Or – “How Do You Quantify The Sum Of Something’s Parts?”

There is an occasional misconception that we at Major Spoilers favor one of the “Big Two” companies over the other.  My own pull list as of this afternoon consisted of twelve different publishers, with a majority of my books coming from uber-giant Marvel Comics, while Stephen is intent on sampling as many different genres and publishers as he can find, and the bulk of Rodrigo’s reading history favors Marvel stalwart, the X-Men.  Where I think this assumption comes from is a lower percentage of Wolverine, Deadpool and other “big books” in our reviews here at Stately Spoilers Manor (although Steve’s love of Batman and my Legion of Super-Heroes fanboy status probably don’t hurt as well.)

Being the active reviewer with the longest history of reading comics, as well as a self-styled comics historian, I will counter any argument that I hate Marvel with a litany of Marvel awesomeness ranging from Will Everett’s Sub-Mariner work to Lee/Buscema Silver Surfer to Gerber or Kraft issues of Defenders to the superlative first 20-odd issues of the original New Mutants title.  But as with anything, when you ask me about great Marvel books, I’m going back to basics.  If you think that Daredevil started out in 1978 as Frank Miller’s homage to ninjas, then I’ve got a Retro Review for YOU, dear friend.

Daredevil #7
Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Wally Wood
Inks: Wally Wood
Letters: Art Simek
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Previously, on Daredevil:  The son of boxer Battlin’ Jack Murdock, young Matthew was blinded at an early age by a freak accident involving a truck full of toxic waste and good intentions.  Growing up with a “radar sense,” Matt Murdock trained himself to the peak of human fitness, turning childhood taunts into a second identity for himself.  An attorney by day, he spends his nights in the streets of New York City, fighting evil with his trusty billy club and sheer chutzpah.  Ironically, the Man Without Fear wore primary yellow in his original costume, making for an odd visual inconsistency.  At this point in his history, Matt Murdock, his law partner Franklin “Foggy” Nelson have set up shop with the help of his beautiful crush/secretary Karen Page, and there aren’t any ninjas, Greek assassins or fat guys in stripey pants to be seen.  We do, however, have the King of Atlantis in this issue, as Namor the First agrees to an audience with Warlord Krang of Atlantis, a political rival who wants to overthrow the humans and colonize the surface world…

The “cause of the alarm” is Subby himself, deciding to resort to the ways of the surface-world and retain a lawyer to argue his claim to kingship in the court of law!  Wanna guess which law firm he manages to wander into?  Wally Wood’s art in this issue (his third, I think) is simply amazing, especially his work on Sub-Mariner, later echoed in his T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents work with Andor the humanoid.  Namor’s every move conveys his regal nature, and even riding to the surface on a couple of sea-turtles doesn’t look goofy (okay, doesn’t look AS goofy) under his pen.  Foggy & Matt try to convince Namor that his case has little merit, but the King sets forth on a path of destruction, swearing to FORCE the courts to recognize him and his sovereignty.

More distinctive, more comfortable and roughly 1000 times less butt-ugly.  This is the first appearance of the crimson suit and the linked DD symbol, and it really looks phenomenal in action.  Of course, it eventually leads to Ben Affleck having a seesaw fight with his future bride, but that’s not important right now.  Stan Lee’s early Marvel stories are always a hoot to read, filled with a joyous energy, and this one is no exception, as a vastly overmatched Daredevil goes into action to try and keep his erstwhile client from getting blown up by the U.S. Army.

Major miscalculation on Matt’s part, there, but it all works out for the best.  Impressed with his foe’s valor, Namor valiantly decides to save Daredevil from drowning by flinging him to the surface (and allowing him to die from nitrogen in the blood like a real warrior.  Heh.)  With the Air Force and Army holding their fire in case of hitting DD, Namor gets the perfect chance to turn himself in and plead his case in court…

The panel with the busting handcuffs should have been made into a poster or a t-shirt somewhere…  Getting his day in court (though not putting on any clothes, choosing to wear a greatcoat over his shoulders in an inadvertantly hilarious moment) Namor is moments from speaking to the judge when his consort, Lady Dorma arrives.  In his absence, Krang has led an uprising to steal the throne of Atlantis out from under him, and Namor curses his duplicitious advisor and sets off for home.  He is talked into staying 24 hours, but when the trial is pushed back by the judge, he rips his way out of jail, smashing jeeps and crushing guns with his bare hands on his way to the sea.  Thanks to a couple of new gadgets in his billy club, Daredevil quickly makes the scene and once again faces a man who can crush his skull like an eggshell in battle!

