Darkdevil #1

Background

Darkdevil originally appeared in Spider-Girl #2 and became a semi-regular supporting character in that series. He has Daredevil's general outfit but with darker tones and flaming, glowing batons instead of a billy club. He also sports fanged teeth, a bluish-white skin tone, and shoulder pads big enough to stretch back all the way to the nineties. Oh, and he can teleport!

In the first dozen or so issues of Spider-Girl he acts as a superhero mentor of sorts, alternating between handing out disparaging comments and inspiring speeches to our protagonist. Along the way, he's also dropped cryptic remarks about his connection to Daredevil (and that hero's death), and even hints at a connection to the original Spider-Man. So, let's see who he really is and what he's really about. And if all this mysteriousness is warranted...

Story Details

  Darkdevil #1
Summary: Spider-Girl Spinoff, Scrier
Editor: Matt Hicks
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Ron Frenz
Inker: Al Milgrom

Midnight, the witching hour. Darkdevil is meeting an informant under a bridge somewhere. Or is he? Out of the shadows come ninjas! He tears into him and it seems that katanas are no match for flaming batons. After he defeats them, they literally explode, so as not to give them an opportunity to snitch on their boss. Darkdevil is left to wonder who would want to kill his informant (a small-time political hack named McKenzie). Above the rooftops, we see a pale man dressed in a black cloak with red, glaring eyes (this, as the reader soon finds out, is a Scrier).

On the next page, this very Scrier is meeting with an unidentified man, who works for a mysterious underworld employer (who is very clearly the Kingpin) and declares he wants to take out a contract (of death, natch) on Darkdevil. The Scrier reveals that he has been observing DD and believes he is actually part demon. The underworld go-between asks him how do you kill a demon? Easy, the Scrier replies, “You send a bigger demon.” Pretty hardcore, huh?

Cut to Ryker's Island. The Kingpin is in the yard lifting weights when who walks up but Kaine (fresh from his capture in Spider-Girl #17). They trade veiled threats while Kaine lets drop that he used to work for the Kingpin. These guys clearly have a history together and it isn't pleasant. Their macho posturing is interrupted, however, by a prison guard advising Kaine that he has a visitor.

Now, remember how Darkdevil was all mysterious and kept giving out subtle clues to his secret identity all throughout Spider-Girl's early issues? Well, it's time for DeFalco to start spilling the beans, and boy, is this origin a doozie! DD returns to his penthouse apartment (via teleportation) and morphs his face from that of a devil to a normal man who looks similar to a young Peter Parker. Then, he starts reminiscing about his past...

It seems he was an orphan (again, much like Peter Parker) except DD did not have a kindly aunt and uncle to take him in. He went in and out of foster care and grew up a loner. He eventually discovers he's even more different than he realized – he has increased speed, strength and agility, and even a “sixth sense” that warns him of danger. Hmmm. Then, we are brought back to the present and our fresh-faced young man walks into the law offices of Nelson and Associates and we find out his first name is Reilly. Double hmmm.

We switch back to Kaine, who is getting some good news from his public defender - he is getting out of jail on a technicality! Then, we cut to Peter Parker meeting up with Marcus Stone, who it turns out is the mayoral candidate that McKenzie, Daredevil's informant, works for.

Later that night, Mackenzie is once again trying to meet up with DD. He believes someone is trying to fix the election to get the candidate who is in the mob's pocket elected. Only he doesn't know which one it is! Before DD can reply, the Scrier emerges from the shadows with two very big swords. Of course, Darkdevil is not surprised (Spider-Sense, remember?) and easily blocks the sword thrusts with his batons while performing a gnarly over the should leg kick that connects with the Scrier's chin. They spar back and forth for a while, but the Scrier finally lands a blow by slicing up DD's abdomen. Darkdevil can't believe the sword was able to harm him. Scrier reveals that his blade was forged in hellfire and coated with a fast-acting, deadly poison (talk about overkill). DD goes all woozy, but before the Scrier lands his killing blow he uses his teleport trick to get away.

Soon after, the Scrier meets up with his boss, Scrier Prime (a bigger, spikier version of the Scriers who is too cool to wear a cloak). Although the Scrier offers to commit suicide because of his failure, SP instead gives him a new assignment - kill Kaine. Scrier Prime says he will take care of Darkdevil himself.

Speaking of which, DD teleports to a secret lab where he keeps something he calls the Resurrection Tube. As he climbs in, he reminisces about having regular “nausea attacks” as a teen. Kaine (who for years has been keeping track of the kid from afar) eventually appears and brings him to this very lab for the first time. Kaine explains that he (the kid, that is) has a fatal disease passed down from his father (clone degeneration, anyone?) and in order to cure it he needs to be placed in suspended animation for a time. Just before he enters the life pod, Kaine reveals the boy's real father's name - Ben Reilly?!?

General Comments

It's time to send in the clones! I hope you're a big fan of the Clone Saga, because it looks like we're gonna do a deep dive into its lore during this series.

Overall Rating

I was lucky enough to miss out on the whole Clone Saga the first time around, but just like when I pass a dead animal on the side of the road it's hard for me to look away. Still, I'm willing to give Tom DeFalco the benefit of the doubt here because he's the one that managed to raise up a great character like Spider-Girl out of that ashes of that awful, convoluted storyline. Let's see where he's going here before we pass judgment. So far it is a pretty standard political / underworld thriller, but at least it's a different type of story than you'd get from reading Spider-Girl.

Footnote

The villain known as Scrier (note the singular) first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #394. This Scrier was revealed to be part of a bigger group named The Scriers (or more formally The Brotherhood of the Scriers) which subsequently appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #417.