Yancy Street Gang

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The Yancy Street Gang harasses the Thing in their first appearance; panels from Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963). Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. © Marvel Comics.

The Yancy Street Gang are a fictional street gang occasionally featured in the Fantastic Four comic book published by Marvel Comics.

Publication history[edit]

The Yancy Street Gang was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963), though mostly off-panel; as in most of their appearances, only their arms are visible as they throw objects at the Thing and yell insults. The gang was first mentioned, although not seen, in Fantastic Four #6. Yancy Street is named in reference to the real Delancey Street, which extends from The Bowery in Manhattan's Lower East Side eastward to the Williamsburg Bridge.[1] However, Yancy Street is seen in Fantastic Four #15 (June 1963) to intersect with 10th Avenue, which is on the west side of Manhattan.

Fictional group history[edit]

The Yancy Street Gang is depicted as frequenting downtown Manhattan, and serves as a recurring antagonist of the Thing, tormenting him for typically humorous effect. It was originally depicted as composed only of youths, but later depictions have both young members as well as adult members from an earlier generation, who have passed their grudge against Thing to the younger members. Although described as a gang, the Yancy Streeters are rarely depicted as engaging in criminal activities (except in their harassment of the Thing, who rarely takes their actions seriously) and may be more accurately described as a circle of admittedly roughneck friends and associates who encourage neighborhood youths to divert their energies into harmlessly heckling the virtually indestructible Thing, rather than into more dangerous and illegal pursuits.

The adult members of the Yancy Street Gang, all apparently blue-collar workers (many of them typically wear hardhats) who still live in the neighborhood, are often seen tormenting Thing in some way, usually by throwing things at him and shouting abuse whenever he entered Yancy Street. They were also thought to send him booby-trapped parcels, although a retcon in Fantastic Four vol.3, #61, written by Mark Waid, revealed that these packages (or at least many of them) had actually been sent by the Human Torch as part of his own recurring campaign of pranks against the Thing. As a youth, Ben Grimm formerly led the gang, and the other members, who have retained their loyalty to it in adulthood, seemingly resent him for having "sold out" by leaving the neighborhood and pursuing a higher education and standard of living, culminating in his position as one of the Air Force's most accomplished pilots and, later, as a world-famous adventurer. However, they are generally portrayed as good-natured at heart and have occasionally helped the Fantastic Four if a supervillain threatens their neighborhood itself or if they think a villain is giving the Thing too much trouble (noting on such occasions that "That's our job!"). They sometimes seem to genuinely like the Thing, if only because he makes such an effective and (sometimes) good-humored target for their pranks; they were quite remorseful when he seemingly died in action, only to quickly retract the sentiment when he proved to have survived.[2]

Other heroes have become involved with the local life, such as when Spider-Man cleared out a Negative Zone invasion from Yancy Street and saved three residents from being lost forever.[3]

Making peace[edit]

In The Thing #6 (2006 series), Thing's relationship with Yancy Street was finally reconciled, after the millionaire (following events in the ongoing Fantastic Four comic) Thing donates a state-of-the-art recreational facility to the neighborhood. Initially resentful because they regarded the project as an exercise in ego, they later learned that it was named in honor of the Thing's deceased brother, Daniel Grimm Jr. (another Yancy Street Gang alumnus), and they declared the facility to be under their informal protection.[1] The facility is later seen again when Benjamin is encouraging the local youth to make use of the location, to hit the bags instead of each other.[4]

The adult Yancy Street Gang members are traditionally shown in the comics with their faces obscured by the shadows of their hardhats or other headwear. The younger "next generation" Yancy Streeters, however, have been fully seen, including in one story (Fantastic Four #361 "Miracle On Yancy Street!" by Paul Ryan & Tom DeFalco) which portrays the Gang with gimmicks and codenames similar to Kirby's DC Comics kid gangs.

