Comics : Daredevil (Vol.1) #27

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Although the Masked Marauder first appeared in Daredevil #16, May 1966, then exclusively in DD's book to this point, his first super-hero enemy was Spider-Man. As you may recall, from page 2 panel 1 of that issue, it was Spidey who attacked the Marauder and his men when they attempted to invade the World Motors Building. It is only after the Marauder disguises his men as Daredevil in order to get Spidey out of his hair that the real Man Without Fear gets involved. This issue's cover promises "the honest-to-gosh end of the Masked Marauder," which it isn't. It also asks, "Who's Afraid of Stilt-Man?" and informs us that "our titanic title" is "Mike Murdock Must Die!" So... wait. Masked Marauder? Stilt-Man? Mike Murdock? Perhaps a little history is in order.

In Daredevil #16, the Masked Marauder is a mysterious villain who manages to get Spidey and DD duking it out as he steals the secret plans for the "XB-390, the greatest new engine discovery of the decade." Using his spider-sense, Spidey locates Daredevil at the Nelson and Murdock law offices and, assuming a blind man can't be DD, breaks in and announces that Foggy is the Man Without Fear. In Daredevil #17, June 1966, Spidey and Daredevil defeat the Marauder's men at the World Motors Building but the Marauder escapes disguised as a security guard. As he gets away, he overhears Karen Page and Foggy Nelson talking, with Foggy trying to turn Karen on by implying that he actually is Daredevil. The Marauder believes every word and vows revenge. In Daredevil #18, July 1966, Foggy buys a Daredevil costume and tries to take on the Gladiator. The real DD, Foggy's partner Matt Murdock, takes over the fight in the fog and defeats the Gladiator who now also believes that Daredevil is Foggy Nelson. Meanwhile, Karen Page meets Mr. Dunn, the manager of the building that houses Nelson and Murdock's law offices. In Daredevil #19, August 1966, the Marauder's new men, "the cream of the underworld", break the Gladiator out. The Marauder tries to intimidate the Gladiator by zapping him with an opti-blast, then offering him the role of second-in-command but the Gladiator isn't interested in working for anyone else and starts pounding on the Marauder instead. Meanwhile, the Marauder's men go to Foggy Nelson's apartment to take Daredevil down. They are surprised by the real Daredevil who beats the tar out of them. One hood escapes and tells the battling Marauder and Gladiator that Foggy is not DD. This gets the two super-villains to stop fighting each other and join up as partners. In Daredevil #22, November 1966, Mr. Dunn's name has changed to Mr. Farnum. The Marauder convinces the Gladiator that they should try to take over the Maggia. The Marauder combines the strength of the wrestler known as the Mangler, the agility of the safecracker known as the Dancer, and the brains of the brain known as the Brain into his Tri-Android, then tells the Maggia that he will prove his right to run the organization by defeating Daredevil. But when DD defeats the Tri-Android in Madison Square Garden, the Marauder orders him to surrender or he will kill Foggy and Karen. (Oh, and earlier, Foggy and Karen talk about how Spider-Man is on the trail of Foggy's escaped client the Rhino in a tie-in to Amazing Spider-Man #43, December 1966.) In Daredevil #23, December 1966, Daredevil gets teleported via the Marauder's levitation ray back to the Marauder's hideout where he wreaks so much havoc that the Marauder is forced to teleport him and the Gladiator to the Maggia's European headquarters. When DD saves the Gladiator's life, the Gladiator calls off the fight. This prompts the Maggia to reject the Marauder since he promised that DD would be defeated and he didn't deliver. They offer a job to the Gladiator and let DD walk away. In Daredevil #24, January 1967, Spider-Man finally figures out what his spider-sense was telling him in DD #16 and uncharacteristically sends a letter to Matt Murdock saying he knows Matt is Daredevil. (Only Spidey's letter, not Spidey himself, appears in the issue.) He promises not to reveal Matt's identity but it is Karen and Foggy who read the letter. Good one, Spidey! In Daredevil #25, February 1967, Matt invents his twin brother Mike Murdock, telling Karen and Foggy that it is Mike who is really Daredevil. He shows up later dressed in a loud jacket, goofy hat and wrap-around shades and acts flippant (or as Foggy puts it, like "a swaggering swell-headed loud-mouthed clown") to convince them that Matt and Mike are two different people. Oh, and Daredevil defeats the Leapfrog. In Daredevil #26, March 1967, the Stilt-Man tries to bust the Leapfrog out of his court appearance but ends up fighting Daredevil. The Masked Marauder is revealed to be the building manager, Frank Farnum. After DD defeats Stilty, Farnum manages to stash the villain away in the trunk of his car. Soon after, Daredevil spots him and calls out, "Farnum! Get that car out of here, man! This area is dangerous!" This makes Farnum realize that DD is someone who knows him. As he drives off he decides to "keep the office of Nelson and Murdock under observation." That's it. You're up to date.

