The Hand is a ninja clan and the current iteration of a pseudo-religious cabal worshiping the demon known as the Beast. The clan is made up of several different factions which are each led by a faction leader and overseen by a single supreme leader or jonin. Rank and file individual members of the clan are known as genin. Originally formed as a secret society by Kagenobu Yoshioka in 1588 and dedicated to Japanese nationalism, the group was infiltrated and corrupted by outside forces: The Sickly Ones (primordial entities responsible for the knowledge and worship of the Beast on earth), the Five (the Sickly Ones' acolytes), and the the Snakeroot ninja clan (an older iteration of the Beast's cabal). The Chaste, a group of mystical warriors, fought the spread of the Beast and its evil.
In the early 20th century, they attempted to secure a foothold in Madripoor at least on two occasions. During World War II, they set out to expand and form connections to other groups, and started working with Romulus and Nazi Baron Strucker, but were opposed by the likes of Wolverine and other adventurers and heroes. They were then involved in the foundation of the modern iteration of Hydra, but were soon purged of it by Baron Strucker, setting uneasy relations between the two groups, though some elements of both organizations collaborated on occasion or on the longer term, even such as high-level as Strucker's wife Baroness Elsbeth von Strucker (who served the agenda of the Sickly Ones) or Hand's Grandmaster Shoji Soma (who enlisted Hand ninja in a strike he conducted with Strucker against Soviet spy organization Leviathan, and recited Hydra's motto).
Expanding their criminal activities over the world, they soon became regular enemies of many adventurers and heroes, most prominently Daredevil, Elektra, and Wolverine (all part of the organization at some point).
Allegedly four billion years ago, at the time the Elder Gods still roamed the Earth, the Sickly Ones, possibly the spawn of the Elder Gods, pre-humanity, or something else entirely, started their activism, worshiping the Beast and killing what lived. Under various forms, they carried on their mission: "Dishonor God by destroying what He's made". The Sickly Ones presented themselves as the "veterans of the Oldest War". The Beast hungered to end humanity
The operatives were directed by the Five, an inner circle of the Sickly Ones' acolytes, while the Sickly Ones remained in a secret city shrouded by forest deep, in the Valley of Mercy and Wrath ("where time and space seem to meet their whims") of Japan, where they waited almost four billion years for some chosen individual.
It is also possible that the Sickly Ones were a cabal of cold-blooded alien reptiles arrived on Earth in prehuman times, planning to start a legacy of evil by planting a seed that would later gave birth to future evil empires, at the origin of the organization known as Hydra, and participated in the corruption of the Eastern society of wise and clever men known as the Brotherhood of the Spear that came to be known as "The Beast" to their enemies, the Brotherhood of the Shield.
In 91 AD, Prince Yamato-Take defeated Kyushu rebels while wielding the sacred sword Kusanagi-No-Tsuguri (also known as Grasscutter), that had been imbued with his warrior's soul. The Five coveted the sword, intending to use it to master all of Japan. Their forces (not yet the modern Hand) were defeated by the Chaste, mystic warriors holding evil for centuries. Their conflict would go on, as a stalemate, for over two millennia.
Feudal times and origin of the modern Hand
Despite its multi-billion years long origin, the Hand had its formal organization in feudal Japan, with various sources providing contradictory accounts of the exact date.
Both the Hand and the Snakeroot Clan, affiliated ninja clans were stated to have emerged sometimes in the 10th century, worshiping the Beast and learning to resurrect their fallen members as undead assassins (though it was also stated to be used for first time only in 1594). The Chaste was also stated to form only soon after that event. The Snakeroot were the Beast's cabal of the era.
In 934, the sword Sakki was imbued with human brutality and was acquired by the Snakeroot Clan. The evil sword became their sacred relic, bringing back to life slain Snakeroot, though more cadaverous with each resurrection.
800 years ago the Hand was allegedly a cadre of ninjas, thieves, and assassins formed to fight the oppressive system of feudal Japan, later falling to corruption and darkness when they were corrupted by the Snakeroot clan.
15th and 16th century: Japan's civil wars
The modern Hand was stated to be originated from the end of the 16th century, and has taken its recognizable form in Kyushu in 1588 under Kagenobu Yoshioka. The story behind the formation of the modern Hand started in 1575, in Kyushu, with Kagenobu Yoshioka, who killed a foreigner threatening his mother. The blame went to her, and Kagenobu was taken in the custody of Saburo Ishiyama who trained him in the ways of the Samuraï at the Ishiyama School. A masterless Samuraï, Kagenobu served Japan, opposing corruption and injustice for three years. At his sensei's death, he returned to the School to lead it in 1588, offering a role of co-leader to his former rival Daisuke Sasaki.
Learning that the Daimyos implemented regulations to the schools, Kagenobu decided to send messengers to other like-minded schools and form a secret society opposing the government: it was the the resurgence of the Hand. The inner circle of Kagenobu's organizations were formed of himself, Sasaki, and five others, so called "heathens and heretics", who could be the Five of legend of the Hand. In autumn 88, he attacked a foreigner ship in Kyushu, slaughtering the whole crew. The organization's symbol, a bloody handprint, soon struck terror into any Japanese dealing with foreigners.
