Marvel Super Heroes #22

 Posted: 26 Nov 2023
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


Okay, my mistake. The only reason we’re here is because this issue reprints the cover of Daredevil #1, April 1964, and I thought that the cover was already reprinted in Marvel Super Heroes #1 (1966) where the story was reprinted. But a look at my review reminds me that that issue reprinted the story and not the cover. So why not reprint the cover now when they finally get around to reprinting Daredevil #2, June 1964? That story doesn’t have Spidey but it does have a Spidey foe in only his second appearance. Plus, we’ve got a reprint of X-Men #3, January 1964 with the debut of the Blob.

Story Details

  Marvel Super Heroes #22
Summary: Spider-Man Cameo (On Cover of Daredevil #1)
Reprints: Daredevil (Vol.1) #2
Reprints: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #3

Since the original covers are not used on this cover, where did this cover come from? It looks like it may have come from the story itself but it did not. Instead, it’s a Jack Kirby/John Verpoorten cover created specifically for this issue. (It’s initialed “J.K./J.V.” in the bottom left corner of the X-Men section.) The cover donates three-quarters of its space to the X-Men fighting the Blob while the lower fourth shows us DD, in his original yellow costume, standing on a rooftop. The blurbs even favor the X-Men, referring to the Daredevil story as a “Bonus!”

In spite of this, it is the Daredevil story that leads things off with The Evil Menace of Electro! The story is by Stan but the pencils are by Joe Orlando, who is mainly known for his EC and DC work. He only did three issues of DD (#2-4) before turning the series over to another EC veteran, Wally Wood. (The Vince Colletta inking here doesn’t do Joe’s work any favors.)

Now, Stan had a pretty good sense of how to start a new comic series. You put your most popular characters (namely Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four) on the cover of the first issue, then you highlight the popular Thing on the cover of your second issue, while pitting your new super-hero against a villain who recently debuted in your popular Spider-Man title. (Electro first appeared in ASM #9, February 1964 while this DD story originally appeared at the same time as ASM #13.) Then, on a splash page with a symbolic mix of the cityscape, Daredevil, Matt Murdock, and Electro, you add this blurb: “Electro! This sensational super-powered criminal became an instant sensation when he first appeared in the Amazing Spider-Man #9! And now he returns, more sinister than ever, to face another mighty Marvel Super-Hero…and this, the thrilling account of their epic battle, may well be remembered as long as literature endures!!” If that doesn’t hook the kid browsing the comic book rack, I don’t know what will. And, just to make sure that kid browser is really hooked, Stan starts the story with the Thing barging into the offices of Nelson and Murdock, breaking the door to Foggy Nelson’s office in the process. Karen Page, Foggy and Matt’s secretary, has just entered to tell Foggy that there is an “unusual client outside” but Foggy is more interested in flirting with Karen by telling her “Don’t ever change that craaazy perfume you’re wearing.” After the Thing fixes the door by using pressure to weld the pieces back together (which I don’t think would work), he tells Foggy that the FF need to sign a new Baxter Building lease and want a lawyer to look it over. Foggy tells him that that kind of work is more in Matt Murdock’s bailiwick. Karen gives the Thing her one photo of Matt so he can “feed it to our electric-eye watchdog gizmo” at the Baxter Building. Then the Thing is off to Washington with the rest of the FF who have been waiting outside the office windows in their Fantasti-Car. (Seeing Karen, Sue Storm thinks, “What an attractive hairdo! I’ll have to try that sometime!”) Then they are off, not to be seen again until the last page of the story.

And where is Matt Murdock? He’s doing his Daredevil thing, taking out six car thieves in their “camouflaged garage.” All trussed up, one of the thieves says, “I wouldn’t wanna be in Daredevil’s shoes when the boss finds out about this” and another says, “Yeah! Electro will make mincemeat outta him!” So, Electro is in the car stealing business? Well, not for long. Looking on as the cops take his men away, he says, “Bah! I was bored with stealing cars anyway!”

