Daredevil takes a beating

I’ve alluded to a certain “secret project” of mine before. I won’t divulge any more information here, except to say that it pretty much requires my having to go through every issue of Daredevil in detail along the way. Which can hardly be considered a chore, really. 😉

Anyway, while I’m doing this, it also gives me ideas for various posts, and one post in particular that I’ve been wanting to write for a while has to do with Daredevil’s habit of ending up badly injured. Which shouldn’t be surprising given his lack of supernatural physical strength and his characteristic fearlessness.

Rather than put every instance of Daredevil being injured into a single absolutely massive post, I thought I’d just work my way through Daredevil canon and report in at regular intervals. So, for this post, we’ll be looking at panels from Daredevil #7 and #9 (volume 1, both by Stan Lee and Wally Wood).

I should add that just being punched in the face or getting a bruise or two up doesn’t count as far as this series of posts i concerned. Matt gets beat up all the time. We’re talking about more serious stuff, such as being knocked unconscious (as in Daredevil #7) and being shot (as in Daredevil #9). Now, with no further ado, let’s travel back in Daredevil history!

Daredevil #7 – Daredevil succumbs to the Sub-Mariner

Daredevil #7 is something of a classic. The third issue drawn by Wally Wood, it is the first to feature the red costume and has Daredevil squaring off against Namor the Sub-Mariner.

Namor ends up in the law offices of Nelson & Murdock after deciding to sue the human race. Since this turns out to be pretty much impossible, he ends up spending most of the issue in a state of rage after being repeatedly misunderstood by the legal system.

Matt, as Daredevil, takes it upon himself to talk some sense into Namor while trying to protect innocent people. He’s in for a world of hurt. In his first attempt to engage Namor, the former pulls him into the water…

Daredevil and Namor beneath the surface, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Fortunately for Daredevil, Namor isn’t really trying to kill him. When he notices that Daredevil isn’t breathing, he shoots him up through the water toward the surface. As seen below, Daredevil fortunately regains consciousness.

Daredevil climbs up on the dock after fighting Namor, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Later in the issue, Namor seems to have temporarily forgotten that he doesn’t really want to kill Daredevil. Breaking off a lamp post and playing a nice game of baseball, with Daredevil playing the part of the ball, hardly looks like an act of peace, or even restraint.

Namor hits Daredevil with a lamp post, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

True to from, Daredevil struggles to regain his composure. It is clear that his never give up spirit goes back to the very beginning of the Daredevil title.

Daredevil regains his composure in the middle of his battle with Namor, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

It’s at this point that Namor takes the opportunity to electrocute Daredevil. Considering that Namor didn’t want Daredevil dead, we can only assume that he knew what he was doing. Poor Matt, that has got to hurt. As seen below, Daredevil appears to be down for the count.

Daredevil gets himself electrocuted, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood
Daredevil is down for the count, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Incidentally, the series of panels above is a favorite of mine from early Daredevil. Not only does it show us Daredevil’s grit and fighting spirit, Wally Wood’s art has him looking like an adorable toy figure.

Fortunately for Matt, there is an upside to being beaten to a pulp. Next day at the office, Karen goes into full Florence Nightingale mode when she sees Matt banged up, sitting at his desk. If he had played his cards right, he probably could have gotten a sponge bath out of the ordeal…

Karen falls into Matt's arms, as seen in Daredevil #7 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Daredevil #9 – Daredevil is shot at

Daredevil #9 opens to Daredevil hunting down a gang of boat hijackers. The evening ends on a painful note, when one of the bad guys fires at Daredevil, the bullet apparently grazing his arm.

Daredevil is grazed by a bullet, as seen in Daredevil #9 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood
Daredevil returns to shore wounded, as seen in Daredevil #9 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

It is interesting to note, that at this point in his “career,” Matt was very concerned about his brand image and how Daredevil would fare in the public eye if defeated. With more than just ego bruised, Daredevil stumbles home and offers some interesting introspection on the way:

“Sometimes I wonder… Do I really do this to help mankind… or am I just a showoff who never grew up?!!”

