Wally Wood’s brilliant, brief run on Daredevil is well under way. In this issue, Daredevil and the whole Nelson & Murdock crew get together to fight Mr. Fear and a brace of c-list villains on loan from other Marvel titles.
The Man Without Fear vs. Mr. Fear … wow, I just realized how low-effort the elevator pitch for this issue sounds.
About the comic:
Daredevil (1964) #6
Date: February 10, 1965
“Trapped by … The Fellowship of Fear!”
The story is set in motion when Daredevil comes across a movie crew filming a bank robbery that’s actually a real robbery! DD does okay battling Spider-Man standby the Ox and Johnny Storm foe the Eel, but all-new bad guy Mr. Fear turns the odds against our hero by dosing him with fear gas.
We get a couple of pages of backstory for Mr. Fear, AKA Zoltan Drago. He’s a medium-grade nutterbutter. Obsessed with bringing the statues in his wax museum to life, his accidental discovery of fear gas sent him spiraling straight into villainy. He enlists the Ox and the Eel specifically because they’re submissive enough to take orders from him. This is a nice introduction to the flexibility of Marvel’s c-list villains. They’ll hench wherever and whenever they’re needed.
Even though this trio — the titular Fellowship of Fear — did very well against Daredevil in their first encounter, Mr. Fear will settle for nothing less than total victory. He creates a wax statue of DD to draw the hero out. It works wonders by attracting Matt Murdock AND Foggy Nelson AND Karen Page.
Foggy and Daredevil (working independently) return after hours to investigate the museum. Foggy manages to rip Mr. Fear’s mask off in the middle of the fight, but then he catches a serious concussion that requires hospitalization.
Foggy’s installed in the hospital and Karen keeps vigil over him while thinking some standard love triangle thoughts. The Fellowship of Fear attacks again because the paranoid Mr. Fear suspects Foggy knows his identity. Daredevil is able to drive them off this time. (They showed up without their costumes and fear gas and whatnot.)
Daredevil tracks the trio back to the museum for the big finale. He uses some clever trickery on each baddie in turn, leaving a bundle-o-badguys for the police to find. All is well in the end and Foggy is on the mend.
I’m actually taking a break from reading 1969-era Marvel to look back at this early issue of Daredevil. It’s refreshing to see an earlier book that is at the same time simpler (hapless villains getting walloped) and more complex (more panels, more intricate art) than comics from the later Silver Age.
As noted above, this is the second issue of Wally Wood’s short but vital run on Daredevil. He’ll give us the iconic all-red costume in #7; for now we just get to enjoy his wealth of painstaking panels. Not for Mr. Wood the Jack Kirby school of implied-motion-between-iconic-panels; if Daredevil launches a kick on Mr. Wood’s watch you can be damn sure he’s going to show it land in the subsequent panel.
This is not 100 percent a good thing; there are parts of this comic that feel both over-drawn and over-written. Everyone in the Bullpen is still searching for their stride in 1965.
Quick aside: Daredevil #6 is another entry in the roster of Silver Age Marvel comics that have a weird obsession with wax museums. (See: half of Steve Ditko’s early work in Strange Tales.) Mr. Wood shows one of the benefits of this fixation on pages six and eight when he takes the opportunity to draw every villain in the Marvel Universe (and half the heroes) in wax figure form.
One great thing in these early issues of Daredevil is the innovative way Mr. Lee writes DD’s super senses. Like any Silver Age hero, DD is constantly describing what’s going on around him, but Mr. Lee makes a tremendous effort to root Daredevil’s narration in his non-visual senses. The bit on page 3 where Daredevil suspects something fishy about the movie set because he doesn’t hear a script girl is a perfect example.
Not all of the writing is terrific. In 1965 Stan Lee was determined to cram a love triangle into every single one of his comics, and the Foggy-Karen-Matt triangle in early Daredevil is one of the more tiresome ones. Mr. Wood does at least do a commendable job of illustrating what boils down to office romance, as in this book’s final panel shows:
Time to Ask …
Who Will Love Daredevil #6?
Daredevil #6 is a decent sample of the comic’s early days, and this is your last chance to see the original yellow-and-black costume for quite a while. It’s also worth a look because Mr. Wood’s Marvel credits are few and far between, especially this early. I think this is a decent read for anybody who wants to take the pulse of early Daredevil, and it’s practically a necessity for serious DD fans. If you’re only interested in the highlights, though, you’ll want to skip to the introduction of the all-red costume in #7.
Images snipped out of Marvel Unlimited by yours truly.