November 16th, 2015
In the mighty Marvel tradition of radiation doing whatever you want it to!
Linkara: Hello and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome back, my friends, to "Secret Origins Month".
("Secret Origins Month" opening plays with Avengers theme)
Linkara: So I've seen a lot of people talking about the Netflix Daredevil TV series, and they seem to love it. I of course have not seen it, because not only do I not have regular TV, but no Netflix either.
(Shots of the Netflix Daredevil series are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, sorry, if I'm paying for something I like, I want to own it, not just fear it's going to be taken away from me. Plus, it's of no use to me anyway, since I rarely have time to watch something for funsies. I watch stuff while I'm editing. I need DVDs so I can rip footage if I end up using it in a video. And frankly, if the Internet goes down, I prefer having it offline with me.
Linkara: (sarcastically) So instead, I get the Daredevil movie to watch! (laughs) Oh, God, I'm in Hell!
(A shot of Green Lantern is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Anywho, let's talk about the Man Without Fear, Hal Jordan–
(Cut abruptly to shots of Daredevil)
Linkara (v/o): Erm, Daredevil. From what I've looked up, the idea for Daredevil came to Stan Lee when he was getting press about superheroes he made that had weaknesses, particularly ones that helped keep them from being too powerful. Thus, he started with a character whose powers came from his quote-unquote "weakness". He was actually a little afraid to do so, since he feared Marvel would get backlash from blind individuals over how, well, being blind doesn't give you superpowers or incredible acrobatic abilities. And of course, the opposite happened. Charities for the blind got increased donations, and many blind people were happy that there was a blind superhero.
Linkara: (sarcastically) It's almost like representation matters or something. Weird, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): What's especially funny is just how many creators ended up working on this book. I don't just mean down the line, although there are a lot of those. I mean on this first issue. Another reason Stan wanted to make the book was because he wanted a project for artist and co-plotter Bill Everett. Everett's pencils came in late, so they needed help inking the book. That help came from Steve Ditko and Marvel production manager Saul Brodsky...
(Cut to the cover of "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes #1")
Linkara (v/o): ...the father of everybody's favorite creator of "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes", Gary Brodsky. Get it? Solson Productions? Anyway, we won't hold that against him.
(Cut back to the Daredevil comics)
Linkara (v/o): Back to the creators list, Jack Kirby is credited with creating some of the design elements of Daredevil's outfit, including his signature billy club weapon, to the point where the opening splash page of the book, that was also used on the cover, was apparently done by Kirby. Oh, and there might be a bit of contradiction on the creation of Daredevil, since, according to an interview with Wendy Everett, Bill Everett's daughter, the two apparently would often talk about the characters he worked on, and they had apparently talked about some of the stuff that went into Daredevil: what his profession should be, what handicap it should be, when he was legally blind for some time before having it corrected. The thing to remember about this stuff is that I am not an expert on this, and I don't have the time on a weekly basis to do the kind of research necessary to dig up as many accounts as possible to see which makes more sense. Amusingly, while Daredevil may have been created to give Bill Everett work, he only worked on the first issue due to time constraints of his other day job as an art director.
Linkara: Beyond that, not much else to say at this point. So let's just dig into (holds up today's comic) "Daredevil #1".
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has generic hard rock music playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is crowded, even by Silver Age standards. We've got Daredevil bouncing in to wave at the camera, or possibly grab a donut he thinks is right there. And with the way he's looking away from the person down there with a gun, he seems completely oblivious to him. The other obvious thing about him from this is that he's got a very different costume than what people are used to. I actually dig the yellow outfit here. The yellow and black works for him and gives him the look of an acrobat. However, audiences and creators of the time were apparently not fond of the yellow, so they decided to give all red a try a few issues later, and it stayed that way since. Although, I'm more curious why they added the second D to the outfit.
Linkara: Perhaps Daredevil just wanted to exaggerate his cup size a bit.
Text: Remember when we introduced... SPIDER-MAN?
Linkara: Wanna meet someone even more miserable?
Text: Now we continue the might Marvel tradition with... DAREDEVIL!!
Linkara: (narrator voice) Our tradition of one other character so far!
Text: ...A worthy companion magazine to such all-time greats as the fabulous FANTASTIC FOUR!
