Posted - September 23, 2018

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Daredevil No. 6
Trapped by the Fellowship of Fear

We find Daredevil on what is becoming an accustomed location: on the rooftops of New York using his hypersenses to scan for trouble.

Today what Daredevil's hypersenses tell him is that there is a film crew working on the street below. Additionally, Matt's analytical mind tells him that some activities related to making a film are missing. Daredevil waits to find out more.

Like DD, let's take a closer look at this film crew's activities.

Something's definitely wrong. The director is surprised that real iron bars are being demolished by an actor who is supposedly just playing the part of the Ox.

The who you ask? The Ox. Real name Raymond Bloch. One of Spider-Man's foes. The Ox is a 6'8", 350 lbs. mutant. His mutant power is his superhuman strength. The Ox is able to lift a couple of tons. Viewed against the backdrop of other strong Marvel superhumans this isn't much. Most of Marvel's "weaker" superhumans can lift 10 tons. But in the world of ordinary thugs - and certainly in the world of Daredevil - the Ox is plenty strong.

A moment more and Daredevil's super-hearing picks up what he needs to hear.

The guy in the green costume is the Eel. He is one of a very rare group of villains - a Human Torch villain. From the days when Johnny had his own solo adventures in the pages of Strange Tales. The Eel derives his abilities from his unique costume; something which we will see more of later.

Let's see what the Ox can do.

The Ox isn't superhumanly tough but he's 6'8" and he's massive, so he has a natural toughness because of his size. The Ox is superhumanly strong though. In the panels above we also see the Ox's weakpoint - he's slower than Daredevil. Matt calls him slow but I suspect that the Ox isn't slow, it is Daredevil who is fast. A good thing too, the Ox only needs to land one solid punch and that's it for DD.

Ok, now for the Eel. What would a villain called 'The Eel' be able to do? This.

Evidently, this villain takes his cue from the phrase 'slippery as an eel'. Still, what kind of power is this? Is it even useful? Well, yes, but as a defensive capability. For example, here, it is effectively warding Daredevil's attack. The Eel would most likely employ it to aid his stealthy activities as a thief. For this fight, the Eel can serve as a distraction so that the Ox can land his haymaker. What follows is a beautiful set of fight panels from Wally Wood.

By the way, this issue brought to us by Lee, Wood, and Rosen.

The upper left panel is particularly well-composed. This is right after the Eel slips through Daredevil's bear hug. Here we see that the Eel's slippery nature can work against him. We also learn that Matt's punches can't harm the Ox but the Ox simply doesn't have the speed to touch Daredevil. But waitaminute, we are dealing with a trio called the Fellowship of Fear here. Where's the third member? You can see him to the right of the beautifully illustrated panel below.

Let's pause and engage in the amusing activity of matching villains to heroes. The Ox is a Spider-Man villain and is a member of the trio known as the Enforcers. The Eel, as was mentioned, is a Human Torch villain. This is Mr. Fear's first appearance, making him a Daredevil villain. It is issue 6, and as of this issue, we have three members of Daredevil's rogues gallery: The Owl, the Purple Man, and Mr. Fear. The Ox is Daredevil's second encounter with a Spider-Man villain after Electro in issue 2.

So what's Mr. Fear about?

Fear gas. Affected by the gas, Daredevil flees from the scene.

After the gas wears off, the effect on Matt is a bit traumatic.

It's been rough for Daredevil. First the loses he suffered during his initial encounters with the Masked Matador last issue, now this. It is noteworthy that Matt is so worried about being a coward that he has not made the obvious connection between the gas pellet and the panic attack that made him run away from his fight with the Fellowship of Fear.

Let's leave the Man Without Fear to his fearful thoughts and take a look at the origin of Mr. Fear.

His wax museum isn't earning him money so what he does is try to bring the statues to life. That is quite ambitious and not a little unhinged. Still, he's serious - he has a lab setup and all that.

To his credit, when Zoltan Drago did discover something, he did not stubbornly insist on his original idea. He did a course correction to take advantage of a lucky accident. And so we learn that Mr. Fear's power is through his equipment - specifically his Fear Gun.

The Fear Gun is first used to recruit the Eel.

The Eel hangs out in the sewer system? I find that both fascinating and disgusting.

The Ox, fresh from prison, is recruited next. And thus, Zoltan Drago has his Fellowship of Fear.

Although Daredevil was not able to foil there robbery, his interference has made him a target. The Fellowship of Fear intends to bait him through this.

I'm showing the next two panels primarily to show how gorgeous Karen Page is as drawn by Wally Wood. Wow.

The wax museum bait is a success.

Once in the museum, Matt's enhanced sense of smell detects a trace of the fear gas. He comes to the correct conclusion that the villains who escaped him the other night are there. Matt resolves to return after hours.

Foggy, who is unfortunately familiar with the NYPD's wanted list, spots the Ox and also plans to return after hours.

Nightfall has Daredevil walking a wire to the museum.

In an amusing turn, the Ox and the Eel make like statues unaware of their foe's hypersenses.

Once again Wally Wood does a breath taking fight sequence.

I particularly like the left panel where some blazing action is suspended in time - you can feel the dynamic movement of the characters just by looking.

