John Romita's Spider-Man audition continues over from Daredevil #16. This issue concludes the two-part arc.
|Reprinted In:||Daredevil (Vol.1) Annual #3|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Daredevil #1|
|Reprinted In:||Pocket Book: Daredevil|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Visionaries, John Romita, Sr.|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man's Greatest Team-Ups (TPB)|
This issue's cover is just as stark and focused as the last one. Again, there are a few buildings in the background but the action is narrowed down to Daredevil kicking the Masked Marauder in the chops with the spider-signal shining on the wall behind him. The Marauder is colored in blue, green, gold and white instead of his usual purple for some reason. John Romita will continue to draw these focused covers when he moves over to Spider-Man starting right away with the background buildings and foreground of Peter captured by the Goblin in ASM #39, August 1966.
No symbolic splash page for this one. No illustration taken from later in the issue. Last time, Spidey was ready to take out Foggy Nelson whom he suspected of being Daredevil. Now, Spidey shoves Foggy halfway out the window he broke when he entered, insisting that the attorney "admit who he really is and why he's been attacking me"! Feisty Karen Page grabs Spidey around his right wrist trying to hold back his punch. Foggy, not at all intimidated, says, "Jonah Jameson is right about you! You're a genuine full-time nut!" And Matt Murdock stands in the background, casting a Daredevil shadow on the wall for only the reader to see. . Last issue, Matt seemed only concerned that his intervention would reveal his secret identity. Now he seems to have rationalized his inaction. "I've got to wait and see it through", he thinks, justifying this decision because "I know in my heart that Spider-Man won't really harm him".
Maybe not, but Spidey seems to have no qualms about dangling Foggy out of the window, hanging on to him only by the back of his suit jacket, trying to elicit a confession, taunting him with, "How'd you ever get the nickname 'The Man Without Fear'? You're even afraid to admit who you are!" But a desperate Karen Page answers Spidey with, "Have you ever had the courage to admit your identity to the world?" and this calms Spidey down enough for him to bring Foggy inside again.
Peter doesn't know what to think. If his spider sense is right, then Daredevil must be in the room but none of the three suspects seem likely. "How can you possibly think he's Daredevil?" blurts Karen, "Why don't you accuse me?" And Spidey would be willing to consider her but he's pretty sure Daredevil is a man. He also won't consider the possibility that DD is blind and his spider- sense tells him that Matt "really is a blind man". (The spider-sense can tell if someone is really blind? What can't it do?) This leaves Foggy, even though "he sure is flabbier than I expected him to be". Calling Foggy "Butterball", he sticks a finger in his face and tells him to watch his step from now on. Foggy replies with, "Why don't you accuse me of being the Hulk also while you're at it?". "Not a chance!" says Spidey. "He's too good- looking for you!"
With that, Spidey takes his leave, figuring that Foggy will soon come after him if he really is Daredevil. ("Hey! Who's gonna pay for that window you broke?" yells Foggy as Spidey webswings away. "I'll be glad to take care of it!" replies the wall-crawler, "All you have to do it catch me first!" And Spidey never does pay for that window, though, actually, after the jagged glass of the splash page, it doesn't even look broken anymore.) Crawling up the side of the building, Spidey decides to get home before Aunt May starts worrying, leaving the trio in the law offices to sort things out for themselves.
Matt continues to play the role of the helpless blind man and apologizes for not helping. Karen wonders what anyone could have done against Spider- Man and Foggy is so jealous of the awe in her voice when she mentions the web-slinger that he decides to imply that he actually is Daredevil, just so Karen will look up to him. "Surely you don't think Spider-Man could have beaten Daredevil?", he says, and this comment results in what Stan, in his footnote, refers to as, "seven thought balloons in one panel... undoubtedly a new world record!" Foggy, who hogs the action with four thought balloons, feels "like a heel" for giving Karen the wrong impression but he's tired of always being "Mr. Ordinary". He decides he can't "back out now. I've got to see it through!" Karen, with one paltry balloon, wonders why Matt is so silent. "Can it be he's envious of Foggy?" It's not like Matt but, still, "what man wouldn't wish that he could be Daredevil himself?" (So, Spidey's attack and Foggy's comment have done their work on Karen who now seems to think Foggy is DD even though she reminds herself that she has seen the two of them together "at the same time"! She rationalizes this by thinking that "Foggy might have hired someone else to wear a red costume to throw us off the track!" rather than coming to the more obvious conclusion that Foggy is not Daredevil. Occam's razor, Karen!) Matt, in his two balloons wonders why Foggy is playing this game. "If the underworld should get wind of this, he'll be a target for half the trigger- happy hoods in town!"
