Wait a sec. I thought Daredevil lived in the city that never sleeps. Anyway, you guys might remember how I, back in February, declared February “annuals month,” then posted about the first annual and then, well, sort of forgot about it. You don’t? Good. *ahem* I was hoping that we could just sort of leave that sad debacle behind us and move on to Daredevil Annual #2. However, before getting to the issue, I just wanted to give you this link (which I found posted at The Weekly Crisis) to the Pet Avengers group on Flickr. It appears that Marvel has issued a challenge where readers are encouraged to dress up their pets as Marvel characters and take their pictures. Since I know a particular regular reader of mine who has no fewer than eight cats and what might be the largest privately owned collection of Daredevil stuff anywhere, I just thought I’d pass this along. 😉 Moving on…
This issue is a two-shot featuring 40+ pages of story. The first half was was both written and penciled by none other than Wally Wood while Stan had the honor of finishing up. A very exciting caption on the first page promises the following:
“Two great surprises await you in this off-beat issue! One: This is Daredevil’s first real mystery thriller, complete with a zillion suspects, countless clues, and perplexing plot twists! Two: Wally Wood has always wanted to try his hand at writing a story as well as drawing it, and big-hearted Stan (who wanted a rest anyway) said okay! So, what follows next is anybody’s guess! You may like it or not, but, you can be sure of this… It’s gonna be different!”
Is it just me or could they just as well be saying “we can’t promise you any kind of real quality, but it’ll be quirky and fun!”? So, a mystery thriller and a zillion suspects, huh? Well, we’ll see about that. And just so you know, this is a looooong summary.
The issue begins with Cat-Man breaking “public enemy” Monk Keefer out of prison on the Organizer’s orders. Later, we see the same mysterious Organizer recruit two other henchmen by hacking himself into a television set and an ongoing phone call, as can be seen below (and yes, it’s safe to say that Frog-Man was bullied as a child, for reasons too many to count):
The three new recruits take on the identities of Ape-Man, Frog-Man and Bird-Man. They may look silly, but they are totally cool. Nah, who am I kidding? They’re really not. Either way, the organizer plans to use the four to unleash a crimewave unlike the city has ever seen, as it turns out in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of the Reform Party, the same party which has just asked Foggy to run for district attorney.
While these evil-doers plot their villainous schemes, Matt and Karen decide to accompany Foggy and his girlfriend Debbie to an event held by the Reform Party on board a yacht. Matt soon picks up a radio signal(!) from the Organizer and deduces that it’s coming from the yacht and hence someone who belongs to the Reform Party. He goes after Frog-Man in the water and the team’s plan of going about their crime wave without interruption is in serious trouble. Frog-Man escapes, returns to the headquarters, and the Organizer instructs his crew to find a “permanent solution” if Daredevil proves troublesome.
The plan goes ahead to create the illusion of wanting to attack the Reform Party, with Bird-Man stealing the campaign funds and Daredevil catching him in the act and taking the money. This leads the Organizer to decide that it’s time to eliminate DD. The plan is to continue the crime wave while also getting DD into trouble with the law. It seems like these guys aren’t so bad after all. Couldn’t they just plan to have him killed? Seems like less work to me.
The way they go about miscrediting him seems a little far-fetched: Daredevil responds to cries of help from a bank. It’s not being robbed, but someone has apparently been trapped inside the vault and is at risk of suffocating. DD uses his superpowers to open the safe by “seeing” into the lock with his radar sense (eh, what?). What happened to just listening to the tumblers fall into place? Either way, Daredevil saves the day, but immediately realizes that something is wrong when Cat-Man and Frog-Man greet him on the other side. They spray him with some gas and he loses consiousness until the sounds of sirens awaken him. This is where logic is stretched to the max as DD decides he has to get out of there since he’ll “never be able to convince them [he] wasn’t part of the plot…” Why not? In fact, there’s nothing to suggest he wasn’t acting in good faith. Oh well, now he’s on the run from the law. However will this end?
Later, Debbie is hosting a party in Foggy’s honor and Matt attends from a distance, in costume. Along come the Organizer’s crew to kidnap her, though Cat-Man is knocked out by DD and taken in for questioning. Facing life in prison, he decides to spill the beans. Not that there are that many beans to spill: “Well, I’ll tell you what I know… I’m a member of a gang called ‘The Organization’… the head man is called the ‘Organizer’!” Wow, that really cracked the case right open, didn’t it? Before the Cat-Man can continue his story, Daredevil attacks Ape-Man who is listening outside the window, ready to strike against his former partner in crime. They fight and Daredevil follows him to the Organizer’s headquarters. There, he finds that Foggy’s girlfriend and supposed kidnapping victim Debbie Harris is no prisoner, but was in on the plot all along. Poor Foggy…
As Stan takes over the writing, Bird-Man shows up again for a re-match. DD manages to escape and returns to rescue Debbie Harris, whether she wants it or not. He’s hoping that she’ll lead him to the Organizer himself, but she instead just calls him for new orders, which are to concentrate on Foggy. Daredevil watches helplessly as his best friend is being played.
