Friday, December 13, 2019

Thou Shalt Not Imitate

While browsing the comics rack, there are occasions when an issue's cover might have one feeling compelled to pick up a mag out of sheer curiosity. In mid-1967, there were surely more than a few readers who couldn't resist finding out the circumstances of this meeting:

Barely perceptible, we see the figures of the Cobra and Mr. Hyde (wouldn't you think a man like Hyde would insist on top billing?) lurking in the background, so we know they've got something to do with this--but aren't we really wondering how Daredevil can expect to throw down with Thor? And could we also be thinking that, this being Marvel, somehow that's going to be made possible?

We'd later see that Daredevil would give a good accounting of himself battling Hogun the Grim (albeit waging an uphill battle)--but how does he hope to prevail against a storm god? For the answer, we have to turn our attention to Hyde and the Cobra, the unknowing catalysts for this meeting, who are feeling confident enough in their power to have word of their activities reach any ears in the city.

And since these two had originally cut their villain teeth in battle against Thor (another curious mismatch, though balanced in a way by the fact that it was two against one), Daredevil, rather than trying to locate the pair through normal channels or an extensive search, instead cooks up one of the most nutty plans to ever come our way.

Try as you might--and you may well have--you can't really un-see this, can you.

Of course, the other half of this pairing isn't exactly thinking straight, either, as Donald Blake blows off his work in order to track down a Thor impersonator, on the knee-jerk assumption that whoever it is must be someone sinister--when the first thought of you or I would be that the guy is probably just a thrill-seeker, or someone trying to get media attention, or just a flat-out nutjob, characters not unheard of in New York City.  (Or, these days, practically anywhere.)

Unlike Daredevil's billy club, Thor has an enchanted hammer which leads him right to his quarry--a man who practically takes himself out of this match just by trying to get out of Thor's way. But as fired-up as Thor is about this, he's not going to let the matter drop so easily. (Something Blake should have probably done from the start.)

With Daredevil's cover literally blown, the time comes for DD to explain his ruse--yet Thor now finds a problem with DD's plan, convinced that the crime-fighter's power would be insufficient against the two he seeks. And so, the basis of their contest becomes just that: a contest to gauge Daredevil's ability to face the Cobra and Hyde, and at Daredevil's instigation, no less. As Captain America once declared, you meet some strange folks in this business.

As for our two villains, they happen to show up on the tail end of this mock fight--and their timing couldn't be better, given Daredevil's eagerness to locate them.

Unfortunately, DD's boast to Thor of proving his mettle against these two doesn't pan out in the end, with Hyde exposing our hero to a solution that deprives him of his super-senses and leaves him truly blind--a story we'll have to reserve for another time. (However, we can probably assume that Don Blake's radio will be switched off for the duration.)


Big Murr said...

That crazy cover ruse worked time and again on me. I bought titles I never looked at twice because of a match-up like this one with Thor and DD. Some, like this issue would have been, were too silly for words and I sighed at being played for a sucker and didn't continue buying the title. Others made me an intrigued potential fan. Your last post with Iron Man resurrected memories of exactly this. I can't remember what cover/story tempted me to buy The Invincible Iron Man for the first time ever, but I then stuck around for a while. But not forever. All those Iron Man comics went away in a purge long ago, without much regret.

If this issue of Daredevil had been published even five years later, they would have caught the young Murr in their net, guaranteed. I did (and do) like me some Thor! But even that naive lad would not have paid another cent for Daredevil

Comicsfan said...

They say it's all in the presentation, Murray, so you and I are in good company when succumbing to the lure of a well-presented cover that tempts us with what we might find inside. It's all in good fun, as long as there's a measure of truth to what we'll be seeing--I remember a Defenders cover that crossed the line in that regard, and it was a blight on an otherwise excellent cover.

Anonymous said...

Ah, remember the days when all these Marvel superheroes met for the first time?
Of course, there was almost invariably a contrived misunderstanding which led to a fight, but it was a big deal. Stan really relished his crossovers. You could really get a good cover outta that. "It had to happen!!!" They would jump outta the spinner racks.

Now they all got each other on speed dial, probably. And it gets harder and harder to come up with excuses to fight, now that that they're all on a first name basis and keep up with each other on Skype.


B Smith said...

Okay, I'm slow on the uptake today - what was the one little detail Matt got wrong with his Thor garb?

And do you think it was deliberate, or is it more likely that Gene got it wrong and by time it was detected, it was easier to just note it in the script, rather than get it corrected in the artwork?

Comicsfan said...

B, it was actually more of a teaser that really had nothing to do with the Thor disguise per se: On the next page, DD realizes that he should hold the hammer in his other hand, since Thor is likely right-handed. The whole did-you-notice prompt stemmed from Colan's panels which depicted DD making a point to switch the hammer to his right hand, which Stan apparently decided was an ideal way to involve the reader in having a little extra fun with the story. (Though having our attention drawn to what would have otherwise been an insignificant scene, we notice that DD is only guessing that Thor is right-handed, yet he makes the switch anyway!)