Mister Fear

Real Name: Although Mr. Fear has been one of DareDevil's most persistent foes, he is a conglomerate bad guy, made up of a bunch of different people who, for whatever reason, used the same moniker (and the same costume) during their criminal outings. Several of these guys, including the first one, lasted only for one or two issues. The various Mr. Fears include the original, Zoltan Drago; Zoltan was killed by Starr Saxon, the second Mr. Fear and the future Machinesmith. The third Mr. Fear (who eventually proved to be the most resilient of the lot) was Murdock's old law school chum Larry Cranston, who resented all hot-shot attorneys in general and Matt in particular. The one with the longest tenure wearing the blue-tinted skull mask was Cranston's nephew, Alan Fagan, who managed to survive his initial outing and became as much a Spider-Man villain as a DareDevil one.
First Appearance: Daredevil 6 for Drago, Daredevil 49 for Saxon (with him becoming Mr. Fear after murdering Drago in DareDevil 54), DareDevil 88 for Cranston (DD 90 as his first Mr. Fear appearance), and Marvel Team-Up 92 for Fagan.
What's His Problem? Drago was just an opportunist who decided to use his accidental discovery for criminal gain. Starr Saxon saw everything in terms of classic movie plots, and cast DareDevil as the villain in his little story--alack for Starr, it was one of those times when the character got away from the author and refused to play his part, although the wannabe film star (like Cranston after him) became one of a legion of villains who realized that Matt Murdock and DareDevil were (gasp!) one and the same. Thus Starr was able to blackmail DareDevil into letting him go--at least for an issue or two while Matt wrestled with the problem. Cranston, a bookish nerd with self-esteem issues, just wanted to punish everyone who had ever hurt his feelings by making them grovel in fear before him. He went after Murdock, the star of his graduating class, and Sloan, the arrogant head of Cranston's law firm. Presumed dead after a fall in San Francisco, he popped up years later as a talk show co-host. He had somehow become a professor, was no longer nerdy, and much better prepared for his face-off against DareDevil. Between Cranston's stints as Mister Fear his nephew Alan Fagan donned the cape. At first Alan, like Drago, was just interested in illicitly enhancing his fortune, but it became personal when he was defeated by Spider-Man during his first outing.
Abilities: The Fear Gas at the heart of Mister Fear's power was discovered accidentally by Drago when a potion he was working on to bring wax figurines to life was knocked over by his cat. Kitty's unerring sense of chemistry produced the Fear gas, with which Mister Fear could intimidate bad guys into following him or good guys into turning tail. Drago made enough of his gun-propelled "fear pellets" to supply Starr, Cranston and Fagan during their respective turns as Mister Fear. Fagan added a poison-tipped ring to the arsenal, which he used to bring Spidey to his knees, and discovered he could also distill a pheromone from the fear gas that would make him (almost) irresistible to women.
Favorite Quote: "Where did I go wrong? Too much melodrama and not enough fear-gas?" (Web of Spider-Man 63. Dangling by one hand over an abyss, Fagan contemplates the demise of his seamless plan)
Heroes He Keeps Running Into: The various incarnations of Mister Fear have mostly tackled the Man Without Fear, but have also tangled with the Black Panther, Hawkeye, the Black Widow and Spider-Man. One person who proved too strong for Fear was Betty Brant, who confronted the Fear-induced specter of her dead husband, Ned Leeds, the ghost of her criminal brother, as well as a demonic-looking Spider-Man, and came away a better woman for the experience.
People Who Think He's Not So Bad: Zoltan's Fellowship of Fear (featuring the Eel and the Ox) was based on a combination of Drago's fear gas and his contempt for those particular fellows, whom he picked because he knew he could never control the likes of Zemo or Dr. Doom. No one was too fond of the egotistical, self-important Saxon apart from himself--which may be why life as an android worked so well for him later in his criminal career. Fagan likewise was way too self-centered to attract friends, while his desperate uncle just never had the self-confidence to think anyone could be his friend. Cranston was at first too self-effacing, and then just too obnoxious, to maintain relationships, although he had no qualms about using corrupt judges or serial killers in his quest to break Matt Murdock. Indeed, the one person who cared about Cranston was probably the man who took over the job of Mr. Fear after his presumed death.
Most Despicable Act: There were different levels of nastiness employed by each of the different Mister Fears. Drago's actions landed Foggy in the hospital. Saxon did typical bad-guy stuff like hold Karen Page at gun point, off underlings and poison DareDevil. Fagan tried to entice Betty into killing Spider-Man by telling her she had to destroy the thing she feared the most, whereupon she turned her gun on him. Cranston developed from the most pathetic of the lot in his first appearance to the most ruthless--he freed a serial killer from prison and sic'd him on Karen Page, then framed Karen for murder, all the while keeping his T.V. day job where he whipped up public sentiment to try and influence the outcome of Karen's trial.
Continuity Problems Galore: How Cranston, who was so dead his nephew Fagan inherited his Fear get-up and made pilgrimages to his crypt, managed to survive his fall, land a teaching position at a major university despite being known as the third Mr. Fear, hang on to it long enough to become a full-fledged professor, and do T.V. commentary in New York without Matt Murdock noticing -- hey, that's my old school buddy, the one who tried to kill me and Natasha when we all lived in San Francisco -- is a story apparently so outlandish, horrific and bizarre that the Powers That Be just can't share it with mere readers. Or maybe they didn't notice the major continuity gaff until it was just too late...


Fearsome Mug Shots


DareDevil 6
1964

DareDevil 91
1972

DareDevil 373
1998


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