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The History of Spider-Man: 1984

Spidey joins Secret Wars, gets his original black costume and much more in a very busy year!



The Enforcers were the toughest "hired guns" on the East Coast, a criminal trio consisting of apparent group organizer Fancy Dan (diminutive judo expert Daniel Brito with his "footwork so fast no one could lay a hand on him"); Montana (lariat expert Jackson W. Brice, whose rope "responded like a living thing"); and the Ox (slow-witted strongman Raymond Bloch, remarkably durable except for his "glass jaw"). Their first known employer, corrupt industrialist Norman Osborn, hired them to shut down Malone's Flophouse in a bid to gain the land; however, then-amnesiac Malone resident Namor the Sub-Mariner thwarted them, later destroying Osborn's construction equipment. The Enforcers came to prominence working for new crime boss the Big Man (secretly Daily Bugle reporter Frederick Foswell) and led a wave of theft, intimidation and extortion that included all non-Maggia New York crime gangs to join them. Their attempted strong-arming of Betty Brant attracted Spider-Man's interest. When Peter Parker pretended to know the Big Man's identity, the Enforcers kidnapped him and brought him to their headquarters. Left alone there, Peter changed to Spider-Man, defeated the Enforcers and summoned the police, who soon learned the Big Man was Foswell.

Breaking out of jail, the Enforcers fought the web-slinger at Benson's Department store, where they were saved from defeat by the Headsman, a Norman Osborn operative. Spider-Man's later victory over both Headsman and the Enforcers inspired Osborn to stop delegating his criminal activities and create the Green Goblin persona for himself. As the Goblin, Osborn talked movie producer B.J. Cosmos into hiring Spider-Man for a film, with the Enforcers pretending to be actors playing themselves. On location in New Mexico, however, they attacked Spider-Man, who led them into a cave where he picked them off one by one, though the Goblin escaped. Out of prison and hearing rumors that Spider-Man had quit, the Enforcers teamed with Sandman to finish off every crime-fighter they could find. They captured Human Torch (Johnny Storm), placed him in and air-tight glass cage and then set a trap for the back-in-action Spider-Man, who freed Torch, stopped the Enforcers, and sent Sandman into the arms of the police.

Released on the parole before his partners, the Ox was recruited alongside the Eel (Leopold Stryke) by Mister Fear to join his Fellowship of Fear. Quickly dissatisfied with his new group, Raymond threatened to go back to the Enforcers but was first defeated by Daredevil. In prison, cellmate Dr. Karl Stragg talked to Ox into breaking them out promising to make him smart. At his lab, Stragg switched bodies with Raymond instead. In Raymond's body, however, Stragg began losing his intelligence, finally plunging twenty stories to his death while carelessly attacking Daredevil. In Stragg's body, the Ox's intelligence increased. Voluntarily returning to prison, he agreed to act as guinea pig for a test of pharmaceutical isotopes that unfortunately induced radiation poisoning, giving him one month to live and prompting his immediate release. The isotope reacted with his true mind and mutated Stragg's body into more powerful version of the Ox's body. After battling Daredevil, he morphed back into Stragg before apparently dying in a radioactive explosion. In reality, the explosion released all radiation, returning him to the Ox body and curing him. The Kingpin's men found him barely alive in and alley.

Seeking revenge against Spider-Man for her father's death, Janice Foswell assumed his Big Man identity and hired the recently paroled Fancy Dan and Montana. The trio captured the Human Torch, putting him up for auction to New York mobsters and hoping to lure Spider-Man, who freed the Torch and turned the tables; however, the heroes were defeated thanks to the intervention of the rival criminals Sandman and the Crime-Master (Nick Lewis, Jr.; the first Crime-Master's son and Janice Foswell's fiancé). The martial artists known as the Sons of the Tiger rescued the heroes, and when the villains later captured the Sons, Spider-Man stepped in to save them, knocking out Montana and Dan in the process. Crime-Master killed the Big Man, unaware until later that he was murdering his fiancée. Soon after, Lightmaster hired Montana and Dan and added Raymond Bloch's twin brother Ronald to the group as the new Ox. Suspecting Spider-Man was an Empire State University student, Lightmaster sent the Enforcers to flush him out at the Coffee Bean Coffee shop, where they held the students hostage and demanded Spider-Man's presence; however, with Ronald sharing his brother's glass jaw, the web-spinner easily defeated them. The Ox nearly broke them free from custody until the police subdued them with gas.

