Enter... Spider-man! by Stan Lee, John Romita and Frankie Ray
One Sentence Overview: The Masked Marauder, sick of being thwarted by Spider-man in his criminal pursuits, dresses up his henchmen as Daredevil and orders them to attack the wallcrawler in an attempt to create enmity between the two heroes.
Wayhay! Spidey. I'm not sure what the motivation was with Mr Parker turning up here but we all know that Spidey often turns up in other Marvel books to help boost sales - particularly back in the 60s. That may have been the case here but the two also have 'previous', DD having appeared two years earlier in the Amazing Spider-man issue 16 (coincidentally). On that occasion, I'm guessing that Matt and co appeared to help publicise the new Daredevil book, only three issues old at that point.
The reader is only a couple of pages into this issue when the writer's giving all Spidey fans a wink. Whilst Karen and Foggy watch Spidey's exploits on TV, Matt thinks to himself how it's possible that there are so many photographs as Spidey - it's as if he takes the pictures himself, he muses. He then dismisses the idea. "As, come on, Matt! You've been reading too many Fantasy Stories lately!" Foggy, in awe of Spidey's prowess, wonders aloud where Daredevil has been lately, to which Matt testily responds, "Maybe he's taking a rest, Foggy. With hot shots like Spider-man around, it seems he can afford to." Thus a little professional jealousy is brilliantly set up.
Foggy then reveals that he admires Spidey much more than DD, which irks Karen, who has of course already been saved by him on numerous occasions. Foggy though admits his reasoning is flawed. He tells her it's because he gets jealous when he thinks of her being impressed by any other man; Matt meanwhile simply turns away, depressed once again about Foggy's feelings for Karen. And the bizarre, unspoken love triangle continues.
The Masked Marauder is the villain of the piece, this issue, and, in keeping with the peculiar mid 60s storylines, instructs his (unpowered) henchmen to dress up as Daredevil and attack Spidey if they should see him. When one complains, the Marauder fires his 'opti-blasts' at the troublemaker, temporarily blinding him. Oh, the irony! Of course, any reader worth their salt should now have an idea of what's going to happen later on in the story... The Marauder thinks his plan is perfect. "satanic in its simplicity," he says. Huh? Since when has the simple been satanic?
A very fine sequence follows in the book where Spidey is attacked by, frankly, pathetic Daredevils. Spidey is bemused. Later, encountering Matt for real, he makes a nice gag, referencing the original DD costume. He tells Matt that the old duds suited him better as he seems to have developed a yellow streak (ie attacking Spidey and running off in the pathetic henchmen way).
Boom Boom! Superhero misunderstandings are, of course, as old as the ark and so the inevitable biff, bam, bosh ensues between Pete and Matt, whilst the Masked Marauder gets up to no good. This plot device, of course, was not so overused at the time this story was running back in the day, so let's cut Stan et al some slack.
DD uses his enhanced senses to suss out that his opponent is just a kid - when he addresses Pete as such, the webcrawler naturally takes offence. Using his athletic ability, Matt continues to evade Spidey. I guess a lot of these superhero confrontations were loved by kids back in the day because it helped create a hierarchy of which hero was better than which. Spidey, probably, outranks Daredevil, though here Matt, through sheer energy and by winding Pete up, has the better of his younger opponent - probably a controversial victory for Spidey fans but, hey, it's Matt's book after all.
Elsewhere, the Masked Marauder now uses one of the best bits of criminal equipment I've seen so far in Daredevil - he uses a kind of hydraulic air vent to suck his men up onto the upper floors of skyscrapers where they break into a vault and steal plans for a secret engine called the XB390. It's both barking mad and brilliant.
This issue ends with both heroes still suspicious of each other as being in cahoots with the Marauder. There's quite a strange ending with an insight into Spidey sense that is, in some regards, retrospective - it's set off as Pete swings past the windows of Nelson and Murdock. Daredevil must be inside, Spidey figures. And then, in a brilliant twist, Spidey eliminates the blind Matt Murdock and decides that Foggy is DD (despite his stocky build). Whilst Pete muscles in on his partner, Matt realises that he can't do anything or else he'll reveal his true identity. And so we end on a rather nice cliffhanger.
J Jonah Jameson
Aunt May Parker
The Masked Marauder
Rating: 4 out of 10