Sympathy for the Devil

a blog devoted to comic books in general and Daredevil in particular

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Volume 1, issue 100 "Mindstorm!"

"Mindstorm!" June 1973
Writer: Steve Gerber
Penciler: Gene Colan
Inker: John Tartaglione
Colors: George Roussos
Lettering: Charlotte Jetter
Cover: Sal Buscema/Don Heck

Remember how I said back in the recap of issue 97 that Steve Gerber was well-known for weird tales that don't really seem like they would work too well in the Daredevil universe? Well, this issue is a damn fine example of what I'm talking about. After writing two issues that Gerry Conway plotted and then a seemingly pointless Avengers tie-in, Gerber really sets the Weird Knob to 20 with his first foray into solo creation. Gerber is a good enough writer to pull it off, though. It's not just a trippy hallucinogenic tale being weaved here but a poignant social commentary about heroes and why they are necessary.

It's also issue 100. And we've just had a guest appearance in The Avengers. At least part of the time here must be spent getting readers that might just be hopping on board up to speed. Gerber takes an interesting approach to that job, too.

Okay. Gerber has enough in the first two panels alone to piss me off. Thankfully, he doesn't keep this trend up as the issue progresses.

Panel 1: A full-page panel of Daredevil flying a sleek Avengers quinjet.
Two questions:
First, why would The Avengers just give him a quinjet? Didn't he decline the offer to join their ranks? This isn't very responsible quinjet-loaning on the part of Thor and Company. It should be a bylaw: Use and piloting of Avengers quinjets is restricted solely to those who answer "yes" when asked "Would you like to be an Avenger?"
Second, HOW THE HELL IS MATT MURDOCK FLYING A PLANE?!?! The quinjet being programmed to fly Daredevil to his destination and, basically, working on auto-pilot is something I could understand, but the captions say very plainly "His hypersensitive fingertips read the dials and meters his eyes cannot see." He is also depicted operating the controls, pushing buttons, making things work. These buttons and controls are not in braille so he shouldn't be able to read them. AAARGH! It's anger-inducing.

Panel 2: The first panel on page 2. Daredevil sits in the cockpit musing about Natasha. "Okay, Tasha, you did what you had to do. You're an Avenger now. And you're in New York-- and I'm here. And we never said we loved each other anyway-- right?" So...Matt and Natasha have broken up. But this happened in another comic book. I don't think something so important to the plot of this book should have happened in another book. Why? Because I don't want to buy your god damn The Avengers comic book, Marvel! Maybe I'm content to just buy and read Daredevil and, when I do, I wanna know what's going on. The events that happen in The Avengers 111 are not important to Daredevil continuity, so something that would be shouldn't have happened. Incidentally, the handy little caption at the bottom of the panel says that all the events Daredevil has just described happened in The Avengers issue 110. Lies! Lies! If you're going to do something in another book that affects story continuity in this book at least have your editors find and fix an error as big as sending people to the wrong damn issue. Further, if Matt and Natasha have broken up, then why is Daredevil still sharing the masthead logo with Black Widow. She isn't in this issue.

All that I am done soapboxing like King Geek about minor quibbles in the first two panels, let's calm ourselves and get on with the rest of the issue itself.

On the quinjet radar, Daredevil picks up a robbery on the streets below. He pushes a button on the console that ejects him from the plane. The plane turns and hightails it on its own back to New York. While Daredevil is soaring through the air like a Wallenda, briefly, just for a moment, reality disappears. To Daredevil, it appears that he is soaring through outer space. It's just for a second, though, and then we're back to reality. Whoa! What the hell was that? It's enough to freak ol' Hornhead out. He has a quick moment of panic, begins to fall, and then saves himself just in the nick of time.

Just in time for fighting! The robbery below is being perpetrated by a gang of thugs. Daredevil, of course, makes easy work of them. He discovers two things that don't make much sense: 1) the thugs were all wearing grease paint and 2) they were only stealing a bunch of files. Daredevil remembers the kids that shot up the research center back in issue 97 and wonders if these two oddities are connected. He only thinks about this for a panel, though, before he is approached by a man who claims that it was his offices that were just robbed.

