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DD Book Club - The Stiltman Commeth!

 
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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 983

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:08 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Stiltman Commeth! Reply with quote

People were requesting a break from Bendis, so we're going with something completely different here before the Kingpin returns next week. And how could we get anything more different than this? That's right true believers, first they introduced The Owl, then they introduced the Purple Man, then we saw the Matador and Mr. Fear! Now it's possibly Stan the Man's greatest creation - The Stiltman! As the Marvel Age of Comics Strikes Again!

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 8 - The Stiltman Cometh!



Due 3/4
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The Overlord
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Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1095

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am going to be a bit easy on this issue some slack, its riddled with Silver Age silliness, but is likely one of Stilt-Man's better stories.

The reason why I am giving Stilt-Man some credit here, is because there is a mystery about who he really is and Lee tried to throw some misdirection at the reader, by having Wilbur Day appear meek and Kaxton act like a jerk. Also having Wilbur sue Klaxton and hire Matt as his lawyer is an interesting way to get Matt involved and kinda throws some more misdirection at the reader. Granted it seems needlessly brazen for Day to sue Kaxton when he is the one who ripped off his boss, rather then the other way around, but then again, I have heard of some pretty brazen law suits and maybe Day is one of those sociopaths who gets a thrill out of being brazen. I do like Stilt-Man setting up a distraction at the beginning of the story, having a car with no brakes and a bomb on board causing trouble, so the cops and heroes would be distracted while he committed robberies.

I wonder if Stilt-Man would work better as a one shot villain rather then a reoccurring bad guy, I think like him better here as a white collar criminal of sorts trying to steal from his boss, then in later stories where he became a full on greedy criminal with a gimmick all the time, that made him more generic. Stilt-Man even apparently died in this issue, so the writers had an excuse not to use him again. Stilt-Man remained kinda of generic bad guy, till Miller decided to turn him into a punch line and for the most part that is where he has remained in the comic relief section. Jenkins tried to make Stilt-Man into a psycho back in the mini in 2001, but that didn't take. Even Stilt-Man defeat here is not the most dignified and started a trend of humiliating defeats for the character:

http://daredevil.dreamhosters.com/ttstilts.htm

Now on to the silly stuff: Daredevil's billy club having tech in it that allowed him to ease drop on conversations seems silly and unnecessary, when his super senses can do that, making the billy club that tech related makes it much like Batman's utility belt. I also felt Stilt-Man evaded DD too easily, it almost made DD's attempts to catch him seem half hearted. Also the cops trying to ram Stilt-Man's legs with a car made them seem stupid, its never a good sign when the cops have to seem stupid make the hero look good. There is also no good reason why Matt couldn't have have used his senses to find out Wilbur was lying from start, but I suppose that is the problem with trying to have a mystery story in a DD comic, DD's powers let him discover the truth faster then others. I could ignore it and check it up to his powers not being as well defined in this early era, but he does use his lie detector powers later in the issue, so that is kinda confusing.

There is also seem more Matt and Karen melodrama here and it is a bit cringey. Karen constantly pestering Matt to get an operation to restore his sight goes from well meaning to badgering in a hurry and Matt believing Karen can't be with him while he is blind is not the most politically incorrect thing to appear in a Silver Age comic book, not by a long shot, but it doesn't do the character much favors and seems to exist jut to pad out a love triangle.

Anyway, I will give this issue a solid 3 stars, it has its flaws, but I think it has some virtues, but its not among the best Silver Age Daredevil stories. Sometimes Silver Age silliness can be a nice change to Bendis' decompressed story lines.


Last edited by The Overlord on Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 901
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue immediately follows Daredevil's battle with Sub-Mariner. While that still holds up as an all-time classic, this one... doesn't.

The first page gets the goofiness started in a hurry. A woman is about to get hit by a driverless car. Wally Wood fails to give her a fearful expression, which makes her immobile stance kind of pathetic. Stranger still is Daredevil's requests for her to keep screaming -- as if a woman in peril during the Silver Age would ever stop screaming.

The driverless car bit provided some quality action, and Daredevil assumed it was a distraction. Stilt-Man never 'fesses up to it being a distraction. There is nothing to indicate that it was linked to Stilt Man. It's just sort of a dropped plot point. It's fair to assume Stilt Man did it, but it's just as likely it's some test conducted by the Organizer, who makes his debut two issues later.

