Here we go, back to silly Marvel stories! Working on the Bat Signal project kind of put a damper on doing these Marvel Madness posts, but I’m trying to do a better job with that, and get these up more often, because I have quite a backlog of insane stories that would be perfect to do here. And look what we have here! We’ve got my favorite superhero of all time, Daredevil having a crazy adventure with my main man Dr. Doom. Solid gold. Since Daredevil is in the zeitgeist right now thanks to the stellar second season of his show (which I’m going to get around to writing an article about soon) so I figured to go back to some of the crazy old Daredevil stories to find something good. And boy did I. Now, since early Daredevil was written by Stan Lee, it’s pretty much all crazy, because just about everything that guy wrote was bonkers. But a lot of fun. I really love Daredevil in general, but similarly to Batman, I have an affinity for more lighthearted Daredevil than dark gritty Frank Miller-style Daredevil. I feel like dark Daredevil works better for me than dark Batman, but crazy joke-spewing swashbuckling Daredevil will always have a special place in my heart, and that’s the dude we get in this story. No Daredevil holding revolvers against Bullseye’s head while soliloquizing about morality here, instead we get Daredevil and Dr. Doom switching bodies and wandering around New York prank calling the Fantastic Four. Which, c’mon, why doesn’t everybody read comics? They’re the best!
The story actually starts an issue earlier at the end of a goofy story where Daredevil helps the Fantastic Four fight the Trapster, aka Paste Pot Pete, aka that guy who fights the Fantastic Four armed with a giant glue-gun. Trapster is shockingly a pretty difficult challenge for Daredevil, and the two end up grappling on a subway platform before they both pass out. The police then take Trapster away while apparently leaving Daredevil there unconscious. And when he finally does regain consciousness it’s when he hears someone approaching him in a suit of armor. And wouldn’t you know it, it isn’t Iron Man, it’s Dr. Doom. Now, a little bit of context, Daredevil had already fought Dr. Doom before, aiding the Fantastic Four, so I think that’s why Dr. Doom singled him out for the ludicrous plan that follows. Also, the entire world think that Dr. Doom is dead, since the last time he showed up in a comic was when he successfully stole the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer, and was presumed dead after being attacked by Galactus. And this is Dr. Doom’s comeback plan. Doom shows up in the subway platform, and starts fighting with Daredevil, which doesn’t go well for the Man Without Fear. Mainly because punching a man wearing a suit of steel isn’t exactly a smart plan. So the fight is pretty one-sided. Especially when Dr. Doom starts using his fists, like a “peasant,” which finally knocks Daredevil out. He then starts to carry Daredevil out of the station, while kind of looking like he’s about to plant a romantic kiss on him.
But they don’t end up kissing, and Doom instead just starts taking Daredevil away to do something nefarious to him. Unfortunately a bunch of weird hippies show up to yell at Dr. Doom. But Doom is a smart guy with a lot of tricks up his sleeve, so of course he has some sort of ray gun that can make a wall of….plastic appear between him and the hippies. And once that’s taken care of Doom moves onto the next stage of his plan, shoving Daredevil into the backseat of a limo. Doom’s goons then start driving them to the Latverian embassy, which is apparently famous for it’s impossibility to escape. But Daredevil isn’t really up for being dragged to an embassy for a country run by a supervillain, so he starts acting like he’s in a Jason Statham movie and begins beating up all the dudes in the car, even kicking the back of the drivers head. But in the end it doesn’t really do much, because he’s tied up with a bunch of guys, who just beat him up. Doom then uses something he refers to as “jet brakes,” which slams the car to a halt, and the goons drag him into the embassy, where things start to get even crazier.
Doom then drags Daredevil through the incredibly lavish embassy to the dungeons. You now, like all embassies have? Doom tosses Daredevil into a pitch black cell with no real way out. So as soon as Doom leaves Daredevil springs into action, trying to find some way to escape. He runs his hands all over the walls, using his super-touch abilities to find structural weaknesses. And pretty quickly he comes across a secret trap-door. And when he pushes through the door he finds himself in a very strange room. Because apparently this was all some elaborate scheme by Dr. Doom. They don’t really explain it that well, but it’s clear Doom was trying to find some hero to swap places with in order to get close to the Fantastic Four, and he was apparently running an experiment on Daredevil to see if he was a good enough candidate. And Daredevil has passed the first test of the impossible escape, so now onto the next stage of the experiment, the Giant Room!
Yep, Dr. Doom has built some elaborate set to mess with Daredevil’s senses, including a giant room to make Daredevil think Doom had shrunk him. Doom can also make the room rotate and spin rapidly to disorientate him. But the thing I love most about this scene is the fact that Daredevil assumes that Doom shrunk him to the size of a child, rather than just built a room where everything was slightly larger than normal. Because that’s what I love about Dr. Doom. I would have totally believed it if they told us Doom had shrunk Daredevil. I also totally believe that he built a large room to mess with Daredevil. Dr. Doom does what Dr. Doom wants to do guys. But even though Daredevil has some issues with Dr. Doom crazy funhouse room, he manages to get through it, and ends up breaking into Doom’s laboratory. Which was exactly what Doom wanted! Doom then turns on his “hypnopticon” which he plans on using to control Daredevil. Luckily though, Daredevil is blind, and Doom’s crazy gizmo doesn’t do anything. Which leads to yet another fight where Doom just overpowers him. And it doesn’t go well for Daredevil, who ends up getting right into the position that Doom needed him in, so two giant glass tubes can slam down around them. Which was all the science necessary, because once they’re in the tubes, Doom’s latest invention fires up, which is able to switch Daredevil and Dr. Doom’s consciousnesses. They didn’t even have to pee in the same fountain.