Sent to Ryker's Island prison, the Enforcers were sprung by the Techmaster (Billy Bitzer), who sought revenge against mutant singer Dazzler's manager Harry S. Osgood, irrationally blaming him for injuries he received while running a nightclub light show. The Enforcers destroyed Osgood's recording studio, then tracked him to Dazzler's apartment and abducted him. Dazzler traced the Enforcers to the Food Dimension supermarket where she used her light powers and athleticism to defeat them. Putting together a "New Enforcers" to manage the Kingpin's Brooklyn extortion operation, the Arranger added Willard "Hammer" Harrison (a former boxer wearing massive gloves of diamond-hard steel) and Sylvester "Snake" Marston (allegedly the world's greatest contortionist) to the group. The Arranger supplied the Enforcers with men, weapons and targets in exchange for 65% of the gross collections. The Enforcers demanded protection money from Brooklyn businesses, beating up any proprietors who refused, including "Cassada's Candy" owner Roberto Cassada, who was also the reformed Sandman's landlord. Although the Enforcers captured Spider-Man, the angered Sandman freed the web-slinger and helped him defeat the group.

After the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) was deposed, another group calling themselves the New Enforcers attempted to fill the void. A secret "inner circle" composed of the Controller, the Fixer (Nobert Ebersol), Madame Menace, Mister Fear (Alan Fagan) and Mentallo recruited and "outer circle" of field agents: Blitz, Dragon Man, Dreadnought, the Eel (Edward Lavell), Plantman, Tangle, Thermite, Vanisher and a "Super-Adaptoid" sold to the group by the real Super-Adaptoid to disguise his infiltration of A.I.M. as Alessandro Brannex. They then hired the Foreigner to murder crime boss Blood Rose (Richard Fisk), whom they considered a major impediment to their plans. When the Foreigner's hit squad failed, the outer circle purged evidence of the Enforcers' involvement by wrecking the Foreigner's computer system. In a subsequent battle involving Spider-Man, Blood Rose, Gauntlet and Nightwatch, the outer circle was defeated. The inner circle remained intact but apparently dissolved without any further activity.

Super-criminal Mister Hyde, meanwhile, tried to hire Fancy Dan, Montana, Ox, Hammer Harrison, and Snake Marston to thwart some of the Eel's criminal plans, unaware that a disguised Eel had secretly taken Snake's place. The Enforcers turned him down, claiming to be heir own bosses, but the Eel retaliated by murdering Hyde's abductee Angela Parish, pinning the killing on Hyde. With his alter ego Matt Murdock acting as Hyde's attorney, Daredevil traced the real killer to the Enforcers only to be ambushed by the Eel, who discarded his Marston disguise. Though chained up and tortured by the Enforcers, Daredevil successfully coerced the Eel into revealing his disdain for his partners within their earshot. In the subsequent internecine brawl, Daredevil escaped and the Eel defeated his partners, only to be captured by Daredevil in turn. Daredevil then brought the Eel to Hyde's trial, with the other Enforcers willing to testify against him if he chose not to confess, securing Mister Hyde's release.

Fully recovered from radiation explosion, Raymond Bloch became a behind-the-scenes enforcer for the Kingpin and encountered Spider-Man while kidnapping Jill Stacy. Spider-Man foiled the abduction, but the Ox escaped. With Raymond's survival now known, the Kingpin hired Fancy Dan and Montana, replacing Ronald in the group with his brother and reassembling the original Enforcers. After a member of Jimmy-6's mob organization knocked over one of his high-stakes poker games, the Kingpin sent the Enforcers to murder Jummy-6 and his family. Armed with guns, the Enforcers attacked Jimmy's car, creating a war zone that attracted Spider-Man. Fancy Dan grazed Spider-Man's arm with a bullet causing the wall-crawler to fall from his web, leaving him defenseless, but the Enforcers chose not to kill him without being paid for it. Protecting Jimmy-6 from another attack, Spider-Man later defeated the Enforcers.

On his own now, Ronald Bloch teamed with Boomerang (Fred Myers) to sell illegal weapons to children. Defeated by the Young Avengers, they hired Goodman, Leiber, Kurtzberg and Holliway as their lawyers. In a subsequent attorney conference, Young Avengers member Stature (Cassie Lang), angered by legal technicalities, sparked a melee with Ox and Boomerang that was ended by the She-Hulk. In the settlement, the Ox and Boomerang were released, although their guns were confiscated, while a restraining order was imposed on the Young Avengers. Ronald subsequently became an enforcer for bookie Fat Teddy. While brutally beating a delinquent bettor, he encountered Spider-Man. During the fight, the web-slinger hallucinated, seeing his opponent as the nigh-unstoppable Morlun, and nearly beat the Ox to death until halted by Daredevil. Arrested, Ronald and fellow ex-Enforcers Marston and Eel were drafted into Thunderbolts to fight on the government's side in the super hero Civil War and sent to Desert Flats, New Mexico for training.

In jail, the original Enforcers protected the now-incarcerated Wilson Fisk but switched sides to Hammerhead after learning that the Kingpin was supplying evidence to the feds. Attempting to dispose of Fisk in the prison shower, they were instead beaten up by him. After Fisk arranged the defeat and apparent death of Hammerhead, the Enforcers returned to serving as the Kingpin's in-prison muscle.

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- Marvel Editorial Staff