Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Single Issue Review: Daredevil #12

I was flipping through this one today and thought with current events in the world it would make for a topical review. This is Johnny Romita's first effort for Marvel. Daredevil had struggled to find a regular artist during its history. The first issue was drawn by Bill Everett, #s 2-4 by Joe Orlando, and #s 5-11 by Wally Wood. Wood bailed to start up Tower Comics, as I discussed. So this marked what might have been a long run at Daredevil for Romita, had fate not had other plans for him.

As the story begins, Matt is leaving Karen and Foggy behind. Believing that Karen doesn't love him, Matt has decided to go on a long cruise to leave the field open for Foggy. But as he boards the ship he hears a passenger ask a curious question:

And Stan doesn't put those foreshadowing bits in there for nothing:

But the pirates hadn't planned on DD being aboard:

Unfortunately for DD, the Plunderer has a trump card in the form of hostages. Surprisingly however:

Does that reply by the Plunderer sound more than a little gay? Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that this comic has some very weird displays of affection going on. From another part of the story check out this:

The Plunderer is your classic loony:

We learn that his ship can convert to a submarine and that his hideout is called Skull Island which is located in a hidden land (of course, Ka-Zar's hidden land). But when they arrive at Skull Island, it has been raided by the Swamp Men. Before the Plunderer can seek his revenge against them, however, he is raided by Ka-Zar and Zabu. We get the obligatory good guy fight scene:

But later, when Daredevil is wounded, Ka-Zar remembers the courageous way he fought and brings the fallen hero back to his cave. The issue ends on a cliffhanger note, with DD near death's door as Ka-Zar tries to get some medicinal berries from a man-eating plant:

Comments: I really like this issue. The bit with the Plunderer not actually robbing the cruise ship seems unlikely, but it's a classic 1960s spy thriller plot device. Romita's artwork (with layouts by Kirby) hits home in every panel.

Update: A more critical reaction at the Comic Treadmill several years ago:

This story, involving pirates, the Savage Land and international intrigue, was beautifully suited for Kirby and Romita’s art. And it looks pretty. But what the heck was Daredevil doing in the middle of this? Like Spider-Man, Daredevil works well in an urban setting and stands out like Capt. Underpants at a JLA meeting when moved into fantasy realms.

A fair criticism. One thing is obvious about Stan Lee; he did things by the seat of his pants and often struggled for awhile to find appropriate villains and settings for his characters before hitting his stride.