|First appearance||Daredevil #174 (September 1981)|
|Created by||Frank Miller (writer/artist)|
|Type of organization||Organized crime|
|Agent(s)||Notable current members:|
Notable former members:
The Hand is a supervillain organization appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The Hand first appeared in Daredevil #174 (September 1981) and was created by writer/artist Frank Miller.
The Hand is an order of evil mystical ninjas who are heavily involved in organized crime and mercenary activities such as assassination plots. The Hand covets power above all other objectives. They are primarily based in Japan, but operate internationally. They were founded in 1588 as a secret society of Japanese nationalist samurai but were soon co-opted by the Snakeroot, an ancient ninja clan which serves a primordial demon known only as "The Beast of the Hand".
Members of the Hand are practitioners of powerful occult magic and can murder a person and bring that person back to life as a servant of the Hand, but a few are known to have reversed this programming. The Hand's most dangerous adversary is The Chaste, a band of warriors once led by Stick, the blind martial arts master and mentor of Matt Murdock, who grew to become the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil. Murdock would eventually, after many bitter battles, accept the offer of becoming the master of the Hand for a time.
The Hand has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe television shows Daredevil, Iron Fist, and The Defenders.
The Hand first appeared in Daredevil volume 1 #174 (September 1981) and was created by writer/artist Frank Miller.
The hand has five fingers, each of which can exist independently of others. Not unlike the five islands that form Japan. However, when the five fingers of the hand come together for a single, unified purpose... the hand becomes an object of unwavering power!— Kagenobu Yoshioka, founder of The Hand, 1588
The story begins 800 years ago, in feudal Japan. Seeking autonomy from the oppressive class system of the time, a few citizens fled into the mountainous regions of Iga and Kōga. There they developed ninjitsu, a stealthy martial art perhaps inspired by Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Over a period of centuries, they refined their art in secluded camps. Students trained and practiced the art from birth, playing children's games designed to impart expertise in unarmed combat, swordplay, weaponry, camouflage, escape, and evasion. Ninjitsu was also designed to encourage spiritual growth by pushing oneself physically and mentally beyond normal human limits. The ninja were experts in espionage and assassination, and offered their specialized services to samurai warlords and others who could afford them.[volume & issue needed]
Masters of every form of subterfuge, the ninja were the most efficient and deadly warriors on the face of the Earth and became feared throughout Japan. Hearsay gave rise to the myth that ninja were the spawn of the Tengu, and that their divinity gave them extraordinary abilities. These myths were likely spread by the ninja themselves. Nonetheless, it would seem that an ancient ninja clan known as the Snakeroot can and does trace their bloodline back to these demons.[volume & issue needed]
In 1588, Kagenobu Yoshioka became sensei of the Ishiyama Sword School located in the Japanese village of Kyushua. Facing growing frustrations with the corrupt government that had been tainted by foreign influence, Yoshioka transformed the school into a training ground for samurais whose goal was to put power back in the hands of the Japanese people. Thus, the Hand was born. Just as a hand has five fingers, members of the inner circle of the Hand were leaders of organizations which each operated from one of Japan's five islands.
Upon the mutinous murder of Yoshioka, the Snakeroot ninja clan took control of the Hand and corrupted it by imposing the cult of a demon known as The Beast, which imbued them with dark magic. One of these black spells causes a Hand ninja's lifeless body to return to dust and prevent another from directly gazing at the Beast itself. Unlike the other factions of ninja, this "new" Hand both worked as mercenaries and sought power themselves. The Hand sought dominance over all others, working for allies of convenience while seeking to eliminate their enemies.
After the end of World War II, a select few of the more politically oriented members of the Hand formed the original HYDRA as a cabal of Japanese ultranationalists who plotted to overthrow the Japanese liberal democratic government, assassinate the prime minister, and install a neo-militarist government, which would rearm Japan. Shortly upon joining HYDRA, Baron Strucker seized control of the organization from its Japanese founders and slowly steered the organization towards the goal of world domination. The Hand and HYDRA have nevertheless collaborated in numerous subversive or criminal conspiracies over the years.[volume & issue needed]
The Hand has survived into the early 21st century, still seeking power in various forms, and using their lethal skills and brutal methods. The Hand's most dangerous adversary is The Chaste, a band of warriors once led by Stick, the late, blind martial arts master and former mentor of the man who grew to become the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil (Matt Murdock). Another of his former pupils, Elektra Natchios, has also been involved with the Hand. She infiltrated the Hand, determined to prove herself to Stick. Instead, the ninja tricked her into killing one of her former sensei. Elektra served the Hand for a time, but after their ways corrupted her soul, she fled Japan back to America.[volume & issue needed]
Eventually, the Hand sought to wipe out Stick and the good warriors of the Chaste altogether. Stick thwarted an assassination attempt by four Hand operatives; he then summoned the other members of his order (Shaft, Stone, and Claw) to New York City. With the assistance of his clan, Stick defeated Kirigi, the Hand's most lethal ninja at the time. The Hand regrouped and attacked Stick and his band of warriors that now included Daredevil and his current lover, Black Widow. The Hand had almost overpowered the small band of warriors, when Stick and Shaft resorted to an ancient technique that drained the life force from all ninja present. Unfortunately, the technique resulted in the explosion of Stick and his comrade as a result of the excess energy they had absorbed. Despite their casualties and the escape of the Chaste's superhero allies, the Hand considered the destruction of their nemesis and leader of their enemy a victory and turned their attention to other schemes.