Matt gathers even more evidence against the Reform Party when he changes to civilian clothes and attends the ongoing interrogations of Cat-Man, and decides to confront Foggy with the suspicion that the Reform Party might be using him as a pawn. Foggy accuses Matt of being jealous of his success, though he does agree to the trap Matt wants to set to test his theory. They invite Bernard Harris, Debbie’s father and Reform Party candidate for mayor, Abner Jonas, the mayoral candidate, and assembly candidate Milton Monroe. Matt and Foggy stage their own ruse by telling the men present that they’ve discovered the identity of the Organizer and that the information has been locked in their office safe. Later, Matt, Foggy and Karen return to the office to find it in shambles, and Foggy finally believes what Matt has been trying to tell him. Their trail runs cold, however, until they get some help from an unexpected source. When Debbie learns that the Organizer is looking to have the current mayor killed, she feels that he has gone too far. She decides to cooperate with Daredevil and agrees to call one of the Organizer’s men to set a trap.
In classic comic book fashion, Daredevil subdues Frog-Man when he shows up at the Harris residence and does a little costume swapping. Wearing Frog-Man’s green threads, Daredevil drops off the unconscious villain, dressed in his costume, outside the police station. I love Matt’s comment here: “Wish I could see how he looks in my costume! I’ll bet he’s a living doll!” And yes, he does look sort of cute. Attached to the unconscious Frogdevil is a note instructing the police to listen into the Organizer’s wavelength. The very same radio beam Daredevil uses to find the Organizer.
While Daredevil is confronting the Organizer, the police listening in decide that this would make for good TV and start broadcasting live from the camera in the Frog suit. Since the Organizer apparently doesn’t want to miss his “stories,” he’s got the TV on as well and is clued in on “Frog-Man’s” deception. The rest of the crew attack and Matt is tossed out of the room through a trap door.
While Matt races back across town to get to his spare Daredevil suit, Foggy announces his decision to step down as the Reform Party’s candidate for DA, and everyone is gathered around him at the party headquarters. Suddenly, the Organizer appears on screen. Abner Jonas is quick to assign blame: “That proves it! Monroe is the only one of us who isn’t here! He’s the Organizer!” Foggy is then quick to point out that the message could have been recorded beforehand, thus proving nothing. Foggy and Jonas get into a fight and Ape-Man and Bird-Man appear to kidnap Jonas. Daredevil interrupts and while he fights the two costumed loons, Jonas makes a break for it. He doesn’t get far however, and Daredevil is soon able to uncover the mystery. He recognized the ring Jonas wears as the same one worn by the Organizer. Mystery solved! *phew* Man, it’s a chore trying to summarize forty pages of extremely compressed storytelling…
At the end of the issue, Matt rather unexpectedly decides to take a break and travel. He waits until Karen receives a phone call that their rent is overdue to announce his plans to take a leave of absence. Silver Age Matt Murdock is such a jerk…
Hilarious things about this issue:
Matt can actually pick up on and understand the content of a radio signal. Hahahaha… Yeah. *wipes away tears of laughter* For anyone who’s interested, I already mocked this instance of dubious pseudo-science in an earlier post.
Bird-man flies off with the Reform Party’s campaign funds. Which the party keeps in a briefcase. And, yeah, that’s a single briefcase. I know this was a few decades ago, but they had banks back then right? And apparently no need for campaign finance reform…
Daredevil appears to be very perplexed by the idea that the organizer, apparently a member of the Reform Party, would send his goons to rob his own party. This is a little amusing in light of the fact that he showed up at the party’s headquarters telling the readers that he had a hunch someone would try to pull something like that.
The wonderful obsession with precise and pedagogical charts to show us the exact layout of the organizer’s hide-out. Do note that they even pointed out Frog-Man as he enters through a tunnel below the surface. Now, how cute is that?
If Daredevil can just follow the radio signal in the Frog-Man suit (which in and of itself is highly questionable), why didn’t he just do that right from the start? Hmm…
Well, I gotta tell ya, this issue is a crazy roller-coaster of a ride. I think I’m feeling dizzy. Better go lay down. I’ll see you all later!