Into the ongoing melee we add two latecomers: Mr. Fear and Foggy Nelson. Seeing Mr. Fear raise his Fear Gun, Foggy goes for some interception.

Unfortunately, Foggy is not successful in saving Daredevil from getting a dose of the fear gas but he is successful in ripping off Mr. Fear's mask and seeing Zoltan's face.

I'm expecting Matt to make a run for it in spite of himself. Foggy would then be left alone with the Fellowship who would rough him up and question him. But that is not what happens. Panicked by the exposure of his identity, Mr. Fear orders the Ox to rescue him.

Daredevil, defenseless under the effect of the fear gas, gets swatted aside while poor Foggy Nelson, who lives a sedentary life, gets a direct hit from the Ox (although this is definitely not the Ox's hardest punch - that would be a killing blow).

Fortunately the Fellowship makes the wrong conclusion that Foggy is a cop and decides to get out before the rest of the police arrive.

The leftmost panel below is a testament to how hard Foggy has been hit - enough to take off the plaster from the wall!

Daredevil's hypersenses allows him to correctly diagnose Foggy's medical condition.

Once in the hospital, Matt calls Karen and we get the latest on the Page-Nelson-Murdock love triangle.

Matt isn't so emotionally wasted that he doesn't think of the situation with the Fellowship. He saw Foggy rip off that mask so he rightly assumes that the Fellowship will come back to 'take care' of any witnesses. Here they are now dressed as hospital orderlies.

What follows next is surprisingly hilarious.

The Eel without his suit and Mr. Fear without his gun. So it's plain old Leopold Stryke and Zoltan Drago against Daredevil. The only one among the Fellowship who can give Daredevil a challenge is the Ox. Even with that, the Fellowship of Fear should rename themselves the Three Stooges for this fight.

With no end to the vaudeville act in sight, Daredevil takes Leopold (the Eel) by both ankles and uses him to hit the two other members of the Three Stooges!

Remember that these four dynamic figures are doing this roughhousing in a hospital room with a patient on the bed and a young woman in the sidelines.

Back in issue 2, Daredevil tried a maneuver against Electro that involved closing the lights. This would immediately give Daredevil the advantage on account of his radar sense. It didn't work at the time since Electro was able to make himself a light source because of his electrical powers. Davedevil tries the same tactic here and it works beautifully.

It's enough for the Fellowship of Fear to beat a hasty retreat with the Ox in front acting like a bulldozer, knocking down anybody in his path.

After such a disaster, and once they arrive at their wax museum headquarters, Mr. Fear's ability to lead is rightfully questioned by his two cohorts.

Mr. Fear wisely decides to drop the campaign against Daredevil and chooses to leave town with whatever loot they already have. And they would have done so successfully were it not for Matt deciding to push the situation until he gets a clear victory over the Fellowship. Daredevil has followed the villains here and has disguised himself as one of the waxworks.

It's notable that for this fight we see Daredevil taking advantage of the location to give himself the edge. I suppose military strategists would refer to it as 'using the terrain'. The first instance of this was his disguising himself as a statue. The second instance will be seen when Mr. Fear takes out his fear gun later.

Matt is feeling upbeat from his victory at the hospital; Daredevil is fighting with more confidence than usual.

Here comes the dreaded Fear gun and here is DD using the environment to his favor.

The fear gas has an immediate effect on both the Ox and the Eel but Mr. Fear himself was wise enough to create a mask that made him proof to the fumes. His mask may have incorporated a gas mask feature. Nontheless, in the ensuing chaos the Fear Gun is dropped and Matt makes sure that it is no longer a factor in the ongoing battle.

The fear gas that was wafted by the exhaust fan must have been highly diluted. Instead of running off, both the Ox and the Eel recover to continue what is shaping up to be a bit of an epic fight.

The Ox is still trying for that lucky punch.

Daredevil makes the mistake of focusing on the others, giving the Ox a chance to ensnare him in a bear hug. Matt's only chance is to play against the Ox's slow wits.

Daredevil's attack is not enough to put down the Ox. To Daredevil, Ox might as well be the Juggernaut. Matt leads him on a chase around the museum and relying on the tried and true tactic of utilizing the environment, Matt uses his cane to trip the Ox at just the right time and in just the right place.

That did it.

As for the Eel ...

The Eel is a tougher customer than I thought; it takes two punches.

Daredevil is quick to jeer at Mr. Fear but with no Fear Gun I think Zoltan does the smart thing and spares himself a beating.

Note to Mr. Fear: Next time pack two guns or, even better, create a gas emission system incorporated into your gauntlets.

To wrap things up DD calls the cops.

So what's stopping the Ox from simply busting out of those ropes? Raymond Bloch has more than enough power to do so. Well, the Ox may be a criminal but he's not bloody-handed. He might crush the Eel and Mr. Fear if he tries to break out of those ropes.

As we say goodbye to Daredevil's encounter with the Fellowship of Fear let us also bid a fond farewell to his yellow costume and that trusty cane of his. Matt has been on enough adventures to do a redesign of both. Changing not only the look but giving both his costume and billy club more utility.

Next: Doctor Strange 1 The Way of the Weird