Years later, the Hand turned its attention to the leaderless Chaste, once again attempting to destroy them, this time to prevent the Chaste's members from locating the new-born child that would bear Stick's reincarnated soul. The Hand severely crippled Stick's soldiers, reducing their number to a handful of warriors. The few remaining Chaste traveled to New York, seeking the assistance of Daredevil. Reluctantly, the Man Without Fear aided his former mentor's disciples, returning with them to Japan. Once there, the Hand attacked the Chaste and Daredevil relentlessly. Fighting alongside Daredevil, the Chaste barely managed to escape and safeguard their master's reincarnated spirit.[volume & issue needed]
The Hand has also frequently fought with Wolverine, and come into conflict with superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. The Hand played a particularly large role in the histories of Betsy Braddock and Kwannon, the two characters to use the Psylocke moniker.
Elektra led the Hand for some time but when she was killed it was revealed that this Elektra was actually a Skrull, temporarily leaving the Hand without a warlord. One faction, led by Lord Hiroshi and his lieutenant Lady Bullseye, has aimed to make Daredevil their new leader, an offer the latter rejected, only to be told that "the Hand doesn't take no for an answer." They then instigated the return of the Kingpin to New York City, with the goal of offering him the leadership instead. Kingpin's first act in negotiations is to kill Hiroshi with his bare hands, to "thank him" for realizing he can't escape his role as the Kingpin, and for murdering his girlfriend and her kids. However, the proceedings were interrupted by Daredevil, who accepted their offer, on the condition that the Hand should not do business with the Kingpin or Lady Bullseye again. The three remaining ninja-lords accepted this arrangement. During that time, the Hand gains Black Tarantula and White Tiger as members.
The Hand plays a major part in the 2010 "Shadowland" storyline where Daredevil uses the Hand as a force of justice. When Bullseye attacks his fortress, Daredevil ends up killing him in the same manner as Bullseye did to Elektra. Most of the street-based superheroes (consisting of Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, Moon Knight, Shang-Chi, and Colleen Wing) try to reason with Daredevil only for Kingpin and Lady Bullseye to unleash Ghost Rider upon Shadowland. Daredevil blames them for the diversion and has the Hand attack them. Following a fight with the street-based superheroes who escaped with Punisher's help, Daredevil states that he will plan to resurrect Bullseye to serve him. He is then approached by Elektra, who apparently swears her allegiance to him. The street-based heroes are visited by Master Izo, who states that the Snakeroot Clan plan to make Daredevil a vessel for the Beast of the Hand (who desires nothing but darkness and destruction). Later Colleen Wing learns from Daredevil that her mother had led a female faction of the Hand called the "Nail". Colleen eventually accepts Daredevil's offer to join the Nail. It is shown that the Hand also has a faction called the Underhand which are a group of ninjas that are already dead. This, when Luke Cage is visited by his old friend Lacy Kimbro, who tells Luke that her son Darris is among the cops that are held prisoners by the Underhand. Realizing that Daredevil is possessed by the demonic Beast of the Hand, the heroes gather together to try to fight him themselves. Despite their efforts to interrupt Bullseye's resurrection ceremony, even a direct attack from Wolverine fails to kill the now-demonic Daredevil. Daredevil throws off Elektra and Spider-Man's attempts to reason with him, as he proclaims "There is no Murdock! There is only the Beast!". Although Iron Fist is able to heal Daredevil of the 'infection' by using his chi punch to cure Daredevil's soul, Kingpin and Typhoid Mary take advantage of the chaos in the aftermath of the war to take command of the Hand for themselves.
The Hand later ends up in a gang war with the Yakuza which has been orchestrated by Sabretooth.
As part of the 2012 Marvel NOW! branding, Shadowland is attacked by Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Spider-Man's body) and his Spiderlings as the Hand ninjas engage them. In the aftermath of the attack on Shadowland, some of the Hand ninjas who evaded capture arrive in the sewers to join up with the Goblin Nation which is led by Goblin King.
Following the 2016 "Civil War II" storyline, the Hand has entered an allegiance with Daniel Drumm's ghost. After the funeral of Bruce Banner, the Hand steals his body so that they can use it to strengthen their ranks. The Uncanny Avengers find where the Hand is performing their ritual and that they have already revived Bruce Banner, who appears before them as Hulk wearing samurai armor. During that time, it was revealed that the Beast of the Hand was in control of the Hulk. The Uncanny Avengers were able to sever the Beast of the Hand's control as Bruce Banner returns to the dead.
During the Secret Empire storyline, the Hand is encountered by the Underground in Madripoor where they are under the control of Hive.
When Old Man Logan faces off against the Hand, he faced their latest member called the Scarlet Samurai. Logan later discovered that Scarlet Samurai is Mariko Yashida who was resurrected by the Hand to serve them.
During the events of the 2022 Punisher series and Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, Frank Castle has become the new leader of the Hand, with Matt Murdock and Elektra embarking to start The Fist, an origination meant to counter The Hand.
The Kingpin contacts the Hand for assistance against the Punisher in the "Homeless" story-arc of Punisher Max. While the organization provides the Kingpin with Elektra for use as a bodyguard, it refuses to directly hunt and eliminate the Punisher due to having the utmost respect for the vigilante and his prowess at killing. The Hand is later revealed to be in league with Vanessa Fisk, who intends to have Elektra seduce and murder the Kingpin. After the Punisher cripples Elektra and kills the Kingpin, the Hand recovers the former, and euthanizes her when it becomes apparent that the severity of her injuries have rendered her incapable of ever walking again.