Back in his “hidden hideout,” Electro watches the news and hears that the FF are in Washington, DC. “to receive a Presidential medal.” He decides that this is the perfect time to “break into their headquarters! I’ll steal their scientific secrets and sell them to a hostile nation for a fortune!” At the same time, Matt Murdock is on a rooftop near his office, changing out of his DD duds and wishing he “had a more difficult challenge to face,” never a good thing to wish for when you’re a comic book super-hero. On entering the office, he finds out about the Thing’s visit and that “he wants you to inspect the FF headquarters and make sure the lease they’re about to sign is in order.” (I thought he wanted him to inspect the lease. Why would you send a blind man to inspect FF headquarters?) Karen tells Matt that she may have found an eye specialist that could cure his blindness and Matt must pretend that his disappointment is due to fearing that an operation would not work. As Karen thinks, “I’d marry him in a minute, even though he’s blind…if he’d asked me,” Matt thinks, “I’d rather be blind and be Daredevil than be an average normal man.” Then he’s off to the Baxter Building but Electro gets there first. He deactivates an alarm and enters through a window. Matt arrives soon after and gets admitted by the “electric-eye watchdog gizmo” but “his super-sharp senses react to a feeling of danger.” (Don’t ask me. It’s not like he’s got a spider-sense.) By the time Electro turns on a viewfinder to see who the “automatic receptionist” let in, he finds himself facing Daredevil. Being the “master of electricity” and all, he goes to Reed Richards’ dynamo, surrounding DD “by a vibrating wall of electrical energy.” DD short-circuits it by throwing his wooden cane. Somehow, he is now on the same floor as Electro and he finds the light switch, sending the room into darkness. He thinks he has the advantage but then wastes time trying to lift and throw a barbell which is designed for the Thing. Electro enters, casting his own light and knocks DD out.

So, what does Electro do with his unconscious opponent? What anyone would do, of course. He drags him into the FF’s “world-famous skyscraper rocket launcher.” “All I need do is put the helpless body of Daredevil aboard the ship and send it far out into space…on an eternal one-way journey!! When the bewildered Fantastic Four return, they’ll think Daredevil had stolen their rocket!” There’s no reason why the FF would think Daredevil was in the Baxter Building unless they have security cameras in which case, they’d probably see Electro sending DD into space.

DD soon recovers and realizes where he is. (On page 13, panel 5, it looks like he’s halfway to the moon.) He heads to the control room and uses his hyper-senses to figure out how to return the ship to Earth. He can even fine-tune it so that he lands safely in Central Park after making sure “I hear no human heartbeats” in his landing site. By the time he exits the ship, a crowd has gathered. The police are also there, intending to arrest him for “endangering people and property.” But DD leaps onto a horse from a Hansom cab, snaps the straps holding the horse to the coach and rides off on him, through Manhattan traffic. When he reaches the Baxter Building, he swings up to the second floor to retrieve his clothes. (So, the electric-eye watchdog gizmo is on the second floor? Would it allow Daredevil to enter when it’s only been programmed to admit Matt Murdock?) Karen spots him when he’s back on the street as Matt. She calls to him but he ignores her because he “mustn’t let Electro escape” but Karen thinks he’s mad at her for mentioning the eye operation. So, what’s Matt’s next move? He goes to the New York Heliport, becomes DD again, and grabs the underside of a “sightseeing helicopter” as it takes off. There’s a cool full-page panel showing the helicopter and DD over the New York skyline with DD thinking, “I’m familiar with the schedule of these sightseeing whirlybirds1 Exactly two minutes and fifty seconds after take-off it should be directly over the Baxter Building! I’m keeping time by listening to my own pulsebeat! I can’t afford to be one second off!”

In the Baxter Building, Electro uses his power like an acetylene torch, causing the door of Reed’s safe to fall on the floor with a THUD! He pulls out a set of papers full of “all sorts of mathematical equations and notes. I can’t understand them but they’ll be worth a fortune to any foreign power I contact!” But just then, Daredevil crashes through the skylight. (Who knew that the Baxter Building had a skylight? Wouldn’t nearly every villain have tried to crash through that?) Electro can’t believe Daredevil is back. “I saw [you] head to space myself!” Since he has what he wants, Electro sees no need to fight. He runs to the elevator, melts the door, and uses his electricity to descend on the cables. He also brags that he has the FF’s “secret formulae” for which an enemy nation will pay a fortune. Hearing this, DD knows he can’t let Electro escape. He leaps into the elevator shaft and uses his cane (it’s not yet a billy-club) to hook onto the cables. Then, “he swings himself around, the momentum of his lunge carrying him ‘round and ‘round the cable like a pin-wheel.” Both DD and Electro run out of the Baxter Building (its front door is wide open) with Electro using his “electric magnetism to hitch a ride atop [a] car.” DD can sense Electro’s “electrical vibrations” and follows by running along the tops of cars stuck in traffic.

