Daredevil #35 and #36 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, in which Daredevil fights Fantastic Four villain Trapster (and saves Sue Richard’s life!) is an absolutely hysterical adventure. Along with lots of deliberately funny one-liners – and Stan Lee is in perfect form in this issue – there is plenty of unintentionally funny Silver Age goodness. Hence this post. Below are some of the things that made me chuckle and which I hope will brighten your mood as well. Enjoy!
Never abandon a good gimmick, or “Oh my God, paste!”
You can’t be a believable Silver Age villain without a gimmick, no matter how silly. So yes, the very first thing on my list of things to poke fun at in this story is the villain himself. Daredevil #35 marked the Trapster’s first appearance in Daredevil (and Daredevil #36 was his last, at least thus far), but he had made his debut in Strange Tales #104, in which he battled the Human Torch, and would later return in Fantastic Four #36.
What I find hysterically funny is that the Trapster originally went by the alias Paste Pot Pete, a name which, to me at least, conjures up an image of a pre-schooler addicted to glue. As it turns out, Paste Pot Pete was an unfortunate name, even by Silver Age standards, and Peter Petruski (yep, that’s the guy behind the mask) changed his name to the undoubtedly cooler-sounding Trapster shortly after joining the Frightful Four. As both of his names would suggest, Trapster is all about trapping people. In paste. Oh, the horror!
So, when you have a good (or not so good, it really doesn’t matter) gimmick, you have to make sure you sell it to the readers. If we’re stuck with paste, then it’s best to make that paste pretty darn nasty and frightening. So, when the Trapster crashes into the offices of Nelson & Murdock, the task of pointing out obvious danger of paste falls to Foggy.
“Paste!! The gun shoots Pas– Unhhh!“
Nelson & Murdock go MacGyver
While Karen often played the damsel in distress, she certainly had her more resourceful moments, such as when she suggests they try to dissolve the paste with nail polish remover. Since Trapster was kind enough to not “paste” (I love how that’s now a verb) Matt because of his blindness, Matt is free to help his friends.
Once again, we rely on Foggy for more random paste information. “Lucky he used a weak paste mixture!” might be my favorite line of this entire tale. How does Foggy know what constitutes a weak mixture as opposed to a strong one? Has he met Trapster before? Does he secretly play around with paste in his spare time? What the hell? And how does he know that Trapster’s paste evaporates? That is certainly not normal paste behavior…
In case anyone is wondering why Trapster even bothered to show up, paste this fine group of people, and then disappear, the explanation goes something like this: Trapster needs legal information for his upcoming plan to kill Daredevil. He’s apparently come up with a way to do it so that no one can prove it was him. The reason he’s sought out Nelson & Murdock for the information he needs has to do with the fact that they’re known to be “friendly” with Daredevil. Obviously, this will cause Daredevil to come after the Trapster, saving him the trouble of finding Daredevil. Sprinkle this plot (it may be even weaker than his paste) with a healthy dose of the typical supervillain need for the respect of his peers and enemies alike, and you’re all set.
Daredevil and Trapster face off in a match that sees Daredevil temporarily defeated after having been covered in Trapster’s anti-gravity discs (now isn’t that a much better gimmick than paste?) and floating upward toward certain doom. This takes us to the second half of Trapster’s plot (apparently, killing Daredevil wasn’t his main objective after all) in which he disguises himself as Daredevil to trick his way into the Baxter building. He does this using something called “plasti-cream.” Of course.
“His paste… So strong!”
While Daredevil successfully gets out of the bind he’s in (you didn’t really think he was going to die, did you?), the Trapster, dressed as Daredevil, overpowers Sue Richards. With his paste. His really, really strong paste. The kind that makes Sue just lie there looking like a little sex kitten while pondering the strength of Trapster’s paste. Yeah.
The Human Torch versus asbestos
Daredevil shows up to rescue Sue, and soon the rest of the Fantastic Four are on the scene as well. Johnny tries his best to take down the Trapster, but is warned by Daredevil that the scary paste has asbestos in it. Which Daredevil knows. Of course he does. Oh well, at least it makes sense that he could smell it or something. Then again, something tells me that Foggy would know this too. Because he knows everything about the Trapster’s paste. Also, one has to wonder if this was what lead Daredevil to incorporate asbestos into his own suit (as seen in Daredevil #50). Probably not healthy.
Daredevil #36 ends on a rather odd note. The Trapster and Daredevil fight in a scene that sees both of them taken out of commission. Let’s just call it a tie. Things get worse for Daredevil though because as he comes to, he finds himself face to face with Dr Doom! But that’s another story.