In Detail...

"Mike Murdock Must Die!"
Daredevil (Vol.1) #27
Apr 1967 : SMURF 047.600 : SM Guest
Summary: End of Masked Marauder (Spider-Man Appears)
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Gene Colan
Inker:  Frank Giacoia
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Essential Daredevil #2
Articles: Daredevil, The Masked Marauder, Stilt-Man

Daredevil is swinging around the city looking for Stilt-Man. He notices a fight below him between three car thieves and "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man." The crooks attack Spidey with what look like nightsticks or big pieces of beef jerky. Spidey socks one in the jaw with a "bok!" after which DD swings in and kicks another one in the chops. ("Horn-head! Who invited you?" says the wall crawler.) DD then judo-flips the third crook and Spidey webs the three bad guys to a lamppost. Daredevil asks Spidey if he's "seen anything of a guy called Stilt-Man" and the Webster replies, "No! Now get lost, huh? Someone might think it took two of us to lick three penny-ante hoods!" DD backs off but makes the mistake of asking, "Don't you ever smile?" Spidey replies, "How can you tell I'm not smiling under my mask?" But DD thinks fast and answers, "How do you know I haven't got x-ray eyes?"

Elsewhere, the Masked Marauder tries to get the Stilt-Man to team up with him. Stilty is not particularly interested so MM shows him his helicopter with force field.

This is interrupted by the "More Triumphs For Marvel" page, highlighting Amazing Spider-Man #48, May 1967 and Fantastic Four #62, May 1967, pretty clearly demonstrating that DD came out at the end of the month's cycle of comics while FF and Spidey came earlier. (Since this issue is still "April" and those two are "May.") About which, more next time.

Anyway, the Marauder tosses a wooden box at the helicopter's force field and it disintegrates. I'm not sure what good something like that would do you but the Stilt-Man is impressed enough to agree to the team-up. But first he shows off the speed of his stilts by telescoping way up and way back down again (which must make him queasy as hell). The Marauder is so impressed by this that he asks, "How did Daredevil ever beat you in the first place?" (Because he's LAME, Frank!) With the partnership consummated, MM tells Stilty that he believes that someone at Nelson and Murdock knows DD's true identity. His plan is to kidnap Matt, Foggy, and Karen and force them to reveal what they know.

That evening, the two lawyers and their secretary are working late. Stilt-Man extends up to their window level and tosses a gas pellet into the room, knocking Matt, Foggy, and Karen out. The Marauder arrives in his helicopter and lowers an "inflated balloon with the platform attached beneath it." (Where a building manager obtained the money to buy all this stuff and the know-how to design it is anybody's guess.) Stilt-Man loads the three captives into the balloon platform and the Marauder brings them up into the helicopter. Then Stilt-Man leaves a note for Daredevil in the law offices and joins MM on the chopper. He ties up the three hostages "though we won't haveta worry about the blind one," he says.