Daredevil stumbles home and patches himself up, as seen in Daredevil #9 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

Back home, while tending to his wounds, Matt delivers another classic nugget of wisdom:

“Show me a superhero without a first aid kit, and I’ll show you a nut!”

Later in the issue, Matt goes on a crazy journey to Lichtenbad, ostensibly for eye surgery, where he has to combat his former law school classmate turned despotic ruler. His feats as a fighter and acrobat is made even more impressive by the fact that his arm is apparently still numb!

Well that’s it! Now, next time you stub your toe or hit your funny bone (which really isn’t funny, or a bone), ask yourself: What would Daredevil do? That’s right, keep it together and go fight crime!

The bespectacled Matt Murdock

A while back, when I wrote a post about Matt Murdock’s hair – because, apparently, no subject is too mundane for this blog – I got a request for a post about Matt’s sunglasses. Yes, I write weird posts about Daredevil minutiae and you surprise me by asking for more. So, let’s once again take a journey into the Daredevil archives and check out Matt’s shades.

Before getting to the show and tell part of this post, however, I wanted to talk a little bit about why he’s wearing them in the first place. While sunglasses are often associated with blindness (in people’s minds at least), not all blind people wear them. In fact, a majority do not and there are only two real reasons anyone would. The first is that many eye conditions make people light sensitive, meaning that bright light actually becomes painful or prevents the full use of whatever residual vision that person might have. The other reason is cosmetic. While some blind people have perfectly ordinary-looking eyes, some conditions or eye injuries obviously alter the appearance of the eyes. To save oneself and others from whatever discomfort this might presumably cause, some choose to cover their eyes. While I have no statistics to support this, I suspect wearing sunglasses solely to cover up some kind of eye deformity was much more common back in the days when Daredevil was first created (i.e. 1964), if only for the reason that society generally has become more aware and accepting of physical differences.

In the case of Daredevil, I don’t think any of the early creators even considered letting Matt go without dark glasses. In fact, the artists seemed to really go out of their way to hide them from the readers’ for the first few years (one notable exception being a scene in Daredevil #9 where he has his eyes examined by a doctor). One of the first times we get a good look att Matt’s exposed face that isn’t partly obscured by a shadow or at a strange angle is in Daredevil #51 (written by Roy Thomas and pencilled by Barry Smith, see panel below), and even in this case the eyes aren’t really visible. On a side note, isn’t this a fantastically dramatic couple of panels? Also, why does that barbell look all crooked, and is that an ashtray I see?

Matt's eyes are revealed (sort of) in Daredevil #51 (vol 1), by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith

Over time, it has become much more common for artists to draw Matt’s eyes, even in close-up panels, but how they are drawn differs quite a bit. I suspect a separate post could be devoted to this subject alone (wait a couple of years until I’ve really run out of things to write about…), but suffice it to say that some artists – David Mazzucchelli comes to mind – have drawn them looking completely normal whereas others (I suspect a majority) have drawn some version of what one would expect damage from a chemical spill to look like. In case you needed another reason to avoid getting nasty stuff anywhere near your face, high doses of radiation are actually known to cause cataracts (i.e. a clouding of the lense), so artists who choose to draw Matt’s eyes looking a bit pale and semi-opaque probably aren’t far off. Of course, cataracts would likely be only one of several signs that something is amiss and it’s pretty unrealistic that he could have made it through a chemical accident bad enough to blind him almost instantly and walk away without fairly obvious visible reminders of the ordeal.

Either way, Matt clearly wears sunglasses for cosmetic reasons. On the one hand, as a lawyer, it might be wise to eliminate any cause for distraction that would lead a client or jury to focus more on a physical peculiarity than on the case he’s trying to argue. On the other hand, there could be more to it than that. Matt has always struck me as relatively vain, or at least concerned about looking presentable (see my post The fashionable Mr Murdock), but it’s also quite telling that he only ever shows his eyes to people he knows extremely well, even in very private settings where professional considerations wouldn’t be necessary.

