Issue(s): Daredevil #10, Daredevil #11
The Ani-Men (not actually called that in this story) are relatively minor and very silly bad guys who nonetheless have a large footprint, possibly because they are generic-ish henchmen bad guys (with the unimaginative but indisputably accurate names of Ape Man, Bird Man, Cat Man, and Frog Man). So they are repeat Daredevil villains and have had encounters with Iron Man and the X-Men as well, and all have had legacy replacements. So it's kind of like a minor Marvel institution being introduced here.
Ape Man, aka Monk Keefer, previously appeared in Avengers #12 as a non-powered thug (i don't know if that was the original intent, but per the 1987 Marvel Index it's the same "Monk" as in that issue). He's in jail at the beginning of this arc, and rescued by Cat Man.
One thing that's kind of interesting is that Cat Man is talking to his boss on a headset while rescuing Monk, which to me was a totally non-comment worthy thing until Monk asked if he was crazy for talking to himself.
Amazing how you take advances in technology for granted. A built-in walkie-talkie was apparently super-high tech at this point! The Ani-Men also have "creepy-peepy" tv cameras on their chests, which Frog Man correctly calls "crazy!".
In this story the Ani-Men are just regular guys in costumes that give them abilities.
Well, not regular guys. Clearly Monk is a big ape-ish guy who (if he was indeed meant to be the same as the guy the one in Avengers #12 from the start) is capable of surviving a few panels with Captain America even out of costume. Frog Man, "real" name Frog Le Blanc, was also a Navy Frogman (that's not his tongue in that panel below, though).
Bird Man's real name is Henry Hawk, but besides the name he didn't seem to have any bird-like abilities prior to joining the group. He seems to have been a small-time bookie.
And we don't learn much about Cat Man, but that's his real beard, not a part of the costume.
The group is working for a hooded guy called the Organizer, and much of the arc is built around the mystery of who he is. Foggy Nelson is recruited by the Reform Party to run for District Attorney, and we learn that one of the other members of the Party is the Organizer. The Ani-Men perform various crimes that helps solidify the Reform candidates in the polls and of course come into conflict with Daredevil.
At one point Cat Man is captured by the police. He's very willing to spill his guts, and Ape Man is sent to assassinate him. There don't seem to be any hard feelings in the long run, though.
The other Reform Party candidates include Milton Monroe, who turns out to be a straight arrow and a dupe like Foggy, Abner Jonas, who turns out to be the Organizer, and Bernard Harris, who is the father of Deborah Harris, an old girlfriend of Foggy's.
Deborah turns out to be in on the Organizer's scheme.
She manipulates Foggy by pretending to be in love with him while she's actually in love with the Organizer, at least until later in the story.
Daredevil offers her protection in return for her help. Debbie Harris will return in a few years and continue to be a love interest for Foggy, eventually marrying him. During Denny O'Neil's run in the 80s, he'll write Debbie as an unfaithful and conniving schemer. I didn't really like the way O'Neil wrote her, but there's clearly support for that here.
Matt is incredibly down on Foggy. In the beginning of this arc, before anything bad is even hinted about the Reform Party, Foggy arrives at the law office with the good news that he's been offered their nomination. Matt detects "a sense of confidence I've never sensed in him before", so of course his first reaction to Foggy's news is to suggest that he's being used.
A little later, after Deborah Harris first shows up and starts acting nice to Foggy, Matt is again immediately suspicious.
The message is clear: when good things start happening to Foggy Nelson, start looking for ulterior motives. Of course, Matt does turn out to be correct on both counts.
When it's all over, Matt catches Karen giving Foggy a peck on the cheek, meant as encouragement after Foggy was duped by both Debbie and Reform. Matt of course over-interprets things and decides it's best for everyone if he takes a leave of absence.
Now, as i mentioned, the plot is set up as a mystery, with the identity of the Organizer not revealed until the end of the second issue. The opening splash panel promises "Daredevil's first real mystery thriller" and asks if we can guess the Organizer's identity. But the splash also tells us something else:
Wally Wood has always wanted to try his hand at writing a story as well as drawing it, and big-hearted Stan (who wanted a rest anyway) said okay! So, what follows next is anybody's guess! You may like it or not, but, you can be sure of this... it's gonna be different!
Stan Lee had a self-deprecating sense of humor that naturally spilled over into the promotional blurbs as well, and i might not have given that blurb a second thought if i didn't know what was going on behind the scenes. But it takes on a darker tone given the circumstances. Wally Wood, who'd been the artist on the book since issue #5, was previously a founding artist at Mad magazine, and (according to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story) he was apparently not pleased with the Marvel Method that meant that he wasn't getting paid or credited for the stories he was effectively plotting. So with issue #10 he was allowed to write this issue. However, he apparently got fed up with Marvel even before this issue saw print, leaving for another company, and got very angry when he saw the intro blurb, as well as the next issue blurb, which said:
Now that Wally got the writing out of his system, he left it for poor Stan to finish it up! Can our leader do it? That's the real mystery!
And similarly, in the lettercol:
Wonderful Wally decided he doesn't have time to write the conclusion next ish, and he's forgotten most of the answers we'll be needing! So, Sorrowful Stan has inherited the job of tying the whole yarn together and finding a way to make it all come out in the wash! And you think you've got troubles!
Wally Wood harbored a grudge against Marvel for some time after this, although he occasionally still did work for them.