Linkara: (stroking chin) Now, there's a thought. We've got adjectives over other Marvel books, like "Uncanny X-Men" or "Amazing Spider-Man". Why isn't it (makes an "air quote") "Fabulous Fantastic Four"? And don't go telling me it's because "fantastic" is already an adjective. It's part of their name! Doesn't count.
Text: Can you guess why Daredevil is different from all other crime-fighters...?
Linkara: (narrator voice) Get the correct answer in thirty seconds and win a free tote bag!
Text: In this issue you will meet... The Most UNUSUAL HERO of all: MATT MURDOCK.
Linkara: Being blind is the most unusual? Dude, let me introduce you to (a shot of the following is shown in the corner...) Arm-Fall-Off Boy sometime.
Text: "Fun-Loving" Foggy Nelson.
Linkara: (narrator voice) How fun-loving is he? Well, his hair was blond this morning.
Text: Gorgeous KAREN PAGE.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Frank Miller will do terrible things to her in a few decades!
Linkara (v/o): We open to a splash page featuring Daredevil, the cover having reused this artwork featuring him doing this leap, only against a dull blue sky and a featureless gray city silhouette. And the captions inform us that this cover will be as beloved as the first issue of "Amazing Spider-Man".
Text: Now we congratulate you for having bought another prized first-edition! This magazine is certain to be one of your most valued comic mag possessions in the months to come!
Linkara: (waves dismissively and scoffs) Who are you kidding? This doesn't have a Mr. T trading card with it.
Linkara (v/o): I also love how it says that it's only gonna be beloved for months to come.
Linkara: It'll be beloved by you for only less than a year! Then you'll be using it to wipe up what your dog did on the kitchen floor!
Linkara (v/o): We truly open at Fogwell's Gym, where a group of goons are playing poker.
Goon [Sam]: Come on, Porky!
Linkara: Yeah! It's not like you're ever gonna get a movie named after ya!
Sam: We haven't got all day! The Fixer may be here soon!
Linkara: (shocked) The Fixer?! From "Holy Terror"?!? Holy crap, you gotta run now! Get a head start before he starts torturing you for information!
Porky: Keep your shirt on, Sam! I don't rush for anyone!
Sam: Who do you think you're kiddin'? You know when the Fixer snaps his fingers, we all hop, if we wanna stay healthy!
Linkara: (as Sam) If he says al-Qaeda is capable of launching jet attacks on America, you just nod and go along with it, unless you want your spine broken!
Linkara (v/o): There's a crashing sound, and they see the emergence of a shadow on the wall.
Porky: For the luvva Pete! What do ya call that?!!
Linkara: (as Sam) It's the Fixer! And he has no pants on!
Linkara (v/o): No, of course it's Daredevil. And apparently, he's got a bit of a glow to him. (dramatically) Daredevil, the man who is a nightlight!
Sam: You're in the wrong place, buster! We don't use costumed wrestlers here!
Linkara: (as Sam) You want the SLF down the street. You'll notice it when you see the big sign with "Bone Button" on it.
(Cut to Bone Button, who growls. Then cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Daredevil announces he's here to kick the Fixer's ass, which I can get behind. Lay that bigoted dickhead out, dude. And the goons attack, including Porky, who apparently was the one not wearing any pants. Or shirt. Okay, if they're waiting for the Fixer so they could perform nefarious deeds, was he planning on doing it like that? Anyway, Porky says he could use some exercise as he charges at Daredevil... only to land on Daredevil's feet.
Daredevil: If it's exercise you want, fatso...you've come to the right guy!
Linkara: (as Daredevil) I was bitten by a radioactive Stairmaster!
Linkara (v/o): He then somehow gets him into a position where he can swing him around in circles.
Porky: STOP! Cut it out!! LEGGO!
Daredevil: I'll be glad to, little chum!
Linkara: Not enough superheroes refer to their opponents as (makes an "air quote") "little chum".
Linkara (v/o): After Porky is tossed into the other goons, one reaches for a gun.