Foggy decides to head for home and Karen accepts his offer of a ride. Before she leaves, she asks Matt if he thinks his law partner could really be Daredevil. "Anything is possible, I guess", Matt lies, "But I just can't believe that Foggy is a costumed adventurer." Karen takes this to mean that Matt is envious of Foggy. "If only it was because of me", she thinks, "but I know it's only because he himself wishes he could be Daredevil. If only he'd give me some sign, that he cares for me! Even though he's blind, even though he's just a quiet courtroom lawyer, he's all the super-hero my heart could ever desire!" Aaaarrggh! Enough of this stuff! I'm all for the tortured romance elements that Stan liked to inject into his books but this tangled menage a trois makes Peter's troubles with Betty, Ned, Liz and Flash look positively normal.
As soon as Karen leaves, Matt whips off his outer garments and takes to the rooftops as Daredevil. He leaps out of the window, which is broken again, and gushes about how "the feel of the wind stinging my face" and "the countless noises of the city below ringing in my ears" is "like a tonic to me". "I need it", he says as he swings on a flagpole, "As a man needs air to breathe!" (Booorrnnn Freeeee! Uh...sorry.)
And here's the "More Marvel Masterpieces..." page for this issue which I'm going to ignore except to point out that ASM #38, July 1966 is one of the three issues advertised. This shows that this issue of DD was out at the same time even though it is dated "June 1966" and ASM is dated July. In other words, JR's Spidey work begins the very next month after this story.
As he executes various acrobatic moves around town, Daredevil comes to the conclusion that Spider-Man is not the real enemy ("He's young and hot-tempered and unbelievably powerful but I'd stake my life on the fact that he's not a criminal.") and decides to go after the Masked Marauder and his gang. The latest robbery having been at the World Motors Building, DD goes there in search of a clue. (He tells himself that the XB-390 plans must be recovered, though, as he somersaults onto the roof of the building, he admits that "I'd even go after the Marauder if the XB-390 wasn't the most advanced, most vital auto engine in existence today! It's the challenge, the thrill of battle, the danger! That's what really grabs me!") While clinging to the outside of the building, the Man Without Fear discovers an executive board meeting going on in the penthouse office. He balances on a ledge which is only a couple of inches wide and listens in. The Chairman of the Board (bald with a cigar clenched in his teeth and known as J.W.) is informing his associates that the Marauder, with the appropriate modifications, has in his hands "the greatest value to an enemy nation for weapons of war". One of the other men points out that the villain, "in his haste" neglected to steal the formula for fueling the engine. The CEO replies that the engine "can be fueled in a variety of ways". But, even so, this discussion gives Daredevil an idea for a trap.
In order to bait the trap, Daredevil needs help from an unlikely source.... J. Jonah Jameson. DD knows the best way to get JJJ to help is to "convince him that it will hurt the web-slinger", so, once he has made his way to Jameson's office, he tells the Publisher that he has a plan that will trap both Spidey and the Marauder. Matt tells Jonah that he needs to print a headline story. "I'll tell you what to say." "If this isn't a con, I'll do better than that!" Jonah replies, "I'll buy TV time and go on the air within the hour!" And, sure enough, forty-five minutes later, Jameson is on the tube, telling New York that "the Masked Marauder's theft of the XB-390 plans was a failure" because he didn't steal the fueling plans as well. (The speed at which Jonah gets on the air and the fact that the television camera says "JJJ TV" on the side makes me think that Jonah must have his own private TV studio right there at the Bugle!) "Although I cannot yet prove that Spider-Man is the brains behind the Masked Marauder", Jonah continues, "I defy anybody to disprove it!" Of course, Peter Parker is watching and he's not surprised that Jameson is accusing him of being "in cahoots with the Masked Marauder". "It's a good thing I wasn't in Rome when it burned!" he says, "He'd say that I'm the one who gave Nero a match!" Then he thinks of something else. By getting on the air and telling the Marauder that he didn't steal the proper fuel, Jameson has offered the villain an invitation to return to the scene of the crime. "Jameson should have kept his flapping mouth shut!" he says. Aunt May walks past as Pete watches TV and says, "Peter, do you feel all right? I thought I heard you mumbling to yourself! I don't think you should watch those crime reports! They might make you nervous, dear! You know how high-strung you are!" and then thinks to herself, "The dear boy! If only he weren't so frail!" (That's almost all of Aunt May's characterization in one panel! "Do you feel all right?" "I don't think you should watch those crime reports!" "High- strung." "So frail." It's all there!) Clenching a fist, Peter knows that Spider-Man must go out to the World Motors Center tonight to prevent the fuel theft from occurring. "And if Daredevil shows up" he thinks, "it could mean that he's the one who's in league with the Marauder."