This man is none other than Jann Wenner. He introduces himself as the editor of Rolling Stone. He's a real person. Brief detour here while I point something out.

This is Jann Wenner as depicted in this issue:

Suave, good-looking, blonde. The real Jann Wenner, the actual person that this character is supposed to be depicting has never looked like this.

This is what Jann Wenner actually looked like:

Pudgy, dark-headed, trollish.

Also, he isn't really a great role model for the kids who read this comic. This is Jann with Hunter S. Thompson:

That's right. Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I would bet one million dollars that it isn't cigarettes he and Jann are smoking in the picture above.

Anyway, Jann convinces Daredevil to come upstairs into his office for an interview. Seems his readers are clamoring for a little one-on-one with San Francisco's own costumed avenger. Daredevil agrees to this. The first question: "Who are you under those horns?" Well, we can't be answering that question, can we? We move on to the second question: "How did it start? How did you become a superhero?"

Daredevil answers succinctly: "...I helped a blind man across the street-- and it changed my life." From there, he goes into a seven panel flashback of his origin. It's all there: old man, truck of radioactive materials, run to save his life, blackness. This part, Daredevil keeps to himself, though. That part of the story isn't for Rolling Stone readers. Jann chides him for letting his mind wander.

Next question: "How did you happen to choose 'Daredevil'?" Daredevil tells him about the neighborhood bullies. Then, Jann brings up Mike Murdock. Daredevil claims, though, that he and Mike traded off the Daredevil initially. But he claims that it was he who chose the name. Daredevil gets lost in thought again, ruminating on his father and his death. It's all there: dad was a boxer, killed by gangsters, vengeance sought for same. Jann yells at him again: Every time I ask you something heavy-- you drift off into limbo!"

Suddenly, that weird unreality thing happens again. The floor and walls of Jann's office melt away. They plummet together through nothingness. They land safely atop a mountain peak. Jann has just enough time to question what the hell is going on when the Earth opens up. From a dark corner of space emerges The Jester. And Leap Frog. And Karen and Foggy and Natasha and Ivan. The door to the law offices of Nelson & Murdock. Then, there's The Matador. Tagak. Dr. Doom. The Gladiator. It's a veritable jog down memory lane. Then, white light and it's all over. We're back in Jann's office again.

Jann is very confused. He wonders if Daredevil saw it, too. He confirms that this has happened several times in the past couple of days. "Whole sections of the city freak out...and nobody remembers what happened!" A look out the window to the street below reveals the citizenry has gone hysterical. They clearly remember it this time. Jann tries to cut the interview short, but Daredevil gets preachy with him: "What you saw...was the life of a superhero, compressed into a few terrifying seconds. That's what I live with, day-to-day. And not just me-- it's the same for Spider-Man or the FF-- or any of us! Sure, there's glamor-- sure, there's excitement...but there's also danger-- lurking behind every bush...under every bed, inside every closet!" Jann points out that this would be like having your own private H-bomb hanging over you every second of every day. Daredevil agrees. "But," he says, "that's not what it's all about. If it were-- any of us could just throw away his longjohns and walk away from it whenever he wanted."

Daredevil drags Jann out of the office, outside to the streets of San Francisco. "People make heroes, Jann-- we're born from a gut level need to help-- and a need for help-- against the evil that springs from the minds of men to threaten the good. You get a strange perspective on life in this business, learn that the most evil villain has some good in him. And some of the best men have the capacity to be the worst." It's a great soundbite that Jann will never use. They get back to the office and Jann doesn't remember any of it. The interview, the hallucination, none of it. No one else in the office seems to remember it either.

Seven digits dialed to Lieutenant Carson. Carson confirms what Daredevil already knew: reports of sections of the city going "ga-ga" but nobody remembers anything later. They only remember being scared stupid and hearing a blood-curdling scream.

As soon as the phone call ends, another hallucination starts. A blood-curdling scream, and the sky disappears. It's just outer space out there, planets and comets whizzing by. Daredevil orders everyone to stay in the office and heads out to find out what is going on. Out the window, on the street, and all Daredevil finds is a terrified crowd. The crowd is terrified of this guy:


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