Sam: Mister, you just bought yourself a big peck of trouble! Wait'll I grab that gun!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang as they watch The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies)
Crow: (as a character in the movie) Let's tell each other what we're gonna do before we do it, then do it!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): I don't think it counts as having enhanced senses when your opponent is announcing his actions like that. Anyway, Daredevil uses his billy club on him before he can get the gun and fights them for a little bit more, even getting a chair thrown at him. Now it's looking like a wrestling match.
(Cut again to Bone Button)
Bone Button: Ooh, Daredevil! I'll smash a chair on ya! I'll smash a table on ya! Bone Button knows that your real weakness is FURNITURE! (growls)
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): So, yeah, Daredevil finishes them knocking them around like they were nothing, finally announcing his name as they all lay down, nursing their injuries.
Porky: It ain't possible! Nobody can fight like that! He must do it with mirrors!
Linkara: Yes, mirrors are generally known for their ability to spin people. (shrugs in confusion)
Linkara (v/o): While Daredevil announces he's going to wait around for the Fixer to arrive, too, we suddenly cut to a flashback for Daredevil's origin story.
Narrator: The year is 1950...
Linkara: Ergh! And that's why I refuse to watch the Netflix Daredevil. If they're not gonna have it be played by a 70-year-old, just like it is in the comics, then they're just being disrespectful to the character.
Narrator: ...as the prizefighter known as Battling Murdock talks to his eight-year-old son Matthew...
Linkara: (as narrator) ...trying to explain to him that it was not his choice to be called ("air quote") "Battling Murdock", but now he's stuck with it.
Linkara (v/o): Little Matthew refuses to study, preferring to grow up like his father, but Murdock says he promised their dead mother that he wouldn't let Matthew grow up to be "an uneducated pug" like him.
Linkara: Wow! Must have been a great marriage if that was her final wish.
Linkara (v/o): Years pass, with Matt being forced to forsake anything not related to his studies, including stuff like football or screwing around with kids. Even the kids themselves mock him for not participating in their reindeer games, like... uh, stand on another kid's shoulders or... shake hands. Man, this generation really did need TV, didn't it? Oh, and by "kids", I mean these octogenarians right here.
Kid 1: Well! If it ain't ol' Daredevil himself!
Kid 2: Hi, Daredevil! Be sure you don't tire yourself out turning all those heavy pages in your school books!
Linkara: (as this kid) We're the bullies who specialize in ironic nicknames instead of actually insulting ones.
Narrator: No one can be as cruel as an unthinking youth!
Linkara: Wow, you really haven't met the Fixer, have you?
Linkara (v/o): Matt soon realizes that he can train in secret with his father's boxing equipment while he's traveling around. However, said boxing soon comes to a stop. Murdock is simply getting too old to box and nobody will manage him. And unfortunately, since this is not a Rocky movie, his only option is to go to... THE FIXER!
Battling Murdock: The Fixer! I always swore to myself that I'd steer clear of a guy with his reputation!
Linkara: (waving dismissively) I wouldn't worry, dude. I hear he's got a gentle soul.
Linkara (v/o): We finally get our first look at this guy: an overweight mobster who apparently can't open his eyes. And yeah, of course it's not the same guy as in "Holy Terror", but I maintain that this name is still stupid, possibly even more so, in this case. In "Holy Terror", it made no sense to anything at all, but in a professional sport, why would you ever want to be managed by a guy whose name implies that he rigs fights? Apparently, the two have some history, with Murdock having tossed him out years ago when he offered him a deal then.
Fixer: Sure, I'll get ya some fights! And you won't have to take a dive, either!
(Cut to a clip of Spaceballs)
King Roland (Dick Van Patten): Would I lie?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Later, Matt spots a blind old man trying to cross the street when a truck comes hurtling towards him, its brakes out. Said truck is from the Ajax Atomic Labs.
Linkara: I see our tax dollars are being well-spent... on this truck with bad brakes.
Linkara (v/o): Matt pushes the blind man out of the way, but he gets hit by the truck instead. Aaand somehow the truck carrying radioactive materials was so unsecured that a barrel managed to fly to the front of the truck and spill on Matt!
Man: It struck his face! Is...Is it something radioactive??
Linkara: (as this man) Now he's radioactive! That can't be good!
