Spider-Tracer: You Get a Villain, You Get a Villain, YOU Get a Villain!


Previously, on Spider-Tracer…We discussed the villains Spider-Man borrowed from other Marvel heroes, many of which he ended up keeping for his own rogue’s gallery. Today, we’ll be discussing the villains Spidey graciously lent out to other heroes, some of which just made for a good fight or two, and some of which became regular sparring partners with those that borrowed the villain in the first place.

 

One very early example of this occurs in Daredevil #2 (Volume 1, June 1964), in which Daredevil battles his first costumed adversary, Electro!

 

 

Electro, also known as Max Dillon, only appeared a brief 4 months prior in Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Volume 1, February 1964). This wouldn’t be his only battle with the Man Without Fear, however; Electro went so far as to form the original Emissaries of Evil to battle ol’ Hornhead, which consisted of several previous DD enemies (think Sinister Six, only with DD villains and no set number of teammates).

 

 

Electro seemed to consistently battle both Spider-Man and Daredevil early on; he joined up with Doc Ock’s original Sinister Six and fought Web-Head on his own in Amazing Spider-Man #82. Electro later showed up in Daredevil #87 and 89, sporting a new look that didn’t last past these initial two issues before he went back to his classic look.

 

 

While that was Electro’s last major battle in Daredevil’s book, he did manage to find the time to fight both Spidey and Daredevil in Marvel Team-Up #56, along with some help from Iron Man foe, Blizzard. Following his battle in MTU, Electro seemed to leave Daredevil alone, mostly battling Spider-Man or showing up wherever a good villain was needed temporarily. This, however, wouldn’t be the last time Daredevil borrowed a Spider-Man villain, as I’m sure many long time readers will recall, but we’ll get to them (including the BIG one) later.

 

For whatever reason, early foeman, the Chameleon, didn’t seem content to stay in the Spider-Man books. Following his introduction in Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Volume 1, of course) and a team-up of sorts with Kraven the Hunter in issue #15, Chameleon wouldn’t return to the book for another 65 issues. In that huge gap, he ended up battling Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #58 (along with his later revealed half-brother, the aforementioned Kraven the Hunter), and spent a few issues of Tales to Astonish bedeviling the Hulk at the behest of the Leader (issue #’s 62-63, and a brief appearance in #66). Following his single return to Amazing Spider-Man in issue #80, Chameleon would battle the Hulk again in issue # 154 of the Green Goliath’s book.

 

 

Since he seemed to battle them both up to this point, it was only fitting that Chameleon would battle both the Hulk and Spidey in Marvel Team-Up #27. After over one hundred issues worth of absence and a battle with Daredevil in issue #134 of his book, Chameleon would show up again in Amazing Spider-Man #186 with a rather… strange looking outfit.

 

 

Chameleon decided to take some time off (or was he in plain sight the whole time? One never can be sure with a master of disguise…), and wasn’t heard from again until Amazing Spider-Man #306. However, after this issue, he seemed to show up far more regularly in the Spider-Man books to plague our web-spinning hero.

 

Like the Chameleon, Scorpion is another Spider-Man villain who decided to take a huge break from the Spider-Man books. Also known as Mac Gargan, the Scorpion showed up in issue #’s 19-20 for the first time, with his return in issue #29. That was in 1965, and he wouldn’t return for another whopping 10 years to fight Spider-Man (during the original Clone Saga, no less). In his years of absence, Scorpy stung Captain America (#’s 122 and 151-152) and, you guessed it, Daredevil (#’s 82-83 of his book).

 

 

Gerry Conway was apparently a Scorpion fan (someone should really ask him to be sure, but if you look at the following clues, you’ll see what I mean), because not only did he write the latter two Cap appearances, he wrote the Daredevil appearances, brought him back to Spidey for the Clone Saga, and then brought him along for Ms. Marvel #’s 1 and 2.

 

 

It should be noted that following the Clone Saga, Scorpion mostly stuck to fighting Spider-Man, though, like Electro, Scorpion isn’t above showing up in another hero’s book when he needs a break from all the webs in his eyes.

 

It could be said that the Rhino became as much a Hulk villain as he was a Spider-Man villain. While he first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #’s 41-43, he fought the Hulk throughout the rest of the 60’s and 70’s.

 

 

In fact, he didn’t fight Spider-Man again until Marvel Team-Up #102 in 1981! Following a battle with Spidey and the Avengers, Rhino joined up with the Sinister Syndicate, and became more of a recurring nemesis for Spidey, though this didn’t stop Horn Head from showing up in the Hulk title, too; heck, the two even played some baseball together if you can believe that.

 

 

Rhino mostly sticks to the Spidey titles these days, but isn’t afraid to mix it up with the rest of the Marvel Universe from time to time.

 

Another villain the Hulk borrowed was William Baker, aka Flint Marko, aka the Sandman!

