Daredevil #1

Image

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m rereading one of my  Valentine’s Day presents from last year: Essential Dardevil. What makes this so much fun for me is the artwork from Bill Everett. Over the years he has become one of my favorite pencilers and the black and white format really makes his art pop so much.

On the story side, Stan Lee presents a typical origin from this time. We start off with a brief flashback before going back and presenting Daredevil’s history. His origin is very straight forward; Matt Murdock was raised by his boxer single dad. Eventually Matt winds up losing his vision albeit in a noble fashion, and his dad’s life is ended by an evil boxing promoter–appropriately named the Fixer. Matt winds up training to confront the Fixer and winds up becoming the super hero that we know and love called Daredevil.

The funny part of this story is the fact that there’s a blind guy sewing together the costume, developing a spring loaded grappling hook weapon and becoming a master gymnast/fighter. Matt became much more talented once he lost his vision. The other is that Matt’s best friend, co-lawyer Foggy Nelson and their secretary Karen Page both notice that he’s been disappearing frequently. But they never confronted him once during the issue.

Daredevil #1 really wasn’t the best written first appearance of a character especially when you compare it to some of the other stuff Marvel was putting out at the time. But what makes this great, again, is Everett’s artwork. It’s really strong.

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Daredevil

Let’s look at the many–well not so many–costumes Marvel’s blind super hero Daredevil has worn into battle over the years. Matt Murdoch first donned his devil inspired costume in  April 1964’s Daredevil #1. He wore this red and yellow costume, which was designed by co-creator Bill Everett (of Namor creation fame) and Jack Kirby.

That costume only lasted for six issues. The Daredevil book was now being drawn by the great Wally Wood who switched him to his iconic all-red look. It works; Daredevil looks like a red devil, functional yet intimidating enough to evildoers in Hell’s Kitchen.

As a result of 1994’s “Fall From Grace” story line, Daredevil decided it was time to get a new more protective look. He came up with this black and red costume that features plate armor alongside over-sized shoulder and knee pads. It was the 1990s, what did you expect?

What I did like was that his billy clubs/attack poles condensed into his gauntlets. This look seems to get a lot of hate, but I thought it looked cool.

During last year’s “Shadowland” crossover, Daredevil was possessed by a devil, took over the Hand ninja clan and attempted to take over Manhattan. To show how evil he was, Daredevil took a cue from Darth Vader and went to an all black look. Either that, or it has a slimming effect on him. Once exorcised, he went back to his traditional look.

I kind of liked this for two reasons:

  1. In the made for television movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil pretty much sported this look.
  2. In 2004, I met Marvel legend John Romita at the Baltimore Comic Con and chatted with him about a few things. We discussed how he thought that the Daredevil costume should have been all black, but no one else agreed with him. That said, it was cool seeing how right he was once I found out about this.

Oh and let’s show a bonus Daredevil costume. The D-lister D-Man (a shortened version of his name Demolition Man) is a professional wrestler turned metahuman super hero.

His costume is an intentional knock-off of both Daredevil and Wolverine. And for whatever reason, I think Daredevil’s costume works better on him than on Murdock.

When I first started paying attention to comics, this confused the heck out of me due to him looking like two different characters. D-Man is still popping up in the Marvel Universe, currently taking up the role of the villain-murdering identity Scourge of the Underworld.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#10 Namor the Sub-Mariner

Let’s face it–Namor is awesome. He’s technically both Marvel’s first super hero but the first of its mutant characters. Created back in 1939 by Bill Everett, he’s consistently been one of the best in comics.

In his earliest appearances, the half-Atlantean, half-human prince of Atlantis was an anti-hero. He was really arrogant and hated the surface world. He would get upset and rip the antenna off the Empire State Building. Sometimes he would flood Manhattan, sometimes brawl with the original Human Torch.

But sometimes, at the urging of his would-be policewoman Betty Dean, Namor would help the surface world, whether it be fighting the Nazis during World War II or catching criminals.

When Namor returned to comics in the 1960s they played up the fact that he was torn between two worlds. He wasn’t necessarily respected as the ruler of Atlantis because he was pink-skinned like the surface dwellers. He loathed mankind, because they didn’t respect him as a leader or the ocean. Namor is constantly at conflict with the world around him. To top it all off, he’s also completely self-absorbed. Why else would he run around in his green speedo for the last eighty years? Namor thinks–and knows–he’s royalty and constantly demands to be treated that way.

What makes Namor likable is how much he cares for Atlantis and his people, even though he is not truly one of them. His outbursts against the surface world are to protect them and their honor. He would do anything to ensure their survival, whether it’s ally himself with Doctor Doom and have them relocate to Latveria, or have them form a mutual protection with the mutants on Utopia at the urging of his former lover Emma Frost.

So to those of you who think Namor is just a more scantily clad version of Aquaman, think again.