Would Mark Waid’s Daredevil Just be an Average Superhero Comic Book Back in the Old Days?
For the most part, I think people misunderstand just how “out there” Steve Gerber’s Daredevil run was. It definitely DID get way out there at times, but for the most part it was surprisingly down-to-earth.
A long-running plotline during his run was a mysterious man in shadows who was working against Daredevil by introducing new villains. The mystery man was pretty clearly the mysterious head of Matt Murdock’s San Francisco law firm, but for some reason the story went on for nearly a year before the big bad was revealed (and it was, in fact, obviously the mysterious head of Murdock’s San Francisco law firm).
I will give credit to Gerber for the introduction of Angar the Screamer. That character was definitely a unique contribution to the Marvel Universe…
A disaffected hippie protester whose rage is now just a tool of “the man”? Come on, that’s brilliant.
The story in the issue, “Vengeance In the Sky With Diamonds!” was drawn by Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia, who do an okay job but nothing to write home about.
Angar decides that he does not want to work for “the Man” anymore, but that device I showed you before could kill Angar, he agrees to try to kill Daredevil and Black Widow. Widow, though, has other ideas…
They don’t really follow up on the whole “Widow is willing to kill but Daredevil is not” angle in the next few issues, but it is a good idea by Gerber to introduce it. This was a very solid start to this run of issues.
The next issue, though, “Stilt-Man Stalks the City!” is a fill-in written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Syd Shores and Frank Giacoia. This was Claremont’s first solo writing assignment in comics (I featured it awhile back in my spotlight series on comic creators’ first works).
It is a testament, I believe, to Claremont’s talents that his very first story is a serviceable tale…
A little overly dramatic, but that was pretty par for the course for Marvel titles at the time. Not a standout story, but decent enough.
The next issue saw Gerber’s return to the title, along with new penciler Don Heck (inked by Sal Trapani). However, unlike Angar, Ramroad, the villain from “…Then Came Ramrod!” is awful.
Just a dreadful issue, even with a neat guest appearance by Spider-Man!
The following issue, “Prey of the Hunter!” opens with some outstanding good girl art by Heck and Trapani…
We finally get to meet the mysterious Kerwin Broderick, even as a mysterious man (who almost certainly had to be Kerwin Broderick) was hiring Kraven the Hunter to mess Daredevil up…
I didn’t like how Black Widow ended up as a damsel-in-distress…
but otherwise, the battle scenes between Kraven and Daredevil are well done, if a bit rote. The book ended on a strong cliffhanger…
The following issue, “Menace From the Moons of Saturn!” finally sees Gerber really just go all out crazy on Daredevil and I loved it! Heck’s inks are provided by Don Perlin this issue, which is a step down from the Heck/Trapani pairing of the last two issues, but check this out…
Daredevil is abruptly teleported to Titan!! That’s hilariously bizarrely awesome.
There, he meets the then-newly introduced Moondragon (she gains the name in this issue).
Her creator, Jim Starlin, actually shows up to give her origin. I skipped it because, well, it was just her origin.
Then we discover that it was MOONDRAGON that was behind all of these new villains Daredevil has been facing! But did she KNOW that she was doing evil?!
Who is her ally?!
You have to love how Gerber just embraced the obviousness of Broderick being the bad guy. “Yeah, yeah, I know it was obvious. I’ll even concede as much in the comic!”
What a cool comic book. I know Gerber pulled back pretty soon after this issue after Marveldom did not react kindly to his turning the book into a sort of sci-fi book, but I really appreciate his brashness.
On the next page, we look at Fantastic Four #136-140!