Of course, the Marauder is watching, too. As Jameson (or "that loud-mouthed fool" as the Marauder calls him) offers a reward to anyone with info connecting Spidey to the XB-390 theft, the Marauder decides that his men will strike again "tomorrow night". "They'll never expect us to dare attack the same building so soon again! And that is why we will succeed." (Except, of course, now everyone knows that they need to steal the fuel so they probably will expect them to attack the same building so soon. That Marauder is just sharp as a tack, isn't he?) One of the henchmen asks if he should prepare the special truck but his boss vetoes that. He has a "far better... a far more daring plan!" (Oh, I just can't wait.)
And at the executive board of World Motors, the members of the board are also watching Jonah on television and they are beside themselves. "Doesn't he realize he's practically invited the Marauder to attack us again?", asks one. "That bumbling, blithering, bird-brained incompetent! He's a worse menace than the Marauder" says another, shaking his fist. J.W., who suddenly has hair and a mustache, orders "maximum protection and I want it fast!". On the roof above, using his super-sensitive hearing, Daredevil eavesdrops. "It worked!" he thinks, "Now to wait and see what happens!"
But, though he waits till dawn, Daredevil observes nothing unusual. (And Spidey doesn't show up at all. Didn't Peter say he would have to guard the building "tonight"?) Deciding that he has a "12 hour breathing spell", since the Marauder only strikes at night, Matt decides to go to his law office. Karen arrives fifteen minutes later. She asks Matt if he worked through the night, and he realizes he can let her believe so without having to lie. "In a way, I did!", he thinks. When Foggy arrives, and is greeted by Karen (she asks him if he's ready to "check the Ka-Zar reports" referring back to events that took place in DD #12-14, January-March 1966), he wonders if she is "actually speaking to me with new admiration, new respect after last night" when he let her believe that he is Daredevil. Foggy feels like a fraud "but if it will make me seem more glamorous, more romantic to her, it's worth it!"
Stan cuts short the law office shenanigans and jumps ahead to the following evening. Spidey is finally on his way to the World Motors building "after that blundering broadcast of Jameson's last evening" and he spots Daredevil heading the same way. "One thing's for sure!" he thinks, "It's not because he wants to buy himself a new station wagon." So Spidey swings in and confronts hornhead, saying "We've got a little score to settle". When DD tells him he must get to the World Motors building, Spidey responds with "To meet the Marauder, right?" "You night-crawling nincompoop", DD replies from a rooftop as Spidey webswings right at him (Uh... shouldn't that be wall crawling nincompoop?), "We should be working together, not against each other!" But even though Daredevil reminds Spider-Man that they fought together against the Ringmaster in the past (in ASM #16, September 1964), the web-slinger doesn't listen. So, once again the battle is joined. This one lasts for two pages with more moments of Spidey launching punches and Daredevil evading them. (A missed right hand followed by a missed left. DD calls Spidey "You juvenile jumping jack-in-the-box" while dodging that blow. The next right hand only strikes DD a glancing blow. DD responds by doing a handstand and kicking Spidey with both feet. Spidey follows by trying to punch DD while he's lying on the roof but misses again.) Finally, though, Spidey's speed and stamina are too much for the Man without Fear. The fight has winded him and he must take a few seconds to rest. But Spidey doesn't give him that time. He pastes DD with a hard left, yelling "Geronimo!" as he connects. (This must be Spidey's new thing. He yelled "Geronimo" when he leapt after the Looter in ASM #36, May 1966.)"Even though I managed to fall back with the punch, it still felt like a sledgehammer", thinks the scarlet swashbuckler. Still, Daredevil starts to rise to his feet to make one last-ditch effort when "the sound of powerful engines" distracts both combatants. It is a large yellow blimp descending toward the rooftops. The guards on top of the World Motors building (one of whom is named Dave) notice it, too, but they relax when they see that it is flashing "World Motors" in large letters on its side. (Oh, that crafty Marauder!) "We'd have made a couple of prize chumps of ourselves pressin' the panic button at the sight of one of our own advertisin' blimps!" says the guard who's not Dave except he does remark, "I never saw one flyin' so low before though...!"
