Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

If only the Fantastic Four knew the Trapster’s secret weakness was nail polish!

Daredevil #35, “Daredevil Dies First,” (by Stan Lee and Gene Colan) is a good example of the problems of both the Marvel method and of “writing what you know” when you’re really writing what you think you know.The story involves a scheme by the Trapster, rattled after his past defeats, to regain his confidence by killing Daredevil. Once that’s done, he’ll take another shot at the Fantastic Four. However he wants to make sure he’s not locked up for Daredevil’s murder first — hmm, there’s a prominent criminal attorney named Matt Murdock, why not ask him?What Stan Lee thought he knew is that corpus delecti refers to the body of the victim in a murder case. It’s a common misapprehension — Roy Thomas made it in the Avengers‘ Yellowjacket arc — but no, the term refers to the body of evidence in a case. The answer is yes, the case can be proven if you have enough evidence but no corpse. If, say, you show up at a lawyer’s office and ask about the legal risks of killing Daredevil, then Daredevil disappears, that could count as part of the corpus delecti. Whereas Trapster quietly going through with his murder plan — sticking DD to a big anti-gravity disc, then sending him into space — might have worked fine.

As one of the country’s top defense attorneys (I’m not sure when he made the jump from scrappy new lawyer to top dog, but repeated stories by this point have assured us it’s so) Matt would have known the terminology. He might have been wary about what he told the Trapster but you’d think “Yes, you can still be tried for murder” would be a better choice.

Then we get to the Marvel method problem. As you can see, Trapster eliminated any resistance by using his wonder adhesive to pin Karen and Foggy down. A few panels later, they get out of it.“He used a weak paste mixture”? That sounds suspiciously like Colan drew the scene without knowing how powerful Trapster’s gunk really is and Lee had to write around that. Unfortunately there’s no way to write around a later scene in which Daredevil defeats the adhesive simply by pulling hard. Lee just goes with it because what else could he do — it’s not like Trapster would have used weak paste against someone he’s trying to kill.

#SFWApro. Art by Gene Colan.

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