Then the bad guys circle the city for hours waiting for Daredevil to find their note. (They couldn't even spring for some skywriting or something. All they do is leave a note on a desk!) Matt, overhearing this, blurts out that DD is his twin brother Mike. With this "knowledge", MM lowers the chopper, shuts off the force field and sends Stilt-Man out to look for Mike. Stilt-Man's plan is to "find myself a lonely phone booth and look up the home address of Mike Murdock!" Brilliant! Unfortunately, Stilty soon finds out that Mike isn't listed in the phone book. That's it. He's exhausted his ideas except, following the Marauder's dictum of "make him come to you," he decides to break into a jewelry store on the off-chance that Daredevil is in the neighborhood and will come running. DD is nowhere around, of course, because he's one of the Marauder's hostages but Spidey just happens to be clinging to a nearby wall. So, even as the Stilt-Man breaks the jewelry store glass and grabs a gold something-or-other and a string of pearls, Spidey swings in and tries to nab him. Stilt-Man avoids him by extending his stilts to their full height. Instead of kicking Stilty in the snoot, Spidey swings right between his legs. Proclaiming, "wherever you can stretch to, ol' Spidey can swing to," (as long as there are tall enough buildings around, I guess) the wall-crawler readjusts and gets up to Stilt-Man's level. "I trust you've noticed that at no time do the fingers leave the hand!" he says as he punches Stilt-Man in the face. "Forgive me if I try to make this quick! I'm getting kinda airsick up here!" he says as he punches Stilt-Man in the face again. That's all Stilt-Man is willing to take. "You webbed weasel!" he says, "I didn't want to fight you but now..."

Back at the helicopter, the Marauder announces that he has no more use for his hostages now that he knows DD's real ID. He plans to kill them all by dumping them out of the chopper. He chooses Matt first as payment for ratting out his brother... which is exactly what Matt wants. Before he can be pushed out, though, Matt head-butts the Marauder, forcing him to stumble back against the force field button, deactivating it. (Yes, that's right. The Marauder has a big button labeled "Disintegrator" in full view of everyone like he used the designer of the 60s TV Batcave.) MM fires his gun at Matt who moves "with a skill and precision which no sighted man could match" so that the bullet snaps the rope that tied his hands. Then he intentionally falls out, hanging onto the helicopter's skid by one leg as he changes into his Daredevil suit. He swings back into the helicopter telling everyone he was hanging on outside all the time and that he caught Matt Murdock and "lowered him to a rooftop with my cable." Then he pounds away on the Marauder, suddenly realizing he recognizes the villain's "pulse rate." This time, the Marauder bumps into the automatic pilot control switch (what are all these controls doing back in the cargo area?) which sends the ship out of control. Foggy manages to grab the controls and right the chopper as DD and MM confront each other again. (But wasn't Foggy tied up?) "I know who you are, Daredevil," says MM. "And the same goes for me... Farnum!" says DD. Declaring, "there's no longer any need for concealment," MM orders Karen to remove his helmet. (For a dramatic unmasking, I guess, even though we learned his identity last issue. Maybe Stan realized the previous unveiling fell flat and was trying a do-over.) Then, he reactivates "the ship's deadly force field." (Which is just asking for trouble. Can't you see it coming a mile away?) Daredevil rushes him before he can shoot and in the ensuing tussle, Farnum falls out of the helicopter. He strikes the force field and is disintegrated.

Back on terra firma, Stilt-Man throws a "stun gas pellet" at Spidey, stunning him. Realizing that "if not for the gas, he'd have won," Stilty beats it out of there, heading for the waterfront, trying "to get back to the copter." As Spidey recovers, a reporter tries to get an interview. "Sorry, Mister" says the webhead as he swings away, "I need publicity like Rockefeller needs a loan." Instead of trying to follow Stilt-Man, he just takes off. "If you run into hornhead be sure to give 'im my worst!" he says to the reporter as he departs.

