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Daredevil 42
"Nobody Laughs At... The Jester!"


The Newest, The Most Cataclysmic Creation Of Smilin' Genial STAN LEE and GENE COLAN

Embellished By: Lettered By: DAN SAM ADKINS ROSEN

An underground bank vault has been single-handledly looted... and its guards are on the ground... the victims of small sleep pellets, and other weapons made to resemble ordinary toys! ... But there is nothing ordinary about the man known as... The Jester!

Since his task has been completed, The Jester decides to exit stage left! From that direction comes a sedan... and of course, he waits for the light to change. The elderly driver is greeted by what he thinks to be a street performer selling his wares. When he tells the gaudily-costumed figure that his children are up to their armpits in yo-yo's, the driver becomes the latest recipient of the versatile toy... as The Jester hurls it upon his chin!

The unconscious driver is removed from his vehicle, and The Jester takes to the wheel. The play is the thing, and the evening's caper has been successful. Because he has embarked on a criminal career, The Jester will never know the roaring applause of an audience.

In the law offices of Nelson and Murdock, Foggy wonders why Matt is browsing through a Braille law book, and not mourning his own brother! Karen has never thought that the blind lawyer could be so cold-blooded, and only Matt Murdock knows that they are grieving for a non-existent identity. He turns and tells the others that he and Mike were closer than they would have thought. Indeed, Daredevil has saved Matt's lifes many times. As the blind lawyer puts down the Braille book, Karen Page sheds a tear over the memory of the man without fear...

Foggy recalls how Daredevil's death happened so fast -- It seemed like a bad dream! The man without fear evaded The Exterminator's T-Gun blasts, and then sent the villain back into the T-Ray machine! The lawyer doesn't want to remember what happened next -- but he can't help himself --! He saw the bright flash and felt the final explosion --! It only took a moment -- but it seemed like one frozen in time. A torn remnant from Mike Murdock's costume is all that was left! Matt has heard enough, and decides to head for home...

Elsewhere, The Jester is marveling at his criminal success, and it's only the beginning! With his talents and many skills, the criminal is confident that he'll soon attain his heart's desire. With his educated background, training, and raw genius, The Jester will begin his crime campaign, with his specially-modified toys as his army!

The public will receive the fate they deserve, for all he had wanted was... applause... the applause which was denied him! He flips through his secret scrap book, which only he will see! The pages chronicles the public's failure to recognize the actor among them! Jonathan Powers had worked for years... studied for years... until he had received his first starring role. To his eyes, the audience envied his talent, and they were jealous of him! It was an audience of fools who failed to give him the applause he so richly deserved! Their jeers rang in his ears, and his night of victory turned into a night of sorrow.

Even his fellow actors shared the audience's opinion of his performance! The director regrets having given Jonathan Powers the role of Cyrano, and tells the frustated thespian to turn in his false nose! He continued his training... figuring that the more swordsmanship he knew... the better his chances to star in costume adventures! The coach tells Powers that he should concentrate on acting, just as his pupil manages to disarm him! Believing himself to be a born star, Powers devoted his time to gymnastics... physical culture... body building... and when he reaches stardom, he'll be the greatest! (Holy Ferrigno, Batman!) Fate conspired against him! The only part he could get was that of a stooge... for a low-brow comic...! (Holy Jemas, Batman!) The cigar-smoking comedian tells the audience how he was going to eat the pie in his hand... but the guy behind him looked hungry, and so...

Tubby lets the guy have it... right in the face! The crowd roars with approval and demands an encore! The days pass, and show after show finds the comedian sending pie after pie into his stooge's face! The day comes when the stooge struck back! Since the public wants to laugh... to laugh at someone else's expense... then he will give them what they want! In a way which will make him the biggest star of all!