With DD hot on his trail, Electro abandons the traffic and heads into what Stan calls a movie house and Daredevil calls a movie theatre but, inside, there’s a stage show going on. Electro scatters the showgirls and heads for the catwalk overhead. DD follows and Electro finally fires an electric bolt at him. It lands, knocking DD off the catwalk but he hangs on with his cane on a box that he deduces is “the control panel for the moving curtains.” Electro attacks. At least, I think he attacks. He leaps over DD, using his electricity to hang in the air. Except, DD triggers the curtain, which covers Electro and sends him down to the stage. By the time he is free, the police are there, soaking him down with fire hoses, short-circuiting him. (Yeah, I know. Where did those three fire hoses come from? Is that part of the theatre’s equipment?)

So, where was Electro keeping those papers with Reed’s formulae? And did they get soaked when the police sprayed him down? Well, somewhere along the line, apparently, DD got a hold of them. He returns to the Baxter Building and welds the safe door back on so that it looks as good as new. He then plans to work on examining that lease but he hears the FF coming so he runs for it. (Couldn’t he change back to Matt Murdock and greet the FF when they come in? Where did he last leave his regular clothes, anyway? Are they at the heliport?)

Matt returns to his offices and the FF arrive soon after, with the Thing breaking the door again. They complain that someone has broken their skylight. They then ask for Matt’s report on the lease and he tells them he hasn’t gotten to it yet. So, they fire him. “We’ll find some other lawyers who work a bit faster!” (Good luck with that!) Foggy asks Matt, “How could you lose us four famous clients like them?” Matt smiles at us and replies, “It wasn’t easy partner! Believe me!” Stan wraps up, saying “Poor Matt! His clients gone…his partner disappointed…Electro out to get him…and this was a successful adventure! Imagine if he ever failed!” Oh, I don’t know, Stan. He got away with breaking that skylight.

As I said, I got it in my head that previous reprints included the issues’ covers but that was never the case except for those small reproductions on the covers of early Marvel Tales and Marvel Collector’s Item Classics. So, why include the covers here and now? Probably because they had five pages to fill. So, even though Daredevil #1 was reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes #1, the cover is here and it features Spider-Man (“Remember when we introduced…Spider-Man.”) which, again, is the reason for reviewing this issue. The following page contains the cover for this story, showing Electro zapping DD over the showgirls with an inset of the Thing in the corner. X-Men #1, September 1963 and X-Men #2, November 1963 were reprinted in Marvel Tales #2, 1965 and Marvel Super-Heroes #21, July 1969 respectively but their covers, showing the X-Men versus Magneto and the Vanisher reside here. The cover to X-Men #3, January 1964 follows. That story is a few pages away. It features the debut of the Blob and the Kirby-Brodsky cover shows the five X-Men trying and failing to stop him. There’s one more page to fill but no more covers so we get “A Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up” of four different Gene Colan-drawn Daredevil poses cobbled together from Page 14 panel 3 and Page 17 panel 3 of Daredevil #53, June 1969. That brings us to Beware of the Blob! by Stan and Jack with Inks by Paul Reinman, a story that Stan says “Of all the great Marvel epics, this may be the greatest!” We begin in what will eventually be called the Danger Room but, for now, is “the gymnasium.” Professor X worries that Cyclops “always seem[s] so grim.” Cyclops tells him that “he worries about the awesome power in [his] eyes” and sometimes wishes he wasn’t Cyclops. Marvel Girl tells him, “Don’t ever let me hear you say that again!” Meanwhile, Iceman, Beast, and Angel get into a tussle until Professor X telepathically tells them that “the training period will continue.” It’s Marvel Girl’s turn but that is interrupted because the Prof senses “the presence of another mutant.” He tells his students to get into their street clothes, whereupon Hank (Beast) and Bobby (Iceman) race to escort Jean (Marvel Girl). Scott (Cyclops) hangs back even though he feels that “of all the girls I’ve ever met, she is the one I’d give my heart to” but he doesn’t dare. “Not while I possess my dread power.” At the same time, the Professor thinks about how he loves Jean but doesn’t dare tell her “while [he’s] the leader of the X-Men and confined to this wheelchair.” (A subplot that didn’t last very long, thank goodness, seeing as Jean is still a teenager here.) Jean takes Scott’s arm but Warren (Angel) scoops her up and carries her to his sports car in which they drive away.

