Wednesday, September 14, 2011

150: Daredevil #2

Daredevil #2
April 2, 1964

  • As previously discussed, the first issue of Daredevil was illustrated by Bill Everett - and, due to a variety of issues, took six months to complete. As a result, with issue #2 the art chores were taken over by Joe Orlando, a man who had worked for EC Comics in the 1950s, and would begin drawing for Warren Publishing's Creepy in late 1964, before beginning an editorial stint at DC Comics - where he would remain for the next 30 years. But it's these early EC and Creepy jobs that most concern us, as his illustrations show a scratchiness, and a slight weirdness, that made him the perfect fit for the stories from those particular publishers. One of the pleasant surprises in Daredevil #1 was the way Everett's art clearly did not attempt to ape Marvel's coalescing "house style", and I'm happy to report that element continues here.

    Here's a panel where you can clearly see the appealing weirdness
    of Joe Orlando's art.  Check out Electro's creepy eyes!

  • The first issue made sure to give the readers a hero in the same vein as Spider-Man, and this second one continues that tack, featuring as its second villain (and first super-villain) Electro, a relatively recent addition to Spider-Man's rogues gallery. Clearly Stan was hoping to duplicate the kind of gold he struck with Spidey, but he might have hewn a little too closely here. Why, he even repeats the opening kick of "Hero nabs some crooks; thinks how easy crime-fighting has gotten; gets cocky and wishes for a real challenge" that he used in ASM #3!

    So he fixes the busted door by pressing it together with enough force
    that the door
    fuses back together?  ...Okay then.

  • But that's not all! While the first issue was largely devoid of any of the shared-world elements that Stan had been layering into all these new titles, this story opens with a guest appearance by the Thing, soon joined by the rest of the Fantastic Four as well. They've come to Nelson and Murdock because they're signing a new lease on their Baxter Building headquarters and need a lawyer to look the place over first - and how marvelously inspired is that, to have such a pedestrian motive for bringing them across his path? Naturally, when Electro sees the news that the FF is flying to Washington DC for yet another fĂȘte, he decides to break into their headquarters to steal their equipment - and his clash with Daredevil is set.

    I'm on a horse!

  • Ever since the blind sculptress Alicia Masters was first introduced to the Fantastic Four, readers have unceasingly asked why someone of Reed's genius could not find a way to cure her. The top-level answer is, of course, that what the infirmity brings to the strip (the poignant theme that Ben Grimm's inner nature is far more important than any outward appearance) is much too compelling to give up; and yet, the readership can be forgiven for wondering how these many high-tech marvels can reside in the same world as such continuing low-tech ailments. So it's notable that Stan endeavors to bring the question to the fore in DD's second outing, rather than trying to evade the topic altogether. The answer as provided is somewhat unsatisfying - Matt turns down even investigating a doctor's cure, worried that regaining his eyesight might remove his super-powers - but it's impressive to see that Stan is already anticipating the kinds of questions readers might have for this new hero.

    The scene: stunning.  The content: ludicrous!
    (Click to enlarge.)