Sometimes you have to pivot. Play-Doh was originally used to remove coal residue from walls. Before the 80s Nintendo sold ramen and vacuum cleaners. Twitter was originally a podcast app. Just saying, you have to be nimble. Willing to adapt and change. You have to be...like Zoltan Drago.
The art of science...and the artist who was not a scientist
All Zoltan Drago wanted to do was run a wax museum where he could bring the wax sculptures to life. Sorry, I can barely say that with a straight face. He was a talented sculptor and artist, making full-life replicas of heroes and villains. And also wanting them to come to life for some reason. I think he wanted to take over the world or something, so he comes by his villainy honestly.
Unfortunately, he was a sculptor and an artist. And...I'm not bashing artists. I'm a podcast writer. Give me a full chemistry lab and have me start mixing stuff together to bring wax sculptures to life and I wouldn't know what I was doing either.
Zoltan Drago, though, never gave up. He kept mixing junk together until, one day, he landed on a success.
And, not a success as in bringing wax sculptures to life that makes no sense at all. It's a stupid dream and I think less of Zoltan for having it. He discovered...fear gas.
And actually he didn't. His cat knocked over a jar of something into a jar of something else which landed on a Bunsen burner and boom. Fear vapor. A half hour later, when Zoltan stopped freaking out about scary his house cat was, he discovered it. His pivot.
He modified a pistol to shoot fear gas pellets made a...kind of scary costume...I don't know, the knee-high boots and purple cape really undercut his skull mask...and Mr. Fear was born. He strong-armed some goons into working for him, the ox and the eel - and yes, the eel we've talked about, and went to work.
I have to give Mr. Fear props. It was a good plan. He hired out a film crew, got all the necessary permits to block off a city street, and told the camera people not to worry. Things were going to get really intense. They were all super method and committed to their craft, so everyone was going to stay in character no matter what.
They reason this movie looked so real was because it...was actually happening. Mr. Fear and his goons were robbing the bank, and the film crew was so they could do it in broad daylight.
But, there was someone around who could hear the weeping and pleading of the hostages inside the bank. He knew it was real. Daredevil. The man without fear.
The only thing we have to fear is reversible wall fans.
The whole issue was a hodgepodge of Mister Fear and friends luring Daredevil to the wax museum where they pretended to be wax and then Daredevil pretended to be wax and then used his own wax sculpture. Long story short, a reversible exhaust fan did the first Mister Fear in. And when your big foil is...reversible fan. Well...maybe you're not one of the A-listers.
And Zoltan wasn't one of the A-listers, but he kind of didn't have to be. You hit someone with your fear pellets, and they're so scared of you they'll do whatever you demand. So it wasn't Zoltan, but his gobbledygook concoction that his cat accidentally invented that was the real star of the show. Which was pretty evident when Zoltan was murdered almost as soon as he was paroled seven years later, another guy took his costume, and then that guy fell to his death during a battle with Daredevil. Turns out the only thing more dangerous than being a victim of Mister Fear was being Mister Fear.
Like a bouncing ball luring a child into a busy street, supervillains just couldn't get enough of that Mr. Fear costume. It's convoluted, but the third Mr. Fear was actually a friend of Matt Murdock's - Matt Murdock being the blind lawyer alter ego of Daredevil. He chanced on it when he was staying in the same hotel as Zoltan right after the wax sculpture guy got out of prison, and, from Zoltan's dying breath, learned the location of a hidden costume and fear pellets. The third Mr. Fear had deduced that Murdock was Daredevil because when Murdock moved to San Francisco, surprise surprise, Daredevil showed up there too.
Anyway, it was the costume that did this guy in, too, because he...wasn't aware that he wasn't wearing it. He forgot his rocket booster - which Mr. Fear apparently had, and jumped from a building.
He didn't have his rocket booster, but he did have a nephew and heir, named Alan Fagan. Because the law is the law and respected no matter what (and not because Fagan was a trust fund kid with limitless wealth and connections) and because the Mr. Fear costume was on his uncle when the man died, Fagan inherited the costume. I feel like if it's used to commit crimes then, like Mr. Fear 3, that probably wouldn't fly, but, once again, I'll reference the nearly unlimited trust fund money.
And yeah, you might be wondering – why would a guy who has enough money to manipulate the legal system into giving him a supervillain costume and weapons want to do crime? What does he have to gain?
The answer, of course, is a nuclear bomb.
That only kicks the logical can down the proverbial road, though, because what does a trust fund kid want with a nuclear bomb? Well, the comics never really say, but stealing radioactive isotopes brings Fagan face-to-face with both Hawkeye and Spider-man.
To Fagan's credit, he actually makes some modifications to the fear gas in the suit, modifications that the previous three Misters Fear were too busy falling off stuff and dying to do. He loaded the serum in tiny hypodermic needles so that whenever he punched someone, he would inject them with the fear toxic. And, because I think we're supposed to get 80s businessman, American Psycho vibes from the fourth Mr. Fear, he eventually tweaks the pheromones so that people are irresistibly attracted to him.
After Spider-man willed himself to fight the fear toxin and defeat Mr. Fear, he got sent to jail where inmates skinned his face. He escaped from The Raft, though, and he's still out there. With one of them getting shot, two falling to their deaths, and the fourth getting his face skinned...it looks like the move from living wax sculptures to fear toxin might be one of the most destructive pivots of all time. That is...unless we're counting Twitter.
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