The other X-Men wander around, trying to locate the mutant. Scott winds up at a circus where he hears a pitch for a sideshow act, “our main attraction,” the Blob. The Prof mentally informs Cyke that he has found the mutant. Scott attends the show in which he joins five men trying unsuccessfully to move the Blob. Then “Tex” shoots about a dozen bullets into the Blob’s body only to have him flex and pop them back out. Later, Cyke visits the Blob in his wagon and tells him that the X-Men want to see him at their headquarters. The Blob, smoking a cigar and reading the paper, calls the X-Men “those jerky juveniles in the corny costumes” and is not interested, until Warren and Jean arrive. “I’ll go if me and this cute tomato can sit in the rumble seat. Heh, heh,” the Blob says. (The “heh, heh” makes that whole line.) Blob grabs Jean’s arm, making Scott zap him with eye blasts in his back. The blast knocks Blob into a wood-burning stove but he is fine because “there’s nothin’ that can hurt the Blob.” “And now that I’ve met red riding hood here, I’ve changed my mind,” he says, “Let’s go visit the X-Men.”

Back at X-Men headquarters, Professor X tries to move the Blob with a couple of huge golden chains attached to a winch but only succeeds in shattering the chains. “The very molecules of your flesh react to your mental commands and seem to perform almost any feat you desire,” observes the Prof. “In plain English, I’m pretty terrific, huh?” replies the Blob. Iceman objects to the attitude of “this chubby little shrinking violet” and forms a giant ice cube around the Blob’s foot. The Blob shatters it by wiggling his big toe. Professor X is impressed. He offers X-Men membership to the Blob, who turns it down, saying, “Thanks for nothin’, baldy. I’m stronger than all of you put together! Who needs you?” The Professor is outraged. “This is unheard of!” he says, “No one has ever refused us before! You cannot be permitted to leave now that you know our identities – it is out of the question! Stop him, my X-Men! I must drive this memory from his mind! Take him to my lab!”

Well, first of all, I don’t think he knows their identities. He’s just seen them out of their costumes, that’s all. But, even if he does know their identities…whose fault is that? Why would you reveal yourself out of costume to someone you don’t know and bring him to your headquarters? Especially when he comes across as a jerk from the start. I’ve got to think the Blob isn’t the one who is at fault here. The Prof realizes that after the fact. After the Blob escapes and makes his way back to the circus by entering a manhole (no, I don’t know how he fit) and returning underground, Professor X tells his students, “I foolishly took it for granted he would join us. I had you bring him here! He learned where we are located, who we are! If he talks, the secret I have sworn to dedicate my life to will be a secret no more! He must not talk!”

And speaking of talking, you gotta love the Blob’s dialogue, particularly in the fight in which he escapes the X-Men. He calls Angel an “overgrown mosquito” and calls the Beast “monkey man.” When Cyke tries to get a shot at him, he grabs Angel and says, “That’s what you think, Deadhead. Raise that visor of yours another inch and this little sparrow of yours will never fly again.” He throws Angel at Cyclops, saying, “Here! You two deserve each other!” I’m kind of rooting for the Blob here! Back at the circus, the Blob realizes that, because he knows their identities, he poses a threat to the X-Men and decides to fight back by attacking first. He goes to the manager of the circus and takes over. “I found out…I’m a mutant!...I’m one of homo superior!...Get everyone together…you puny homo sapien! Move when I give an order!” Soon, the Blob has an army of circus people and gunmen. When Angel arrives to scout out the situation, the gunmen open fire on him, forcing him to retreat. He reports to Professor X, who has put together an “electronic mass influencer” that will “intensify my thought waves so I can drive all memory out of the minds of an entire crowd.” The Prof sends Angel to get the others ready for battle. At Iceman’s room, a giraffe sticks its head into his window and eats his ice cream. The circus has already arrived. (How did they get there so fast? And with an elephant, a gorilla, and a giraffe!) A half a dozen men wield a battering ram to take down the front door. But Marvel Girl opens the door so that they rush in and are repelled by Cyclops’ eye blast. Two tightrope walkers connect a rope to the roof and try to cross it but are stopped by the Beast, who then heads to the ground to confront the Blob. But the Blob releases the gorilla to fight in his stead. “We’ll let one beast finish off another,” he says. Even as the Beast defeats the gorilla, a cowboy tries (and fails) to lasso the Angel. But then the Zamboobas blast from a cannon and bring him to earth.

Cyclops, Iceman, and Marvel Girl enter the fight. An elephant tries to crush Cyke against a tree. He repels it with his power blast but the high-intensity needed weakens him. Two men rush up and capture him in a net. Two men in insulated suits bear Iceman to the ground while the Blob instructs five men to surround Marvel Girl. Cyclops breaks free but two men manage to put a “tight sack” over him. Only the Beast is still free. He tackles the Blob directly but is quickly defeated and trussed up.

