Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Daredevil vs. the live volcano, Baron Zemo … and Stan Lee?

Back when Marvel’s Essentials came out, I’d flip through the Silver Age Daredevil and conclude, time and again, that Gene Colan’s art made them look way better than they really were.Reading the Man Without Fear’s adventures for my Silver Age Reread, I get the same feeling. The first DD annual, for instance, is a retread of Spidey’s battle with the Sinister Six but with much inferior villains. But then there’s “the mixed-up meeting with Stan and Gene” that forms the humorous backup, courtesy of yes, Lee and Colan. Here’s the meeting:It’s written in the mold of countless Hollywood satires where the clueless producer babbles idiotic ideas and leaves his yes men to work out the details (parodied by Monty Python’s Flying Circus as “the dog piddles on Doris Day’s leg!”). And it’s funny. At the same time, knowing now how much of the writing Lee’s collaborators did without being paid for anything but their art … it feels not so funny.

Or am I just unreasonably grumpy?



  1. Alaric

    Ah, yes… the original Emissaries of Evil. As I said on a Facebook page sometime back, they were a team so lame that the Stilt-Man was only the THIRD lamest member.

    1. When you’ve got the Masked Matador on your team, you’re never the worst villain.
      I did love Stilt-Man’s moment of stupidity — “I’m so confident of victory, I’ll give up my advantage by collapsing my legs to normal height and STILL beat you!” Um, no.

  2. Jeff Nettleton

    Laugh all you want at the story; but, damn Colan drew one sweet issue and made the lame villains look spectacular, on the page. I also liked the tour of his brownstone and the schematics of the billy club.

    I first saw it as a reprint, in Giant Size Daredevil and it made me fall in love with Colan’s art, especially his swashbuckling action.

    1. Peter

      Yeah, I found an “Epic Collection” reprint of Daredevil issues 40- 60 or so at the library and Colan art is definitely making it worthwhile even when many of the stories are horrible. Actually, it seems like there are probably about 2-3 issues per year that Stan could afford the time to care about in the scripting phase and they’re pretty cool, but it’s evident this title was a tertiary concern at best. Colan’s art is consistently dramatic and exciting, though.

      I do think this excerpt hits a little uneasily but I don’t recall Colan ever feeling slighted by Lee. Interviews with the Dean always made it seem like his relationship with Stan was cordial. I also have to say that Colan was a fantastic and idiosyncratic artist but not in the same league as Kirby or Ditko as a plotter, so maybe he just never had as much IP to steal…

      1. I don’t think anyone at Marvel in the 1960s matched Lee or Ditko as a plotter.
        It’s entirely possible Colan did think of this as poking fun at the boss’s foibles — this was, after all, SOP for Marvel back then — rather than a biting satire.

  3. DarkKnight

    I always wondered what Daredevil could’ve been in the Silver Age if Wally Wood stuck around. Would DD have been more than just a poor mans Spider-Man throughout the sixties and seventies? Really puts in perspective what Frank Miller and Klaus Janson did to revitalize the character.

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