There are several recent examples that hint at what might be a genuine insecurity on Matt’s part. In Daredevil #107 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, Dakota comes knocking on his door. Matt at this time is in a really bad place, having just lost his wife to insanity, and he isn’t even showing up to work. When Dakota decides to pay him a visit, he’s wearing nothing but the bottom half of his Daredevil costume, but when he gets to the door to let her in, he’s put his glasses on and thrown on a shirt, though not bothering to button it. Apparently, Dakota is a close enough friend at this point to get a good look at his chest, though not close enough to see his eyes. Four issues later, in Daredevil #111 (by Ed Brubaker and Clay Mann), their relationship reaches a new level of intimacy when the two train together in Matt’s private gym. Despite the fact that wearing glasses seems downright inconvenient in this kind of setting (especially when they don’t actually do anything for him), he keeps them on. Well, until we see him wake up next to her in bed the next morning, that is.

In stark contrast to the kind of modesty he seems to show around most people, Foggy is clearly a close enough friend that Matt won’t bother hiding anything from him. This distinction between Foggy and other people is evident in the 2003 Daredevil movie, but it’s something I’ve noticed many times in the comic as well, especially in the last several years. His choice to “hide” behind a pair of dark glasses does seem to be less about putting others at ease and more about what he feels comfortable with personally. The only instances that come to mind of Matt not bother to wear glasses for an extended period of time is during Born Again (in a story that saw him descend into madness) and during his time as Jack Batlin, an alter ego he assumed while pretending to be dead…

Well, enough psycho-analyzing for now. For whatever reason, Matt Murdock and his shades have seemed nearly inseparable for almost fifty years. Let’s take a look at some of the trends, as drawn by some of Daredevil’s artists through the years.

Wally Wood

Once upon a time, Matt was really attached to his shades. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to say that his shades were attached to him. Possibly with glue. Below, we see Matt work out in the pair of black aviator-style sunglasses he wore at the time. We also see him come to the odd conclusion that blind people shouldn’t get married… The scene is from Daredevil #8, written by Stan Lee.

Matt works out in his shades, Daredevil #8 by Stan Lee and Wally WoodA real world example of these glasses might look something like this.

Gene Colan

Whenever I think of classic Daredevil, I think of Gene Colan’s artwork, and I guess this is true for a lot of fans. In his hands, Matt’s eyewear got a little heavier and I suspect he was trying to emulate another the typical 60’s version of men’s horn-rimmed glasses. Below are panels from Daredevil #25, written by Stan Lee. As a small bonus, I also included a look at “Mike Murdock’s” decidedly crazier eyewear. 😉

Matt's glasses as drawn by Gene Colan, from Daredevil #25, written by Stan LeeReal-world example of the above look.

Mike Murdock, as seen in Daredevil #25, by Stan Lee and Gene ColanIn the event that you’d like to emulate this particular look, you can get your own here, fortunately more neutral in color and more modest in style.

It’s worth noting that Gene Colan pretty much stuck to this style for his work on Daredevil, which spanned decades. Here is an example from the 90’s, as seen in Daredevil #366, written by Joe Kelly.

Bob Brown

In Daredevil #115, written by Steve Gerber, we see Matt in a different look. More precisely, a flat top metal rim creation that I had a hard time finding a real-life example of (follow this link to see one of the closest matches I could find). In case you’re curious, Daredevil #115 came out in 1974.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #115, by Steve Gerber and Bob Brown

Frank Miller

Another classic look is the one from Frank Miller’s run, as seen below in Daredevil #173 (finished art by Klaus Janson). These aviator glasses are still fashionable today and don’t look too different from how Paolo Rivera would draw them.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #173 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

David Mazzucchelli

Mazzuccheli also stuck to the aviator look, even though these frames don’t look quite as light-weight as the ones seen above. Below are panels from Daredevil #210, written by Denny O’Neil.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #210, by Denny O'Neil and David Mazzucchelli

John Romita Jr

John Romita Jr’s take on the shades is heavier yet and have a definite late 80’s feel to them. Maybe something like this? The panels below are from Daredvil #254, written by Ann Nocenti.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #254, by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr

Lee Weeks

Lee Weeks continued in the same vein as Romita Jr, though the lenses below (from Daredevil #292, written by D.G. Chichester) look slightly less opaque.