The Blob leads his men into the mansion, heading to Professor X’s room. Before they get there, the Prof telepathically contacts Marvel Girl and tells her how to free herself and her teammates so that, when the Blob’s gang breaks in, they find themselves facing a wall of ice. Marvel Girl telekinetically wraps some of the men up in a tarp. Cyclops shoots his beam at Blob’s feet, sending him through the floor and trapping him. Angel and Beast tackle the other men who end up cowering in a corner, trapped by Cyke’s low-intensity power beam. The Professor then trains his influencer on the Blob and his men, mentally telling them, “My thoughts are your thoughts, Blob! My will is your will! You and your men have never heard of the X-Men! You have never seen our headquarters! You are all as you were before we found you!” With that, the men wonder where they are and the Blob says, “We’d better return to the carnival before we get sacked!”

Now, it’s two issues in a row that Professor X has to bail out his X-Men but he comforts them by saying, “the victory is not mine alone! For without your courage and skill in holding off the enemy until I could complete my intensifier, we would have been annihilated. We fought the fight together, my X-Men, and we triumphed together!”

In the end, the Blob returns to the sideshow, thinking, “What a life! Always on display for the rubes! Oh well, it’s better than starvin’!” except Stan warns us, “But the brain of a mutant is an unpredictable thing! Professor X knows that some day in the future, the Blob’s memory may return.” And it’s going to happen sooner than you’d think.

General Comments

It’s back to facing Spidey for Electro as his next appearance is with the Sinister Six in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. He does face off against Daredevil again, the next time being in Daredevil Annual #1, September 1967. In that issue, he forms “Electro and His Emissaries of Evil” along with the Matador, the Gladiator, Stilt Man and Leap Frog. Daredevil, meanwhile, faces the Owl in Daredevil #3, August 1964.

The X-Men have a rematch with Magneto in their next appearance, in X-Men #4, March 1964 but this time Maggy brings the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, marking the first appearances of Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Mastermind, and the Toad. It doesn’t take long for the Blob to return. He’s back in X-Men #7, September 1964 and we’ll see that story (minus about a dozen panels) when we next look in on Marvel Super-Heroes.

Overall Rating

If you’re a reader at the time, you have to be disappointed that MSH has become a reprint book but excited to see these very early stories of Daredevil and the X-Men. In DD, as I said, Vince Colletta’s inks don’t do Joe Orlando’s artwork any favors and the story has some of those typically goofy early Marvel Age bits, mainly having Daredevil escape being shot into orbit by arranging for the ship to land in Central Park There are also little things that ring false now like putting a skylight on the Baxter Building. It’s also a little bit frustrating that Electro spends more time putting DD in a spaceship or running away from him than using his power against him. But the appearance by the Thing (and the rest of the FF) is fun, Stan does a great job giving detailed explanations of how Daredevil uses his senses to his advantage (Like the one I mentioned when DD is hanging from the helicopter. And things like this: “The temperature has risen 27 degrees! It can only mean arc lights indicating a stage show! And the scent of perfume and theatrical makeup…show girls!”) Plus, you gotta love DD’s original yellow costume. All in all, I give the story four webs.

The X-Men tale is stronger if for no other reason than that it has Kirby artwork. Yes, it’s early Marvel age Kirby with inks by Paul Reinman making it less epic, less Olympian (perhaps I should say, “less Asgardian”) than later Kirby, but it’s still expressive and meticulous. The Blob is a great character and the 10-page battle between the X-Men and the Blob’s circus is a lot of fun, although I have the same complaint as I have with Electro: the Blob doesn’t use his power, for the most part, in this section. I don’t really buy the Professor’s assertion that he didn’t, as Cyclops puts it, “[end] the menace of the Blob by sheer brain-power alone” but he has to keep his students’ spirits up and it’s so early in their training that it makes sense that the Prof has to come to their rescue. What is less excusable is having the Professor essentially create the Blob’s super-villain career by inviting him to join the X-Men without vetting him but it does give us a glimpse into Professor X’s egotism and it shows him slightly humbled in learning a lesson. Let’s forget about the Prof’s thoughts of love for his underage student and give this one five webs.


DD #3 and X-Men #4 will be here next issue but we won’t. We’re going to wait for Marvel Super-Heroes #26, May 1970 with another Spidey reference. In the meantime, we’ve got a full-length Spidey reprint coming up in Marvel Tales #22. That’s next.

 Posted: 26 Nov 2023
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)