The answer to the question you’re asking in your head is “Because the tiny wings on their ankles allow Namor and his cousin Namorita to fly.”  Daredevil gets free and brings Namor down to earth, and then gets creative in his battle with the Sub-Mariner, hitting him first with a wrecking ball (!!) and following up with a clawful of rock from a handy earthmover.  (By contractual obligation, New York City in the Marvel Universe must always have twenty blocks of abandoned warehouses and no fewer than thirty empty construction sites at all times.)  Namor rips down a light pole and nearly swats the Man Without Fear like a bug, but Daredevil quickly turns the tables.

And that, for those of you paying attention, is called in professional wrestling parlance, “The Rub,” whereby a successful character puts over another as a credible threat.   Daredevil’s courage has convinced Namor to end this week’s war on humanity and head home to put down the rebellion in his homeland (homesea?) without additional bloodshed.  As for Matt Murdock, when he regains consciousness, he returns to his secret identity of successful visually-impaired attorney with huge unrequited ‘thing’ for his assistant…

I do wonder why Foggy and Karen don’t ask Matt about his own obvious injuries from the battle, but it’s a happy ending, so why quibble?  Stan Lee is a master of spinning melodrama into gold, and even on a lower-tier (or honestly, bottom-tier) hero like Daredevil, the dialogue is interesting and keeps the flow of the story moving, even with what Rodrigo calls the “Wall Of Text” nature of Silver Age comics.  Wally Wood’s theories on art are simple:  “Never draw what you can copy; never copy what you can trace; and never trace what you can cut out and paste up,” but somehow the effect of his work is stunning, even years later.  The issue’s final splash pin-up of Namor and Daredevil is just flat-out gorgeous from top to bottom, and the overall effect of this issue is powerful and vital and pure Marvel madness.  Daredevil #7 is a key Silver Age issue for a reason, folks, and it’s probably my favorite issue of the book until the Harlan Ellison-written #208, and earns a Merry Marvel Marching Society perfect 5 out of 5 stars overall.  Now, I’m sure, somebody wants to take me to task for not featuring enough DC…

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Am I an elitist for being angry at today’s comics just because I have read damn near all of the stories that they’re consistently revamping, ripping off, rejiggering and revisiting?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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11 Comments

  1. November 29, 2010 at 7:36 am — Reply

    (Question) I don’t think so. Especially now, with all the freedom the “talent” gets compared to then. My opinion is that the companies have gotten lazy and fans act too much like sheep (especially when they buy something they hate). So I think you’re justified when you complain about the modern work when they have it easier than those before them or when the modern “talent” decides to take a chainsaw to a story that is considered classic.

    P.S. : I think that people think you guys favor DC more since Stephen talks mostly about Batman; you talk mostly about Legion; and Rodrigo doesn’t talk about what he favors in comics much. I also think most of the people who say you favor DC are Marvel fans; so next time you’re asked again (and you will be asked AGAIN) just say “Because DC didn’t make Superman sell Lois to Neron so he could have Pa’ Kent back.” ;p

  2. markw
    November 29, 2010 at 11:31 am — Reply

    It’s mostly Stephen that drives that perception(no offense intended). You guys might cover a Brave and the Bold episode and a Marvel trade in the same week, but it’s a very different conversation. The discussion of B&B episode is mostly centered around an indepth continuity discussion of the DC universe, while the Annilation trade discussion was somewhat focused on “Who are all these people?”. While your approach that week was very balanced, and didn’t favor either of the Big 2, the podcast still comes across that it’s “led” by a person who could teach a master level class on Batman’s history, but doesn’t know who Drax or Annihilus is.

