Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Special Cheap Reprint Edition: Spidey Battles Daredevil

Amazing Spider-Man #16, September 1964
(By Lee and Ditko)

Two years after their triumphant debut in the pages of Incredible Hulk #3, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were scrabbling around for ideas for the next issue of Amazing Spider-Man. In the past three months, they'd brought us Mysterio! The Green Goblin! and Kraven the Goddam Hunter! How could they top that? How indeed...

Our tale begins with Peter Parker, the spectacular Spider-Man, rescuing a helpless blind man from a gang of robbers. This being the Marvel Universe, though, it's not just any blind man. Oh no.

With deductive skills like this, our blind man could work as some sort of stage mesmerist, amazing the crowds with his apparent clairvoyance. As you doubtless know, his interests lie elsewhere.

Yes, folks, it's Daredevil, in his crappy black and yellow outfit, the one which Demolition Man would one day adopt. Now, did you see there, how Stan The Man effortlessly tells his audience all they need to know about the guest star in just two panels? The art of introducing guest stars is a lost one, judging by current issues of many titles.

Anyway, at the office...

Nice of Foggy and Karen to invite him, but you have to wonder why they bothered. They have, I assume, noticed his blindness, which presumably reduces the effectiveness of visual-based entertainment.

Now, did someone say 'circus'..?

Well, lookee, lookee, that green coat looks mighty familiar...

Yep, it's him, Maynard himself, back out of the slammer and, in contravention of many parole requirements, reunited with his criminal cohorts. What's your nefarious scheme this time, Mayny?

Ah, there we go Pretend that Spider-Man's going to appear at your circus, attract a sell-out crowd, then fleece them. Ingenious! What can possibly go wrong?


Now, then. Imagine you're the Ringmaster, you're halfway through your show, just ready to pull out the ol' hypno-hat and mesmerise your audience, when Spider-Man shows up. Do you (a) look on as Spider performs some neat acrobatic twists and turns, send in the clowns, do a few card tricks, and hot-foot it out of town, counting your lucky stars that he hasn't recognised you and hauled you back to jail, or (b) press on with your scheme anyway?

Go on, guess...

And with that, the Ringmaster does his thing, and the audience, Spidey included, are under his influence. Unbeknownst to the Ringmaster, however, one man in the audience is not under his spell. Yes, you've guessed it, Matt Murdock has changed his mind, and decided to play gooseberry on Foggy and Karen's date, and, being blind, the hypno-hat has no effect on him. Whatcha gonna do now, Maynard?

Now, this might, on the face of it, seem like a pretty good tactic on the Ringmaster's part. Hypnotise one foe into attacking the other, and escape in the confusion. However, I think the next three panels show quite eloquently why hypnotism is actually a bit shit.

When giving orders to your hypnotised slave, it's very important to consider your words carefully. The use of the phrase "Kill Daredevil!" might have been wiser than Maynard's choice of words.

From here on in, it's downhill for the Circus. Daredevil grabs the Ringmaster's hat, releases Spider-Man from his trance, and the two of them pummel the Circus into unconsciousness. In fact, such is the level to which the Circus is outmatched, that Daredevil abandons Spidey halfway through the fight, and goes back to join his friends. It was perhaps at this point that the reader should realise that the Circus may never make it into the big supervillain team league...

This, inventory post, originally presented in my other blog, back in 2005.

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