Issue(s): Daredevil #42
As letter writers reacting to this issue will say, he's got a bit of a DC feel. I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with a jester-themed villain, but it's a little corny to be introducing in 1968, especially with DC already having Jokers and Riddlers and Toymasters and what have you.
The Jester is a non-powered villain, with acrobatic and sword-fighting skills honed from a failed career as an actor, and an array of toy gizmos and traps.
His crimes attract the attention of Richard Raleigh, the corrupt politician running for election in the Spectacular Spider-Man magazine.
Raleigh says that when he wins his bid for mayor, he wants a District Attorney that he can control, and that's not going to be Foggy Nelson. So he asks the Jester to get Foggy out of the race.
Meanwhile, Daredevil's supporting cast is suspicious that Matt Murdock isn't sufficiently sad over the death of his "brother", Mike.
Then the Jester shows up. He kidnaps Matt to hold as a hostage to force Foggy to drop his bid for DA. Before he's taken away, Matt loudly proclaims that even though Daredevil/Mike Murdock is dead, "he trained someone else... to take his place! He never told anyone his identity -- but he'll be showing up any time now!"
Then, after the Jester locks Matt in a room, he pulls out a spare costume and a vial of acid to disintegrate his civilian clothes. When the Jester returns to the room, he's completely befuddled as to how Daredevil got there.
I know it's ridiculous, but we're back to usual levels of ridiculous. This is normal secret-identity hijinx that comic fans are used to dealing with. As long as "Mike" Murdock remains "dead", i think we're all willing to let this slide.
Daredevil is able to defeat the Jester, who doesn't stick around after he learns that Richard Raleigh is dead (which happened in the same issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, placing this entire issue during that magazine).
Again, nothing inherently wrong with the Jester. It's good for Daredevil, who's really just an acrobat himself, to have some non-powered foes. This was fine.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 takes place during this issue. See the Considerations section for Amazing Spider-Man #116-118 for an oddity regarding that Spectacular issue, although it doesn't have any direct bearing here. Suffice it to say that the politician appearing in this story is the first Richard Raleigh, not the one who appears later in those issues of ASM.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showDaredevil, Debbie Harris, Foggy Nelson, Jester (Jonathan Powers), Karen Page, Richard Raleigh
The Jester was most likely an attempt to give Daredevil a fitting arch-villain, as most of his early villains tended to be really lame(even by 1968 standards). True, there had been the Gladiator and the Owl, but the first had been transplanted to Iron Man and the second(I think) hadn't been seen for a while.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 4, 2011 1:16 PM
Olshevsky's Spider-Man Index #5 has this to say about the chronology problem: "But Raleigh was apparently found dead by the Jester in Daredevil 42, which was published roughly the same time as Spectacular Spider-Man 1. This would appear to establish the time of the Spider-Man- Richard Raleigh conflict as considerably earlier than between issues 115 and 119. Also, the possibility that Raleigh somehow feigned death in Daredevil 42 in order to escape reprisals from the Jester and returned for a second battle against Spider-Man cannot be dismissed."
Posted by: Michael | December 4, 2011 3:56 PM
I don't like it either but i don't see a way around it. There's no way to merge the two stories into the same incident: the Spectacular story is bound to this Daredevil story and the Amazing issues have too many references to recent prior events (Aunt May staying with Dr. Octopus, Spider-Man retrieving his mask, Gwen Stacy upset about how she recently spoke to Aunt May).
Posted by: fnord12 | December 4, 2011 7:58 PM
Good lord, do all pre-Bullseye Daredevil foes suck?
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 24, 2015 11:16 AM
Looking from the base "Daredevil" section on the site, the only key villains to emerge prior to Bullseye and Frank Miller in this book are more or less those that made bigger impacts in Marvel Universe proper by other writers, such as Owl, Purple Man and Man-Bull. In comics, at least he mostly kept Gladiator and Stilt-Man to himself...and Stilt-Man at least just has a novelty due to being DD's Paste-Pot Pete.
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 24, 2015 5:03 PM
Per Dan Adkins in Amazing Heroes #167: Jim Steranko inked one panel on p.12.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 27, 2015 4:21 PM
The Jester character is another example of Marvel introducing a potentially cool character and needing to expand the inner sociopathic tendencies and environmental life circumstances of Jonathan Powers much more to engage the reader. The disgruntled actor vibe was not enough to give Stan the next Joker. however The Jester could be crazied up with some real dark mental psychosis and reintroduced into Daredevil Season 3. the Daredevil Silver age villains all need to be reworked just like Purple Man was.
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | July 26, 2016 12:59 AM
The Jester to me seemed like a hybrid of Batman's Joker, Superman's Toyman, and Flash's Trickster. Not that that's necessarily bad, with a little fleshing out he could have been a top-notch DD foe. Simply a case of following Picasso's old axiom, "Good artists borrow ideas, great artists steal them", but without much in the way of follow-through.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 15, 2017 7:43 PM
So, Daredevil we see for years is a legacy character after all?
Posted by: Serena | January 25, 2018 9:56 AM
A legacy character and yet the same person. Only Matt Murdock could achieve that.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | January 25, 2018 2:59 PM
I think the Jester had potential and agree with Brian Coffey. The writer would need to do some work, and try hard to distinguish him from just being a Joker clone. But the Jester would be less crazy, and more filled with hate against a society that has "wronged" him.
He does need some level of super powers though. DD's heightened senses gives him an edge, and the Jester would need one too. Nothing too big, but enough to elevate him from ordinary criminals.
Posted by: Chris | January 25, 2018 3:22 PM
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