Stilt Man's crimes aren't bad. He's a true threat to that helicopter. If there are valuables in helicopters and on rooftops, he's the likely crook to nab them. A limited specialty, but still...

Stan Lee's choice to reference Daredevil's radar sense is frustrating at times. I know he co-created the character, but how would it be Daredevil's radar that reveals the time bomb under the car hood? Why wouldn't he be able to hear it, and come to a reasonable deduction?

I agree with the Overlord: The snooperscope is silly. I like that Matt has since come to find it within his hypersenses to accomplish what the snooperscope once did. Yes, he has to meditate to do it, and maybe Stan didn't want to go all zen-master with the character in June of 1965.

The love triangle between Matt, Karen and Foggy is nauseating to say the least. I still say that Karen didn't become interesting until Miller made her a junkie, and she didn't become cool until Nocenti took over as writer. I don't know if it was acceptable in 1965 to think a blind man would be unworthy of love.

The mystery between Kaxton and Day was well-handled. A new reader would probably assume that Kaxton was the villain, since he was such a jerk, while Day was completely sympathetic.

My favourite panel in this issue follows Daredevil jumping for Stilt Man who retracts his legs and shrinks out of the way. We see a bird's eye view of Matt suspended in mid-air, hanging on to nothing, the cars on the street below looking like ants. I know, I know -- the billy club is clearly visible in his holster, but Wood perfectly captured the danger in Daredevil's stunts.

I don't know if Wood also coloured this issue, and I don't know if the colours in Marvel Masterworks reflect those in the original 1965 issue, but I find the choice to use a more burgundy shade for the costume on page 16 instead of the brighter red lends the action more intensity. It's a similar shade to the one used in much of Volume 2. I didn't expect to see that shade.

But, I found it particularly frustrating how often Matt screwed up this issue. He looked very ineffective for much of this issue. The only thing he managed to do cleanly was get the car to the river. After that he failed to capture Stilt Man in the following ways.

1. Page 5: Daredevil detects Stilt Man for the first time. He chases him around a corner, and no longer detects him. Obviously the villain retracted his legs very quickly to become normal sized. Nowadays, Daredevil would have latched on to the heartbeat so he wouldn't lose him. Oh well.

2. Page 8: Daredevil grabs on to Stilt Man's leg. The villain swings his leg and dashes Matt against a wall. Daredevil loses another round.

3. Page 11: This one isn't against Stilt Man, but Kaxton. He is on top of Kaxton's car, but the rich man flips a switch and electrocutes Daredevil, who manages to fall into an open manhole. He still loses Kaxton.

4. Page 13: Daredevil is climbing up Stilt Man's leg, but the villain greases his stilt and retracts it quickly, sending our hero into the river.

5. Page 16: Daredevil punches Wilbur Day, who shoots a steel control panel, causing it to topple on our hero, allowing Day to get into the stilts.

6. Page 17: Daredevil sends his billy club cable to grab the ray gun, but he manages to turn it around. Daredevil shouts, "I didn't plan it this way! It's an accident!" So that's another screw up. It ends the battle in Daredevil's favour, but it's the latest in a long list of screw ups.

Even Foggy is pissed off at Matt by the end of this issue, and he doesn't even know he's Daredevil at this point. Matt's lucky he didn't know.

If this was a kid's first exposure to Daredevil, I can imagine that they'd think he was a pretty lame hero, and what could you say to defend him based on this issue? He screws up a lot.

I'll give this a two out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New York in the 1960s must have been a very unsafe place with their driverless timebomb car missiles. Even banks have switched to delivering things by helicopter since you can't rob someone in the sky. Unless the robber has a hydraulic stilts that let him stand dozens of feet in the air. More seriously, I like the zany, frenetic pace that this issue starts off with. It makes you feel there isn't anything being wasted. On panel layout, I normally dislike having a long panel from top to bottom on the left side. I feel it spoils things that are coming if your eye wanders. But it works well with Stilt-Man because it helps convey his size effectively while keeping the focus on the top half of the panel. Good job Wally Wood. I also think there are wonderful panels of DD swinging through the city that look quite good.

