Daredevil Takes on a Cut Rate Dr. Doom Wannabe
Daredevil number 9 is a pretty average issue of Daredevil - or any mid-sixties superhero comic for that mater. It was written by Stan Lee, and features quality artwork by Wally Wood, embellished by Golden Age great Bob 'Bobby' Powell, in one of the handful of Marvel Comics he worked just before his death. Why is a comic that features the talents of three of comics greatest progenitors so average? Well, it comes down to the plot of the story.
The comic starts off great; Daredevil is trying to stop some boat hijackers from getting away from the city out into open water. He drops from a bridge to the deck of the speeding boat, and engages the hijackers in combat. Unfortunately he's grazed by a bullet and tumbles overboard, however, he's delayed the criminals long enough for the Coast Guard to overtake them, so he returns home to bandage his wound. This is the part of the comic that's good. As silly as it sometimes could get, one of the great things about the Silver Age and the Bronze Age of comics was that heroes like Batman and Daredevil actually took a bullet every now and then. Despite the near ubiquity of guns in the modern age, Spider-Man, Batman, Daredevil and other non-bulletproof heroes never seem to get shot. Furthermore, to Wally Wood's credit, for the rest of the issue, which takes place over the next few days, Matt Murdock/Daredevil does nothing with his right arm. In all subsequent combat, it's shown hanging limply at his side. That's right - though not much is mentioned of it (except when he takes a blow to that arm later in the book), Daredevil actually fights this villain one-handed!
The next morning, Karen Page has invited Klaus Kruger, an old law school friend of Matt and Foggy's, to the offices of Nelson and Murdock. Kruger is the hereditary monarch of a small European micro state known as Lichtenbad, and he promises to take Matt Murdock there to be treated by the miracle eye doctor, Dr. Van Eyck. Murdock is initially reluctant, but he can tell by Kruger's heartbeat that he's lying, and so he agrees in order to get to the bottom of the mystery.
And that's when the comic takes a turn for the worse. It turns out Kruger is a despot, and it's not long before Daredevil is leading a peasant revolt, and doing battle with Kruger and his army of robotic knights (and inexplicably firing mortar shells from his billy club!?!) It's the kind of situation one could just as easily imagine any other 60s comic book hero - Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, or whoever in (and they probably all were at one time or another). But in addition to being generic, it just doesn't suit Daredevil. Daredevil fighting boat hijackers in the East River works. Daredevil fighting a cut-rate Doctor Doom and his army of mechanical suits of armor, takes him out of his element, and just doesn't work. Kind of like Aquaman in the mountains, Batman on the moon, or Swamp Thing at the north pole.
So, despite the great artwork, the excellent first half, and the fact that Daredevil fought this battle injured - the second half of the story drags it back down, making it about average. A pleasant read, hardly a waste of time if you like Daredevil or Wally Wood, but not a must-read issue.