Daredevil 70

Nov. 1970
written by Gary Friedrich
pencilled by Gene Colan
inked by Syd Shores

Reading this comic book reminds me of two things: why relevance had a
short shelf life in comic books, and why Gary Friedrich never really
caught on at Marvel, at least on the superhero titles.

Actually, this comic book reminds me of a third thing: The Silver Age
of DAREDEVIL had long since come to an end by the time this comic
book was published. Having had the opportunity to read DD from issue
one all the way through his entire Silver Age ouvre, it's become
clear to me that as soon as Roy Thomas came on board as writer, DD's
Silver Age was done. Thomas never really "got" the idea of DD, as
becomes apparent when you read the letter pages, as an endless string
of Quite 'Nuff Sayers keep commenting on how DD has been on the
decline. That "Jumping the Silver Age Shark" moment seems to have
been when DD revealed his secret ID to Karen Page, back in issue #
57, and I suppose that's as good a demarcation point as any, but I'd
back the truck up a bit further and cast all the post-Stan Lee/Gene
Golan DD's as being outside the Silver Age.

Anyway, this comic book opens atypically with a symbolic title page,
rather than a splash page that starts the action (it's explained
later that the name of the villain was changed at the last minute
from the Eliminator to the Tribune). Page two shows us a John Wayne-
type cowboy actor stumping for the extreme right-wing conservative
cause, with Karen Page out in LA looking on as she hopes to land a
part in his next movie (Karen, you'll recall, moved out to Hollywood
after realizing Matt "DD" Murdock had deceived her for more than 50
issues about being a blind, helpless puppy -- the height of his
deceit being probably a tie between the time when he pretended he had
a twin brother who was DD's secret ID, when he pretended his
nonexistent twin brother was killed and somebody else replaced him as
DD, and when he pretended that he himself, Matt Murdock, was killed.
That's an awful lot of deceiving, if you ask me. Anyway, Karen goes
west to find herself, but that's not the focus of this story.

The John Wayne ringer, referred to in the story as Buck Ralston, is
secretly the Tribune, whose shtick is apparently to kill off Commie
pinko draft dodger types. Meanwhile, in NYC, VP Spiro Agnew is
speaking at the New York Hilton, and outside there's a small group of
protestors gathered to ... well, we're not really sure. Considering
that this comic book was probably written shortly after Kent State,
you can use your imagination to wonder how warm a reception Agnew was
likely to get.

DD is keeping an eye on the pending fracas at the Hilton, and notices
three guys setting a bomb to go off. DD knocks out two of them, but
the third sets off the TNT and tosses it at DD, who jumps away in the
proverbial nick of time (and since he was standing right over the
other two guys, they had to have been blown to bits, except we never
learn their fate). DD is a bit groggy when the police show up, and
they tell him they caught some kid in the area, who obviously was the
bomber because he has long hair. DD starts to explain that's not the
way it happened, but the police tell him he's not looking too good,
he oughtta get some rest. So DD just up and leaves, while the police
arrest the kid that we know, and DD knows, had nothing to do with the
bombs. He doesn't know who the bombers are working for (Ralston, of
course), but he knows the kid is innocent. And yet, he still just
leaves, and we learn that better still, as assistant DA, he'll get to
prosecute the kid. To Be Continued.

Besides not having much of a clue as to what type of a hero DD is (DD
doesn't even use his radar powers in this story, as far as we can
tell), Friedrich's main contribution as a writer is to throw in as
many pop culture slogans as he can, e.g., "Be good like a Daredevil
should! It may be bad grammar, but if it's good enough for
Winston!"  "You shouldn't try to kill the Veep just 'cause you were
dumb enough to bet on him in the Hope Desert Classic!"  "You and who
else? The Doxee Company, maybe?" (anybody out there remember who The
Doxee Company was? I don't.) "Like the Dodge sheriff says, Yoah in a
heap'a trouble, boys!"

So, at the end of the comic book, what we have is a bad parody of
John Wayne attempting to take over the country by killing off all
the "yellow bellies." We have Daredevil allowing an innocent kid to
take the rap. And we have the typically great Colan/Shores art team,
not given much interesting to draw. In this case, one out of three
ain't all that good.

Ahhh, DD, we hardly knew ye!

Dave Blanchard