Sympathy for the Devil

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

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Volume 1, issue 103 "...Then Came Ramrod!"

"...Then Came Ramrod!" September 1973
Writer: Steve Gerber
Penciler: Don Heck
Inker: Sal Trapani
Colors: George Roussos
Lettering: Artie Simek
Cover: John Romita/Don Heck

Upon my first reading of this issue, I reflected for a moment about how much this villain reminds me of one of my favorite Daredevil villains from the late 1980's. The villain in question: Bullet.

Depicted here on the cover of Daredevil 267 is Bullet:

He's the guy Daredevil is punching in the face.

The villain of issue 103 is Ramrod, depicted here:

Inside issue 103, Daredevil punches him in the face.

The similarities do not end there, however. Quoting from Bullet's Wikipedia page: "Bullet appears to have near superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability." From Ramrod's: "He has superhuman strength, stamina, and durability." Basically, they are the same character. Again, according to Wikipedia, the only real difference is that Ramrod possesses a steel skeleton. That information is sort of a spoiler, though. We'll get to that later.

This month: Spider-Man!

And...a rather contrived way of bringing him into the story.

Basically, J. Jonah Jameson has sent Peter Parker all the way across the country to conduct an interview with Daredevil. I find this a little silly. Why? Because Peter Parker is smart enough to deduce the connotations of Matt Murdock and Daredevil cohabitating. Likewise, for Matt Murdock. I'm sure he would be a little suspicious of Parker and Spidey showing up in San Francisco at the same time. Spider-Man and Peter Parker just follow each other around? I don't think so.

It is kind of funny, though, that Jameson would not see the irony of sending Spider-Man to interview Daredevil.

At any rate, Parker arrives at the house just as Daredevil and Black Widow are returning. With them, they carry a box. Inside the box: papers that were almost stolen from the offices of Rolling Stone. These papers implicate an unknown person in everything from heroin dealing to gem racketeering. Daredevil has been asked to keep the papers for safekeeping until Rolling Stone can publish their expose. Not typical Rolling Stone subject matter, but whatever.

Parker finds Ivan outside as he fixes the car. Ivan insists that Parker should be interviewing him. His is a real human interest story: "No flashy costume-- no corny name-- just raw guts an' human drama!" Before he can get sick on the odor of sour grapes, Peter excuses himself to go find our heroes. As he rings the doorbell, he gets a twinge on his spider-sense. Uh oh! What danger awaits?

It's Ramrod! Halfway through the interview, our villain bursts in through the south wall of the library. He goes after Daredevil, knocking him to the ground and demanding "the papers." When he learns that Daredevil doesn't have the papers on him, he hones in on their location. It's as if the papers have some sort of tracking device equipped. Ramrod finds them, after destroying half the house, inside a safe behind a painting.

Outside, Daredevil and Black Widow try to stop him from escaping, but this effort is a bust. Ramrod's body of steel is like a wall. Daredevil slams into him and just about breaks his neck. Widow tries to kick him, but he hurls her across the yard with a flick of his arm. Ramrod escapes. Black Widow and Daredevil go after him. Once they're gone, Parker takes chase, too. "Hang on San Fran-- here comes Spidey!"

It's flashback time! As our heroes search the streets in vain, Ramrod mocks them from his hiding place atop a building. He remembers his origin. Seems Ramrod was just a foreman on an off-shore oil rig just a week ago. A full oil drum rolled off the pallet and crushed him. He is sent to the hospital, alive but completely paralyzed. Ramrod comes to inside a hospital room inside a spaceship. He tries to escape, but is stopped from leaving by two mysterious figures. They inform him that they have replaced his bones with bands of steel. Ramrod is now a cyborg! His mysterious benefactors have only request in lieu of payment: kill Daredevil. They tell him that they have injected him a deadly chemical and that he will only receive the antidote when it can be proven that Daredevil is dead. Oh yeah, they also want the papers.

Ramrod's reminiscing is interrupted by Spider-Man, who uses his webbing to pull the box of papers from Ramrod's hands. Ramrod goes after him. He decimates a building as he chases Spidey. Daredevil jumps in with a swift kick to Ramrod's face. Another building is decimated as Ramrod falls. Daredevil gives the box of papers to Spidey, tells him to split. When Ramrod goes after Spider-Man, Black Widow shoots him in the face with her Widow's Bite. It hurts him. Is his face the weak spot in his armor?

Daredevil and Black Widow take on Ramrod. Duck and weave and hit him in the face. Duck, weave, hit him in the face. Oh, they're getting to him! He's getting wobbly! Oh, it was just a clever ruse! Unexpectedly, Ramrod pushes Black Widow. Then, he grabs her ankle and dangles her off the roof of the building. Daredevil tries to reason with him: "Think, man! How can a box of papers be worth a human life?" Good job, Daredevil! Remind him about the papers. You know, the ones he was supposed to get and then had and then lost again? Upset, Ramrod lets go of Black Widow's ankle and she begins to plummet.

Phew! Thank God for the ninja-like reflexes of my boy Daredevil. He swoops in and saves her just in time.

Meanwhile, Ramrod has run into Spider-Man again. He wants those papers. He tells Spider-Man that Spidey will never be able to hide them. He says that the papers are treated with a radio-active material and that there's a homing device in his head that will lead him to the papers no matter where they are. Even up a building. And Ramrod is fast. At the apex of the spire, Spidey gets a good gob of webbing in Ramrod's eyes. Daredevil and Black Widow swoop in. Ramrod falls. He gets stuck in the ground with a well-drawn WHUNK!

Spider-Man gives Daredevil the box of papers. He swings off into the sunset. As Daredevil and Black Widow ponder where Spider-Man might have come from, Peter Parker approaches and asks if they can finish their interview.


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