Markley’s Fevered Brain: Book Without Fear

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

When a character has been around over 50 years, there is obviously going to be ups and downs. This is true whether it is from Marvel or DC. ome books have more high points than your average book, such as the Fantastic Four, who have had runs that are just amazing by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, John Byrne, Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, and Jonathan Hickman just off the top of my head. But with this blog I am not going to discuss the FF.I am going to talk about DD. Yes, Daredevil. Most comic fans are aware of some of Daredevil’s high points, such as Frank Miller’s run, or the double barreled run by Brian Bendis followed by Ed Brubaker or David Liss’s great story with the Black Panther as the Man Without Fear. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run on the book that was a ray of sunshine compared to most of DD’s run or even the current storyline by Chip Zdarsky.

But I am not going to discuss any of these great runs. I am going back to the earliest DD stories, no not the Golden Age Daredevil by Lev Gleason which has nothing to do with the modern version, but the Marvel version of Daredevil by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Wally Wood and the amazing Gene Colan. I thought this was a good time to discuss the early stories because Marvel has just released the forth volume of the Daredevil Epic Collections which cover the first 82 issues of the series and takes it up to the point where the book was co-starring the Black Widow. Since these stories were first published in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, many people have forgotten that the Black Window was a central figure in Daredevil for years long before Electra.

Daredevil Epic Collection: The Man Without Fear

Daredevil Epic Collection: The Man Without Fear


The first volume is called Daredevil Epic Collection: The Man Without Fear. It collects Daredevil #1-21 from 1964 on. All of these stories were written by Stan Lee (with a helping hand by Denny O’Neil) and drawn by a variety of people early on, including Bill Everett, Wally Wood, Bob Powell, John Romita and the early issues by the master of DD, Gene Colan. The early issue have DD in the yellow and red costume which Wally Wood would change to the all red costume that he has had for the most of the last 50+ years. The early stories are sort of feeling out as the character as he is introduced and we meet his supporting cast; Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, and others. By the late teens, Lee starts to really define the character and the flow of the stories really gets going. Plus, some of the villains introduced in these early issues include the Owl, Stilt-Man, The Purple Man, and The Gladiator as well as confrontations with Ka-Zar and the Sub-Mariner. Some great stories with amazing art.

Daredevil Epic Collection: Mike Murdoch Must Die!

Daredevil Epic Collection: Mike Murdoch Must Die!


Volume two of the Daredevil Epic Collection reprints issues #22-41 and Annual #1 as well as Fantastic Four #73 and a story from Not Brand Echh. This volume is called Mike Murdoch Must Die! Yes, we all know Daredevil is Matt Murdoch, so who is Mike Murdoch? Well, he is a character Matt creates to protect his identity as Daredevil by faking he has a brother with full eye-sight. As silly as this sounds, as I just wrote it, Stan does an amazing job of making this subplot work as both drama and as a way to push forward the Matt Murdock/Karen Page romance angle. (Almost every early Marvel has similar subplots with the hero being in love with a women he could not have as she loved the hero, not the man behind the mask). This complete collection is drawn by Gene Colan (except for the FF issue which is by Jack Kirby) and these stories really show how great Gene Colan was. His art just flows and it a 100% different than almost every other Marvel artist at the time, but it is just beautiful. Villains include Mr. Hyde, the Cobra, Man-Frog, Stilt-Man, Owl, Trapster, and Doctor Doom, which has one of my favorite covers by Gene Colan, Daredevil #38. The Doom story continues in FF #73 which is also included in this volume. Within these pages Lee/Colan really hit their stride in storytelling and these collections are as good as Lee/Kirby’s run on the Fantastic Four or Lee/Romita’s run on Amazing Spider-Man.

Daredevil Epic Collection Vol. 3: Brother, Take My Hand

Daredevil Epic Collection Vol. 3: Brother, Take My Hand


Daredevil Epic Collection Vol. 3: Brother, Take My Hand continues Lee/Colan’s run on Daredevil following up the death of Mike Murdock and making the Jester a major villain. I know, hard to believe. It also features such baddies as Stilt-Man, Plastoid, Crime-Wave,Deaths-Head (not the modern version),and more. These stories have Lee becoming far more political with the ongoing subplot of Foggy running for DA, as well as DD going to Viet Nam. This volume finds Roy Thomas taking over the writing and has a number of issues drawn by a guest artist,;a very young, Barry Windsor-Smith (whose style looks little like his later Conan work). Of note, issue #62 introduces Nighthawk who would later become a major player in the pages of the Defenders and a lesser player overall in the Marvel Universe. As Stan moved off the book, Colan’s art carries this book along as Roy Thomas finds his groove. The book is still heavy on the subplots and romance angles, but overall I still really enjoyed this collection.

Daredevil Epic Collection: A Woman Called Widow

Daredevil Epic Collection: A Woman Called Widow


Volume four has just been released and is called Daredevil Epic Collection: A Woman Called Widow. This volume opens with Daredevil going west to Los Angeles, where the stories are just strange. Then he returns to New York where he teams up with Black Panther (which is picked up years later by David Liss) as well as Nick Fury, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. This is followed by the new tag team of Daredevil and the Black Widow which lead to the title being changed to Daredevil/Black Widow (in volume 5). Villains include Man-Bull, the Owl, the Scorpion, Mr. Fear, the Purple Man, and others. Gerry Conway replaced Roy Thomas as the writer in this collection. This trade reprints Daredevil #64-86 and Iron Man #35-36. I should also note the logo would be changed on the book. At times they dropped the tag line of The Man Without Fear but they always seemed to come back to it. Gene Colan continues on pencils throughout this volume with inkers including the amazing Tom Palmer and Syd Shores. This volume is largely a transition as the characters and stories change focus, as with Gerry Conway coming on board as writer the Black Widow become a major part of the stories.

Overall these four volumes have an amazing tight run of stories with some of the most unique villains in comics, as well as easily some of the heaviest soap opera aspects of the superhero genre. While I thought the Stan Lee stories were better than the writers that followed, they are all a great read and the art carries it at times where the stories are not quite up to Lee’s standards. Surely I am not the only person to have read these stories, either originally or in the Epic Collections. Have you read these stories? What did you think? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or at Wayne Markley at Facebook. I welcome all comments good and bad, and I try to respond to all questions and comments. I would like to acknowledge one of my favorite writers, Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up) for his notes on my recent blogs. I greatly appreciate the comments. Thanks. That is all for this time, as always…

Thank you.

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