Linkara (v/o): I wonder if anybody cleaned up all that radioactive goop on the ground. I mean, what happens if it goes in the sewer or something? Who knows what sort of mutated reptiles and rodents would result from that?! Anyway, Matt survives, since radiation is perfectly safe as long as you don't get it in your eyes. And if you do, you just need to use one of those eye-washing stations in high school science classes. But since one of those wasn't nearby, Matt is blind now. But again, radiation is just an inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, so, according to the doctors, Matt can get an operation in a few years to fix his sight once the tissue has healed. And as tends to happen when one of your senses is lost, all of Matt's other senses become enhanced, but of course, even better, because radiation.
Linkara: Ah, radiation: granter of superpowers. (holds up index finger) With as many positive effects it has in comic books, you'd think they'd be bottling radiation up and selling it in grocery stores.
Linkara (v/o): And according to this narration here, off-panel, Matt continues his studies and makes it into college, befriending a guy named Franklin "Foggy" Nelson. Foggy even comments on how Matt is so good at studying when he keeps struggling with it.
Matt: (thinking) And I wouldn't be surprised if that radiation I absorbed in the accident doesn't have something to do with it, too!
(The theme of Match Game plays in the background as we cut back to Linkara)
Linkara: Radiation: now in three delicious flavors: (the following words pop up...) Gamma-Ray Grape, Beta-Ray Berry and Neutron Naranja!
Linkara (v/o): These heightened senses include sound, smell, touch and taste.
Matt: (narrating) While my sense of taste has become so highly developed that I can tell exactly how many grains of salt are on a piece of pretzel...
Linkara: Truly his most fearsome crimefighting ability.
Linkara (v/o): And yes, of course, there is the built-in radar sight, although here, it really acts more as a proximity detector. Or a little box that goes "ping". His father starts winning fights, but of course, it's all a setup by the Fixer, who is paying his opponents to take a dive, draw in the crowds, and in the next big promoted fight, he'll get clobbered. And indeed, during the fight, Murdock thinks to himself that the Fixer told him to take a dive, (sarcastically) but he said he'd never ask him to do that. But with his son in the audience, he can't do anything less than his best. As such, he kicks the guy's ass something fierce.
Fixer: Murdock! You fool! Take it easy! What are you doin'?! If you're tryin' to double-cross, you'll live to regret it! You're supposed to dive now...hear? Dive!
Linkara: (as Fixer, cupping his hand over his mouth) Let me just LOUDLY ANNOUNCE that I've rigged this fight!
Linkara (v/o): So, Battling Murdock... Seriously, it sounds like a rejected name for an action figure. At least have it be alliterative. ...wins the fight, and the Fixer is pretty pissed.
Battling Murdock: (thinking) No matter what the Fixer does, I won't care! My son is proud of me! Nothing can ever change that now!
Linkara (v/o): Aaand then he's shot.
Linkara: (as Battling Murdock, clutching at his chest in pain) Well... still doesn't change that. (groans) But I am starting to care about what the Fixer does.
Linkara (v/o): After Foggy and Matt graduate, Foggy's father helps set them up as partners in their own law firm. Foggy even introduces their new secretary, Karen... and her hair that no doubt maintains control over her like a parasite. Seriously, look at that. Her hair is as big as her head itself! However, Matt is not satisfied with all of this.
Matt: (thinking) I'll never be able to concentrate on my law work until Dad's murderer is finally brought to justice! But years ago I promised Dad that Matt Murdock would use his head...
Linkara: (as Matt, wearing blind glasses like he is) Which is what I'm trying to. Hopefully, my psychic powers can help!
Linkara (v/o): And thus, Matt realizes what so many others have: loopholes that break the spirit of these things! While Matt Murdock promised he wouldn't resort to force, by taking on a costumed identity, he can use his brute force whenever he wants. His sensitive touch allows him to feel out different fabrics... and apparently different colored fabrics have different feels... Whatever... he also painted red dots on his boots. Because shut up. He configured a cane into a weapon.
Matt: I can use it in a hundred different ways!
Linkara (v/o): Like as a bong, like that sound effect indicates. Anyway, his first outing takes us back to the beginning of the story, where he's beaten up some goons at the gym, and the Fixer has arrived. He beats up the newest goons, thanks to his enhanced senses, just as the Fixer tries to make an escape.
