Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Daredevil: Yellow -- Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

I remember very well buying the first issue of DAREDEVIL off the spinner rack in Trammell’s Grocery Store. I thought it was great, and for a long time DAREDEVIL was one of my favorite comics. I’ll admit, though, I got burned out on the character even before I quit reading comics in the Nineties. Just didn’t care for the direction some of the storylines went. I still have a great fondness for those early issues, though, when Daredevil wore his original yellow-and-red costume.

So it comes as no surprise that I really liked DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, the collected edition of a mini-series by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale. It’s not actually a retelling of the character’s origin – that’s referred to but doesn’t take place on-screen – but more of a revisiting of the events in the first several issues of DAREDEVIL told from slightly different angles. There’s not a lot of retconning and monkeying with the original version, either. Loeb and Sale pretty much stick to what Stan Lee, Bill Everett, and Wally Wood created in those issues, just expanding on it here and there.

Everett’s art in the first issue is some of the most memorable I’ve ever seen in comics. A lot of the panels are still vivid in my mind. Sale does a fine job of capturing the same feel without slavishly imitating the work of Everett or Wally Wood, who took over the art chores with the second issue. He’s one of my favorite modern comics artists, being responsible (with Loeb) for the great Batman mini-series THE LONG HALLOWEEN and DARK VICTORY, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS, and (with Brandon Choi) DEATHBLOW: SINNERS AND SAINTS, one of my all-time favorite graphic novel/collections.

As with MARVELS and MARVELS: EYE OF THE CAMERA, the nostalgia factor is probably one reason I enjoyed DAREDEVIL: YELLOW so much. I can’t read it without remembering the times when I read the original issues on which it’s based. But even if you’ve never read those stories, it’s well worth reading if you’re a Daredevil fan or a fan of good comics in general. Highly recommended.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't remember those spinner racks. Did I just not see them? In fact, I don't remember any stores selling books in my Philly neighborhood. I think I had to go to a department stores's book section (Gimbels) to buy a book. I took five books from the local library every Friday after school, the limit, and returned them the next. I never bought a book until I was in college, I think. Sad. Although this may be the wave of the future.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I haven't read Daredevil in his original yellow-and-red costume but he is one of my favourite superheroes, the other being Batman—both are more human than super unlike the other intergalactic heroes. I thought Ben Affleck fit the comic book image of Matt Murdock perfectly, especially with the blind look.

James Reasoner said...

Every grocery store and drugstore around here had a spinner rack of comic books, and most had a spinner rack of paperbacks, too. Plus wall racks of magazines, including EQMM, AHMM, a couple of SF digests, and occasionally MSMM. They showed up in what we called "variety stores", too, like Mott's, which was the Texas equivalent of something like Woolworth's, I suppose. There were more places to buy paperbacks in my hometown (and a considerably greater variety of selection, too) in 1964 than there are now. But to get hardbacks you had to go to one of the department stores in downtown Fort Worth, or the big independent bookstore, also downtown. The first paperback I ever bought (BABYSITTER'S GUIDE BY DENNIS THE MENACE) was in the pharmacy in a doctor's building in Fort Worth. The first adult paperback I bought (BIGGER THAN TEXAS by William R. Cox) was in a drugstore in Goldsmith, Texas, a little oilfield town in the middle of nowhere in West Texas. It seems like books were everywhere in those days, but maybe I just remember it that way.

James Reasoner said...

I actually liked the Daredevil movie, but I know I'm in the minority on that.

Fred Blosser said...

Joe Orlando also drew some early DAREDEVIL issues. I don't recall if he came before or after Wally Wood. Didn't Gene Colan eventually settle in for a long run as the artist? Like Prashant, I liked Ben Affleck in the movie. In fact, even though I'd stopped reading the comic long before the movie's cast of villains were introduced, and so they didn't have any nostalgic value for me, I thought the film was well done.

Fred Blosser said...

I can still remember the squeak and the sometimes wobbly balance of those spinner racks in the local drug stores.

James Reasoner said...

I forgot Joe Orlando! I can't believe that. Bill Everett drew the first issue, Orlando drew the next few issues, and Wally Wood started with #6 or #7. The material covered in Loeb and Sale's retelling is actually from the Lee/Everett first issue and the three issues by Lee/Orlando. Wood may have come on board when the costume was redesigned to the all-red version. I believe you're right about Colan, too, although I associate him more with Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Tomb of Dracula. Yeah, when you turned those spinner racks, it was sometimes like fingernails on a blackboard, wasn't it?

Laurie Powers said...

I loved those old spinner racks. I bet they go for a pretty penny nowadays in vintage and antique stores.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I liked the Daredevil movie too, Mr. Reasoner, especially the first half hour till young Matt goes blind. The scenes with his father "Battling Jack" Murdock, i thought, were poignant.

Richard R. said...

My favorite Daredevil series is Daredevil: Visionaries by K. Smith, Quesada etc. Collected in trade.

As for the spinner racks both comics and paperbacks, they were everywhere: grocery store (Alpha Beta, Safeway, Giant), drug stores, liquor stores (usually only paperbacks), toy stores (comics), Woolworths, the Five 'N' Dime, there were even comics spinners - or one at least - in the Greenleaf Book Store in downtown Whittier. Yes, also wall magazine racks, which included Hitchcock, Shayne, Queen, Astounding, Galaxy, If, F&SF, as well as the Hollywood star mags, the car mags, Better Homes & Gardens and of course Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post. There was Playboy too, but you had to be old enough to be handed a copy.

Our family stopped at the market - supermarket, really, on the way home from church each Sunday, and my brother and I were allowed to each pick one comic book to read. I was a Disney fan, my older brother preferred things like Flash Gordon.

I remember seeing lots of those paperback size spinner racks for sale in a used furniture place about 15 years ago, and thinking I should buy some, but I never did. Not sure what I'd have done with them if I had.

Troy Smith said...

I love those old spinner racks... when I was a kid in the 70s there were half-a-dozen stores in my little hometown that had them. The last one finally disappeared around 2000- I was amazed it lasted that long.

Daredevil has always been one of my favorites. My earliest memories of the book were from the early 70s, when he was partnered with the Black Widow. I used my 11th birthday money in 1979 to get subscriptions to DD, X-men, and Star Wars, and joyfully tore off the brown wrappers to get at the latest installment of the original Electra saga, the Dark Phoenix saga, and the Baron Tagge saga... of course, no one knew they were sagas at the time.

And I, too, liked the Daredevil movie. Especially the extended version, where the subplot about Coolio actually makes sense.