The Devil’s Double – Reviewing Daredevil #8 from 1965 and 2023

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Daredevil #8 (1965)

Daredevil’s eighth issue features the first appearance of Stiltman. To contend with the mechanical villain, Daredevil’s arsenal gets an upgrade, and conveniently enough, this issue seems to introduce the Microverse/Quantum realm into Daredevil’s purview just in time for the cinematic release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

I can’t help but think that Batman ’66 is to blame for all the gadgetry Daredevil ends up with in this issue. His cowl is equipped with a radio receiver, with the horns acting as antennae. Somehow, the horns can also now “amplify” his radar senses, and Daredevil’s boots are equipped with gum soles allowing our horned hero to run on top of telephone/electric wires. Artist Wally Wood gives us an X-ray diagram that shows all the new features, such as a directional microphone called “snooperscope”, transistors and batteries, miniature tape recorder, a spool and cable, a chamber for projectiles such as gas pellets, and reflector shields.

Matt Murdock also now has his very own Batcave in this issue complete with sliding bookcase – maybe it should be called the Hellmouth? Matt has rented the apartment beneath his with an assumed name that acts as a gym, lab, and electronic workshop.

With a villain named Stiltman, the action in this issue has to be bonkers, and I’m happy to report it is. Stiltman’s first robbery involves him using a grenade that, upon detonation, obstructs the view of an armored helicopter. He also sets up a diversion with an unmanned car. The gas pedal was nailed down, the break lines cut, and an explosive hidden in the engine. Daredevil managers to save pedestrians in harm’s way and even takes the wheel before sending it over the end of a pier. He turns his attention towards Stiltman. Despite him towering over the building, Daredevil manages to lose him – in true CW fashion – coming round a corner. The story reveals later that Wilbur Day aka Stiltman ditched his costume, which is a bit of a stretch since the leg portion of his costumes (when condensed) are still taller than the average man. His second heist involves him using a vacuum to collect the money and jewels from his wealthy victims. This character is so much fun, I can only hope that he gets the Leap Frog treatment when adapted for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking of which, this issue seems to introduce the Microverse. I only say seems because up until the final showdown with Daredevil, Stiltman reveals the ray gun he stole “fades away (objects) to nothingness!” During the battle, Daredevil manages to wrestle away the gun from Stiltman only to have it accidently go off. Stiltman shrinks until he disappears with a literal poof. Daredevil’s senses don’t seem to detect anything, and he ponders to himself, “Nothing can completely evaporate! He must be somewhere… but he’ll have no way to return! He’s trapped in an escape-proof prison of his own making!” which seems like a stretch considering his background is not in science.

This issue has a lot of firsts for the swashbuckling hero including the depiction of his radar sense forming the silhouette of a person when he senses someone is nearby. Fortunately, the issue is also a lot of fun cover to cover.

Rating: 3/5.

Daredevil #8 (2023)

Chip Zdarsky goes full-tilt fantasy in Daredevil issue 8. Yes, there have been prophecies, undead warriors and characters enhanced by magic to this point, but there’s something very jarring when the second page of this issue features a full spread with both armies colliding and the Punisher riding on the back of a dragon.

This mission: retrieve Bullet and his son from the Hand. Fans longing to see some action finally get their wish here, but there’s the definite feeling that this battle could have gone a lot longer than one issue. This seems to be a pattern in Zdarsky’s writing – one issue filled with action and then a few issues afterwards breaking down the implications and fallout of their actions. This wouldn’t be a problem if more happened in these issues.

The action in this issue also seems a little rushed. The Punisher’s forces have the upper hand with Daredevil’s team needing to team up two-to-one against notable villains. The events wrap up so quickly and conveniently that there’s no place to insert any significance or risk. In fact, there’s a plot point that revolves around Aka’s talisman necklace, which is difficult to see even when visible, that is so unexpected that it seems like a last-minute addition.

The real strength of this issue is Marco Checchetto’s art. Whether it’s the large and in charge action of Stegron, The Wrecker, and Stiltman versus the Punisher’s dragon or the brutal action between Daredevil and the Punisher. Daredevil has never looked as menacing than when he has his boot on Frank Castle’s neck and says to him, “But maybe he {God} sent me – to finally remedy that. To be your Punisher.” Fire raging behind the one-eyed devil in the pouring rain. It’s reminiscent of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns 10thanniversary edition cover. The image really deserved to be a full page rather than a single panel. Battles in the rain are done to death but here it adds depth and brings out the muck and mire in this battle.

The battle is over for now, and I want to say that I’m looking forward to the war between the two ninja armies, but if Zdarsky stays true to form then the next three issues will include a tedious exchange of exposition between Bullet and Daredevil. Personally, I’m hoping the inclusion of the Avengers at the end of this issue means this feud will spill over into other books, even though we don’t need another crossover event.

Rating: 2/5.

The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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