Mock trial

by May 16, 2008Silver Age Madness0 comments

Well, with this being “lawyer month” (sort of), I thought we’d take a closer look at some of Matt’s famous cases, along with some of the ones he’d rather forget. You know how the law partners hardly got any work done for the first fifty issues or so? Well, isn’t it ironic how one of the first times we really see Matt working in any kind of lawyer capacity he isn’t even being paid for it? Heck, it’s not even a real trial. The two-issue story arc where the Owl – still bitter about being captured by Daredevil in issue #3 – puts the judge who convicted him through a mock trial started in issue #20 (“The Verdict is Death!”).

What I love about this story is how the whole reason the Owl’s men go to kidnap Matt is so that he will give the judge the best possible representation (although the whole thing is rigged, so it doesn’t actually matter…). This, in turn, is based on the idea that Matt is one of the best trial lawyers in the country. And when exactly did he get to be one of the best trial lawyers in the country, you ask? Well, it beats me. Up until then we’d hardly ever seen him do any actual work, and I can’t think of ever seeing him in court. You have to give the Owl some credit for at least not discriminating against him for being blind, but the guy is probably no more than twenty-five and just a few months out of law school. But this was way back when all superheroes where the best at what they did no matter what that was. Okay, let’s take a look at how the whole thing played out, shall we?

Well here we are at the beginning of the issue, after DD has just entered his office and beaten up some thugs who were talking about kidnapping Matt Murdock. Matt is putting his legal mind to good use here and drawing the conclusion that they will probably look for him at home next. Curious to see where the whole thing leads, he willingly lets himself be kidnapped. Also note the liberal use of ego-inflating monologue in this panel:

“… and that’s the apartment of that brilliant, crusading, hard-working attorney!”

Hard-working? You’ve gotta be kidding me, Matt. Don’t be so modest!

Later at the apartment of Matt Murdock… Wow, there’s nothing like a little good old-fashioned snatching your suit from an office chair in your apartment through a window, changing on the ledge outside, sneaking in and willingly letting yourself be kidnapped to brighten your day and shake up a dull routine.
Air-lifted to an island that’s not even in the middle of nowhere, but hundreds of miles from nowhere! Matt is still curious about who he will be facing during this little adventure, but he’s seemed excited about it so far. He’s such an adrenaline junkie…

Meanwhile (as Stan Lee would put it): The Owl is laying down the law for judge Lewis. Note the way the Owl explains his exact reasons for arranging this mock trial. It’s not for the benefit of the readers, villains just like to talk that way. Really, they do.

Yeah, we get it… Matt is one of the finest trial lawyers in the nation. Whatever. I have to agree with the anonymous thug on the left, though: “I get the creeps when I see him glide like that!” Yeah, it’s creepy.

This page (it’s an entire page, click it to see it blown up) you’re just going to have to read for yourselves. It’s too long and convoluted for me to paraphrase here.

Here we see Matt using a clever trick to find an excuse to change to Daredevil. He asks for permission to go out and look for a witness. Whomever will he find, I wonder.

Yeah, you got it. Daredevil to the rescue! After about a page of battling it out with the Owl he hits something of a snag in the panel below. You think he would have learned from issue #3. He even mentions that himself. Oh well, it was in the beginning of his crime-fighting career, it happens to the best of them.

As we begin issue #21 – “The Trap is Sprung!” – we see Daredevil trapped in his cage and are offered a nice recap of what happened last issue. For those who were unable to follow the convoluted plot points described above, here it is:

“Las ish, we saw Matt Murdock forced by the omnivorous Owl to serve as defense attorney at the preposterous trial of the Owl’s captive, ex-judge Lewis — a trial wherein the Owl and his cutthroats were judge and jury! Swiftly, secretely changing into Daredevil, Matt suddenly finds himself trapped! And now, literature lover, you’re on your own –“

May I just first point out how much I love them calling the Owl “omnivorous.” So that’s his thing then? He’s not a vegetarian? As a species, humans are considered omnivorous by default so I don’t see what’s so frightening about this, but hey… that’s just me. And the bit about “literature lovers”? Well at least Stan Lee and those guys didn’t take themselves too seriously. So, moving on…

Okay, this is a line I really love to bits. The Owl: “You should have known you couldn’t defeat a foe who can glide like his namesake on the slightest current of air!” Leland, Leland… *shakes head* You do realize that neither owls nor ducks, sparrows, or pigeons are indestructable, right?

Here’s a new way to take out your opponent. Trap him in your billy club wire and spin him, animated cartoon-style. In the next couple of panels (not shown), DD uses the the spinning Owl almost like a bowling ball to take out the rest of his gang like pins. Quite entertaining, but unusually silly. Yes, even for a 1960’s comic book.

Aha! After having finally regained his composure, the owl thinks to himself: “I’ve one last hope! If I can trap him into following me to the forbidden chamber!!”

Yeah, that’s what we find in the forbidden chamber: A big scary robot owl. Indefeatable according to the Owl himself, but let’s face it, the guy is insane!

Silly-looking as it may be, the big robot bird proves quite a challenge for Daredevil. Luckily for him, it’s also quite noisy, as noted below…

“But how in the name of Perry Mason am I going to fight a thing like that??!” Okay, add that to another one of the real-life law shows referenced in Daredevil (I already mentioned Law & Order and The Practice).

Daredevil finally gains control of the scary robot bird, but can he fly it? Well, of course!

Caption: “However, a man of Daredevil’s stamp is never quite as helpless as it may seem! And if proof of that contention should be needed…”

DD: “I still have one hope — The metal bird is so delicately balanced that I can make it swoop and bank by merely shifting my weight. Therefore, by sensing the prevailing wind currents, I can guide it on any course I choose!”

And, of course, Daredevil saves the day by swooping down to rescue the poor judge, and they ride into the sunset together. Well, not really. More like New York probably. And what about Matt Murdock? Does the old “I got him to safety” ever get old or even a little suspicious? Certainly not.

I’m still not completely sold on Matt being one of the best trial lawyers in the country after reading these two issues, but the guy sure knows how to think fast and operate bird-shape aircraft, and that’s got to count for something. Maybe in the coming days, we’ll take a look at him handling an actual case…


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