents custody of her following her mental breakdown.
When Daredevil rejected the chance to lead the Hand, Lady Bullseye enacted her back-up plan and went to Spain, where Fisk was living after retiring from his life of crime. Lady Bullseye murdered Fisk’s girlfriend and her children, then told him to ask Murdock why. Fisk returned to New York and seemingly struck a deal with Daredevil to destroy the Hand together.
Ever the schemer, Kingpin instead made it his goal to take control of the Hand for himself and began using his criminal connections to further destroy Daredevil. This reached a breaking point when Kingpin killed Lord Hirochi, one of the leaders of the Hand, and looked likely to take control of the group for himself. This forced Murdock to agree to lead the Hand to prevent his old, dangerous enemy from using the ninja sect for his own ends.
Initially, Daredevil believed he could reform the Hand and use the ninja for justice. What followed instead was the rapid erosion of his morals. During the events of “Dark Reign,” Norman Osborn ordered Bullseye – who was serving as the Dark Avengers’ version of Hawkeye – to take down Daredevil. During their battle, Bullseye blew up a building with 107 people inside, killing them and leading Murdock to question whether his refusal to kill had led to that outcome. In response, Murdock began building Shadowland – a prison stronghold from which he could wage the ultimate war on crime – on the remnants of that destroyed building.
The Hand, and specifically the Snakeroot cadre, took advantage of the situation and aimed to corrupt Daredevil. Murdock and White Tiger, who was one of Daredevil’s most trusted lieutenants in that era, went to Japan to solidify his leadership over the group. However, while they were there, it was revealed White Tiger was actually working with the Snakeroot to corrupt Murdock. Things came to a head when Bakuto, the leader of the Hand’s South American branch, was framed for an attempt on Daredevil’s life and murdered. Despite being suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Bakuto’s death, Daredevil didn’t investigate what happened.
Soon after, Daredevil became possessed by the Beast through the Snakeroot’s magical machinations. Under the influence of that powerful demon, Daredevil murdered Bullseye and began enacting his own brutal regime of justice on New York from Shadowland.
In the SHADOWLAND (2010) event by writer Andy Diggle and artist Billy Tan, Marvel’s heroes teamed up to take down Daredevil, only to find him brutally powerful and nearly unstoppable. Just when it looked like the Beast had finally won, though, Danny Rand, AKA Iron Fist, used his chi to purify Murdock’s soul. In the aftermath of the event, Daredevil left New York to find himself, while T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, began serving as the hero of Hell’s Kitchen.
Daredevil’s Latest Fights With the Hand
SHADOWLAND (2010) wasn’t the last time Daredevil had to deal with the Hand’s attempts to find an avatar for the Beast. During Charles Soule’s run on DAREDEVIL (2015), Murdock befriended Samuel Chung, AKA Blindspot, a young man that developed an invisibility suit to fight crime. After being blinded by the serial killer Muse, Chung ended up possessed by the Beast. While he was eventually able to free himself from the demon’s control, the Hand responded by attacking New York, forcing Daredevil and his allies to band together against the deadly assassins and the Beast.
Now, following the events of DEVIL’S REIGN (2021), Murdock and Elektra have set their sights on the Hand and are looking to take the group down once and for all. Daredevil, for his part, has set his sights on becoming the leader of the Fist, a group opposing the Hand. He’ll also find himself at odds with Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher, whose family was resurrected by the Hand in exchange for his service (though the group’s true goal is, of course, to make him the Beast’s new avatar). PUNISHER (2022) #6 even ended with the two finally coming face-to-face. Regardless of what happens between those two, the question remains: in attempting to destroy the Hand, will Murdock once again find himself corrupted? Will he become the very thing he seeks to stop?
To find out what happens next and how that impacts his relationship with Elektra, pick up DAREDEVIL (2022) #4, on sale now!
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