So, Stilt-Man arrives at the waterfront (standing astride what looks like the George Washington Bridge) only to find that Daredevil has taken over the helicopter. (And Foggy Nelson is flying it! Yikes!) He pulls out a ray gun and fires at DD but the gun is "electrically activated" and the fact that he is standing in the water causes a short circuit that wipes out his stilt system. He shrinks back to normal and winds up floating helplessly in the river. As the helicopter flies off, DD proclaims, "The police will haul him in now!" (If they even know about it.) "Let's head for the nearest field," he tells Foggy the Pilot, "it's been a real busy day even for Daredevil!"

I'm not including the M.M.M.S. list since this isn't Spidey's mag. (Oh, what the heck, I'll list one: Frank Ammiano of Newark, New Jersey). No letters either. (Oh, what the heck. I'll mention one: Tom Orzechowski of Detroit, Michigan wrote to say, "Issue #24 was the best yet!" Actually I'm not much interested in what Tom had to say. I only mention his letter because he went on to become a comic book letterer with a career lasting several decades. I don't know if he's still working or if digital lettering did him in but I wish him the best.)

Last Call:

It might have really been the end of the Masked Marauder, if Stan had had his way. Instead, Mike Friedrich brings him back in Iron Man #60-61, July-August 1973 in which it is revealed that the disintegrator force field was actually a teleportation ray that the Marauder uses to escape. It doesn't make any sense within the context of this story but there you have it. He shows up again in Werewolf By Night #42-43, January-March 1977 then meets Spidey again in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #25-27, December 1978-February 1979. Recently, in Punisher War Journal (Vol.2) #4, April 2007, he was poisoned but that probably wasn't the honest-to-gosh end of the Masked Marauder either.

Stilt-Man returns in Daredevil Annual #1, September 1967 as part of Electro and his Emissaries of Evil. He doesn't meet Spidey again until Amazing Spider-Man #237, February 1983.

Mike Murdock finally "dies" in "The Death of Mike Murdock" in Daredevil #41, June 1968 lasting a year and a half and 17 issues. Not bad for a wacky idea that never should have seen the light of day to begin with.

Spidey and Daredevil next appear together on page 7 panel 4 of the Nick Fury story in Strange Tales #156, May 1967 but since that's mostly symbolic we won't count that. Otherwise they meet again in Fantastic Four #73, April 1968.

In General...

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. First battle between Spider-Man and Stilt-Man.
  2. The end of the Masked Marauder (until Iron Man #60, anyway).
  3. Spidey acts like a jerk for pretty much the whole issue.

Overall Rating...

Have you noticed what a di... er, what a jerk Spidey often is when he guest-stars in other people's comics? I thought he was bad when he blew off Iron Man in Avengers #3, January 1964 or mixed it up with Giant-Man and the Wasp back in Tales to Astonish #57, July 1964 but here he is positively unpleasant. He tells DD to "get lost" when ol' Hornhead tries to help him capture some car thieves, he bugs out without bothering to chase Stilt-Man after the villain has fled their fight, and don't forget he sent a letter to Matt Murdock back in DD #24 accusing him of being Daredevil. Must be that rebellious teen-ager thing. The Masked Marauder was never a particularly interesting villain. The revelation of his secret identity in DD #26 is almost anti-climactic and his "end" is so predictable you can see it coming from the moment he throws the wooden box into the force field. On the other hand, I've always liked the Stilt-Man. (Yes, he's lame but he's also got one of the coolest looks of any Marvel villain.) And it's always fun seeing Spider-Man and Daredevil together, even if for a short time. Stan's plotting and pacing keep the story moving right along and Gene Colan's artwork is dynamic and kinetic from the opening with DD leaping over Rodin's Thinker (then swinging from page 2 panel 1 to page 2 panel 2) and finishing with the short-circuited Stilt-Man rushing down into the river. Overall result? A pretty basic two and a half web comic.

Footnote...

Next: The Sandman but no Spider-Man.