In the pilot's cabin of the blimp is the Marauder and his cronies. The Marauder is bragging, as usual. When one of his flunkies says, "You still haven't slipped up yet!", the MM replies, "And I never shall! The Masked Marauder can outwit any enemy or any combination of enemies!" After getting that off his chest, he assembles his "first attack group" and tells them they will land in thirty seconds. Of course, they don't land at all. Instead, they lower a rope ladder from the dirigible so that they can climb down to the roof of the World Motors building. A few rooftops away, Spidey and Daredevil observe the activity. They realize that "most of the guards are in the street surrounding the building" so they decide to step in, with Spidey declaring, "I'm taking off first! Don't try to stop me, masked man... unless you want to prove you're in cahoots with the Marauder!" (Don't you love it when one masked man calls another masked man "masked man"?) "He's all yours, web- head" says DD, "I'll wait here in the cheering section!"
All of the henchmen have successfully climbed down (and the Marauder himself is only a few rungs from the roof himself) by the time the dim rooftop guards catch on. By then, it is too late. Feigning surrender, MM cons the guards into moving close enough so that he can use his opti-blast on them. ("They're within minimum range of my opti-blast now" he thinks as he fires. But shouldn't that be within maximum range?) With Dave and his partner blinded and on their hands and knees, the Marauder orders his men to "proceed as planned" but he hasn't prepared for a visit from a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man ("Defender of the weak, oppressor of the wicked and former handball champ of my entire neighborhood!") who swings in and knocks three henchmen sprawling. Joking all the way, Spidey tears into the purple-clad goons. He gets one in a hammer lock while socking another ("I thought you'd appreciate a little boxing lesson! It might come in handy some day in case some roughnecks try to take away your trading cards!"), flips one over his shoulder into another ("Haven't you learned yet that us good guys always win? It's the very first clause in our union contract!"), knocks two heads together ("I'm trying to make it as painless as possible but you guys have such slippery heads! There! When you wake up later on, you'll be as bad as new!"), pulls away a futuristic looking handgun from one goon with his webbing ("Better let me have that, sonny! It might be loaded!"), and then punches his lights out when the unarmed hood says, "Even without a gun, I'll prove you ain't so tough!" ("Look big mouth, do I tell you my troubles?"). In the end, only the Marauder is left. ("Okay, Marauder it sounds to me like they're playing our song!") MM seems mostly concerned that the web-slinger has "upset my vital timetable... an unforgivable act!" When Spidey makes his move, the Marauder calls him a "wall-crawling weasel" and then blinds him with an opti-blast!
The webhead is down on one knee, completely helpless. "Even my spider sense can't help me now!", he thinks. (Why can't it? I don't know. Ask Stan.) The Marauder prepares to finish the wall-crawler off but, before he can, Daredevil leaps in and knocks him to the ground. Recovering, the masked villain fires an opti-blast at DD and is taken completely by surprise when it doesn't have any effect. Daredevil doesn't reveal his secret to the Marauder but he thinks to himself for the benefit of the real slow members of the reading audience, "How do you blind a man who is already sightless?" While the Marauder is still yakking about the infallibility of his opti-blast, Daredevil clocks him in the jaw. MM tries to fight back with a weakened karate chop but Daredevil puts him to the ground with a blow to the solar plexus. The Marauder lets out a "Whuuupppff!" when hit. Daredevil's response: "Gesundheit!"
