The Hand (comics)
Cover art for New Avengers #27.
Art by Leinil Yu.
|First appearance||Daredevil #174 (September 1981)|
|Created by||Frank Miller (writer / artist)|
|Type of organization||Organized crime|
Notable Current Members|
Notable Former Members
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".
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 late, blind martial arts master and former mentor of Matt Murdock, who grew to become the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil and, after many bitter battles, would accept the offer of becoming the master of the Hand.
Fictional organization history
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.
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. However, it would seem that an ancient ninja clan known as the Snakeroot can and does trace their bloodline back to these demons.
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 imparted 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.
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 Matt Murdock, who grew to become the costumed crime-fighter Daredevil. 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. When their ways corrupted her soul, she fled Japan back to America.
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 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 again 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 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.
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 history of Psylocke.
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 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, 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 also shown that the Hand also has a faction called the Underhand which are a group of ninjas that are already dead 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.
As part of Marvel NOW!, 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 that evaded capture arrive in the sewers to join up with the Goblin Nation that is led by Goblin King.
Following the 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 the dead to strengthen their ranks. When the Uncanny Avengers find where the Hand is performing their ritual, they find that they have already revived Bruce Banner who appears before them as Hulk and wearing samurai armor.
- The Beast of the Hand - A demon that is worshiped by the Hand, the Snakeroot Clan, and the True Believers.
- Abraham Cornelius -
- Akatora -
- Akuma - A ninja who is a member of the Hand.
- Arthur Perry - An insane cyborg assassin and former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent.
- Azuma Goda - Director of the Hand's Japanese branch.
- Azumi Ozawa -
- Bakuto - Daimyo of the Hand's South America branch. Killed by White Tiger.
- Black Tarantula -
- Blink -
- Buzzard Brothers - Boyd and Buford Buzzard are a cannibal duo who have had a run-in with Wolverine. They are later sprung from jail by the Hand to serve them.
- Daredevil -
- Elektra -
- Eliza Martinez -
- Erynys - A virtual clone of Elektra created by the Hand. She is a reanimated corpse bonded to the dark aspects of Elektra's persona.
- Ghost Maker -
- Gorgon -
- Hand's Superhuman Army - Superhumans that were killed and resurrected by the Hand to serve as HYDRA's superhuman assassins.
- Hobgoblin - An assassin who is Kingpin's right-hand man.
- Iron Monk - A Master in the Hand. No mortal hand or blade can harm him and not even bullets can take him down.
- Izanagi -
- Jonin -
- Junzo Muto - A former leader of the Hand who is one of the deadliest martial artists in the Marvel Universe.
- Kagenobu Yoshioka - Founder of the Hand.
- Sasaki - Kagenobu Yoshioka's right-hand man.
- Ken Wind -
- Kingpin - Current leader of the Hand.
- Kirigi -
- Kuroyama -
- Lady Bullseye -
- Lady Gorgon - A Hand operative who lost her high-ranking position after failing to kill Punisher. She was killed by Master Yoshiokya.
- Lord Hiroshi -
- Lyle Crawford -
- Makoto - Daimyo of Eurasia.
- Mandarin -
- Master Izo - Founder of the Chaste.
- Matsu'o Tsurayaba -
- The Nail - A faction of the Hand composed of women only.
- Black Lotus -
- Cherry Blossom - A 17-year-old insane homicidal cheerleader.
- Colleen Wing -
- Makro - Member of the Nail. The Hand augmented her with extra weaponized limbs. Her codename refers to the Japanese Giant Spider-Crab.
- Yuki - Member of the Nail. She bases her motif after the Yuki-onna which includes wearing a hard white mask, a white dress, and having the ability to freeze her enemies in ice.
- Nina McCabe - A former ward of Elektra.
- Mystique - Member of the Japanese Branch.
- Omega Red - He was revived from suspended animation by Matsu'o Tsurayaba to serve him.
- Phaedra - A member of the Hand who was responsible for resurrecting Shingen Yashida.
- Psylocke -
- Sabretooth - Head of the Japanese Branch .