Matt's glasses, as seen in Daredevil #292, by D.G. Chichester and Lee Weeks

Cary Nord

We are now firmly into the 90’s, and Matt’s look has been updated a bit. As you might recall, rounder glasses were in fashion there for a while. The panels below are from Daredevil #254, written by Karl Kesel.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #354, by Karl Kesel and Cary Nord

Alex Maleev

Somewhere along the line, in 2003 to be precise, the Daredevil movie happened. In the movie, Matt Murdock wears red-tinted glasses and this was a trend that spread to the comic as well. I kind of like the red lenses myself, and Maleev obviously incorporated the look in his take on Matt. The panels below are from Daredevil #43 (vol 2), written by Brian Micahel Bendis.

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #43 (vol 2), by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Michael Lark

The red tint stayed during Ed Brubaker’s and Michael Lark’s run, though Lark’s take was a little less round and a little more like this. The panels below are from Daredevil #82 (vol 2).

Matt's glasses as seen in Daredevil #82 (vol 2), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark

Present day

Not going to say much about the current run since it’s ongoing and you can all check for yourselves (you’re not going to make me do all the work, are you?). What little I will say is that it’s interesting the Paolo Rivera abandoned the red tinted lenses in favor of the more classic Miller-esque look whereas Chris Samnee’s take is more of a Maleev meets a late Gene Colan. I like that each artist has his own take on this little detail. Besides, I would imagine that Matt owns more than one pair of glasses. Maybe he’s got a drawer somewhere of all the different pairs he’s worn through the years. 😉

Which look is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section!

Update 2018: This post now has a follow-up. Click here to read The other “mask.”

“Because I can’t just kill him” – Part 5

Rarely do I find myself actually laughing out loud when reading a Daredevil comic, and that includes most of the Silver Age goofiness. But Daredevil #9 really is that funny. And it knows it’s funny. Daredevil himself is written in that self-aware way where he’s found commenting on some of the more absurd parts of the plot. This kind of tactic doesn’t always work, but it works fine here. It is more the absurdity of the plot than the villain’s failed plans at murder that that made me include it in this series, but it’s just so funny, I couldn’t resist.

So, what do we need to know? Well, Matt has agreed to have eye surgery after Karen went behind his back(!) and contacted the appropriately named Dr. Van Eyck, a Boston eye surgeon who has recently moved to the “tiny principality” of Lichtenbad. Karen’s meddling goes even further and she sets up a meeting between Matt and his old law school acquaintance Klaus Kruger, former exchange student and current ruler of Lichtenbad, hoping that he can unite Matt and the famous Dr. Van Eyck. When Matt and Klaus meet in his office, we are treated to some interesting tidbits: 1) Why is Klaus Kruger twice the size of everybody else?, 2) Why was Klaus playing around with test tubes as a law student and 3) Why would Klaus seem surprised to hear that Matt had lost his sight when he was already blind by the time he started college? Then again, continuity gets confusing a full nine issues into a new series, doesn’t it?


Continue reading ““Because I can’t just kill him” – Part 5″

Fear gas and the obedient feline

There have been no fewer than four men to carry the name (and gas) of Mr Fear. The very first was Zoltan Drago, whose origin story – as seen below, from Daredevil #6 by Stan Lee and Wally Wood – details the fortuitous circumstances which lead to his discovery of fear gas. As mentioned, Mr. Drago was a real madman in the classic Dr. Frankenstein sense since his original goal was simply to create a potion to make his wax figures come to life. Because, you see, he was also the owner of a rather impressive collection of heroes and villains on display to the public, and later in this issue, we see him unveil the most recent addition to his collection: The life-size Daredevil wax doll!

