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?
Matt gets suspicious when he asks Klaus why Dr. Van Eyck has decided to move to Lichtenbad. He is treated to a story about the good doctor coming for a visit and falling in love with the beautiful countryside, but Matt can tell it’s all a lie. And he’d be right. Why would someone move to Lichtenbad? Intrigued, Matt decides to tag along to get to the bottom of this.
Upon arrival in Lichtenbad, Matt soon discovers that his old law school class mate runs a slave state and rules by fear. He is taken to see the doctor who is locked in a guarded room and overhears talk of rebellion coming from all parts of the castle. Changing to Daredevil, he has a look around the premises and discovers the citizens are in the middle of a rebellion. But they don’t stand a chance against the duke’s guards who are all robots. Soon, Daredevil finds himself in the presence of the duke himself…
Looks like Daredevil really stepped in it this time as hee is accused of leading the uprising (based on the notion that he is an outsider, which doesn’t make much sense). In the next three panels, we get so see both the use of one of those billy club gadgets that were so hot at the time – this time it’s a gas projectile – and one of the better villain lines I’ve read in a while: “No gas pellet in the world can affect a sovereign wise enough to sit behind an unseen, impenetrable force shield!” Okay, whatever you say dude…
Oh dear, what will happen next? Well, it’s off to the dungeon for Matt, and this is when we learn the why Klaus Kruger would want to get a Boston eye doctor to come help him out in Lichtenbad. He’s building a robot army in order to take over the world. In fact, that’s the reason Matt is there too. The duke is a collector of bright people, a one man brain drain. Because if you’re going to build a robot army to take over the world, you’re going to need eye doctors and blind lawyers. Everybody knows that. Too bad he is having the blind lawyer killed at dawn and doesn’t even know it…
Matt doesn’t seem bothered by his impending doom: “He’s as nutty as a fruitcake, but so was a little housepainter named Hitler, and look at the damage he caused!” then “I can’t let them shoot me at sunrise! I hate getting up so early!” So, not a morning person are we, Matt? Or maybe it’s just the jetlag. This is where the evil duke should have just pulled out a gun and shot him. But, as we know, there’s always something. In this case, it’s bureaucracy.
Daredevil bravely manages to break out of his dungeon and takes his fellow prisoners with him. His wit is as sharp as ever; when asked what can ever be done to thank him, he quips: “Remember me in your will!” The revolution is now well under way, and Daredevil demonstrates another tool from his tool box – sorry, billy club. High-potency mortar projectiles? One wonders how he got that thing through customs
After battling some robots, there is the inevitable showdown between hero and villain and even Daredevil is getting tired of Kruger’s tired clichés and self-important attitude: “How come all you professional bad guys use the same cornball dialogue? Do you all study from the same manual?”
In true comic book style, a tussle ensues and Kruger plunges to his death after getting careless at high altitude. Daredevil emerges triumphant, but it is not he who gets to save the world. When Kruger decides to try to take the whole world with him with some nuclear-powered explosives, it is the timid eye doctor from Boston who saves the day and dismantles the bomb and dies of acute radiation poisoning. Though not before finding out that Daredevil and Matt Murdock are one and the same, simply by comparing their physiques. How come no one else ever thought of that?
Matt goes back to New York, still blind, but having helped liberate an nation. This is one goofy story that needs to be read in full to be appreciated. I hope I was at least able to give you a small taste of this outrageous joyride.