- Shingen Yashida -
- Silver Samurai - The Hand wanted Silver Samurai to lead them in order to unite the Japanese underworld. Silver Samurai declined the offer and helped the New Avengers defeat the Hand.
- Silver Samurai - A member of the Japanese Branch.
- The Snakeroot Clan - A faction from which the Hand splinters.
- Shoji Soma - Grandmaster of the Snakeroot Clan.
- Bisento - Member of the Snakeroot Clan. Killed by Stone of the Chaste.
- Budo - Harry Kenkoy was a former United States Marine General and member of the Snakeroot Clan. He took part in the creation of the About Face Virus. Killed by Eddie Passim.
- Daito - Leader of the Snakeroot Clan. Committed ritual suicide.
- Tegaki - The current leader of the Snakeroot Clan and former lover of Elektra. He was a former second-in-command of Daito until Daito committed ritual suicide causing Tekagi to succeed him.
- Doka - Member of the Snakeroot Clan. He was abused by his parents when he was young and killed them by setting fire to their house. Killed by Elektra during the Snakeroot Clan's attack on the Chaste's fortress.
- Enteki - An archer who is a member of the Snakeroot Clan. Accidentally killed by a sai thrown by another clan member.
- Enteki' - Member of the Snakeroot Clan and son of Enteki.
- Feruze - An African-American member of the Snakeroot Clan.
- Genkotsu - Member of the Snakeroot Clan. He was a former holy man who is the Snakeroot Clan's torturer.
- Harry Kenkoy - A former United States Marine corps general and member of the Snakeroot Clan.
- Osaku - A Russian female descendants of the Tsars and member of the Snakeroot Clan.
- Takashi - Daimyo of Japan.
- Tiberius Stone - A scientist and CEO of Viastone and who later worked for The Hand.
- Tombstone -
- True Believers - A faction of the Hand.
- Typhoid Mary -
- The Underhand - A group of ninjas that are already dead.
- Viper -
- White Tiger -
- Wolverine -
- Yutaka - Daimyo of Africa.
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.
In other media
- In the Iron Man episode Hands of the Mandarin, Mandarin's minions Hypnotia, Blacklash, Whirlwind, and Blizzard are mistaken for members of the Hand by the news media.
- The Hand appears in Daredevil. In the first season of the show, one of Wilson Fisk's allies is Nobu Yoshioka (portrayed by Peter Shinkoda) who is the leader of the Hell's Kitchen's Yakuza and a member of the Hand. Using his connections with Fisk, Nobu tries to gain control over an area of the city and transport a "Black Sky". When the latter plan falls through, due to the intervention of Daredevil and Stick, their alliance starts to fall apart, prompting Fisk to set in motion a series of events to get Daredevil to take down Nobu. While he searches his hideout, Nobu attacks the vigilante, wearing a costume similar to the group's ninjas wear in the comics. After a lengthy fight, during which Daredevil is severely injured, the Yakuza leader is doused in a flammable substance and set alight, apparently burning to death. The group appears in the second season of the show. Now searching for another "Black Sky", the Hand resurrects Nobu, now scarred from his encounter with Daredevil, and brainwashes children to give their blood for the next one. Daredevil also finds it hard to detect and fight the group's ninjas due to their mastery of slowing down heart rates to the point where he can't hear them. However, he receives help from Elektra and Stick. After an incident where they rescue Stick from the Hand's base of operations, it is revealed that a "Black Sky" is a man or woman destined to take over the Hand and use its resources for their own agenda. After learning that Elektra is one, Daredevil becomes more protective towards her. In the season finale titled "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen," Nobu sends the Hand ninjas to the New York City Police Department's 15th Precinct. Stealing the files of those Daredevil has helped, the Hand ninjas take hostages like Karen Page and Turk Barrett to force Daredevil to come out so they can kill him and capture Elektra. Though they come close to achieving this goal, Elektra dies protecting him, foiling their plans. With help from Punisher who sniped some of the Hand ninjas, Daredevil takes down the remaining members and throws Nobu off the roof of the building they're fighting on. Though he does survive, Stick arrives and finishes him off by briefly impaling and then beheading Nobu. In the last scenes, it is revealed that the surviving members have dug up Elektra's body from her grave and put her in a casket.