However, a quick glance of the page below reveals an even more impressive feat. While Drago’s furry friends seems to have some issues with coordination and inadvertently knocks over beaker from a shelf (note to self: keep cats away from bunsen burners…), there is no doubt in my mind that Zoltan Drago might be in possession of the world’s first obedient feline! That is, a cat that will actually do as it’s told. My own cat, on the other hand, is perfectly useless…

image from Daredevil #6, by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

“Because I can’t just kill him” – Part 3

So, the last time Daredevil found himself at the mercy of a villain was… last issue. That’s right, in part two of this series we paid a visit to Daredevil #4 and now we’ve reached Daredevil #5. Let’s analyze…

Combatants

Daredevil vs The Matador, easily one of the silliest villains of Silver Age Daredevil (and that’s saying a lot).

The situation

Daredevil gets into a fight with the Matador at a costume party. The Matador uses his most powerful red blanket to stop our hero in his tracks by throwing it over his head, causing Daredevil to feel “the way an ordinary sightless man might feel in a battle!” At this point, our ridiculous themed villain is free to do as he pleases with his vulnerable adversary, which leads us to…

The problem

In the Matador’s defense, he really isn’t trying to kill Daredevil and doesn’t seem quite as homicidal as some of the nut jobs Daredevil has come into contact with thus far in the series. However, the I-just-want-to-ruin-your-career excuse seems a little far-fetched. In his own words: “Causing you bodily injury will afford me no pleasure! It pleases me to humiliate you instead… as a lesson to others! — And now, farewell! It is unlikely that we shall meet again! For I feel the Matador has ended your career, most emphatically!” Of course, this raises all kinds of new questions. Why does he talk about himself in the third person, and what career does Daredevil have to speak of at this point?

To everyone’s relief, Daredevil manages to get back at the villainous bullfighter, later in the issue, thus saving his career and his self-esteem.

Foggy really does work late…

Here it is, the absolutely shocking evidence that proves once and for all that Foggy works late. On a regular basis. Back when they didn’t have any clients (excepting the stray supervillain who surely didn’t pay his bills on time). From Daredevil #5 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Wally Wood:


I’ve been working late as well, as you might imagine from the scarcity of posts around these parts, so there was no news roundup on Sunday (not that much happened, and what did happen I’ll get to this weekend). However, I’ve been enjoying reading all your entries in the word balloon contest and will have a poll up tomorrow evening. If you haven’t entered your suggestions yet, do it right now!

While on the long train ride home Sunday evening, I had to resort to providing my own entertainment and had a little fun on Twitter, thinking up jobs Matt might be less than stellar at. Below is the list I came up with. Feel free to chime in. No prize this time, though.

“Didn’t see it, but I’ve been hearing good things. Nice painful explosion in the last scene”
– Matt Murdock, movie critic

“What do you mean out of focus? Those shots are gold, man”
– Matt Murdock, unemployed photographer

“Cut the blue wire? Eh… yeah. Okay, I quit”
– Matt Murdock, bomb squad tech

“Your CT scan looks great, sir. I’m pretty sure it’s not an aneurysm. Pretty sure.”
– Matt Murdock, physician about to be sued

“We’re experimenting with some interesting fabrics. So far, lukewarm response from buyers.”
– Matt Murdock, fashion designer

“I trust you. I’m sure it’s great, but I prefer louder colors. And I mean that literally.”
– Matt Murdock, art teacher

“My license? Well, uh… You saying I ran a red light?”
– Matt Murdock, (unusually) dangerous NY cab driver

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to cop a feel”
– Matt Murdock, soon to be fired bra fitter at Victoria’s Secret

“I’m sorry about the crash, but that plane came out of nowhere.”
– Matt Murdock, air traffic controller

Word balloon contest!

