Comics : Daredevil (Vol.2) #20

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Daredevil #20 features a 6 page backup story by legendary Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee! You can imagine my excitement: Spidey and Daredevil, two of Marvel's most similar New York-dwelling acrobatic heroes who seem to get along really well whenever they pair up. What could be better than that, dear fans? Well, as it turns out, most anything, jock itch included.

In Detail...

"My Brother's Keeper"
Daredevil (Vol.2) #20
Sep 2001 : SM Guest
Summary: Spider-Man Backup Story
Editor:  Nanci Dakesian, Stuart Moore
Plot:  Kevin Hall (Backup)
Writer:  Bob Gale, Stan Lee
Pencils:  Gene Colan, Phil Winslade
Inker:  James Hodgkins, Tom Palmer
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Review

It's tipping down in the streets, and all the action seems to be in Joe's Bar. Forget the football game on the tube, everybody's staring at two guys in red at the front bar; Spider-Man and Daredevil chugging a brewski or two! They're engaging in some witty banter, to the amazement of every other patron in the place. Guys wanna be them, gals wanna be seen with them etc! Suddenly Daredevil hears a woman crying for help, and splits, leaving Spidey to pay the bill for their meals.

Daredevil swings into action, easily managing to foil an attempted mugging of a nice old lady. Spidey, having settled the bill, web-slings after Daredevil, to see if he needs a helping hand. But just as he decides all is well, his Spider-Sense tells him there's a gang war happening in Hell's Kitchen, to which he responds. It turns out to be a gang war of 3 people, more of a tussle than anything, really.

Spidey quickly dispatches the fighting hoods and then notices Daredevil lurking around. They swap some more witty banter and then, figuring they're both even, call it quits.

In General...

I was kidding about that whole "witty banter" thing in the Detail section above. Nearly every line of dialogue is out of character for both Spidey AND Daredevil. How did Spidey even eat his burger, chili and drink his beer without rolling his mask up? Why on earth would Peter Parker and Matt Murdock, two old friends from way back, sit in a bar decked out in their crime fighting duds? Why wouldn't they just go there as Pete & Matt? If they go there every week, how long will it take someone like Kingpin to figure this out and simply rig the place to blow? Something blows around here, but unfortunately it's not Joe's Bar.

Stan Lee, true to his bloated egotistical self-important view of himself, inserts himself into the narration with monotonous regularity. Things like explaining that "Meanwhile" is the most important word in comics, closely followed by "Suddenly" (Suddenly Daredevil can somehow sense Spidey's Spider-Sense???) and then telling us he can't resist from adding dialogue during Spidey's battle. And after that enormous buildup, what is the irresistable dialogue? (more accurately a monologue in fact) "I'm nurturing a deep-rooted feeling of hostility towards you." C'mon Stan, Spidey is supposed to be funny!

Sorry if I sound harsh on Stan The Man Lee, but he really should have given up writing scripts years ago. I prefer to remember him for his excellent work on Amazing Spider-Man back in the 60s. This script is as cheesy as anything he wrote back then, with none of that innocent "silver-age" charm or authentic period feel. The artwork is okay, with quite a nice 70s feel to it. Heck, even Stan seems to realise what a dunger he's turned in, with his closing comment summing it up: "Hey, it's only a 6-pager. What were you expecting, the brothers Karamazov?"

Overall Rating...

As filler stories go, this was pretty bad. If you want to see an example of the backup story at the top of it's game, check out Batman: Gotham Knights #19, Batman Black & White. This backup story is better written and better illustrated than the feature story in the same comic! In fact, it's a much more apt recipient for the title "My Brother's Keeper" than the subject of this review. This story is so far out of the ballpark of "My Brother's Keeper" as to render this review's rating a mere drop in the ocean of possible scores.

One and a half webs. And that's all for the artwork. Nice one, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.