Daredevil: Hold it, speedy!
Linkara: (shocked) Speedy is the Fixer?! Man, his life was even more messed up than I thought!
'Linkara (v/o): The Fixer decides to just have his goons call the cops since Daredevil has no proof of his involvement in Murdock's death. Daredevil knocks the phone away and openly accuses the Fixer of his involvement. While he denies it, Daredevil realizes he can also hear his heartbeat, which he takes as meaning that he can use this as a lie detector. Ignoring the question of the validity of a lie detector test, polygraphs test for more than just heart rate, so unless he can also hear sweat running down a guy's forehead, I don't think it's the most accurate of systems. But anyway, the guy who actually shot Murdock manages to sneak up behind Daredevil while he's distracted by his new not-power and knocks him out a window... which he survives by managing to use his cane to swing around on a flagpole and right back up into the room. Okay, last week, I saw Green Arrow use a contraption in his car to launch him into a window several stories up, and this is what I'm calling bullcrap on. But whatever. After a pointless interlude, where we see that Karen has the hots for Matt, Daredevil forces out all the other crooks except for the Fixer and the shooter, Slade. As the two crooks point out, he has no evidence of anything. However, Daredevil decides to bluff them, claiming he has a hidden tape recorder in his cane.
Linkara: (confused) Which actually would have been a good idea... What was your plan after that, dude?
Linkara (v/o): The two manage to get away, but Matt chases after them, thanks to the Fixer's cigar smoke. He's really dedicated to his smoking habit. I would've ditched it by now. He eventually corners them in a subway station, knocking Slade down while continuing after the Fixer. The Fixer has a good head start, which he manages to close the gap by... uh, riding on a trashcan. Man, Oscar the Grouch is gonna be pissed after that ride. However, it seems that this incredibly goofy pursuit results in the Fixer having a heart attack. At least it's a little more convincing than what happened to Green Lantern's nemesis. The transit police show up, and Daredevil leads them to Slade, bluffing him once more by telling him that the Fixer confessed that Slade is the murderer. Slade admits to everything to make sure the Fixer doesn't get away with it, resulting in the cops arresting him.
Linkara: Criminals are a superstitious... and exceptionally stupid lot.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Daredevil arriving in his office, where Foggy and Karen inform him that Slade had called up their firm to try to hire them as defense attorneys. But of course, Foggy turned him down.
Matt: (thinking) Dad, wherever you are...I kinda hoping you're resting easier now!
Linkara: (as Matt, wearing blind glasses) Come to think of it, we probably should have cleaned up your body after you were shot. (normal again as he closes comic and holds it up) Anyway, this origin is... pretty damn good.
Linkara (v/o): The story is actually rather well-paced, with lots of exciting action and very strong pencils and inks, especially for the Silver Age, 80-year-old children notwithstanding. The backgrounds and detailing are certainly a lot more interesting than we've seen in a lot of these stories. Plus, the origin itself is pretty sound, although "radiation did it" is as silly as it sounds. Matt's supporting cast is established, if a little lacking in characterization, other than "Boy, Matt Murdock sure is swell!" and "Boy, I really want to bang Matt Murdock!" Aside from the obvious costume change, the overall details of Daredevil's origins would remain the same, while the tone and little details would alter over time, from bizarre sci-fi action, partnership and romance with Black Widow to eventually Frank Miller taking over the series and introducing retcons and a very dark tone for the book. While I am unapologetically insulting towards Frank Miller, the darker tone he would set for Daredevil would pretty much become the defining aspect of the character well into the modern age, for better or for worse. Also, ninjas.
Linkara: Next time, we move away from villains getting killed left and right, with the introduction (holds up index finger) of the Girl of Steel.
(End credits roll)
Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think they ever follow up on the "in a few years an operation can restore your sight" thing.
He says that he doesn't care what the Fixer does to him because his son is proud of him, except he was proud of him even before that, sooo what?
To be fair, Gary Brodsky didn't CREATE Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes, but he signed off on it and considering Brodsky's other work, it's easy to believe he would.
(Stinger: The panel showing Daredevil's costume, all glowing, is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, is the radiation making him glow, too?