Civil War[edit]

The Yancy Street Gang has become deeply involved in Marvel Comics' Civil War. They are part of a large group of New York citizens protesting the arresting of superheroes who do not wish to register with the United States Government. Ben Grimm becomes involved with the dispute, being asked by police forces to talk with the Gang regulars. Ben meets with Cee, a young man in a leadership position. Both Cee and the police wish for Ben to take a more active role, but he maintains his neutrality. While negotiations are going on, another gang member, Mouse, has become involved with longtime FF villains Puppet Master and Mad Thinker. The two men put in motion a plan that brings a superhero prisoner convoy down Yancy Street itself. Though Spider-Man recognizes the potential trouble as the convoy turns in, it is far too late.[5]

Military forces and superheroes on both sides of the Registration Act, some affected by the villains and some fighting with their own agendas, engage in a property-damaging fight. Mouse, not in control of his own mind, drops a bomb into the middle of the fight. In an effort to save lives, Ben Grimm smashes a large, empty truck onto the bomb. This effort fails as the explosion kills Cee. Ben furiously hands Cee's body to the other gang members and shames the people involved into quitting the fighting.

A later version of the Yancy Street Gang was composed of blue-collar criminals who were former dot-com start-ups, ex-Wall Street traders, and failed hedge fund managers. This Gang encountered Ben Grimm and the Human Torch during a period where Thing briefly reverted to human form. Despite his lack of physical strength, Ben was still able to send the gang packing.[6]

The physical Yancy Street itself is obliterated during the Fear Itself storyline by Thing (in the form of Angir: Breaker of Souls, an entity influencing Thing).[7]

Personal relations with heroes[edit]

The Yancy Street Gang members Petey, Tony, and an unnamed member later played poker with Thing and Gambit.[8]

At the time when the Fantastic Four were in space, the Yancy Street Gang took offense to Darla Deering acting as Miss Thing where they took offense to her "posing" as Thing. They sent one of their typical booby-trapped parcels to her hotel room after a musical performance. Darla and her teammate Ant-Man were covered in whipped cream and sparkles while Yancy Street Gang members (who were wearing Thing masks) snapped photos of the pair before fleeing off into Time Square. They were able to get away thanks to the New Year's Eve celebrations going on at the time and they managed to post the embarrassing photos online.[9] The Yancy Street Gang then became more tech-savvy by including hackers Carlos Hernandez, Douglas Ray, and Jason Carter where they hacked into the contest so that the Yancy Street Gang can be in attendance to Darla Deering's private acoustic performance. During Darla's performance, they pelted her with fruit and vegetables forcing her to flee. However, Ant-Man stowed away on their bodies and learned the passwords to all their social media accounts and emailed all the information to their rivals in order to force them to stop harassing Darla Deering.[10] Following this incident, the hackers of the Yancy Street Gang agreed to help hack into Doctor Doom's computer database where they foiled his plans to destroy the Future Foundation alongside Annihilus and Kid Immortus.[11]

The physical Yancy Street is later seen in an improved rebuilt condition when it's subway system is invaded by slightly violent New Folk from the past. They were fended off by Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.[12]

Members[edit]

  • "Dictionary" Dawson - The eloquent member of the Yancy Street Gang.
  • "Lugwrench" Lubowski -
  • "Rhythm" Ruiz -
  • Carlos Hernandez - The Yancy Street Gang's hacker.
  • Douglas Ray - The Yancy Street Gang's hacker.
  • Jack -
  • Jason Carter - The Yancy Street Gang's hacker.
  • Larry "Little" Lee -
  • Manny "Smooth" Merengues -
  • Petey -
  • Stan -
  • Tommie "Two-Fisted" Boyd -
  • Tony -

Former members[edit]

  • Cee - Member of the Yancy Street Gang. He is killed in the crossfire between the Pro-Registration forces and the Anti-Registration forces.
  • Daniel Grimm Jr. - The older brother of Thing who was heavily involved with the Yancy Street Gang. Killed during a gang war between the Thompson Avenue Gang.

Other versions[edit]

Fantastic Four: The End[edit]

In the alternate future of Fantastic Four: The End, Ben Grimm has named his daughter Yancy possibly in honor of the gang.