- In the film Elektra (2005), the Hand is featured as the villain group. It is led by Master Roshi and features some of its deadly members including Kinkou, Tattoo, Typhoid, Stone, and Roshi's own son Kirigi. The regular Hand ninja are clad in black while the opposing Chaste members are clothed in white.
- In X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Cammy is propositioned by the Hand, only to be rescued by Psylocke.
- The Hand appears in the PSP version of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In the game, Team X (led by Maj. William Stryker, and consisting of James Howlett, Victor Creed, John Wraith, Agent Zero, Frederick Dukes, and Wade Wilson) need to obtain information about an adamantium orb which was later grafted on Howlett to become the Wolverine. After that, brothers Creed and Howlett discover the location of the Hand. Creed pursues the leader while Howlett fights the army of the Hand. Creed is defeated, so when Howlett pursues the leader, she activates a robot which Howlett destroys. The leader decides not to fight him as he is a formidable opponent, and Howlett decides the same only to be thrown in a lava pit by Creed.
- The Hand's hideout is one of the stages in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.
- In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, in addition to The Hand Hideout reappearing, Shadowland will feature including Hand Ninjas and Daredevil. In addition, one of Strider Hiryu's alternate costumes is directly influenced by The Hand.
- The Hand appears in Marvel: Avengers Alliance. Bullseye and Elektra are shown to be associated with the group. Its foot soldiers consist of Hand Assassins (which are masters of dual-wielding tantos), Hand Dragons (which are masters of melee and can counter any melee attacks), Hand Ninjas (which are masters of sneak attacks and use smoke bombs), Hand Scorpions (which use their naginatas to Pinion an opponent leaving their Evasion down), Hand Shadows (whom use their dual tantas to cause their victims to bleed), Hand Shinobis (which are masters of the naginatas), Hand Soldiers (which are masters of the katanas), Hand Spies (which rely on their dual tantas to cause their victims to bleed), and Hand Warriors (who rely on blinding their opponents and lowering their accuracy).
- The Hand appears in Marvel Heroes.
In popular culture
- The Foot Clan in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and all related media were created as a homage to the Hand.
- Elektra: The Hand #1-5
- Daredevil #189
- Amazing Spider-Man #651
- New Avengers #29
- Uncanny X-Men #172
- Uncanny X-Men vol. 1 #256-258
- X-Men vol. 2 #31-32
- Psylocke #1-4
- New Avengers #31 (2007)
- Daredevil #111-119, 500
- Shadowland #1
- Shadowland #2
- Shadowland #3
- Shadowland: Daughters of the Shadow #1
- Thunderbolts #148
- Shadowland #4
- Shadowland #5
- Wolverine vol. 4 #20
- The Superior Spider-Man #14
- Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 #14
- Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 #15
- Wolverine #107
- Wolverine: First Class #13
- Elektra: Assassin #2
- Wolverine #300
- Wolverine Vol. 4 #5.1
- Daredevil #322
- Wolverine #108
- Elektra: Assassin #3
- Wolverine vol. 5 #12
- Wolverine vol. 3 #61
- New Avengers #11-13
- Secret Warriors #2
- Iron Man Vol. 3 #37
- The Amazing Spider-Man #421
- Jason Aaron (w), Steve Dillon (p), Steve Dillon (i), Matt Hollingsworth (col), VC's Cory Petit (let), Sebastian Girner (ed). "Homeless, Part One" Punisher MAX #17 (14 September 2011), United States: Marvel Comics
- Jason Aaron (w), Steve Dillon (p), Steve Dillon (i), Matt Hollingsworth (col), VC's Cory Petit (let), Sebastian Girner (ed). "War's End" Punisher MAX #22 (8 February 2012), United States: Marvel Comics
- Cabin, Chris (February 25, 2016). "New 'Daredevil' Season 2 Trailer Focuses on the Arrival of Elektra and the Hand". Collider.
- "How 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Went From In-Joke to Blockbuster". Rolling Stone. August 14, 2014.