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DD Book Club - Electro and the Emissaries of Evil

 
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1633

PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2021 10:18 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Electro and the Emissaries of Evil Reply with quote

Spider-Man: No Way Home is out this weekend. Based only on the trailers (and nothing else), it seems that Spider-Man will be facing a bunch of his foes, including Electro. Might as well try to duplicate that by having Daredevil face a bunch of his foes, including Electro in his first ever Annual, written by Stan Lee, penciled by Gene Colan, and inked by Frank Giacoia and John Tartaglione.

Daredevil Annual Vol. 1 #1 - Electro and the Emissaries of Evil

Quote:
Daredevil’s hands are full with not one villain…but five! The Emissaries of Evil have the odds stacked against the Man Without Fear, but never underestimate a hero’s resourcefulness! Plus: “Inside Daredevil”, a peek into the powers, identities, and personal life of Matt Murdock.


Due 12/25
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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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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1300
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2021 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can imagine that if I were a ten-year-old boy in 1967 that I would have loved this annual. This issue's purpose is obvious: to stoke interest in a fledgling character. With the page count increased to 39 pages for the main story, artist Gene Colan has so much more room to draw stunning splash pages, along with larger panels.

Colan, along with writer Stan Lee, did not overthink the plot here. Five of Daredevil's foes have combined their forces to exact their ultimate revenge. That's it. That sets up an issue where Daredevil has to fight, and then fight again, and then fight again. Colan is more than up for the challenge, and Lee gets some genuinely funny quips in. I especially like one that comes in a fight with the Matador:
Quote:
Matador: Caramba!! I have defeated the most deadly toros in a thousand bull-fights!
Daredevil: Save your breath, buddy -- I'm no booking agent! You can show me your scrap-book someday!

There are some odd things that didn't last past the 60s, like Daredevil's consumption of "nutriment" capsules. Were they a thing that existed in reality? Are they meal replacement pills? Also can you prevent a head injury by placing your hand between the floor and your head? It sounds dodgy to me, and I think even the most charitable kid might be momentarily taken out of the story by that, which is a shame, because we really didn't need that to happen and it doesn't end up adding to the story at all. I understand you want to make Daredevil seem human and vulnerable, but get him out of the jam in a believable way.

Otherwise, this issue is a lot of fun. Daredevil defeats this collection of villains in a clever way, and he ends up coming across as a formidable hero. I don't know if this annual gave Daredevil a temporary sales boost, but I wouldn't be surprised. Lee wouldn't be on the book too much longer, and judging by the back-up story "At the Stroke of Midnight" that may have come as a relief to Colan, but Lee knew how to engage the imaginations of young readers, and while this isn't the most sophisticated work he ever did, it's a perfect example of why Marvel was so successful in the 60s. I give this a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1633

PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2021 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an annual, this issue is extra long. This allows a greater opportunity to breathe, so we're given a long introduction of Matt working out and then searching for crime to fight and mostly come up empty. Honestly, when I see this, I'm mostly just confused how he can afford an entire building inside Manhattan.

Luckily, we don't have time to ponder that for long because we stumble upon the Matador and Electro conspiring. The plan is simple, they get revenge on Daredevil. And the fight begins almost immediately. The fight is drawn pretty well by Gene Colan and Stan Lee's dialogue is at the top of his game. When Matador asks if Daredevil forgot about him, he responds "Just between us, chum, you're at the very top of my list forgettable people." I do wonder if there's a bit of a disconnect between Lee and Colan, though, at the end of the fight. Stan Lee's tendency is to make superheroes larger than life, which creates odd situations where their actions have to be intentional. So, instead of being shocked by Electro and actually struggling afterwards, he manages to just get grazed and is playing possum. However, the art shows that he's so shaken up that he can't even swing properly.

I think the issue does a good job building suspense of which villains he's facing. It helps set the scene with a few individual fights, but it doesn't forget that the main fight is five versus one. I think the big disappointment comes with the relatively weak rogue's gallery. Stilt-Man is arguably the second strongest, Gladiator is third. Leap Frog as the big surprise guest doesn't do much at all. The only real threat is Electro, who is a Spider-Man villain. Still, the fight itself is very good and I think makes the issue exciting.

After the story, there are some nice pin ups and a few little background/recap pages that aren't worth mentioning. There's also a cute little story starring Gene Colan and Stan Lee that's clearly already starting to contribute to the Stan Lee mythos but in the classic self-deprecating way that Lee was very good at.

Four Stars. The weak villains undermines some of the excitement, but I think the extra space was very good for Colan to draw this action story.
_________________
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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