Mayoral candidate Richard Raleigh doesn't want a district attorney whom he won't be able to control. One of his first tasks will be to make certain that Franklin Nelson will be placed out of the running, and not tip his own hand! To the voters, Raleigh must not appear any less than a pillar of the community. Reading the times headline about The Jester's one-man crime wave, he decides that this new villain would be the ideal choice for his plans. The candidate calls the television studio to buy fifteen minutes of air time for his prepared speech.

In the evening, Richard Raleigh vows that he will not rest until The Jester is behind bars, and boasts of a plan which will certainly capture the gaudily-costumed villain. Having seen Raleigh's televised speech, The Jester decides to pay a call to the candidate's campaign headquarters, and wait for him there! Entering through an open window, the criminal is surprised to find Raleigh waiting for him there... and with an offer which should be of special interest to him!

The mayoral candidate offers The Jester ten thousand dollars if he can get Franklin Nelson out of the D.A. race, and the criminal merrily agrees... At a park, Foggy is trying to pop the question to Deborah Harris, while Karen is happy to be with Matt, and the blind lawyer wonders why he didn't off his costumed identity sooner... The Jester's sedan arrives, and he sees Nelson in the company of two girls... and a blind man...

Taking to the trees, the villain thinks about how he will extort Raleigh for ten times the amount he was promised. Foggy sees the oddly-costumed figure leaping at him from the trees, and while Karen shoves Matt aside, the blind lawyer is conflicted about what to do. The Jester grapples with Foggy, and chides him because there's no longer a Daredevil to come to his aid. The lawyer assures him that he can fight his own battles, but The Jester has something else in mind...

ZOK! Foggy takes a yo-yo on the chin, then grabs Matt as a hostage! When Karen begins to tell Foggy to take himself out of the D.A. race, Matt shudders as The Jester is close to discovering his cane's secret! All are startled as Matt tells The Jester that the man without fear is still on the scene. When the criminal tells him that it's common knowledge that the hero is dead, the blind lawyer assures him that the first Daredevil trained someone else to take his place!

The Jester's sedan speeds away, and the criminal brings the blind lawyer to his hideout! When the criminal leaves him in a locked room, Matt takes the opportunity to remove his spare costume from his inner coat pocket! (Holy Pocket Full of Miracles, Batman!) Since there's no place he can conceal his street clothes, Matt uses a vial of acid to dissolve it! The Jester returns to bind the blind lawyer, but finds Daredevil instead... and a crimson boot to his face!

Daredevil leaps towards his new foe, who ducks, and causes the man without fear to crash into a pile of toys. Realizing that Murdock was telling the truth about a new Daredevil, The Jester decides to slice the clumsy pretender to bits! D.D. easily evades the blade, and The Jester smiles, as he continues to thrust with his sword! (Holy Comics Code, Batman!) Daredevil ducks swiftly, then kicks the villain backwards...

The Jester executes a back-flip, and is ready for another attack! Luckily for D.D., The Jester had left Matt with his billy-club cane... and uses the cable to disarm him! As the cable retracts into the billy-club, The Jester leaps into Daredevil once more...

The two foes crash into another pile of toys, with D.D. wondering if his new enemy had a sort of delayed childhood! The Jester winds up and delivers a right-handed punch... THOK!

Feigning unconsciousness, Daredevil watches as The Jester leaves, then follows the criminal, as he makes his way to the stolen sedan. While the car's engine begins to roar, Daredevil leaps onto the car's roof, and shares a ride to Richard Raleigh's campaign headquarters. Knocking furiously on the door, The Jester yells for Raleigh, insisting that he wasn't paid to deal with such a threat as Daredevil! Hearing Raleigh's name, the man without fear realizes that the mayoral candidate wouldn't want an honest D.A. like Foggy if he was a crook himself!

Breaking into the room, The Jester discovers the dead body of Richard Raleigh! With the mayoral candidate no longer among the living, the criminal doesn't see any reason to fight with Daredevil, and the man without fear is soon floored by a sackful of marbles! CRASH! The Jester takes his leave through a glass window... vowing that they'll meet again... and the villain has unknowingly served his purpose... for it has made Matt realize that as long as he lives... there must always be... A DAREDEVIL!

