Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Classics - Daredevil #1

   Now a hit on NetFlix, thanks to the dark and ingenious mini-series there, Daredevil started life in 1964 as kind of a crazy-quilt of creators, changes and chaos.

   The first issue is credited to writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett (who created the Sub-Mariner in the Golden Age). There are those who argue that Jack Kirby was involved in the creation, too - but cover aside, the art looks like Everett to my untrained eyes.

   The name is stolen from a defunct Golden Age hero - Stan has admitted that his boss instructed him to create a character using the name.

   But the character is all Marvel. A hero who has a flaw (Iron Man had an injured heart, Thor's mortal identity had a bad leg, the Thing was disfigured,  Spider-Man was bullied) but overcomes it to help others - usually making jokes all the while - is a classic Marvel "bit."

   So we have Matt Murdock, a boy who performs a heroic act and is blinded for life - but because of his exposure to a radioactive substance, he develops a Radar Sense that compensates for his loss of vision. He grows up to become a lawyer, but when his father is murdered he puts on a costume and goes in search of revenge against the gangsters who killed him.

    It's a solid story (even without a substantial villain) with terrific art, and it sets the stage for the character ever since, introducing his supporting cast - law partner Foggy Nelson, and secretary and love interest Karen Page.

   But the run of the series wasn't a smooth one, even with amazing talent - the only constant in the first dozen issues is the guiding hand of writer / editor Stan Lee. Everett left after the first issue, and Joe Orlando (teamed with Vince Colletta - not a great match, in my opinion) handled the next three issues.

   Then Wally Wood arrived like a bolt of lightning with issue #5! A caption on the first page mentions that Wood had made "alterations" to Daredevil's yellow-and-black costume, but the only major change was to the logo on his chest - it went from a single capital letter "D" to a double capital letter: "DD."

   It was issue #7 where the major change took place, as his costume became all red, with shifting black highlights - a classic Wood design, and a great modification of the original concept.

   The last three issues of Wood's run - issues #9, 10 and 11 - were all penciled by the great Bob Powell (though Wood's inks are overpowering) - and Wood is also credited with the script on #10.

   There was more greatness ahead for Daredevil, with John Romita working several issues before moving over to Spider-Man, and Gene Colan settling in for a long, amazing run on the title.

   It's a tribute to the concept of Daredevil that it was able to survive such a revolving door of creative efforts (though it doesn't hurt that they're all top talents).

   Of course, the hot topic now is "who deserves credit for creating Daredevil?" Outside of Stan and Bill, it beats me (hey, I wasn't there - were you?), but it looks like a lot of talented people had a hand in there along the way.

Grade: A


1 comment:

Kevin Findley said...

You might say it took a village. Heh! Heh!