Once again, Spider-Man takes on another superhero, but this may be the first time he does so without at least one of the people involved being a jerk. He fought the FF a couple times so far, and all because he was being full of himself, and he battled the Hulk because the Hulk just plain didn’t like anybody bothering him.
But this time? This time, no one is being a jerk.
Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #16, September 1964
Writer: Stan Lee’
Artist: Steve Ditko
The Plot: Spidey is under the Ringmaster’s control! Good thing Daredevil isn’t!
Commentary: I said above that this is the first superhero fight in this title where neither hero is being a jerk to the other, and I meant that. I am thinking about how Spidey once took on the Human Torch in some attempt to show up the Torch in front of Johnny’s girlfriend. He then flips over Reed Richards for the crime of offering him a hand up, and then he makes the Thing look foolish too. There was no real reason for Spidey to start that fight, and there were no real consequences to it either. Spidey just leaves in the end, and I know these days he and the Fantastic Four are pretty tight. I get that a lot of superhero brawls in older Marvel books were generally pointless, a chance for creators to give their readers a fill of heroes punching each other in creative ways.
However, this time it happens when Daredevil and Spider-Man meet for the first time, and this is early, yellow-suited Daredevil, who was a lot more happy-go-lucky than the character is generally known to be. As such, this is a meeting of two likeminded heroes who mostly seem to be just enjoying themselves. Yes, Peter Parker has other problems, like not taking Betty to the circus while he’s on assignment.
But it’s the Circus of Crime!
I may have to read that Hulk issue where he battled the Circus the first time around. It’s referenced here, but I would think if an entire circus was arrested for committing crimes, it might be a lot harder for them to continue to get audiences. I know I’d think twice before buying a ticket to see their show. Then again, I generally think the Circus of Crime are the lamest bad guys Stan Lee ever came up with.
Regardless, the Ringmaster’s hypnotic hat puts the whammy on the entire audience, including Spider-Man, but not Daredevil because Matt Murdock is blind. Spidey uses a similar trick by keeping his eyes shut at the end of the issue. That was actually a second meeting between the two when Spidey saved a blind man from some thieves. And, really, the two seem to admire each other when Spider-Man, in a trance, isn’t ordered to take out Daredevil. Plus, the issue makes it pretty clear that, under normal circumstances, Daredevil is no match for Spider-Man’s strength and speed. Since Spidey can only do what the Ringmaster tells him to, Daredevil doesn’t need to be faster than Spider-Man. He just needs to be faster than Ringmaster.
So, a nice issue that somehow felt breezy like it doesn’t really matter much, but it did give Daredevil a nice guest staring role with a lot more “screentime” than any of the past hero guest stars.