Issue(s): Daredevil #138
Due to Bob Brown's illness, this book is using fill-in artists, and John Byrne draws this issue and the Ghost Rider half of the story as well. I'm always happy to see John Byrne, even if some combination of his art style and costume design gives me the impression that this guy Daredevil is fighting at the beginning of the issue, Smasher, is from K'un Lun. Maybe the Steel Serpent's bigger older brother.
The issue starts mid-action, with Daredevil having already learned that the Smasher has something to do with Karen Page's latest kidnapping.
Daredevil is defeated by the Smasher and brought to Death's Head.
Death's Head wants information about Karen's father's technology (and per Michael's comment, note the interest in time-displacement).
Meanwhile, Ghost Rider goes looking for the Stunt-Master, the person who actually kidnapped Karen. He busts up a heroin smuggling caper on the way, and the whole time the Stunt-Master is following him and thinking to himself that the Ghost Rider won't find him until a time of his choosing. But when the Stunt-Master finally does show himself, it turns out he just wants to talk. He says he's been a dupe of Death's Head, mind-controlled to do his bidding.
The interaction between Ghost Rider and the Stunt-Master highlights what's always been one of the weirdest aspects of Ghost Rider. Why does no one ever believe that he is actually a scary flaming skeleton?
Ghost Rider and Stunt-Master head off to Death's Head's lair, where Daredevil has already escaped and is battling the villain.
Daredevil actually knows that "Death's Head" is not who he appears to be, and while there's a hint in this issue ("After all, we've got a couple other scores to settle, don't we now? Namely, your pulling that disappearing act on me a time or three!"), we don't find out who until the Ghost Rider issue.
Back on the East Coast, Foggy Nelson gets confirmation that his girlfriend, Debbie Harris, has been kidnapped. And Stone, from Daredevil's current girlfriend Heather Glenn's father's company, tries to kill Foggy.
Some over-scripting in that sequence.
But this is a fun arc with nice art.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Daredevil last appeared in Iron Man #89 on his way to the airport to LA, where this issue takes place. I also have him appearing in the trial of the Wraith in Marvel Team-Up #51 (he only appears via a remote monitor in that story). This story continues in Ghost Rider #20 and indeed some of the scenes at the end of this issue are repeated there. After that, Daredevil appears in his annual #4 before returning to his regular series.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlake Tower, Daredevil, Death-Stalker, Foggy Nelson, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Heather Glenn, Karen Page, Roxanne Simpson, Smasher (Ghost Rider Foe), Stone (Glenn Industries), Stunt-Master
Smasher's mostly bare chest suggests this was just Byrne's costume-design sensibility for bruisers in the '70s, not something he did just for Black Goliath.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 25, 2013 4:33 PM
This issue was where Marv Wolfman started dropping clues that Death-Stalker was the Exterminator- "Death's Head" mentions something about time displacement.
Posted by: Michael | May 25, 2013 5:39 PM
Stunt-Master's costume is colored wrong; he looks like he's wearing lightning bolt suspenders.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 25, 2013 5:40 PM
@Michael - added that scan. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 25, 2013 6:10 PM
In one thought balloon, Ghost Rider refers to Stunt-Master as Stunt-Man.
There's no explanation given for how Death-Stalker fakes Death's-Head's horse.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 21, 2016 11:39 PM
Death-Stalker has some fairly nebulous shapeshifting or illusion-casting abilities; he also manages to impersonate someone else to pose as their ghost when he turns up in Doctor Strange #29 (where he can also somehow "see" Strange's astral form, though he doesn't seem to know what an astral form is, exactly).
The Handbooks tried to define him down to phasing and teleportation powers plus a technological "death-touch," but even his later appearances -- after the supernatural concept behind the character had been dropped -- seem to give him a few additional, generically "spooky" or plot-convenient powers.
Given that he seems to have empowered two versions of the Smasher -- with slightly different powersets -- and outfitted a new set of Ani-Men, perhaps he stole a lot of super-tech and is using some of it here. (He didn't outfit the original Ani-Men; that was the work of the Organizer from their first appearance.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 22, 2016 10:14 AM
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