A master painter can paint with anything...is a sentence I just made up, but it sounds true. Likewise, a master villain can practice their craft no matter the gimmick. The Matador, AKA Manuel Elonganto, proves this when he doesn't need a gun or a death ray or wrist rockets. He uses a sheet and floppy sword. And he gets away with it...as long as the hero doesn't have anything better going on.
Cheers and Jeers
April 6th, 1964, Manuel fought his last bull fight. He had been a legend in Spain, fighting and killing all those bulls for all those years. But on the day of his final fight, the crowd turned against him...for cruelty against the bulls. You're probably like, "Jason, isn't this the sport where they stab at a bull for, like, 30 minutes before killing it in front of a cheering crowd?" Yes. Yes it is. So, either he was even more cruel than your average bull fight, or the crowd was a bunch of tourists who weren't aware what bull fighting actually was.
All we know, though, is that the crowd turned on him and started cheering on the bull. Now, this was 1964, so Manuel could be forgiven for not knowing you don't respond to the trolls. He did respond, though, and in the middle of calling them brainless peasants, he forgot that, hey, he's in the ring with a live bull he had been slowly killing. The bull repaid the favor and gored Manuel in front of the crowd.
There are some lessons Manuel could take away from this. At bare minimum he should keep his eye on the wild animal he's trying to kill. Also, maybe he should be more understanding. More gracious. Less cruel.
He didn't learn any of those things, though, and instead decided that his true enemy...was mankind. All humans. Despite them being the ones to give him a career, cheer for him for years, and also save his life in the hospital.
He lived in Spain. Spent his whole life in Spain. Had absolutely no reason to leave...
...so naturally he ended up in Hell's Kitchen, in New York City.
Fighting the Devil
We first met him when he was standing in traffic. Now, I live in the Midwest, but I've been to New York a few times and standing in New York traffic is a great way to not be standing anywhere anymore. Things must have been different in the 60s, because the armored truck freaked out that this guy, dressed like a matador was standing in his way. They swerved, and as the driver did, so the Manuel threw his cape over the windshield, sending them careening into a pole.
Daredevil, the local street-level superhero, almost got matador, but he had to put a pin in it to go save a window washer who fell off his scaffolding.
The matador actually did a lot with not very much. He robbed a costume party, because I guess that was a thing, and a whole group of people watched Daredevil get his then-yellow spandex jump suited backside completely handed to him. You see, Daredevil uses echolocation to experience his surroundings. So when the party guests were making noises and shouting, it was like us being hit with a blinding light. It was way too much for him.
Good thing Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, lives in the famously quiet and serene New York City.
Anyway, it got bad for Daredevil. Matt Murdock passed kids on the street playing Matador and Daredevil, fighting over who got to play as Matador because they wanted to win.
Matt Murdock found a way to lure the Daredevil into a confrontation on Daredevil's own turf: a quiet office building. Despite Daredevil somehow falling for the matador sheet move in the battle even though he wasn’t a bull, Daredevil beat him.
Not at all on-the-nose, Daredevil headbutted him with his little devil horns.
The Emissaries of Evil (because "The Ambassadors of Badness" was I guess already taken)
It was a year or so later that Electro, a Daredevil villain, spent months, working in secret, contacting Daredevil's most powerful enemies and matador. He was putting together a team. The Emissaries of Evil. I had a whole bit about how these guys are criminals, so they probably don't care about trademarks or whatever, so just pick the coolest name...but...looking through the names of bad guy groups, we have the Injustice League, the Serpent Society, the Frightful Four, the Fatal Five, the Sinister Six. Daredevil even had two, with the other being the Daredevil Revenge Squad. They were kind of boxing themselves in there, theme-wise. Masters of Evil is pretty good. The Legion of Supervillains is wordy but gets the point across without the cheese.
My point is, strangely enough, if you're getting together with a bunch of other supervillains, you have an uphill battle when it comes to sounding cool. Even more so if, like the Emissaries of Evil, your team includes the Matador, the Gladiator, Stilt-Man, and Leap-frog. Um...a lot going on there. You know it's a bad team when Matador isn't even in the bottom two when it comes to silly gimmicks.
Still though, Daredevil surprised them in an alley, discussing their plan, had the jump on them - literally he jumped on their faces - and the Emissaries of Evil still got the better of him, knocking him on his back. Matador made the great point of hey, why don't they just finish him off...but nope. That would be too easy. The Emissaries of Evil had a bigger plan for the hero, so they left him dazed on the pavement.
He teamed up with Man Bull because of course he did, and they ended up getting into a fight because of course they did.
That was a terrible, terrible decision. In the end, the Matador was the biggest liability on the team that included stilt-man and a guy dressed like a frog, when the Matador kept throwing his cape over people and beating them, not aware that they were actually his teammates and not Daredevil.
Daredevil tied them all up and hooked the line to a power source so they would be constantly electrocuted until the police arrived. Because he's the good guy.
Matador has had a long run for some reason. He teamed up with Man Bull because of course he did, and they ended up getting into a fight because of course they did. He did decide to try going to therapy, but if you do that, you're going to want to make sure that your therapist isn't also a supervillain trying to menace your hero of choice.
In the end, Matador is still out there, still committed to his theme, and still making it work.
- Daredevil #5
- Daredevil Annual #1
- Daredevil #129
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