Wednesday, October 13, 2010
BAB Two-In-One: Cat Fight! and Frankie's Back to the Future
Doug: I'm talking Daredevil again this time, kiddie-winkies, in the conclusion of the Owl story that we looked at last week. Today's fare is Daredevil #117, cover-dated January 1975. This month Chris Claremont worded over a Steve Gerber plot, while Bob Brown returned to the pencilling and was inked by Vinnie Colletta.
When last we saw our heroes, the Owl and his henchmen had disabled DD and the Black Widow. We open this month's installment to find them strapped to lab tables. As the Owl begins to drain Daredevil's mind (which will leave him in a vegetative state), the Widow suddenly finds the strength to burst her bonds -- which, by the way, happened to be made of 1/2" steel. Hmmm... OK, suspension of disbelief kicks in. Next, she fires a Widow's sting at the Owl's machinery, disabling the machine. Somehow bursting her other bond, she then makes short work of the Owl's muscle. But, after recovering, the Owl grabs his pistol and holds it to DD's head. Wanna make a deal, Widow?
Tasha takes the deal: Go to an address and kidnap the lady of the house. Well, the address happens to be a penthouse apartment, and the lady, even though asleep, isn't going easily. Some lingerie wrestling ensues, albeit in silhouette (no details, Vinnie?), and our sleeping beauty turns out to be none other than Shanna the She-Devil! The Widow takes Shanna back to the Owl's lab, where Shanna feigns unconsciousness. The Owl wanted Shanna because she's an animal expert. As the Owl gloats, he orders Tasha to place Shanna on the same table where he'd tried to mindwipe DD earlier. Say what? I thought the Widow had destroyed it? Anyway, as the Widow hands Shanna over to one of the Owl's heavies, a net drops from the ceiling on the Widow; that's all the cue Shanna needs as she goes into action. The first thing she does is free DD (popping the steel as easily as Tasha did), and it's game on!
The Owl releases some gas (no, not like that), which greatly disturbs the two ladies. It doesn't seem to affect DD, though, and he is able to wallop the Owl. But the Owl is able to escape and take the battle to the air. But Daredevil is still without his billy club (lost in issue #115 in battle against the Death-Stalker), so it's a short-lived pursuit. But like a dope, the Owl flies back within range and DD takes him down. Then it's back to the ladies. As the story concludes, Daredevil and the Widow have a heart-to-heart, kiss, and part ways. It's the beginning of the end for them as a couple.
Claremont's words are sometimes off in this story. It's a bit of a comedown from Gerber last issue. And while I generally enjoy Bob Brown on characters like Daredevil, his art is inconsistent -- at times the Owl looks like he was rendered by Gene Colan, but at other times there's some George Tuska-like lines. I'd also say that ol' Bob had a strange viewpoint on women's breasts -- talk about defying gravity!! Maybe he saw all women as wearing those super-pointy bras that were popular in the 1960's... even when they sleep, as seemed to be the case for Shanna! You might also say it looks like he was drawing the old L'eggs containers! And as for Vinnie Colletta -- scratchy like he'd never been before. The inks in this issue really don't help Bob Brown. I am presently about halfway through the TwoMorrows book The Thin Black Line, which is a biography of Colletta. Many of the faults discussed are present here. But hey -- overall this was a good Daredevil story, from "my" era.
Karen: Howdy folks, I'm back with yet another Marvel monster. This time it's none other than the Frankenstein Monster, from the 12th issue of his self-titled book, cover-dated September 1974. This issue marked the transition of the Monster from 19th century to modern times. A good move or not? I suppose it depends on your point of view. According to comments in the letters page, the move was made in order to make it easier for readers to relate to the series. But, as would later be mentioned in the same letter column, the move also made many more guest-star and cross-over options available! We would later see such ridiculous fare as the Monster teaming up with Spider-Man, and appearing as one of the Legion of the Unliving in Avengers. Whatever the reasons, the Monster had joined the 20th century, with a little help from Doug Moench, Val Mayerik, and Vince Colleta (did he ink everything back in the 70s?).
Karen: As we join our undead goliath, he's just been shot by Vincent Frankenstein, a relative of the original who wanted to carry on the family business. He in turn was shot and killed by a maid(!). I'm sure it made more sense if you read the entire story, but unfortunately I don't have that issue, so we're going to have to deal with it. So, justice served, the Monster staggers off to die, and he's not unhappy about that. After an messy encounter with some wolves, he stumbles off a glacier and winds up in the freezing waters below. In a tip of the hat to Capt. America -or was it just a lack of imagination? - our buddy is frozen solid, while the decades go flying by. This being the early 1970s, this is depicted by showing war after war, culminating finally with man's landing on the moon. I think this must have been cliched even in 1974. Frankie doesn't have the honor of having the Avengers thaw him; instead, he is discovered by the crew of an oil freighter. He's hauled aboard, block of ice and all, and found to be in state of suspended animation.
Karen: One of the crew schemes to make some money off the unfortunate creature. He plans to take the Monster to his brother, who runs a traveling carnival -hoo boy, cliche upon cliche! He and his brother sneak the Monster ashore and install him (still in suspended animation) in the freakshow. It is there that he is seen by Derek McDowell, "brilliant young neurosurgeon", who recognizes him as Frankenstein's creation. So it seems like we're all set up for some interesting events when we turn the page and -poof! We get a four-panel recap of events which took place in the magazine Monsters Unleashed issues 2,4, and 6! What the heck? And I thought modern cross-overs were bad! Seriously, this stopped me dead in my tracks while reading. We're told that the Monster escaped the freakshow, was taken to McDowell's lab, where eventually the Monster killed McDowell and then began wandering the streets. And that's where he is at the end of this issue.
Karen: Talk about a let-down. I thought the story started well. The Monster's desire to end his existence was touching and while I was unprepared for the jump forward to the present, I could even handle that. But the Monster stopped being a character in the story about mid-way through. Then we have the cobbled together ending -I suppose they must have made the move to modern times in the magazine first, and then used the comic to explain it? I'm fairly confused. If anyone has read those old monster mags, I'd love to hear what the deal was. I thought the art on this issue was pretty good; Mayerik seemed to have a real feel for the Monster, although I would prefer a more "moody" inker than Colletta. His thin lines do no favors to the pencils.