Wednesday, February 27, 2019

At The Will Of Doom!

After foiling a scheme by Doctor Doom that transferred the villain's mind to the body of Daredevil and vice versa, in order to facilitate a scheme of revenge against the Fantastic Four (because Daredevil is so much more formidable to the FF than Doom--someone explain that to me), the Man Without Fear was frankly surprised to find Doom willing to release him without further incident. But there is often method to Doom's madness--and his revenge against the super-team could still succeed with his use of Daredevil, with just a slight bit of tweaking.

And so the FF are now gunning for Daredevil while under the impression that Doom is using his body, with Daredevil none the wiser! Granted, it's a longshot on Doom's part, since the FF vs. Daredevil can be considered no contest and the FF aren't in the business of murder. But Doom will no doubt chalk it up as a win, for its amusement value if nothing else--and as for Daredevil going down fairly quickly in this skirmish, from the surprise guest-stars in this story it appears we're looking at a cover-to-cover battle issue, and all-out war!

And consider this interesting tidbit: While it's true that an earlier story featuring the Sub-Mariner's hunt for Warlord Krang played out in both Tales To Astonish and Tales Of Suspense, do the stories in Daredevil #38 and Fantastic Four #73 represent Marvel's first mainstream crossover tale?

Since the FF usually aren't in the habit of waiting for an attacker to strike, the Human Torch represents their sortie in bringing the attack to Daredevil. But if the Torch is expecting to be a match for Doom, whom he believes to be in Daredevil's body, he underestimates the opponent he's truly facing.

And therein lies the problem of this approach to the story, putting all of its stock as it does in the deception that Doom has put in place. Daredevil will spend a good deal of his time trying to convince the FF of his bona fides, with the dialogue repeatedly asking: how does he do that? Yet the answer is staring the FF in the face with practically every maneuver Daredevil executes.  Daredevil's acrobatic skill is not a "power," much less a super-power--it's the result of conditioning and training, two things which Doom, with all his brilliance, couldn't possibly duplicate to the degree that Daredevil demonstrates throughout this story. Holding off the FF with Olympic-level flips, leaps, and tumbling? That's not the slightest bit unusual to see Dr. Doom managing to pull off?

You'll also notice that writer Stan Lee scripts Daredevil's engagements with the FF somewhat differently than what artist Jack Kirby has depicted, the result of necessary editing which has at times been needed when these two creative talents are paired. Kirby has already begun alternating the appearance of Daredevil's eye slits, but that's a minor quibble in relation to what we'll find as we go along.

Rejoining Daredevil, we see that company has arrived in the form of Spider-Man, who is eager to lend DD a hand. What's confusing about this scene is the testiness that DD shows toward him, considering he should be grateful for the help. If, in the back of his mind, he's afraid additional muscle will escalate his situation with the FF, it should already be apparent to him that ship has sailed; fortunately, however, Spider-Man doesn't wait for his approval.

At first glance, you might think that Thor would be overkill--yet Thor, recovering from a battle with the Wrecker, has recently been the victim of Odin's tantrum displeasure, leaving him with only his natural strength to battle with. As a result, the face-offs we see on this issue's cover have this newly formed strike team reasonably well-matched against the FF members they're about to face. Unfortunately, the FF will make the assumption that Doom has upped the ante and created lifelike robots of Thor and Spidey in order to add to the danger against them.

Daredevil, however, decides not to wait for Spider-Man to return, and has already begun to face heavy resistance from his foes--who aren't exactly patient, considering that the appearance of "Doom" on their doorstep likely means that he's disposed of the Torch.

(There are times when it seems that every device Reed invents has the potential to destroy the entire city. Let's hope Sue remembered to unplug that dishwasher.)

As thrilling as it often is to see Daredevil go into action, Lee has begun to compensate for Kirby's panels that have him wading through the FF--e.g., a kick that floors the Thing is instead explained by Reed training on him that weapon we saw from page one. Though even Lee can't keep up with everything; Daredevil, for instance, hasn't one iota of super-strength, and yet he breaks free of Reed, whose grip could restrain anyone with gym-level strength with ease. Equally preposterous is that Daredevil can then sling Reed's body around as if he were the Sub-Mariner.

Meanwhile, the second wave arrives to take some of the heat off of Daredevil; but as visually exciting as Kirby paces the battles with the supporting players*, he appears to enjoy showcasing the struggles between Mr. Fantastic and Daredevil the most.

*Have you noticed that the Torch has twice now been maneuvered to take himself out? The kid is his own worst enemy!

But as the battle winds down to the point of both Reed and the Thing on the verge of prevailing against their respective opponents, it's the Invisible Girl--on the verge of removing herself from active duty due to her pregnancy--who arrives to put an end to Doom's plan, which for all intents and purposes the good doctor appears to have set in motion as mostly an afterthought while he tends to business back in Latveria.

Tsk. A shame nobody thought to apply the Thing's observation to Daredevil, eh?

Fantastic Four #73

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Artie Simek


Big Murr said...

I think you may be correct on this being the first cross-over. Ah, an innocent bit of fun would devolve across the years until a fan can't collect a title for more than a half-dozen issues in a row before being required to buy some title he has zero interest in buying. It evokes heavy sighs within me to reread my old collection and have some issues bounce wildly in a speed-bump with the blurb on the splash page "Confused why (Hero) is wearing a pink tutu and a top hat? Check out issue #121 of "(something I never bought", probably still on sale!"

Comicsfan said...

Murray, a few days ago I was thinking along the same lines as your comment while preparing a future post that mentioned the Operation: Galactic Storm crossover, which spanned seven titles and heaven knows how many parts. In the particular issue I was researching, I happened to glance at the notation above the cover banner, which read "Part 17"--and I could only shake my head in astonishment at the thought of readers having to seek out each and every part of that series and keep such careful track of everything. I'm not usually one to deride continuity, since it's that very concept that helped Marvel build its readership in the first place--but in these multi-crossovers it was arguably abused, IMO.

Big Murr said...

And this example of "Daredevil" being continued in "Fantastic Four" seems simplicity itself, especially compared to that convoluted "Galactic Storm". However, what a modern collector might not appreciate was that these two comics came out way before specialty comic shoppes. The only source for "funny books" were the spinner racks at drugstores, supermarkets or convenience stores, where the proprietor just had the magazine distributor deliver a random assortment of titles. Certainly no inventory monitoring. There were times I couldn't get the next instalment of a two-part story in the same book, let alone skip to another comic entirely.

Not to ramble on ad nauseum, but this marketing strategy is really flawed. When these two comics came out, my income was a weekly allowance of 25¢. A 12¢ comic I had not budgeted for was a major expense consideration. The numbers have changed in these modern times, but the budgetary considerations are essentially identical.

Anonymous said...

I'll be the first to agree that crossovers later got WAY outta hand, but the sheer coolness of that cover and the chance to see all these cats together in one issue musta blown some young minds back in the '60's. Thor vs. the Thing! As a kid I might have been tempted to hold up a liquor store (or maybe a lemonade stand with a slingshot)for the money. I didn't pick up a copy of this till I was in my thirties, and it cost a heckuva lot more than 12 cents by then but fortunately I had the cash and didn't have to resort to a felony.
i just love that cover!


Big Murr said...

M.P. I cannot deny that! The potential in that cover probably made me pee a little as a youth standing at the spinner rack.

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