Saturday, May 18, 2013


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: DAREDEVIL VOL. 2 (Marvel, 2011; Softcover)

Collects Daredevil Nos. 12-21 (cover dates January- October, 1966)

Writer: Stan Lee with Dennis O' Neil (co-writer, issue 18)

Artists: John Romita, Sr.(12-19), Gene Colan (20, 21), Jack Kirby (layouts 12, 13), and various inkers

Marvel Comics ruled the '60s, no contest. Stan Lee was like a Victorian wordsmith, meaning that he must have been paid by the word. Stan Lee's Daredevil is a lighthearted one, not marred by the incessant brooding that would come to define the character in the '80s. The nice thing about Marvel at this time was the real, honest to gosh continuity that they had in all of their titles. Everything that happened in every title fit together like a puzzle. Now you have to pound all of these misshapen pieces into place to make sense of things.

Issues 12-14 have Ka-Zar and his brother, The Plunderer, a modern day pirate. Yes, some of these premises are corny and dated, but they are often a means to an end. It's like Stan Lee and John Romita figured out all sorts of outlandish ways to get their ideas across. Ka-Zar lives in the Savage Land. We need to get Matt Murdock on a ship to get there. Since we are on a ship, why not have pirates to interrupt his cruise? And why not make the pirate Ka-Zar's brother! It's all fun and it all works.

The Spider-Man/ Masked Marauder in issues 16 and 17 are historically significant because they mark the first time that John Romita, Sr. would draw Spider-Man. Romita is, in my opinion, the definitive Spider-Man artist. Ditko may have created the look, but it was Romita who defined the contemporary Spider-Man that we know and love. I had this argument with some guy in a comic shop in the '80s, back in the days when you had to argue with people in person instead of going on the Internet.

The Gladiator stories in issues 18 and 19 are somewhat corny, but you know what? I love corn. It's delicious. The Masked Marauder returns in issue 19. Issue 19 is also Romita's final issue on the title. His artwork is powerful stuff and he draws beautiful people. What's not to love? I really enjoy his heavy handed line art.

Gentleman Gene Colan comes aboard for The Owl saga in issues 20 and 21. His run on the series is fondly remembered by fans everywhere. This is my first time reading these issues, and it's like discovering some great old movie or album. Where have you been all my life???
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- These softcover Masterworks are a real win-win. They have state of the art restoration, better than the original hardcover releases. They also lay relatively flat in your hand like a giant periodical, which is just wonderful.

Linework restoration rating: 5 out of 5. Marvel has remastered their material repeatedly over the years. The rule of thumb is: the newer the printing, the better the presentation.

Color restoration rating: 5 out of 5. You may like dots and line bleed. You may also like crackles and pops on records. Both are cool and quaint for those formats. This is like a 24 bit/96 khz remastered CD or Blu-Ray version of a movie. I like the appearance of mint condition pulp paper and the sound of vinyl when it is new. I am not interested in reading yellowed, beat up comics or listening to well worn vinyl. This has the original color palette sans dots and line bleed.

Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Dull matte finish coated stock paper, not too thick, not too thin. Let's call it Goldilocks weight.

Binding rating: 4.25 out of 5. A nice thick band of glue warms my heart on softcovers.

Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Beautiful, thick laminated cardstock that will provide a lifetime of reading enjoyment.

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