Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Marvel Masterworks Daredevil Vol. 1

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: DAREDEVIL VOL. 1 (Marvel, 2010; softcover)
Collects Daredevil Nos. 1-11 (cover dates April, 1964- December, 1965)
My friend has been bugging me to buy Daredevil Masterworks for years, and I always blew it off. Not enough money, not enough time, whathaveyou. Then Marvel started the softcover Masterworks line, and since it boasted a serious upgrade in linework and coloring over the blasphemous 2003 edition and was affordable, I jumped on it. Wow! These are some great comic books. I mean, let me drop some names first. Stan Lee did the scripting (except for one issue where Wally Wood handled it), and his '60s output is pure genius. Snarky Internet hipsters talk about how lame or cheesy his dialogue is, but screw you. This cat was writing and editing 8 titles a month, and all of them were released on schedule. He was co-creating heroes and villains that remain among the most popular ever created at a breakneck pace, month after month. Today's crybaby "writers" don't even create one villain a month, and making your deadline on one book...not necessary. So Stan Lee rocks way more, people. Golden Age God Bill Everett did the first issue, creating Daredevil's original look. I thought that his original costume (pictured above) was outdated even by 1960s standards, and that makes sense when you think that Everett's career dates back to the late 1930s. Issue 2 brought in EC Comics alumni Joe Orlando, another superb 'God among men' comic book artist. Everything looks great except for Daredevil's costume. I really dislike his original outfit. Yet another brilliant artist, Wally Wood (also an EC alum) comes on board a few issues later, and he first tweaks the original costume (which looked much better than the first draft) and then introduces Daredevil's iconic red garb in issue 7. Wood was never much of a superhero artist, so watching him apply his craft to the genre has some unique and highly entertaining results. Bobby Powell comes on board to assist Wood in Issues 10 and 11. How Stan got all of these cats to agree on this title boggles the mind.
The villains that Stan and company tossed off in these first 11 issues became staples of Daredevil's rogues gallery. The Owl, Mr. Fear, the Stiltman, Killgrave the Purple Man, and the Cat Man, Bird Man, Gorilla Man and Frog Man of The Organization all became repeat offenders. The latter, while guys in animal costumes that reflect their facial expressions and abilities, become animals somewhere down the road. My first encounter with them was in Uncanny X-Men #94 as Count Nefaria's Ani-Men. So somewhere between 1965 and 1975 this occurred.The Masked Matador...not so classic. Daredevil also tangles with Spider-Man villain Electro, and it's amazing how many powers Stan added to him here. In his first appearance, he couldn't "travel" along power lines, but here it is shown and is a natural progression of learning how to use his powers. Therein lies the genius of Stan Lee. He'll tweak and refine something until it is perfect, while making it seem flawless and within continuity. Daredevil has a few stumbling blocks in this development. His radar sense and hyper sensitive hearing being way more powerful than they are portrayed later on. His billy club has way more gadgets in it than it does later on. Again, you can explain all this away No-Prize style if you work at it enough. Boys and girls, these are comic books at their finest, so treat yourself to this book. Do it!

1 comment:

  1. I can finally say "I told you so!". I like the original costume better than you I guess.

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