The sound of a revving motor alerts Daredevil to the fact that the Marauder's men have recovered and are trying to escape. Picking up one of the goons' discarded guns ("I can tell by the weight that there's only one shell remaining in the chamber so this shot has to do it!"), DD uses his radar sense to "sight" the blimp. He fires and the blimp goes up in a powerful explosion, sending debris flying and the Marauder's men falling back to the roof. But, don't worry. Daredevil hasn't killed anyone. He made sure that the men on the ladder were still low enough so that there wouldn't be any fatalities. But what about the guy flying the blimp? That motor didn't just start revving up by itself, did it? Ulp! Oh well.
And that seems to be the end of that. The rest of the building's guards arrive to collar the Marauder's men and the remains of the blimp burn out harmlessly on the roof ("Lucky the building is fireproof", thinks DD. Also lucky it all landed on the roof and didn't fall to the street.) Daredevil wonders how Spidey is doing. "The effects of the opti-blast should have worn off my now!" he thinks, though I don't know how he should know since he's had no previous experience with it. It so happens that DD is right and Spidey has recovered from the opti-blast. He watches from some wall even higher than the World Motors' roof as the members of World Motors' executive board arrive. They see Daredevil helping to mop up and jump to the conclusion that, if DD is innocent of teaming with the Marauder, Spider-Man must be guilty. Spidey figures his luck is running true to form ("I end up being the villain of the piece again, while that slap-happy hornhead comes out smelling like a rose!") only to hear Daredevil come to his defense. "You're all jumping to the wrong conclusion", says the scarlet swashbuckler, "No wonder Spider-Man acts so bitter sometimes. He was no more involved with the Marauder than I was! In fact, he's the one who tore into them, before I could even reach the scene." And it is then that Daredevil realizes that the Marauder has escaped. He leaps down to swing on a flag pole on his way to the street hoping to catch up to him. "I'll detect the rustling of his costume no matter where he hides", he says, but the villain is no longer in his costume. He has subdued a guard, stolen his uniform and left his victim tied up in his white t-shirt, green boxer underwear and blue socks. (But where'd he stash his purple costume and where'd he get the sheets he used to tie up the guard?)
Meanwhile, in the lobby down below, Karen Page runs into Foggy Nelson. She wonders if Foggy's presense at the scene of a Daredevil fight means that he is the super-hero. Foggy was only visiting his dentist on the third floor of the building but, not willing to give up the illusion, he plays along, telling his secretary, "Karen, I'll have to ask you to be more careful what you say in public! If Daredevil wanted his identity known, he wouldn't wear a mask!" Karen presses for a definitive answer. "Is Daredevil the man I've known as Foggy Nelson?", she asks and the lovestruck Foggy, hoping to score points, tells her, "I'm sorry, Karen! I cannot answer you! Please don't ask me again!" Karen reasons that Foggy would deny it if it wasn't so. Thus she decides that Foggy must be DD! She promises him she will keep his secret. Unfortunately, a building guard has listened to the entire exchange. It is the disguised Masked Marauder and he can't believe his luck. "Foggy Nelson, eh?", he thinks, "It's most convenient to know the real identity of the man upon whom you are planning a deadly revenge!"
As for the real Daredevil, he gives up his search for the Marauder and heads back to his law offices as Matt Murdock. At least "the Marauder's men talked, and the police recovered the XB-390" but somehow things still feel unfinished. Facing a window and holding his hands (and cane) behind his back, Matt thinks, "Somehow I feel that the Marauder will return more dangerous than ever before!" and wonders "And what of Foggy? How long will he continue his deception in order to impress Karen? As for Spider-Man... he too is out there somewhere... perhaps wondering about Daredevil... just as I am wondering about him!"
"Next Issue" Stan tells us, "You'll Meet the Gladiator!" Well, actually we won't be there because Spidey doesn't appear in it. But John Romita will be there. He's got two more issues of Daredevil to pencil before giving it up to be the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man. But that's not how Stan breaks it to the DD fans. In issue #20, he begins the opening credits with this note... "Jazzy Johnny Romita had to polish off the 25 cent Spider-Man Special this month, so look who generously offered to pinch-hit for ol'Ring-A-Ding this ish: Gene Colan." That "pinch-hit" turned into an almost continuous run for Gene Colan up to Daredevil #100, June 1973 and then occasional issues after that. John Romita never returned to the book.