 

 

Sandman’s a guy who likes to keep busy, obviously, so when he wasn’t battling Spidey or the Hulk, he was teaming up with the Wizard, Trapster and Medusa (or another villainous replacement) as part of the Frightful Four to take on, you guessed it, the Fantastic Four!

 

 

The Sandman’s criminal career came to an end following an accidental merger with Hydro-Man that caused them to become a giant mud monster. The Sandman became a good guy, becoming a member of Silver Sable’s Wild Pack, the Outlaws, and even a reserve Avenger! However, years later, the Wizard forcibly reverted Sandman’s heroic desires back to those of criminal pursuits. These days, Sandman can usually be found fighting Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

 

By now you’re probably thinking you’re noticing a pattern: No matter how long most of these villains leave the Spider-Man books to battle other heroes, they always inevitably find their way back to Spider-Man’s corner of the Marvel Universe. And you’d be correct! So I guess that’s everyone then, right? Well…

 

Remember that “BIG one” I mentioned earlier? Probably the most significant occurrence of when a Spider-Man villain left the Spider-Man titles was the time Frank Miller inserted the Kingpin of Crime into Daredevil’s book.  It first happened in Daredevil #170.

 

 

This wouldn’t be the first, nor the last time a Spidey villain ventured over to that book, so what makes this one so different? By this time, the Kingpin had retired from crime in the Spider-Man books, but it was not to last. Miller, who turned Daredevil in a grittier, street level vigilante when compared to the hero’s earlier days as a swashbuckling do-gooder, grounded the Kingpin in a way he never had been before. Gone were the days of Wilson Fisk’s gas spraying stickpins and ray-blasting canes. Kingpin now simply resorted to relying on his physical strength when needed, but preferred operating in the shadows when possible as opposed to those earlier Spider-Man appearances.

 

 

Miller also established Fisk as Murdock’s opposite number in the sense that he stood for everything Daredevil stood against. While Daredevil battled corruption and oppression of the weak, both as a daytime lawyer and nighttime purveyor of justice, the Kingpin was never above such things to further his sinister goals. In fact, most of the city’s criminal element could be tied back to the Kingpin’s criminal empire in some form or another. To the public at large, however, Fisk was a humble trader of spices. Like Daredevil, Kingpin wore a “mask” of sorts, only his was less of a literal one than Matt’s.

 

But wouldn’t Spider-Man be just as opposed to a guy of such malignant acts and intentions? Of course he would! Kingpin’s all about power, and we know how much power is such a central theme in the Spider-Man books (I think there may even be some kind of catch phrase about power and responsibility now that I think about it…).

 

So what makes Kingpin such a memorable Daredevil foe; one that many would even argue is Daredevil’s arch-nemesis? Well, there’s the fact that he hired Matt Murdock’s ex-girlfriend as his chief assassin before her untimely death, which definitely put the two former lovers at great odds. But most significant is the fact that the Kingpin knows that Daredevil and Matt Murdock are one and the same!

 

To be sure the information he had been given was correct, Fisk had Murdock’s finances frozen, had Matt disbarred from practicing law, and even blew up his apartment which resulted in Matt becoming homeless, all in the classic, much-loved “Born Again” story-line (Daredevil #’s 227-231). And that isn’t even everything (I wouldn’t want to spoil everything for you here)! That’s definitely more personal than Kingpin had ever allowed his enmity with Spider-Man to get. Driven to the brink after losing nearly everything, Matt and Fisk have one of their most memorable fights, one which Kingpin wins.

 

 

Sure, Daredevil of course fights his way back to reclaim everything the Kingpin had taken from him, but the damage was already done. Fisk cemented himself as one of Daredevil’s most memorable foes under Frank Miller’s direction, and subsequent writers continued with this in mind. Kingpin has returned to the Spider-Man books since then, and has even mixed it up with everyone from Captain America to the Punisher, but he never strays too far from the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’s book. In fact, he’s shown up in Daredevil’s 2003 movie (played by the late, sadly missed Michael Clarke Duncan), and later became an integral character in DD’s Netflix show, as portrayed by the very talented Vincent D’Onofrio!

 

 

Spider-Man is very generous, what can I say? He has so many great villains, as any fan will tell you, that he can afford to lend or give them out to other heroes from time to time.

 

Is there a Marvel hero you’re dying to see take on a particular Spidey villain? If so, be sure to sound off in the comments section below!

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(8) Comments

  1. André Santana

    And to think that even the Punisher started out as a Spidey villain... Hell, even the Thunderbolts featured Spider-Man villains!Although Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil delivered great classic stories - specially against the Kingpin -, I’ve always wondered why wouldn’t Marvel allow Spider-Man to have more “heavier” stories with great deep impact in the character’s life. Probably “The Death of Gwen Stacy” (until then) and “Kraven’s Last Hunt” were enough for Spider-Man’s editorial mandate - after all, as the Company’s flagship character, he’s got to remain accessible for children as well.Still, “Back in Black” by JMS and R. Garney remains as an underrated storyline by some; not very often readers have the opportunity to see the the unleashed raging side of Peter Parker against an enemy who pushed him to the edge - again, only the Kingpin was able to accomplish that! And it felt right; he first appeared in The Spider-Man, not Daredevil.Great article and approach on how Spidey’s universe can help others.