While I’m busy, I thought I’d keep you guys entertained with a word balloon contest. The rules are simple: I post some panels with the original caption erased and you guys think up a new one. Do this for just one panel or all of them, just number your answer accordingly so we all know which suggestion goes with which panel. Of course, coming up with several suggestions for the same panel is fine too. A week from today, June 3, I’ll pick the five I liked the best and put them up for a vote, and I will let that poll run for another week. The winner will receive a cool prize. Of course, I’ll be updating while this contest is going as well and keep a clearly visible link under the menu so you guys can still easily find this post. Have fun!

1) Daredevil vol 1, #5
by Stan Lee and Wally Wood

2) Daredevil vol 1, #102
by Chris Claremont and Syd Shores

3) Daredevil vol 1, #182
by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

4) Daredevil vol 2, #2
by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada

5) Daredevil vol 2, #62
by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Daredevil Annual #2 – While the City Sleeps!

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.

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):

Frog-Man gets a strange visit in his television set
Frog-Man gets a strange visit in his television set
Frog-Man gets a phone call
Frog-Man gets a phone call

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.

The four assemble to get orders from the Organizer
The four assemble to get orders from the Organizer

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    Pedagogical chart complete with an arrow pointing out Frog-Man
    Pedagogical chart complete with an arrow pointing out Frog-Man

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!

Billy club time!

This is the sequel to The cane and the billy club, which I posted on Wednesday.

Before getting to the specifics of Daredevil’s weapon of choice, I’d like to take you on a little detour to a different comic that few people have ever heard of. For those who don’t know it, I’m Swedish. That means that I have an unhealthy interest in ice hockey and can pronounce all the names of the furniture at IKEA. It also means that I grew up with a children’s comic book called Bamse. Bamse is a cuddly bear who lives with his wife and four children in a peaceful valley and combats evil in his free time with the aid of something called thunder honey, which makes him the strongest bear in the world. Don’t ask me what this is supposed to teach children about the unregulated use of performance-enhancing drugs. Anyway, Bamse’s two best friends are a jittery bunny called Little Hop and a turtle called Shellman (Swedish: Skalman). Shellman is one of those rational turtles who takes his time, but always comes prepared. Whatever he needs, he can just pull out of his shell. I contains the specially built alarm clock he uses to micro-manage his meals and his sleep cycle, as well as some really strange objects which you would never think you’d actually need. I’ve seen him pull inflatable helicopters out of that thing, as well as first aid kits and large tools.

This brings me back to Daredevil. Because early Daredevil actually reminds me of Shellman in a lot of ways. This includes some of the things Stan Lee insisted on shoving into the billy club as well as his whole attitude to the more mundane details of Matt Murdock’s life. Because fans won’t ask how it’s possible for Daredevil to land a rocket in Central Park guided only by the absence of heartbeats (as in Daredevil #2). But they will have questions about where he stashes his civilian clothes when in costume. Right? Consequently, Stan made sure to show us these details from time to time (many of them have been referenced in The life of a superhero category on this blog). In fact, some of the panels showing us the many features of the billy club read like an educational pamphlet aimed at school children. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Well boys and girls, here are the panels from Daredevil #1, by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, in which Matt conceives of the billy club. He takes that 1920’s style cane and “molds it” all night until it looks exactly as it did before, with the exception of a nifty hinge. When you think about it, the whole idea for the billy club seems a little far-fetched. “It’ll be the perfect all-purpose weapon!” Daredevil exclaims, but it does seem a little low-tech, even for the 1960’s. Oddly enough, the use of this kind of weapon seems like a better fit today when there’s a much stronger martial arts element to the character.

During the first few issues, the billy club doesn’t seem to be much more than a cane that folds in the middle and he uses the entire thing as a weapon, as we can see here in Daredevil #2 (artist for issues #2-4 is Joe Orlando). Am I the only one who is reminded of an old woman beating up a couple of thugs with her umbrella? Here, we also learn that it’s a non-conductor, which is great when you’re going up against Electro. It’s also what you would expect from something made of wood. In fact, it should probably catch fire.