    Though I would say the podcast itself DOES seem to lean a bit toward DC. Just thinking about the podcast, it seemed perfectly natural that you guys would do a show just on each of the final issues of Final Crisis, or had a special episode centered around the recent LOSH #1 with guest stars. But I would have been VERY suprised if you guys had an episode in which Matthew and Rodrigo broke down Siege #4 page by page, or if you did a special podcast with some people from an Avengers podcast about the relauch of the Avengers books ealier this year.

    Not that there was anything wrong with those episodes, I enjoyed them a lot, but I can see where a typical podcast lister – espcially one who favors Marvel over DC – would get the impression that Major Spoilers favors DC over Marvel.

    Maybe some X-Men hero histories might help change the perception? ;)

    • November 29, 2010 at 11:55 am — Reply

      I’ve said it before, and I will say it again… If Marvel wants us to cover more Marvel product, all they need to do is send it to us… Since they don’t (or won’t), then we are all pretty much relegated to covering the stuff we have access to. Ever wonder why we cover so much BOOM! Dynamite, Image, and smaller publishers on the site? BECAUSE THEY SEND US REVIEW COPIES! :D

  3. markw
    November 29, 2010 at 11:49 am — Reply

    But whichever of the Big 2 Major Spoilers actually favors, I appreciate the fact that you guys seem to mostly discuss what you’re interested in discussing. The show comes across as a natural outgrowth of your comic fandom, not as a calculated attempt to reach the largest audience possible.

    • November 29, 2010 at 11:59 am — Reply

      There are many people that contribute to this site (Matthew, Rodrigo, Mike, George, Jack, Rob, and so on), so I can’t speak for them, or for Major Spoilers as a whole, but it is no secret that most of my monthly books come from DC, followed (in order) by BOOM!, Dynamite, Image, Marvel, Dark Horse, and then a smattering of other companies.

  4. Jim
    November 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm — Reply

    This is so bizarre because I read this very issue last night (I started the first DD Essential awhile back and picked it up again last night on issue #7). Matthew, get out of my head!!!

    Seriously, I totally agree with your review. Stan Lee is overrated for so many things but I think he’s actually underrated as a writer (in the early days, anyway).

    Also, props to MS for reviewing back issues regularly. Comics in general doesn’t acknowledge the value of its old stories enough. The good ones are way more impressive than the new stuff (though it’s hard not to read the current issues to say in the know).

  5. November 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    wow guys… leave them alone. They do the cast for free, twice a week. Just download and love it or don’t download. If they want to do all DC comics then let them, its THEIR show.

  6. Damascus
    December 21, 2010 at 2:50 am — Reply

    I like Marvel more than DC, yet I really have been buying way more DC titles within the past year or two than Marvel, so I don’t know what that says. Ultimately since I’m a Marvel fan, if I were podcasting I’d probably have a heavier slant toward Marvel because I know the material better. I’m not Matthew about it or anything, but I generally know who a lot of the people are. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reviewing what’s already in your realm of knowledge. I also don’t see what MaximusRift said as anything bad, just him stating how he perceives it. I see the podcast the same way, I see like Stephen says, that they review a ton of BOOM titles and such because they offer the books to them and even if DC isn’t sending them books (I don’t know) Stephen’s got a lot of overhead to think about and may review what he’s already got coming to him. It’s not like they have all the TPB’s that they’re going to read lying around already.

    My idea for all my fellow Marvel fans who want the Major Spoilers crew to review more Marvel books, you listening? Instead of commenting about how they don’t cover enough Marvel, send them a nice big donation that will cover the cost of a marvel trade, and even attach that to the donation. I’m certain that if you provide Stephen and the guys the money to buy the new trade of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’ll get reviewed on the site in one form or another. I’m obviously not part of the site, so this isn’t official, but it can’t hurt.

    By the way, Matthew, nice review. I was looking at that issue the other day, my supervisor brought in some of his collection and along with Fantastic Four #2, Captain America #36, the first appearances of Elektra, Kingpin, Silver Surfer and Galactus, death of Gwen Stacy, and on, he also had the original run of Daredevil from issue 1-10 with him and more of the set at home. It was pretty sweet getting to look at some of those old books, granted you get to do that all the time with your collection and working at Gatekeeper Comics and Hobbies, Huntoon and Gage, Topeka, Kansas.

  7. April 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    The linked DD symbol actually debuted in issue #5!

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