Essential Daredevil - Volume 1: Reissue Paperback – May 9 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Drawings are simple, but dynamic, in the first part. But with Gene Colan as penciler, what a pleasure! Daredevil is really born with Gene.
The early issues with Joe Orlando hold their own, but when Wally Wood comes around with Sub-mariner it gets even better. John Romita's first appearance in issue 12 with Ka-zar also improves upon his predecessor. There is nothing here that is going to take your breath away, but if villains such as the Owl, Gladiator, Electro, and the Fixer give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or at least some sort of memory, you need to have this. If you haven't really experienced the silver age of comics yet, you're probably better off starting with ol' Spidey and the FF first.
The major problem I have with these early issues is not so much the lack of originality or redundancy, it's the cliche love triangle and occasional inconsistencies. The first 3 issues show promise, with Matt aloof and uninterested in Karen's feelings towards him. But in the next issue, Stan Lee decides to make him into an old softie, something that really clashes with DD and Matt. The inconsistencies are more forgivable, sloppy mistakes, such as when Foggy later mentions his proposal to Karen that was turned down, when in fact he never went through with asking her in the first place. Ah well, the meat of what's here is still great, and will go great between Captain America and Defenders Essentials on your shelf.
It turns out my local library system had the Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1 containing his first twenty-five issues from the 1960s.
So below are my thoughts:
Origin: Matt Murdoch loses his sight in accident while trying to save a blind man from being hit. Due to radioactive material, he not only develops stronger senses as is typical with blind people but also extremely enhanced senses that also completely compensate for sight giving him a sort of radar vision among other things.
Murdoch's father, a boxer, is murdered for not fixing a fight. But he has urged Matt not to make his living with his fists. Matt honors his father's wishes and graduates from Law School but is unable to focus on his work until his father's brought to justice. He designs the Daredevil costume. He'd been teased by kids in school as a "Daredevil" and adopted that name. He set out to find his father's killer and took care of that in Issue #1. And thus begins a long career of crimefighting.
The Supporting Cast: Foggy Nelson, his law partner and Murdoch are in love with the same girl, their secretary Karen Page. Karen cares more for both Daredevil and Murdoch than Nelson. Foggy is a somewhat insecure and vain character, although he can be heroic in a pinch. In one arch, Spider-man sees Daredevil going into Murdoch and Nelson's office and concludes that Foggy is Daredevil because it couldn't possibly be the blind guy. Foggy than tries to subtly convince Karen he's Daredevil, putting their lives at risk.
Karen tends to be a little irritating. The art of Gene Colan art makes her look more attractive than earlier issues, but she's a little too focused on Matt's blindness. Her ability to make assumptions plus her guilelessness goes a little beyond innocent. She never truly does anything stupid, but she's no Mary Jane Watson.
Plot and Character: The book has been criticized for its B-grade villains and to an extent, it's true. The original Daredevil villains tend to be a little lame with character like the Matador and Stiltman and the Purple Man is a bit weird.
However, the stories are swashbuckling fun. The quality of villains picks up in Issue 6 when he meets the Fellowship of Fear that includes one villain who can fire a ray that induces large amount of fear-a big challenge for the Man Without Fear.
The Masked Marauder may be a bit of a generic character but he does work as a mastermind foil for Daredevil. The Gladiator and Tri-man are great physical challenges and even the Owl improves on his second appearance.
In addition to that, Daredevil meets up with Spider-man, Kazar, and the Submariner in this book. While some may dis Stan Lee's writing, I love it. He gives the stories a conversational air. I found myself chuckling at his notes several times and while most fans seem to hate the introduction of Mike Murdoch (Matt's Alleged twin brother (really Matt himself) meant to cover his secret identity), I thought it was an amusing and fun bit of 60s craziness.
No, you don't have great villains, but the book is pure Silver Age fun.
The character of Matt Murdoch is interesting. He seems to be addicted to adrenaline, which would seem to be his prime motivation for carrying on as Daredevil after his father's murderer was caught. He knows things are traps but boldly walks in wanting to see what will happen. Occasionally, The Man Without Fear acts like the Man Without Sense.
Clearly Matt feels constrained by what people expect of a blind man in terms of being helpless. In Issue 24, he declares that it feels like Matt Murdoch is the mask while Daredevil is the real person. A nice serious character conflict to go with all the fun of these books.
Overall, this is just a wonderful version of the character before Frank Miller had his way with him.
I also see a kind of theme with these heroes. The guys with medical/health problems, Matt Murdock and Tony Stark, fall in love with their seceritaries! And then they come up with a reason why they can't be with the aforementioned beautiful secretary like 'I'm blind and my best friend loves her anyway' or '...I've got a heart condition...'Spiderman's probably the only one with an actual girlfriend!
Matt's friend Foggy isn't really anyone to complain about. A normal, superhero's best buddy guy. Karen isn't much different than Foggy, except she's not male. Even so, they're interesting enough characters.
The reason I gave Vol.1 4 stars is the assortment of 'villans'. To be honest, probably half of them are just plain stupid. Stiltman? Leap Frog? PURPLE MAN?!? Don't get me stated on him. Get the Purple Man together with some other Marvel villians like Mr.Doll (Iron Man), The Unicorn (X-Men), and Mysterio (Spiderman), and you've got the Effeminant Four! Anyhow, ignoring my rant, thre are some villians that are all right and some anti-heroes (The Sub Mariner& Ka-Zar, namely) that were definately appreciated after the Purple Man. If you miss the good old days when comics didn't take themselves that seriously I'd recommend this as a good read.