In issue #3, below, Daredevil is captured by the Owl and locked in a cage. Once again, his cane/billy club comes to the rescue. It turns out that the pin Matt used to make the hinge is a perfect lock-picking device! If Karen needed a bobby pin to secure her lovely locks, I’m sure he could have pulled one of those out too. Maybe this is the moment Stan Lee decided that this thing could be full of all kinds of stuff. I mean, imagine the possibilities!

In issue #4, below, we set another use for Daredevil’s billy club – the boomerang! You see, it doesn’t just go from straight to folded, it can do something in between as well. Who would have guessed?

The real gem comes later in this issue, however. I’ll let the panels below speak for themselves. For me, Shellman carrying an inflatable helicopter in his shell suddenly comes to mind…

Nothing much happens in the billy club department for the next few issues, until Daredevil #7 (and artist Wally Wood) comes along and brings us a new costume and a grappling hook!

A few pages later we get another happy surprise in the form of a smoke screen! It was easy, thinks Daredevil, “just a few little gas pellets, a control button and presto–” Why you little genius, you! Of course, it doesn’t help much that the smoke screen is behind DD rather than in front of him, but now I’m just nitpicking. Besides, he does sort of swirl it around in the panels following this one, effectively blinding Namor for a few seconds.

In DD #8, below, and to the left, Stan is really getting warmed up. We are shown a schematic of the billy club, and it certainly has a bunch of stuff in it. It’s like the Swiss army version of everyone’s favorite bludgeoning weapon. I’m surprised it doesn’t come with a bottle opener. But we also get to see the famous snoopscope in action right away.

Nothing much happens to the billy club after this, but every now and again we see a flicker of the old “let’s stuff it full of cool stuff” attitude, perhaps in repsonse to the readers who wrote in asking what happened to all the gadgets. Yes, there were plenty of readers who loved the gadgets. I even seem to remember one fan from the letters’ column who wanted to see the microcircuitry hidden on the inside of the mask back, even though it was only featured once, in issue #8. Then again, there were also lots of readers who thought Stilt-Man was the coolest villain ever, so what does that tell you?

Anyway, below are some panels from Daredevil #25 (art by Gene Colan), where we learn that the billy club is battery powered. This really raises the question of just how high-maintenance you want your equipment to be. Can you imagine throwing a gadget full of expensive electronics around and expecting it not to break. In fact, can we get someone to volunteer to start using their cell phone as an assault weapon? If there’s anyone out there who’d like to try, I’d love to hear from you. (Disclaimer: No, I did not just advocate hitting people with cell phones.)

Perhaps this didn’t matter much to Matt, who seemed to really enjoy tinkering with his gadgets. In fact, I think that issue #7 when he reveals that he’s been working on his new costume for months, and stuffed his club full of stuff is when we see him cross the line from concerned citizen who fights crime in his spare time after avenging his father’s death to full-blown superhero geek. We see it all the time in real life. I starts out innocently enough with Dungeons and Dragons, and before you know it, you see people going off to re-enact the Dark Ages and speaking fantasy languages. When you spend more time thinking of new ways to pimp a piece of wood than spending time with friends or reading a good book, you know there’s a problem. I see a definite need for a Superheroes Anonymous here. Hey, maybe that’s what the Avenger’s Mansion was for.

From Daredevil’s monologue above, it does seem as if he has decided that simplicity is the way to go, and we finally see some recovery from gadget addiction here. Be strong, Matty! You can do it!

Okay, this post has run long enough. I was going to end this with the billy club as storage container for dubious nutritional tablets panel, but I can’t remember what issue that was. If anyone out there can find it for me, I’ll add it to this post in an update, because it’s really such a classic. I could have also filled this post with lots of modern billy club moments, but the early days were so crazy, I just ran out of steam. Another time perhaps…

I’ll see you around for random reviews tomorrow!