  2. William

    Daredevil has such a pathetic rogues gallery, I can't blame him for taking some of Spidey's villains. I remember being surprised that Kingpin was more of a Daredevil villain when I got into the comics, as a kid I watched a lot of Spider-Man TAS where he was more or less the main villain most of the time (even Doc Ock was his lackey, and Venom and the Green Goblin were a lot less prominent.) Of course, there was that great storyline where DD showed up and had a much more personal rivalry with him than Spider-Man did, so I probably should have been clued in.I do think he's a much better Daredevil villain, he's had a lot of good scenes with Spider-Man, but they just don't have that personal kick his interactions with DD have. Back in Black made things personal, but showed why it wouldn't be sustainable in the long-term. At any rate, Peter already has enough people who could destroy his entire life at any moment to worry about.

  3. hornacek

    Wait ... Electro formed a group of villains? How have I never heard of this before?Marvel Team-Up #27 is an issue I have fond memories of - not because I bought it when it originally came out, but because it was in one of those paperback books that Marvel sold that contained 3 issues. I must have read that book at least a couple dozen times. And in that issue, the Chameleon says that the guy he's trying to fool the Hulk into breaking him out of prison saved the Chameleon's life when they were kids. This seems to be a problem with the retcon that Chameleon is actually the half-brother of Kraven and lived in Russia ... unless he traveled to America and met Joe when he was a kid, or Joe's family was in Russia."the Wizard forcibly reverted Sandman’s heroic desires back to those of criminal pursuits" I've said it before here, but I've never forgiven Mackie and Byrne for turning the Sandman evil again. All the character development, flushed down the drain. And then Tom Brevoort wrote the explanation for it, which made it even worse, since it wasn't the Sandman's decision - the Wizard brainwashed him, with Sandman literally begging Wizard not to do it. Still makes me angry.

  4. Bill Slattery III - Post author

    @ Joshua Nelson No worries! As for Rhino, my guess would be that aside from the first Sinister Syndicate story bringing him back to the Spider-Man books, the 90's cartoon featured him, which led to him appearing in many of the Spidey video games and toy-lines from the ToyBiz days. I'll admit, that's why I think of him as such, first and foremost.@ Josh and Jack Very good points about the Kingpin, guys. I wish I'd thought of "Back in Black"; it's perfectly illustrates what would happen to the Kingpin if Spidey didn't hold back against him. Like many villains have said before, Spidey cares too much, and fighting a regular guy, no matter how big and strong,, is definitely gonna cause Pete to pull his punches. Y'know, unless he gets your favorite provider of wheat cakes shot...

  5. Jack

    I think the only way to excuse Kingpin's ability to go toe-to-toe with Spidey early on was that Spidey was a teen, and was so worried about killing anyone (considering he bent a metal sign-post with a misguided punch) that he held back too much. "Back in Black" showed what today's Spidey/Kingpin fight should be like -- Spidey mopped the floor with Fisk, and could kill him at any time. Spidey outgrew Fisk. Daredevil, on the other hand, is much more like a pulp adventurer of the 1940s. His powers are real and helpful, but modest.

  6. Joshua Nelson

    My apologies; I must have missed that somehow.You have to wonder what exactly made The Rhino such an iconic Spidey rogue considering how little they've actually fought.The Kingpin was really just a big, angry mob boss until Frank Miller got his hands on the character. He's really much more fitting as a Daredevil rogue anyway; not just because his rivalry with Matt Murdock is more compelling, but also because it always seemed silly that Fisk could go toe-to-toe with someone like Spider-Man.

  7. Bill Slattery III - Post author

    I actually do mention the appearance in ASM #80; I first read it in one of the b&w Essential volumes, and I couldn't forget it.But yes, it was while researching this article that I realized just how much Rhino and Spidey barely ever fought each other. That was a huge surprise.Good point about Kingpin, too; I feel like after his initial Lee/Romita appearances, he didn't really accomplish much in the Spider-Man books.

  8. Joshua Nelson

    The Chameleon actually appeared again in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN vol. 1 #80. That issue actually marks the first time he impersonates Peter Parker.The odd thing about The Rhino is that despite being commonly classified as one of Spidey's classic B-list rogues, he really only has fought the wall-crawler a handful of times (and that's counting his frequent appearances on teams like The Sinister Six and The Sinister Syndicate).I think most people would agree that The Kingpin makes a far better Daredevil foe than Spidey foe. Despite his frequent encounters with the web-slinger throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Kingpin was never really all that remarkable a villain. Frank Miller is the man who really turned that around and made Wilson Fisk into one of Marvel's top dogs.

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