On the Gene Colan-drawn cover, The Jester's yo-yo sends Daredevil reeling back into a pile of toys!

Who'd figure that the latest costumed yo-yo in the man without fear's rogues gallery would actually wield a yo-yo?

The Jester's one of my favorite Daredevil villains, having come across the character in 1976 when Marv Wolfman, John Buscema, and Jim Mooney had framed D.D. for his murder (as he had in the Silver Age).

A frustrated actor who is forced to play a stooge for a lowbrow comedian. Reading this description, is anyone else reminded of Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons? I'm hearing Kelsey Grammer's voice as I read The Jester's dialogue.

If a Silver Age villain were to be picked for the next Daredevil movie, I'd love to see The Jester on the big screen. A nice contrast to the darkness of the first film.

Convinced of his own greatness, Jonathan Powers seek to convince the viewing audience, as well, in the costumed guise of The Jester. Well... it certainly beats falling into a vat of chemicals, doesn't it?

Richard Raleigh first and last appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man magazine from 1968.

Poor Foggy seems to be the reluctant sparring partner for every Daredevil villain. Here with The Jester, and the previous issue with The Unholy Three.

A vial of acid certainly puts a crimp in a lawyer's wardrobe. I can buy Matt's spare costume being in his inner coat pocket, as much as I can buy Superman's compressed Clark Kent clothes in the secret pocket of his cape.

Interestingly, The Jester regards Daredevil as a clumsy replacement for the first D.D... not knowing that he's fighting the one and only man without fear!

Who would have played The Jester if there had been a Silver Age Daredevil TV series? Frank Gorshin?

The Jester's partnership with Richard Raleigh shows that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Daredevil fails to capture The Jester because the villain lost his marbles. Actually, I think the villain lost his marbles sometime before the last page of the story.

In the '80s, Denny O'Neil and Sal Buscema provided a happy ending for Jonathan Powers, who finally received the acclaim he sought.

In "Let's Level With Daredevil," Mark Gruenwald of Oshkosh, Wisc writes:

"Dear Stan and Gene,

With Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, and Iron Man receiving their own illustrated fiction periodicals, I wondered whether Daredevil would still remain my favorite adventure magazine. With the recent Daredevils in evidence, it is unlikely he'll lose his position. The cover of issue #38 is without a doubt the greatest cover ever on a D.D. mag. The superimposed drawing of Dr. Doom over D.D. seemed to capture the true essence of Daredevil's struggle to restore his mind to his proper body. The dark green, grey and red combination was almost too much to behold. As far as I know, this is the first Daredevil to show him in such a unique position. The story can only be considered a contemporary classic - even the title was appropriate. I enjoyed the conclusion of the tale where Dr. Doom displayed his kingly dignity by allowing D.D. to go free. In closing, I would like to express my thanks to you for tossing in those Latin expressions (like "Dum spiro spero" in D.D. #37). As I am taking first year Latin, I find it amusing to translate your mottoes. And who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Realistic Writers, Ardent Artists, Crimson Crook Catchers, Fanatic Fans, and Irving Forbush??!"

The editor replies: "Certainly not us, Mark - and not Irving's mother, either. All she ever seems to say is, "Irving, I just want to know what you do with all of those pots you keep borrowing!" Anyway... we grooved on Genial Gene's colossal cover, too - it was definitely a piece de resistance in the realm of dramatic presentation! In fact, it was so good that now we have to worry waht he's going to do to equal it - but knowing the inimitable Mr. Colan, he'll come up with something! Crescit eundo - Excelsior!"

Geez, is it me or were the letter pages more fun to read in the Silver Age? This is only one letter out of four, and nowadays, Mark Gruenwald's missive would no doubt crowd out the modern-day letters page.

Steve Chung
"Nobody Laughs At... The Review!"