DD (Driving Dangerously)

Here’s one of these points where all comparisons with Batman really fall apart. Bruce Wayne has a cool hi-tech car – the Batmobile. Matt Murdock… Well, let’s just call him “vehicularly challenged.” Luckily for him, he lives in New York where there are cabs everywhere (if his battle with Bullseye in issue #169 is any indication, he’d probably prefer to stay out of the subway). He’s also been known to travel billy-club style across Manhattan and I think he currently lives within walking distance of the office.

Being blind, Matt obviously doesn’t have a driver’s license, and the fact that he lost his sight before the age of sixteen pretty much guarantees that he never had any driver’s ed either. That hasn’t prevented him from driving on numerous occasions in the Daredevil comic. Heck, in issue #100 (Vol 1) he was even seen piloting the Avengers’ jet, though I suspect that was before it was widely known in the superhero community that the guy probably shouldn’t be operating aircraft (though it might be argued that he can do so more safely than drive a car).

When it comes to driving, Matt has met with mixed success. He’s never hurt either himself or anyone else that I can recall, but he’s had a couple of close calls when an emergency situation has forced him to get behind the wheel. I actually sort of buy the idea that he would do okay on a highway in the middle of nowhere, but inner-city traffic is certainly a little more challenging. After all, most road signs and traffic lights are not just for decorative purposes. Although considering Dakota North’s sweet ride in #107, he probably doesn’t mind hitching a ride with her.

Anyway, let’s take a look at Daredevil driving, starting with Daredevil #8. Since this was back in Stan Lee’s day, Daredevil comes across as an expert driver. While Stan doesn’t actually say that Daredevil can “drive more safely than a sighted man,” we sort of get that feeling as he stops a runaway car, complete with a car bomb. If you recognize this first panel, it also appeared in a previous post on the radar sense, since it features the first depiction of the iconic radar rings emanating from Daredevil’s head.

This next panel (these are all in sequence, by the way) strikes me as hilarious. I love the whole “No brakes! No brakes!” I’d love to see him yell “Look, no hands!” while taking both hands off the wheel.

“I’ve got to keep guiding it… till the end!” Oh Matt, you’re such a drama queen (below).

This panel below is actually pretty funny. First of all, I’d like for someone to explain to me the difference between images and sights (seriously). Secondly, the “master driver” bit? Gotta love it.

In the last panel of DD driving in this issue, we seem him drive the car into the sea. His head looks dangerously close to colliding with that sign overhead.

The next time we see Daredevil drive a car is in issue #54, written by Roy Thomas. As I mentioned in another post, it seemed that the book got significantly goofier for a while after Thomas took over and this page is certainly full of all kinds of goofiness. First of all we have another instance of Matt apparently wearing his shades under his mask. The rest of the page is of him remembering some of the details of faking his own death, which he did quite callously. Here he drives to an air field, and rents a plane with a fake license, disguised with a hideous black wig and – oddly enough – not wearing any shades. In case you’re wondering, the “passenger” in the car is a dummy that’s supposed to look like Matt Murdock. What I never got about this was why the dummy was necessary. It’s not like the people who find it at the crash site are going to confuse it with an actual corpse, right?

There are many more instances of Daredevil driving, but the rest will be revisited in a second post. Before rounding this off, however, we’re going to look at two Frank Miller classics that both feature Matt behind the wheel of a car. The first group of panels below is from the last issue of Born Again. And the second from the last issue of Man Without Fear. Neither one of these occasions bore the marks of a “master driver,” but at least no one got hurt. And, in an emergency, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, right?

Matt driving in Born Again
Matt driving in Born Again

For a more recent example of Daredevil driving a taxi, take a look at the panel from Vol 2 #103 posted by Francesco, which was the lead-in for this post, incidentally. More driving in a few weeks when I round up more panels of DD goodness.