Daredevil (Vol. 1) 1964 Year In Review

Early “house” ad for Daredevil, found here

How Many Issues?

Five: Daredevil #1-5, published bimonthly. Daredevil also appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #16 and 18.

Creative Team:

Plotters: Stan Lee (#1-5), Bill Everett (#1), Joe Orlando (#2-4), Wally Wood (#5)

Scripter: Stan Lee (#1-5)

Pencillers: Bill Everett (#1), Joe Orlando (#2-4), Wally Wood (#5)

Inkers: Bill Everett (#1), Steve Ditko (#1), Sol Brodsky (#1), Vince Colletta (#2-4), Wally Wood (#5)

Was It Good?

No, it was not. One of the main factors was the artwork. Three pencillers and five inkers over five issues is a lot of turnover. The art was fine, but not great; actually, the fact that none of the pencillers were trying to mimic Jack Kirby made this title fairly distinct. However, there was a lot of inconsistency from panel to panel in these issues, and that weighed the book down.

Another factor was the quality of villains. The Fixer wasn’t very interesting, and then he died after supplying Daredevil with an origin. The Matador and the Owl were poorly developed and had unfathomable motives. Electro felt a bit misplaced and overpowered compared to DD, but he at least felt like a legitimate super villain. The Purple Man was the most interesting foe of 1964, but even his plot didn’t make great use of the character.

The biggest problem was the stories themselves. These plots are the worst full-length superhero stories that Marvel has published to date. To be fair, this is also the only full-length superhero title that doesn’t have Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby co-plotting and drawing it. But these stories are bad. The subplots are super-clumsy, the villains have bizarre motivations, and Daredevil does some truly ridiculous things. The only way to make this material work would be to play it for laughs, and that is definitely not what Stan Lee & co. are attempting.

What About Sub-Plots and Continuity?

It can be fun to track the minor story points throughout a year’s worth of comics to see what ideas were developed and which were quietly dropped.

  • The law firm of Nelson & Murdock gets their first super-powered clients in Daredevil #2: the Fantastic Four. While their firm will eventually be a staple of superhero law in the Marvel Universe, Nelson & Murdock we’re fired at the end of that issue.
  • That ties into another odd trend where Nelson & Murdock wind up representing villains that Daredevil later fights. Both the Owl and Purple Man came to DD’s attention this way.
  • Daredevil underwent a couple of costume changes already. He had a backpack for two issues (Daredevil #3-4) and changed the logo on his chest to the classic interlocking double-D’s (Daredevil #5).
  • Readers are bluntly reminded that Daredevil is, in fact, blind in three of DD’s seven appearances in 1964. Considering that I’m not counting his origin story in that tally, that seems like a lot.
  • There is a love triangle in play! Karen Page loves Matt Murdock (even though he is *gasp* blind!), and both Matt and Foggy Nelson are in love with her. These has been zero romantic chemistry shown between any of these people.
  • Karen tries to convince Matt to undergo surgery to potentially cure his blindness (Daredevil #2-3). Matt has resisted so far, because he does not want to risk losing his super powers.
  • Matt cannot decide what to do (romantically speaking) about Karen. He:
    • was attracted to her right away (#1)
    • realized that he felt strongly about her soon after (#3)
    • decided to not share his feelings because A) she doesn’t need the burden of a blind man and B) Foggy apparently also loves her (#4)
    • decided to propose to Karen anyway, until he learned that Foggy also planned to propose (#5).
  • Foggy has purchased an engagement ring to propose to Karen, but has not popped the question yet.

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