Over the six following years, the Hand spread across the five isles of Japan, but splintered into multiple sects. As the group fell under the sway of the Snakeroot clan who corrupted the organization from within, some diverging from Yoshioka's objectives, acting as mercenaries or exploring occult secrets perhaps shared by the Sickly Ones, doing their bidding, and practicing black magic, drawing them to worship the Beast.
In summer 1590, the Inner Circle of the Hand gathered at the Ishiyama School. Kagenoby later accepted Eliza Martinez, a half-breed Japanese girl, to join the school, using her father to gather information but growing feeling for her. On autumn 1592, she was accepted among the Hand (and in Kagenobu's bed). Soon, the Hand grew so large that it became hard to control it: Communication between the sects broke off, Hand agents sold their skill as mercenaries and committing crimes against Japanese, spreading rumors or dissension. Eliza's lineage was revealed to some.
In 1594, Hand members tried to kill Eliza, seeing her as a disease infecting the Hand and corrupting Kagenobu. Kagenobu confronted Sasaki (who had called the Inner Circle to discuss the Hand without Kagenobu), killed his rival and soon confronted the Inner Circle. Despite killing many members, the duo was defeated, and ended their lives rather than be killed by their enemies. The remaining Inner Circle members then brought them back to life, using the resurrection ritual for the first time, as the Hand's deadly weapons sacrificing low-ranking members to resurrect them. Upon those actions, the Hand firmly joined the Beast as a ninja assassin guild, both pursuing its dark agendas and serving as mercenaries to those who could afford their services.
Believing they could serve the Beast better, one faction of the Hand split as a separate cult, the True Believers, and relocated to Korea. They forged a blood feud with the Hand, which still endures in modern days.
Early 20th century
In the early 20th century, the Hand attempted to gain a foothold in the island nation of Madripoor, but were opposed by adventurer Seraph, then, in 1932, by her protégé Logan (later known as Wolverine).
In 1941, the Hand broke an agreement with Romulus, wanting to form new alliances. It consequently contacted Nazi Baron Strucker on Madripoor.[verification needed] To gain the Hand's loyalty, Strucker captured young Soviet agent Natalia Romanova (in fact an agent of Romulus sent to kill the Jonin of the Hand) and brought her to Madripoor, as a gift for the Hand, where they intended to turn her into a master assassin. The ceremony was interrupted by Wolverine (himself an agent of Romulus), along with Captain America and Ivan Petrovich, and killed the Jonin while Strucker escaped.[verification needed]
Some time before 1943, the Nazi officer known as the Red Skull, observing the Reich's fall, set up a secret organization in Japan merging several underground criminal societies, including the Hand, with fugitive members of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and based in the Pacific Ocean. He assigned leadership of this new organization to a Shinto Imperialist. Falling out of Hitler's favor, Strucker fled and joined the Skull's organization, renamed it Hydra, and killed the Supreme Leader, seizing control of the organization.
The new Jonin of the Hand attempted to unify the two organizations, introducing the occult arts and the worship of the Beast inside Hydra, but Strucker, who knew that occultism had previously driven Hitler near to madness, broke ties with the Hand, opposed him, winning the battle, setting the stage for later Hand/Hydra interactions, keeping them separated for a time.[verification needed]
In 1957, satanist and fourth richest person in the world Elsbeth von Strucker married Baron Strucker and started funding Hydra, seemingly incorporating her own agenda about the Sickly Ones in the organization.
1961: The Wheel of Pieta
In 1961, the Hand's Grandmaster was Shoji Soma. He was invited by the Brotherhood of the Shield's Grandmaster Leonardo da Vinci, who organized several important people in espionage's world in a loose partnership known as the Great Wheel of Zodiac. Led by Da Vinci himself as Aries, the Wheel included Shoji Soma (Pisces), Hydra's Baron Strucker and Daniel Whitehall, Aka Kraken, Nick and Jake Fury, Leviathan's founders Viktor Uvarov and Vasili Dassiev, Thomas Davidson, Timothy Dugan, John Garrett, and Cornelius van Lunt.
The Great Wheel accomplished several missions for Aries, including the discover by Shoji Soma, Vasili Dassiev, Dum-Dum Dugan and Kraken of a The Brood power drive in Egypt, as well as other pieces of technology in Zargos Mountains and France. In France, the Fury brothers and Thomas Davidson found the Brood's replicant technology, which originated the first two Life-Model Decoys. However, Uvarov and Dassiev started operating behind the scenes using the alien technology, able to enhance one possibly above the result of the American Super-Soldier program for Leviathan's own purposes, betraying the Great Wheel after having learned from Davidson how to activate Pieta's secret protocols. After a shooting, Strucker, Kraken, and Soma fled. As a consequence, the Wheel was de facto disbanded.
