Ghost Rider I
Summary: Daredevil arrives in Los Angeles and begins the search for Karen Page, who he learns has been kidnapped by a new
Death's Head. His greeting is a clobering from Smasher III, a powerful servant of the Head. But even being a captive of
Death's Head does nothing to dappen Matt's worry that seeing Karen again will sunder his relationship with Heather. Unknown
to DD, Ghost Rider is on the same trail, but will he be able to get the Stunt Master to reveal the location of Death's Head's
hideout before it's too late for both Matt and Karen?
Meanwhile, Debbie Nelson has been kidnapped, leaving Foggy in dread worry. Then he receives a mysterious call which arranges a deadly meeting...
Review: This should have been a great issue, but it isn't. Not bad, surely, but one would have thought Marv would have taken
better advantage of the premise of Karen Page returning to the book after over 50 issues. Instead, he seems more afraid that
Matt will fall in love with Karen again than the sightless squashbuckler himself. So what we are left with is the usual hero
to the rescue of the damsel from the evil villain and his brutish sidekick story. Sure, Death-Stalker is pretty well
written, DD is as clever and fearless as ever, and Marv manages to make the old big-strong-and-dumb-villain(Smasher III) more
refreshing than usual, but for all that this is a good story, not a great one.
Far more interesting is the continuing subplot of Foggy vs.Stone. This is the same type of Foggy that worked so beautifully in Born Again: a man without the powers and abilities of Daredevil, without his fearlessness, who knows that he may die, yet does what he must for the sake of his loved ones. Marv has fully mastered the supporting cast at this point. Stone, as usual, makes a great antagonist for Foggy. Pity that this thread wasn't continued until #141.
Another plus point is John Byrne's art: he does as much as Marv toward making Smasher III seem almost ridiculously powerful, and his renderings of Foggy are great. Oh yeah, and Ghost Rider is rather well-handled by Marv W., too. To close off, one big credibility question: why didn't Death-Stalker kill DD as soon as Smasher III brought him to him? Ah well, still a good issue. Too bad that it had to be part of a cross-over, but any lovers of good ol' Foggy Nelson should follow the subplot which is continued in this issue.
Portrayal and development of Daredevil as a character:2
My rating system:
1 = Poor. Plot is hackneyed, simplistic, nonsensical, or some combination of the three. Underlying themes, if they exist, are completely sick and twisted. Daredevil is mis-portrayed, and the issue either shows no development of his character or develops him in a way that makes little sense. Art is terrible, actually afflicting the comic. Should be avoided, unless it serves as a link between plotlines.
2 = Weak. Plot is hackneyed, simplistic, or nonsensical. Underlying themes are absent. Daredevil is not portrayed as a unique or striking character, and the issue shows no development of his character. Art is undistinguished, adding nothing to the comic. A generally bad comic, but with a few redeeming qualities.
3 = Satisfying. The plot may or may not be simplistic, but it works. Underlying themes are either mild or absent entirely. Daredevil is portrayed convincingly, and strongly enough that you care about what happens to him. His character is not developed, but you find out something about him that you may not have known before. Art is roughly average, with little or no weak points and a few strong panels. Worth buying, but not worth seeking out.
3+ = Excellent. Similar to 3, but better.
4 = Classic. The plot is original and multi-layered, but it is the strong underlying themes that make it a great story. Daredevil is portrayed intriguingly, and his character is either fleshed-out strongly or develops in a way that adds to the story rather than to the shock value. Art is strong and unique, with the characters portrayed passionately. A highly recommended comic.
5 = Essential. The plot is original, multi-layered, and engaging. The underlying themes are shocking and unusual, seeming to blind you with truth. Daredevil is portrayed as a complex, multi-faceted character; the comic is worth buying solely for a chance to truly see Daredevil. His personality is fleshed out and develops in a way that adds to the story rather than to the shock value. Art is powerful without being glossy, leaning towards the realistic touch that is the mark of a good DD comic. If you are a true DD fan, the only excuse for not buying this comic is not being able to find it.
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