On the car plot, though, I hate when Daredevil's senses are built up as better than seeing. And driving a car is a particular pet peeve. It feels like Stan Lee is going out of his way to undermine his own premise of Daredevil being blind because he doesn't really like heroes with flaws.

On the Matt Murdock side of things, Wilbur Day wants Matt's help to sue his boss for stealing his designs. I hope it was as obvious to readers then as now that the design is directly related to Stilt-Man and it'll further the story. But, even leaving that aside, I appreciate that Stan Lee is going out of his way to find as many different areas of law to include in his book as possible. While I think he does a disservice with the blind thing, he's willing to milk the lawyer thing for all he's able (which, admittedly, isn't all that much).

I think this issue is the invention of a very important visual device - the EKG lines at the bottom of a panel to indicate someone is lying. I also think the issue also does a good job of keeping the focus on Klaxton with Stilt-Man as opposed to Day. The lie detector is inconclusive. Matt chases Klaxton only to lose him just before Stilt-Man appears. Klaxton has some shady inventions as well.

On the other hand, while I admired the frenetic pace, everything changes suddenly when Matt realizes Wilbur Day is lying, Day tried to take him out for barely any reason at all, and a random superweapon is added to the story. That's not frenetic, that's just flying by the seat of your pants. Even the B Plot with Matt and Karen and Karen wanting to get Matt eye surgery is wrapped up pointlessly in a few panels at the end after having gone nowhere.

Still, I think the first half of this issue is fun and its creative. Stilt-Man is a strange concept, but I think they do a solid job of making it seem plausible while not taking itself too seriously. I like the mix of law, superheroics, and mystery, but the story more or less falls apart by the end. I'll give it Three and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:

The first page gets the goofiness started in a hurry. A woman is about to get hit by a driverless car. Wally Wood fails to give her a fearful expression, which makes her immobile stance kind of pathetic. Stranger still is Daredevil's requests for her to keep screaming -- as if a woman in peril during the Silver Age would ever stop screaming.


Her face is a bit odd. On the other hand, I appreciate actual acknowledgment of his limitations so, as odd as it seems, I'm cool with it (compared to practically everything else in the issue). It's pretty funny out of context, though, and makes Daredevil seem sadistic.

Quote:
I don't know if Wood also coloured this issue, and I don't know if the colours in Marvel Masterworks reflect those in the original 1965 issue, but I find the choice to use a more burgundy shade for the costume on page 16 instead of the brighter red lends the action more intensity. It's a similar shade to the one used in much of Volume 2. I didn't expect to see that shade.


There's another page where Matt's hand appears to be purple. I kind of want to find a scan of the original images to see if it's an error in the recoloring or not.
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Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Darkdevil
Humanity's Fathom


Joined: 04 Apr 2009
Posts: 331
Location: The Bright, Sunny South

PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, this was good ol'fashioned Silver Age goofiness and fun.

First off, the tech may seem inappropriate now but then, it seemed necessary. Lee may not have thought out the full measure of all of Matt's hypersenses and so, buffed things up with the use of tech like the snooperscope. It added to the superhero appeal and plus, allowed for the one of the more unique aspects of the Silver Age, the tech drawings. The cutaway diagram of his overstuffed billy club cane was great (everything was miniaturized transistors back then) as well as the cutaway diagram of his apartment with the secret areas.

Here, Stilt Man comes off as being more impressive. His success against the police coupled with his being able to elude DD boosted his confidence and his audacity. The concept itself may sound ludicrous but I thought Lee did well in showing the difficulties in trying to stop someone equipped in this fashion.

The mystery surrounding Stilt Man's identity played out well too. It was a nice switch from the obvious choice. But the addition of the super weapon at the end was too much. My first thought was, Stilt Man isn't dead, he merely got shrunk down into the Microverse.

The love triangle was cringe-worthy, pure soap opera. The question of would Matt lose his abilities should he regain his sight seems like an honest concern but Karen's insistence upon it (and what it would mean to any relationship she may have with Matt) almost borders on nagging.

Wally Wood's art is a joy to behold. His ability to ascribe DD with a natural grace of movement is amazing (that shot of him falling away from Stilt Man was terrific).

This was fun to read, three-and-half stars.
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