In "Let's Level With Daredevil", Mrs. Don Walker of Dallas, Texas reads the latest Marvels with her two boys but wonders, "is there really such a mag as Monsters Unlimited? You have mentioned an edition called Monsters to Laugh At, which I assume is the same thing, but I've never found a single-issue of any of them? Is this one of your famous no-prizes?" Stan tells her that Monsters to Laugh With was changed to Monsters Unlimited and "to prove there really is such a mag, we're sending you a complimentary copy". I always liked when Stan did this sort of thing. Too bad it doesn't happen these days. Kent Watson of Craig, Colorado wants to know "what specifically are the small ears on Daredevil's head for?" They're his horns, Kent! Get with it! And when Jim Sullivan of Omaha, Nebraska says, "I couldn't help but notice John Romita's superior penciling", Stan lets the cat out of the bag with his reply, "and just wait'll you see the job ol' Ring-A-Ding Romita is doing on your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, too!"
The final touch:
Spidey doesn't forget that he pinpointed Daredevil in the Nelson and Murdock offices and he sends a letter to Matt Murdock accusing him of being Daredevil, which is read by Karen and Foggy in the last panel of Daredevil #24, January 1967. When Karen confronts Matt in DD #25, February 1967, he is forced into inventing his twin brother Mike and telling them that Mike is Daredevil. Of course, Karen and Foggy want to meet Mike and so Matt takes on the role of his imaginary twin brother until killing Mike off in DD #41, June 1968. Spidey doesn't actually learn for sure that Matt Murdock is Daredevil until DD tells him in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #110, January 1986. Matt had previously learned Peter's secret when he recognized Spider-Man's heartbeat in PPTSSM #107, October 1985.
The mystery of the Masked Marauder continued for another ten issues. (Though, to be honest, it never was much of a mystery.) He showed up periodically, first teaming with the Gladiator (in DD #19, August 1966 and DD #22-23, November-December 1966), and later joining with Stilt-Man (in DD #26-27, March-April 1967. In #19, he figures out that Foggy is not Daredevil when the real DD shows up to defend Foggy from the Marauder's thugs. In #22, he creates the Tri-Man, an android animated with the strength of the Mangler (a wrestler), the moves of the Dancer (a safecracker) and the genius of the Brain (an underworld figure). In issue #26, he is revealed to be Frank Farnum, the manager of the building in which Nelson and Murdock maintain an office. (Though he was originally introduced in issue #18 as "Mr. Dunn". No explanation was given for the name change. And note that, like Norman Osborn with the Green Goblin, Farnum is not introduced until after the Marauder first appears.) In issue #27, which also guest-stars Spider-Man, he reveals his identity to Daredevil, Karen, and Foggy, only to tumble out of a helicopter into a force field to his apparent doom. But though the cover of that issue promised "The Honest-to-Gosh End of the Masked Marauder" he turns up years later in Iron Man #60-61, July-August 1973, revealing that the destructive force field was, in reality, a teleportation beam. He meets Iron Man again, along with Jack Russell in the pages of Werewolf By Night #42-43, January- March 1977 in which he creates his Tri-Animan and then faces Spidey and Daredevil again in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #25-28, December 1978-March 1979 in which he makes the same mistake he made in this issue; trying to blind the already sightless DD with his opti-blast. Since then, as far as I can tell, Farnum has moldered away in prison. Or has the Marauder made an appearance in the last twenty years that I don't know about? Anybody?
Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)
You can pretty much take my comments on Daredevil #16 and use them again here on #17. I love Johnny's artwork. I love the fight scene between Spider- Man and Daredevil. I love the facial expressions on the characters: Matt's helplessness, Karen's concern, Foggy's guilt about pretending to be Daredevil, J. Jonah Jameson's transition from anger to glee at hearing DD's news, Peter's shock, and the agony of the World Motors board members. But, again, the story is routine and the Masked Marauder, for all his boastings of genius, is really a bit of a lunkhead.
It's the same rating as #16: three webs.
Next: Ditko's last Spidey. ASM #38.