Sean Howe also describes this as a rare occasion where Stan Lee "allowed someone else to write and draw everything in a comic". If that were accurate i'd say it was the first occasion since Marvel's Silver Age super-hero revival, but it's complicated a bit by the fact that Bob Powell is doing layouts, which seems ironic considering the Marvel Method complaints.
Creator disputes aside, this is a silly arc, which is par for the course for Daredevil at this time.
Here is the "Agent of SHIELD" panel mentioned by accordion321 in the comments.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Daredevil annual #2 (#10 is an original)
Inbound References (3): showApe Man, Bernard Harris, Bird Man, Cat Man, Daredevil, Debbie Harris, Foggy Nelson, Frog Man, Karen Page, Organizer
During the hijacking of the broadcast signal, a family complains that "Agent of SHIELD" isn't on yet. I guess this was an in-universe version of the real show that aired 50 years later.
Wally Wood's art in the early pages of issue 10 has a trademark anatomically exaggerated closeup of an eyeball. Very EC/MAD like and clearly different from the Marvel styles of the time.
Posted by: accordion321 | May 28, 2015 12:31 PM
The Agent of SHIELD thing is funny. I've added a scan at the end. Thanks, accordion321.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 28, 2015 12:45 PM
Wow, good spot! I guess on Earth-616 they were watching Agent Of SHIELD while we were watching Man From UNCLE on, erm, Earth-Prime. (Sorry.) I'd thought Agents Of SHIELD was a hokey title for a show, but if it turned out it's an incredibly nerdy and obscure in-joke, then I gotta say I'm on board with it.
Posted by: Jonathan | May 28, 2015 5:14 PM
I knew Ross Perot was up to no good...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 30, 2015 6:16 AM
I guess everyone found the "Agent of SHIELD" bit at the same time - i must have been busy that week!
Posted by: cullen | June 16, 2015 12:44 AM
Wow. I had no idea about the Wally Wood-Stan Lee thing until you posted that fnord so I guess Wood was ahead of the curve on the whole blaming Stan thing, huh? The truth is, MAD Magazine is a very different animal from the Marvel Universe... I say, if Stan is so bad, just look at what Wood did after he left Daredevil... I certainly never heard of him on any other top books.
I am really grateful for these old scans as I am learning a lot about the Marvel U. It really got a lot better over time, LOL!
Posted by: Brimstone | February 11, 2016 7:11 AM
Foggy is really a very sympathic character! Starts too grow on me :)
Posted by: Roy mattson | May 6, 2016 1:36 PM
@Roy Mattson - Then you should definitely watch the show if you can. I like Foggy much more in the show than in the 50 years of comics he's appeared in.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 7, 2016 8:25 AM
Wally Wood went on to create the popular characters Dynamo, the Iron Maiden, and the Warlord, among many others, for the Tower Comics series THUNDER Agents. Rights to THUNDER Agents later became the property of DC Comics, and in 2012 were transfered to IDW, where I believe they still remain.
For Marvel, Wood later penciled and inked the early issues of the Dr. Doom series in Astonishing Tales, among other assignments. He did a lot of work for Warren Publishing on their Creepy and Eerie magazine-sized black & white comics, and did some off-and-on work for DC. In 1968 he and Jim Shooter collaborated on DC's Captain Action comic book, which was based on the popular action figure/doll.
Working for DC's All-Star Comics, Wood redesigned the Golden Age Superman and created the controversial big-breasted look for Superman's cousin Power Girl. He created Sally Forth, a serviceman's strip published in Overseas Weekly and Military News between 1968 and 1974. In 1966, he launched the groundbreaking independent magazine Witzend! which ran nonstop until some time in the 1980s.
Wood was at his most prolific during the 1950s, creating works far too numerous to list here. Although 5 years younger than Lee, Wood became a legend in the comics industry during a time in which Lee was practically an unknown, although he worked continuously throughout.
Bob Powell, the layout artist on Daredevil #10-11, had collaborated with Wood on the 1962 Topps trading card series Mars Attacks!
Posted by: James Holt | August 25, 2016 11:26 AM
James, thanks for the kudos to the great Wally Wood. I was always a big fan of his work. While this story was the best DD of its time, it set things up for many later stories: Foggy's romance with and later marriage to Debbie Harris and his political career.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 4, 2016 7:31 PM
It looks as if the cover to #11 is a stat of the splash panel from page 15 of that issue;. Did Wally Wood quit before creating a cover, or did Stan reject an existing cover?
Also, Wood sneaks in something very tame by today's standards, but very risque by the standards of the time, especially with the CCA. During a party, the following exchange occurs:
Jonas: Deborah tells me you've made great progress as a campaigner.
Add in the reveal later that Deborah has been romantically involved with Jonas, and there's a lot of innuendo here for a Silver Age comic.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 24, 2016 1:31 PM
Posted by: Roy Mattson | May 27, 2017 8:31 AM
Gotta love the real names for the Ani-Men. Monk Keefer? Well, it would sound better than "Gordon Rilla". Of course the Frog-Man would have a French surname. Henry Hawk? Wasn't that the name of the little chickenhawk who pestered Foghorn Leghorn? I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Hudson Hawk! (Insert Bruce Willis joke here.)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 13, 2017 1:07 AM
If the Ani-Men were reimagined for today's market, would they be wearing headphones from Bose or Beats by Dre?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 7, 2017 8:39 PM
Comments are now closed.
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