One month after the breaking of the Great Wheel, Strucker and Soma, bringing along Hand ninjas, attacked Leviathan, and Strucker used the Spear of Imhotep to stab Viktor Uvarov. Soma also stole the power drive, causing the machine intending to boost up the Leviathan agents, and mutating them horribly. At some point afterwards, feeling that he was about to die, Shoji Soma came to the Clan Yashida to open the box held in secret by the Yashida, older for the Yashida themselves and almost as old as Japan. The box was stated to be tied to a legacy of death and madness, and that none had lived to see open twice. The next day, Soma was killed by Magadan, looking for the power drive.
Elektra originally belonged to the Chaste. As a self-imposed test, she joined the Hand. When they forced her to assassinate her former mentor, she abandoned the Hand and the Chaste and became a freelance assassin. In that capacity she encountered Daredevil, who once trained under the Chaste's leader, Stick, and helped both of them survive an attack by the Hand.
In an offensive against the Chaste, the Hand lost its best warrior, Kirigi. A later battle brought forth the Chaste's ultimate weapon, a ritual that literally drained the life from the Hand's attackers. Unable to contain so much energy, however, Stick and Shaft also died.
The Hand tried to prevent the reincarnation of Stick. The Chaste enlisted Daredevil once again, who traveled to Japan and helped to protect the infant who bore his sensei's spirit.
At some point, legendary Hydra agent Kraken went (on his own) to Kobe, Japan, and gave the Godkiller blade to Tomi Shishido, aka the Gorgon, to help him achieve his destiny. Gorgon then went to the Hand and committed suicide (in order to be resurrected).
Gorgon became the High Priest of the Hand, their leader, and allied the Hand and the Brotherhood splinter group the Dawn of the White Light (that he formerly led as well) with Hydra. Elsbeth von Strucker soon considered Gorgon as being the one awaited by the Sickly Ones.
As Gorgon left to follow their goals in leading Hydra, "ushering in the end with infinite resources", the sickly masters of the Hand erected a resurrected "Elektra" as a queen to rule from the East. Elektra, along with Wolverine, soon killed the masters and decimated the Hand's ranks. Wolverine later killed Gorgon.
Elektra led the Hand for some time but was killed and found out to be a Skrull, temporarily leaving the Hand without a warlord. One faction, led by Lord Hirochi and his lieutenant, Lady Bullseye, 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. However, this was preempted 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 through a twisted turning of events, a battle waged between Lady Bullseye, the Kingpin and Daredevil.
Shadowland and Kingpin's Leadership
Proclaimed the winner, the Hand was then under the leadership of Daredevil. With assassins obeying every order, time will tell if this clan will allow the fighter of the great-good lead them into a new era. In observance of their new master, the ninjas adorned themselves with Daredevil inspired regalia. With Norman Osborn in control of law enforcement and the justice system, and criminals secretly doing their business with Osborn's blessing, Daredevil seeks to use the Hand to fight back Osborn's system of corruption and power.
After the Beast was dispossessed from Daredevil, Kingpin took the leadership of the ninja group, with Lady Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, Montana, and Hobgoblin as his henchmen. For some time Fisk used the Hand for his criminal purposes.
Alliance with HYDRA
The Hand crowned Gorgon as their leader in Madripoor, as he woke "the Beast" (not the Demon), the dragon on whose head Madripoor rested. Gorgon was recruited by the new Madame Hydra into the new formation of the Hydra's High Council, making a new alliance between Hydra and the Hand.
Resurrecting the Hulk
After stealing the body of Bruce Banner, the Hand successfully resurrected him despite the Avengers Unity Division and Elektra trying to prevent it. The mindless, rage-fueled Hulk then went on a rampage in Tokyo. Following a brief confrontation, the rampage of the Hulk was finally contained within a magical doorway of Doctor Voodoo's creation, which allowed the sorcerer to enter Banner's soul and cleanse it from the Hand's corruption. Banner reverted to his human form and died in the process.
King of Killers
Wanting to add the Punisher to their ranks, the Hand first tested Castle by pitting him against a large group of Hand ninja. Castle successfully killed the ninja and was offered a place among the Hand. Castle agreed to join when the Hand revealed that they resurrected Castle's wife Maria as an incentive.
Cybernetics, red shinobi shozoku (ninja clothing)
High-tech firearms (comparable to Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D.), traditional ninjutsu weapons
- The Foot Clan from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally based off the Hand.
- The Red Ninjas of Marvel Comics' G.I.Joe series were a toned-down pastiche of the Hand. Far less violence and without the occult.
- 372 appearance(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 10 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 28 minor appearance(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 107 mention(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 11 mention(s) in handbook(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 122 image(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 1 quotation(s) by or about Hand (Earth-616)
- 5 victim(s) killed by Hand (Earth-616)
- 120 member(s) of Hand (Earth-616)
- 4 item(s) used/owned by Hand (Earth-616)