Spider-Gwen[edit]

In the pages of Spider-Gwen which take place on Earth-65, the Yancy Street Gang consists of Hobie Brown, Izzy, and some unnamed members. The Yancy Street Gang rooted for Spider-Woman, and were graffiti-spraying a billboard attacking Spider-Woman when Officer Ben Grimm tried to catch them. However, they witnessed as Grimm was attacked and abducted by Vulture.[13]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Yancy Street Gang appear in the 1967 Fantastic Four cartoon.
  • The Yancy Street Gang appear in the unique 1979 Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon Fred and Barney Meet The Thing. This version is reimagined as a trio of bikers who were recurring, if fairly harmless, antagonists. The trio is made up of Spike (voiced by Art Metrano), Stretch (voiced by Wayne Morton), and Turkey (voiced by Michael Sheehan). The Yancy Street Gang appear in some episodes to play practical jokes on Thing.
  • The Yancy Street Gang did not appear in the 1994 Fantastic Four cartoon itself, but they appeared in the 1996 Incredible Hulk episode "Fantastic Fortitude" where the Yancy Street Gang (who were always off camera) pull a prank on the Thing. After Thing was defeated by Ogress, the Yancy Street Gang distributes leaflets marked "THING WHUPPED BY A WOMAN!!" from a passing airplane.
  • The Yancy Street Gang was mentioned in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "If This Be My Thanos!". They are mentioned when Thing was arguing with Hulk on who's the strongest whilst battling with the Skrulls in space.
  • Yancy Street was mentioned in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
  • The Yancy Street Gang were mentioned in an episode of Iron Man: Armored Adventures by Nick Fury.
  • In the Avengers Assemble episode "Hulk's Day Out", Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye, and Hulk visit Yancy Street. The episode reveals that the Hulk and Thing compete against one another at Yancy Street's bowling alley every week.

Video games[edit]

  • The Yancy Street Gang appear in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game. They appear as a common street thug gang where they all get beaten up by Spider-Man. None of the gang's members get actually named nor is a reference to the Thing made (except when one thug says "It's robberin' time", a play on the Thing's catchphrase "It's clobberin' time").
  • The Yancy Street Gang appear in the Fantastic Four video game (based on the movie). This version is a gang of vicious-looking bikers who capture Alicia Masters in Thing's solo segment detailing his encounter with the Yancy Street Gang.
  • In the Marvel Puzzle Quest video game, "Yancy Street Special" is a special move utilized by "The Thing (Classic)"

Non-fiction[edit]

  • The gang is mentioned, via their adversarial relationship with the Jewish Ben Grimm, in the non-fiction novel From Kraków To Krypton. This also mentions the gang confronting the villain Powderkeg when they feel Ben needs assistance.[14]
  • Ben's history with the Gang is also examined in the book Up, Up And Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero , written by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein.[15]

Miscellaneous[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sanderson, Peter (2007). The Marvel Comics Guide to New York City. New York City: Pocket Books. p. 13. ISBN 1-4165-3141-6. 
  2. ^ Marvel Two-in-One #48 (1974)
  3. ^ "Spider-Man" #90 (April 1998)
  4. ^ "Might Avengers" Vol 1. #25 (July 2009)
  5. ^ "Fantastic Four" 538 and 539
  6. ^ Fantastic Four #584
  7. ^ "Heroes For Hire" #9-11 (September 2011)
  8. ^ A + X #6
  9. ^ FF Vol. 2 #3
  10. ^ FF Vol. 2 #6
  11. ^ FF Vol. 2 #16
  12. ^ Moon-Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2 (2016)
  13. ^ Spider-Gwen #1
  14. ^ Kaplan, Arie (2008). Krakow to Krypton: Jews and comic books. Jewish Publication Society. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-8276-0843-6. 
  15. ^ Weinstein, Simcha (2006). Up, up, and oy vey!: how Jewish history, culture, and values shaped the comic book superhero. Leviathan Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-881927-32-7. 

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