And once the transfer is done, Doom immediately splits. He heads out to start pestering the Fantastic Four while leaving Daredevil in a cell. But Daredevil is in luck, because it turns out Dr. Doom is a bit of a prick, and didn’t trust his underlings to know his plan, so they totally think that the guy who looks and sounds like Dr. Doom is Dr. Doom. Which Daredevil uses to his advantage, because the goons let him out of the cell immediately. And after enjoying the gift of vision for a while, he starts trying to figure out a way to stop whatever it is Doom is planning. Which so far is just him wandering around town, trying to get a hang on Daredevil’s abilities, while somehow not realizing that he’s blind. Good work Dr. Doom. But while Daredevil doesn’t exactly know what Doom is up to, he assumes it has something to do with the Fantastic Four, so he starts trying to contact them through a secure radio signal they use. Unfortunately he now has the voice of Dr. Doom, their accursed enemy who they assumed was dead. So it doesn’t go well, and the Fantastic Four just assume someone is prank calling them.
But Daredevil did do one thing right, he told the goons who let him out of the cell to go track down “Daredevil” and kick his ass. So they start prowling New York, trying to find him, which they do. They start beating up “Daredevil,” but luckily Dr. Doom made sure to bring his “Ring Imperial,” with him, which not only shows that he’s Dr. Doom, but also has some sort of mind-control ray in it. So the goons are back on his side, and ordered to go find Daredevil, who is still Dr. Doom. Jesus this is getting confusing.
And once Doom has control of his goons again, he sends them to the embassy to deal with Daredevil. Who just so happens to be out wandering the streets too, and ends up running right into them. They then start having a big fight where Daredevil starts using his signature moves with Doom’s body. But things aren’t really going his way, since he’s not used to this new body. That is until some police show up, since as far as they can tell some random thugs are beating up that crazy Eastern European dictator who dresses in a suit of armor with a cape. They scare the goons away, and Daredevil insists he’s alright, continuing to just wander the street in the hopes that he will run back into Doom. Which he does, almost immediately. The two meet up, and Dr. Doom proclaims that he isn’t giving Daredevil his body back, no matter what he does. So Daredevil goes ahead with his only plan, which is to hand Doom a little radio, telling him to listen and figure out what his master plan is, which seems like he’s stalling until he comes up with a good idea.
Doom just kind of blows him off and wanders off to continue doing whatever the hell he’s been doing the entire storyline, as Daredevil heads back to the embassy. And once inside he goes back to the communication station that he prank called the Fantastic Four with, and sets up a video conference with some governmental officials back in Latveria. They of course don’t suspect that the man talking to them isn’t their tyrant, since Doom doesn’t let anyone else in on his crazy plans, and start going with all of Daredevil’s crazy demands. Which includes invading China. And luckily Dr. Doom finally bit and started listening to the little radio Daredevil gave him, which informs him of Daredevil’s little act of military aggression. Doom freaks out, knowing that China could wipe Latveria away in no time, and starts booking it back to the embassy to fix things. He gets there, pissed that Daredevil found a way to best him, and offers to switch them back so he can save his nation. So the two hop back in the goofy glass tubes, and get their mind put back in their right bodies. And the first thing Daredevil does once he’s back is to take his billy clubs and smash the hell out of Doom’s machines, assuming that Doom won’t be able to build another Freaky Friday machine. And shockingly, Doom is pretty cool with it. Similarly to that Luke Cage story I talked about earlier, Doom is just impressed that someone had the cojones to stand up to him, and just lets Daredevil go away with a warning. Which, all things considered, is probably the best outcome Daredevil could have hoped for. Other than maybe regained eyesight.
I loved this story. Two of my favorite characters in one of the silliest stories I’ve come across. I mean, what could have made this story better for me? It had all the hallmarks of crazy Marvel stories that work for me. We have a hero unwittingly being thrown into some overly elaborate plot concocted by Dr. Doom, who succeeds right away, only to squander his success by just sort of meandering around town aimlessly until the hero wises up and stops him. It’s just perfect. I mentioned earlier that I’m more fond of the swashbuckling Daredevil that we got in earlier stories like this, and that was brought back by Mark Waid in his amazing recent run. And Daredevil is in great form here, making bad Spider-Man-esque jokes while bothering Dr. Doom and just swinging into any problem, because he’s the Man Without Fear. Daredevil just kind of rolls with everything that happens, and does everything he can to beat Dr. Doom even though he’s pretty outclassed. Because Daredevil doesn’t give up guys. Plus, how could a story about a hero and villain switching bodies without telling anyone first not be good? I loved seeing the two wander around town aimlessly, getting into awkward misunderstandings as if they themselves kept forgetting that they were in different bodies. And as great as it was to see Daredevil and Dr. Doom switch places, predating the whole ‘Doctor Octopus becomes Spider-Man’ storyline by decades, I think the thing I love most about it is that it’s just further examples of how great a villain Doom is. Every one of the Doom stories I’ve featured on this series have been radically different, in both scale and reason, but in the end you still totally buy that Dr. Doom is doing it all. Oh, is Dr. Doom building a time machine to gain magic from Merlin’s nemesis? Yep. Is he stiffing some guy he barely knows for $200? Yep. Is he making a suit out of the skin of his former lover in order to enact violent magical vengeance against his mortal enemies? Yep. Is he building an impossible mind transferring machine just to screw with the Fantastic Four? Yep! Anything they tell us Dr. Doom does, I buy it. Because he’s just that type of guy. Dr. Doom is the best villain, because he works perfectly in any story, with any hero, and this little gem is just yet another example of it.
Daredevil 37 and 38 were written by Stan ‘ the Man’ Lee and drawn by Gene ‘ the Dean ‘ Colan, 1968.