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Original Daredevil Archives Vol. 1

by Robert Greenberger

One of the most memorable superhero costumes of the golden Age belongs to Daredevil, with its red half and blue half giving him a divided visual appeal. His full-face mask, studded belt, and boomerang weapon added an exotic, exciting touch. The character first appeared in Silver Streak Comics but was quickly popular enough to earn his own title which ran well past the point when superhero comics were clearly in the minority as other genres captured the attention of post-World war II readers.

The publisher, Lev Gleason, is today best known for his Crimes Does Not Pay title, which rose to the top of the sales charts in the late 1940s so his superheroic output is typically overlooked. Thankfully, Dark horse has been correcting that, first with last year’s Silver Streak Archives and now, the original Daredevil Archives. just as we fell in love with Captain America when his first cover saw him socking Hitler on the jaw, so too did Daredevil take on the Nazi leader in his first issue.

It wasn’t all patriotism; the impetus for the historic battle involved the Claw, Silver Streak’s biggest villain, traveling to Germany to team up with the Fuhrer. Daredevil battles Hitler (July 1941) launched the series with Biro and artist Bob Wood. readers can get a sampling of the Lev Gleason stable of heroes — the Silver Streak, Lance Hale, Cloud Curtis, Dickie Dean, and the Pirate prince –as they all come to DD’s aid in this sprawling, energetic story. The title was changed to just Daredevil with #2 and the series continued for sixteen years. His popular and familiar sidekicks, the little wise Guys, don’t show up until 1942 so you’ll have to wait several volumes before they turn up.

Daredevil in Silver Streak Archives Vol. 1

Before Biro rewrote the origin in 1943, Daredevil was Bart Hill, who fell mute after witnessing his father’s murder and was himself branded, leaving a boomerang-shaped scar on the left side of his chest. As an orphan, he grew up silent, focusing on becoming an expert with his trademark weapon. As an adult, hill donned the twin-colored costume, originally light yellow and dark blue before becoming the more recognizable red and blue, and sought vengeance against all evildoers. Interestingly, the character had two disparate origins, the first under Editor Jack Cole (pre-Plastic Man) and no attempt was made to reconcile them when Biro later revised it.

These first four issues are reprinted here complete with the Daredevil leads and supporting stories featuring Nightro, Pat Patriot, and the Bronze Terror. Still, it’s the lead feature, written and drawn by the legendary Charles Biro that is why you want to read this collection. credit though should go to Jack Binder who created the character before Biro propelled him to stardom.

Brett Dakin wrote about his uncle Lev Gleason in The Comics Journal, and explained, “This first legendary issue was the fruit of Lev’s key decision earlier in the year to bring aboard Charles Biro and Bob Wood, the editorial team that would stick with Lev throughout his publishing career. They were also the talent behind Lev’s most successful title: crime Does Not Pay, the first issue of which was released in 1942, again under the Silver Streak name. The release of Daredevil battles Hitler revealed Lev’s politics: liberal, secular, progressive, and resolutely anti-fascist.”

Daredevil’s costume and weapon of choice has been appealing enough that once people realized he fell into the public domain, many a publisher has used him as a way of attracting attention to their lines. AC Comics, First, Image, and Dynamite entertainment have all used him – and renamed him to secure fresh copyright protections — for better or worse.

As with most superhero titles of the day, the little wise guys forced Daredevil out of his own book, much as Streak sent green lantern packing in All-American Comics and Captain America Mysteries’ biggest mystery was where the star-spangled avenger went. even though Daredevil was gone in 1950 with issue #70, his series survived without him until the final issue, #134, in 1956, just as the Silver Age was getting underway.


Original Daredevil Archives Vol. 1 HC

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