Real Name: Manuel Eloganto
Identity/Class: Human, Spanish citizen
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Carlos Manos
Enemies: The Hulk (Bruce Banner)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Matador (but see comments)
Base of Operations: Spain
First Appearance: Smash!#38 (22nd October 1966)
Powers/Abilities: El Supremo was a reasonably good matador, but he relied on drugging his bulls to make himself seem more fearless and adept. He had a strong flair for showmanship.
History: (Smash!#38 (fb) - BTS) - Along with his advisor Carlos Manos, the matador known as El Supremo cooked up a scheme to make himself the most worshipped bull-fighter in all the world. Prior to fights, they would have an inch of the bull's horns filed off, so the animals would misjudge when they tried to hook things; they kept the creatures in total darkness for several hours so that the sudden release into sunlight blinded and disoriented them; and the Banderilleros' darts were secretly tipped with a special drug which greatly weakened the bull without making this obvious to the spectators.
The two conspirators planned to have El Supremo's fame and adoration grow, touring countries where bull-fighting was popular, until he was considered almost as a god by the inhabitants, allowing him to start a revolution and seize open power in both Spain and South America. Then "El Supremo, could hold the balance of power between the Eastern and Western worlds!"
(Smash!#38) - His sudden fame having swept across Spain, El Supremo fought another bull in the Plaza Del Toros in Granada in front of a cheering crowd of twenty thousand fans, while the same number, unable to fit in the arena, waited outside in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him. His apparent bravery, barely moving as the animal charged him, and the final killing stroke of his sword, caused the crowd to erupt in tumultuous applause.
Afterwards El Supremo was driven from the bull-ring, the car fighting through hordes of adoring fans. Inside the vehicle with El Supremo was his confidential advisor, Carlos Manos, who commented that while other matadors had been idolised before, the "fools" outside worshipped the bull-fighter like a god. El Supremo responded that he recognised it was Carlos' assistance in fixing the fights with the bulls which had allowed him to make his meteoric rise. They discussed El Supremo's eventual plan to seize power after completing a tour of South America, intended to make him as popular there as he was in Spain, and El Supremo noted that he had only one more engagement before this trip: the fight in Seville.
The next day El Supremo stood before yet another adoring crowd and faced another bull, unaware that Bruce Banner, who had been hiding in an empty pen, had overheard Carlos discussing how the animal was to be drugged. While the arrogant Supremo toyed with the bull and secretly laughed at his fans, thinking them fools, Banner's anger at the impending butchery of the animal triggered his transformation into the Hulk. The gamma powered giant deliberately released another (undoped) bull into the arena. Confronted with a genuine opponent, El Supremo tried to flee, but the bull's horn caught the seat of his trousers, ripping them and throwing him through the air. Landing on his feet, El Supremo was chased around the ring, his shirt tail flapping out the hole in his pants. Stunned silence from the audience changed to uncontrollable laughter, and as El Supremo reached shelter, he realised his carefully constructed image of confidence and heroism had been irretrievably shattered and replaced by ridicule.
That evening El Supremo sat in his hotel room bewailing the loss of his dreams of power, stating that from that day wherever he went in Spain, the people would laugh at him. "Instead of a ruler, I am a clown!"
Comments: Created by ...unknown. Sadly U.K. titles of the day didn't carry credits for the creators, a deliberate policy to make it more difficult for competitors trying to poach the more popular writers and artists from them.
The story where El Supremo debuted has the distinction of being the first U.K. produced strip set in the Marvel Universe, and pre-dates the creation of Marvel U.K. In 1966 Marvel strips were being licensed for reprint in serial format in titles owned by Odhams Press. For some reason the Hulk strip in Smash! was unable to use a reprint story for #38, and so a quick filler was produced (though the story was produced for a non-Marvel title, there was a small copyright notice in the comic noting that the strip belonged to Marvel Comics, not Odhams). Set immediately after the Hulk and Sub-Mariner's fight with the Avengers in Avengers I #3, it saw Bruce Banner fleeing that battle. Realising he was in Gibraltar, he hid in a truck which crossed into Spain, which in turn led to him hiding in a pen in the bull fighting arena in Seville. After humiliating El Supremo, the Hulk departed Spain, setting off to swim the Atlantic.
It has to be said that El Supremo's plan to seize power ranks up there with the schemes of such supervillains as the Brain from "Pinky and the Brain". When I first read it, I could genuinely hear the voices of the two mouse characters from that cartoon discussing the plan.
"Gee Brain, what are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
"Tonight Pinky I shall become the world's most adored matador by drugging the bulls so they are no match for me. The bull-fighting fans in Spain and South America will come to adore me so much that they will willingly follow me in rebellion, allowing me to seize control of the Spanish speaking world. And with those under my thumb, the rest of the world will swiftly follow!"
El Supremo is named Manuel in one panel. Coincidentally, the only other Marvel bull-fighter I know of, the Matador, is also a Manuel. Coincidence? Perhaps -- after all, Manuel isn't an uncommon name in Spain. However, reading the Matador's history, I can't help but wonder -- both men are described as the most famous matador in all Spain. Could El Supremo have tried to return to the ring, only for the laughter at his expense and the frustration at his loss of popularity turn him bitter, leading him to become openly rude and arrogant to his audience? The timing of the Matador's first appearance in Daredevil I#5 was several months after Avengers I#3, so within the Marvel timeframe this could fit.
In Marvel Atlas #1 it was revealed that Matador was indeed El Supremo.
Profile adapted from the one I did for the Marvel Appendix site.
Clarifications: El Supremo has no known connections to
El Supremo, criminal from Terranueva @ Power Man/Iron Fist#70
Carlos was El Supremo's trusted advisor, who saw to the doping of the bulls before each fight. After his master was humiliated, Carlos spotted the Hulk and realised the behemoth was to blame. He ordered a Banderillero to throw some of the drugged darts at the Hulk, gloating that it would make the green giant as weak as a kitten, but the Hulk caught them and threw them back, puncturing Carlos' posterior. Later, while El Supremo bemoaned his lost glory, Carlos was unsympathetic, since he felt he was suffering more -- because of where the darts had struck and stuck, he couldn't sit down, but because of the drugs, he could barely stand either.
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