Sympathy for the Devil

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

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Volume 1, issue 102 "Stilt-Man Stalks The City!"

"Stilt-Man Stalks The City!" August 1973
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Syd Shores
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Colors: Unknown
Lettering: Artie Simek
Cover: Sal Buscema

Well, I'll be damned.

This was an unexpected surprise.

I had a small hiatus here in updating because I do not own a copy of Daredevil 102. I can't really do a review or recap of an issue that I do not have access to, so I had to go online and buy the issue in question. The hiatus took place while I waited for the issue to arrive in the mail. To be honest, it was a used copy of Essential Daredevil, volume 5 that I has purchased and was waiting for but it contains the issue in question as well as a couple of others that I will be getting to soon but do not actually own.

Anyway, I was shocked-- nay, horrified-- to see Stilt-Man on the cover of issue 102. Come on, Steve Gerber! You can do better than this! But wait...the issue isn't written by Steve Gerber.

It's written by Chris Claremont. I happen to be a pretty big fan of Chris Claremont, and until just a couple of hours ago, had no idea that he had ever written an issue of Daredevil. As it turns out, over the thirty-four years that volume one will be in print, Chris Claremont will pen three issues. This one is the first.

How does such a top-tier writer get stuck with a bottom-tier villain? Well, in 1973, Mr. Claremont was hardly top-tier. In fact, according to his Wikipedia page, in 1973, Claremont wasn't even listed on Marvel rosters as a writer. He was still a gofer in 1973. Apparently, his first real writing gig was the fledgling title Iron Fist in 1974. This work on Daredevil was just a fill-in for Steve Gerber, who might have been busy creating Howard The Duck this month.

Either way, Claremont's work speaks for itself. Most famous for his work on The Uncanny X-Men, he is well-known for "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "The Days of Future Past." Also, he created a character whose very appearance in my blog will make my wife squeal with girlish delight.

My wife loves her some Gambit.

As expected, Chris Claremont does an admirable job of writing for a mediocre villain. Interestingly, the artwork is drawn by Syd Shores, an artist most known for his inking work. It's art worthy of the Daredevil brand. Not as dramatic, probably, as Gene Colan, but who is?

Here's a sample of Syd's work, a panel of Black Widow in action:

The issue itself is pretty straightforward: bad guy shows up, heroes kick his behind. Claremont makes a pretty glaring error, though, in the name of a recurring character. Depicted here is Wilbur Day, as he yells at William Klaxton, the inventor of the Stilt-Man technology:

William Klaxton? Don't you mean Carl Kaxton?

Either way, it's Klaxton throughout the entire issue. Even better, there's two misnamed characters, since Mr. Klaxton's daughter Barbara is also a part of this story. She's never been seen in the comic before, so we can't fault him her misnaming too much.

The issue's summary:
Daredevil is out in the streets of San Francisco looking for Angar. He stumbles across a bad deal goin' down at the docks: a strange man is paying some thugs $30,000 for a box of electronic equipment. Sounds shady, so Daredevil intervenes and kicks their butt. The strange man gets away by plugging our hero with a gas bomb. Daredevil makes off with the electronics, though. It's a dish antenna. Huh, what could that be used for?

Daredevil, of course, recognizes the heartbeat of our erstwhile stranger: it's none other than Wilbur Day.

Speaking of Wilbur...we find that he is holding Mr. Caxton Klaxton hostage in an old tenement building. He promises to free him when Caxton Klaxton finishes work on a molecule condenser. Turns out he has also kidnapped Dr. Caxton Klaxton's daughter, Barbara, and has promised his vile assistant Endros that he can do what he wants with her if her father doesn't pull through. Turns out this "molecule condenser" is the same weapon that Daredevil defeated him with back in issue 8. Caxton Klaxton is making modifications and Wilbur Day wants the new condenser very, very badly. His nefarious plan: turn the ray on the city of San Francisco and then extort them for a billion dollars and the cold corpse of Daredevil. Ah, the villainy!

Daredevil goes to find Dr. Caxton Klaxton. But first he has to fight Endros, Wilbur's muscled crony. Short work, done in three panels. A little slapping around of Dr. Caxton Klaxton reveals that Wilbur has the condenser and he plans to use it on The Golden Gate Bridge as a demonstration. It turns out that he also has Barbara!

Black Widow has gone after Stilt-Man. Stilt-Man has Barbara, carrying her through the city like Fay Wray. Black Widow kicks him in the back of the head. Stilt-Man drops Barbara. Black Widow catches her. Stilt-Man threatens Black Widow with the molecule condenser. Black Widow shoots it out of his hands. She hoists herself up by holding on to her leg, getting herself high enough to shoot ol' Stilty in the face. He is blinded momentarily. Daredevil shows up just in time for Widow to get shot in the arm by a ray of some sort. She drops from the sky, her line goes taut, her shoulder is dislocated. Daredevil takes a turn kicking Stilt-Man in the back of the head. Stilt-Man falls through the window of a car dealership. That's the end of Stilt-Man. At least, this time.


I hate Stilt-Man.

The last four panels are amusing. They depict a homeless man rummaging through some trash barrels. He finds the molecule condenser, but he assumes it is a toy of some kind and throws it aside. How much are we willing to bet that this little episode becomes important later?


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