Saturday, January 10, 2015

Marvels: Daredevil #2

"The Evil Menace of Electro!" by Stan Lee, Joe Orlando & Vince Colletta
(June 1964)

I can tell it's going to be a tough row to hoe with Daredevil. Or, maybe this is just a sophomore slump. Either way, this second issue is terrible.

I really enjoyed the first issue, but this one just tries too hard. Do you remember when I said that Stan's trying way too hard to get us to love X-Men? He seems to be trying even harder here. The prose in this thing... we're constantly told how great Daredevil is, how fearless, how amazing, how unique. And here he's facing off against Electro, a villain we've seen exactly once (though it was a great story), but whom Stan is constantly telling us is crafty and cunning and incredibly dangerous. And sure, Electro's power is dangerous, but we don't even really know the guy. This isn't Doctor Doom over here, alright?

I know hyperbole is Stan Lee's narrative stock in trade, but when we're talking about two characters we've seen in only one story apiece, it gets a little desperate. "LOVE THIS! LOOOOVE THIIIIS!"

With this issue it also becomes obvious that one of Daredevil's narrative hurdles is that he's got to constantly be telling us how his powers work so that what he does is believable. The problem here is that what he's doing is believable roughly 40% of the time. He hears a flag fluttering and figures there's a flagpole above him? Alright, I'll buy it. Daredevil lands the Fantastic Four's passenger ICBM in Central Park without hurting anyone after piloting it safely out of orbit because he can hear everyone's heartbeat below him? No. Just no.

Another way the issue tries too hard is in throwing in a cameo by the Thing (generously lampshaded on the cover), who tries to hire Nelson & Murdock to handle the renewal of the Fantastic Four's lease on the Baxter Building; what they need is for a lawyer to come and check the place out and make sure everything is up to code. Nowhere is it discussed that Foggy Nelson's bright idea is to send a blind man to do a visual appraisal of a rental property.

Anyway, Matt Murdock goes to the Baxter Building while the FF are out of town, Electro's trying to rob the place, battle ensues, and that's pretty much it. Damn thing just couldn't end quickly enough. You guys are trying way too hard and just need to take it down.

I liked that first issue so much, too...

Stray observations:

:: I guess the reason Bill Everett was not asked to do a second issue is that his first issue came in pretty late (and even then, Sal Brodsky and Steve Ditko had to do a lot of fixes). Too bad, because I really did like his art. I liked how it had a bit of a Bob Montana type of style, where these young people really looked like young people.

For this issue, Wally Wood's old partner Joe Orlando was hired. The art in this issue is alright. Daredevil is very expressive, which I appreciate, but I much prefer the kind of work Orlando was doing at MAD. His superhero work is less interesting to me. The inker is the ever-controversial Vince Colletta.

:: Karen Page keeps an 8x10 photo of Matt Murdock in her desk. Where is everyone always getting these 8x10's from? I guess it's not as ridiculous as Sue Storm's framed Namor 8x10, but still...

:: Karen finds a specialist who thinks he may be able to reverse Matt's blindness, but he's reluctant, because he worries that with his vision restored, he'll lose his powers. He doesn't tell Karen this, but she seems insulted that he's not jumping for joy. "I'd marry him in a minute, even though he's blind!" Wow, Karen, going out of your way to acknowledge a blind man as still a human being, what a hero.

:: You don't see many splash pages in the middle of a story in this time period, but this one was pretty nice:

I don't mind this device if its used in service of telling the story. The 90s really got out of control, didn't they? "I'll just draw a single two-page image of a guy leaping to cover up how lazy I am and the fact that I'm not really a visual storyteller." You know, Liefeld stuff.

Well, that was a disappointing, dull issue that wanted too much to be loved.

Next Marvels: Namor returns! And Doctor Strange finally steps into the larger world of the Marvel Universe.


Steven Thompson said...

My second ever published article--in a magazine called COMIC ARENA-- was a deconstruction of this silly story.

SamuraiFrog said...

I bet that was a neat read. It's a *very* silly story.