Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Crusher (!)

Okay. Where do I start?
Well, as every Daredevil fan is more or less aware of, in-between the beginnings by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas - acclaimed and celebrated for their "golden age" factor, if nothing else - and the coming of Frank Miller to the title, which practically redefined the character, there was a period that can be considered the dark age of Daredevil. I'm talking about the issues of the first volume going approximately from #70 to #150.
The book lacked then an identity, a defining mood. The Matt Murdock persona of the protagonist almost forgotten, Daredevil was just a little more than a masked acrobat in a fancy suit swinging around the city, making tiring wisecracks at the baddies while fighting them and getting all chauvinist on his then sidekick, the Black Widow.
Most of the bad guys fought during that period where also particularly lame. The hero got to fight them usually only for a storyarc or even a single issue, and after that they were pretty much - thankfully, I might add - forgotten. God-forsaken villains like "The Black Messiah" "Angar the Screamer", Ramrod, or this one villain here appearing in DD #119:

The Crusher.
Basically, this individual is Juan, a young boxer who underwent a series of clandestine treatments by a medic member of an underworld organization, in the hopes of increasing his body mass and thus be able to fulfill his dream of competing in the heavier boxing leagues. His trainer, Pop Fenton, and the ex fighter Kid Gawaine are however worried by all this, especially because of some minor side-effects that the drug seems to have on him.
While Matt is visiting the boxing gym, the gangsters come to intimidate Pop into not interfering, but everything gets violently interrupted when Juan suddenly turns into this mindless, oversized lump of meat with progressive alopecia, and steel pants.
Fortunately, Matt finds the opportunity to change into Daredevil and intervene.

Notice that he's actually the first to attack. The monster hasn't still given any sign of hostility. Who knows, maybe he was even about to ask for help to his friends. And yet, basing his judgement solely on the fact that he's now large, muscular and ugly, our hero assumes that Juan has also become evil, and that he must be attacked.
In any case, the giant is not too pleased:

Also, in case someone hasn't heard him in the first post-metamorphosis panel, he repeats his name.

No, in case you were wondering, no one has asked him what was his name again in the preceeding panel. Apparently, another side effect of the treatments is the compulsion to accompany every action with the repetition a certain name/title. While trying not to get "crushed" DD wonders why:

A drug being capable of transferring the personality of people who died elsewhere, as well as the impulse of repeating a title again and again? Interesting theory. Doesn't matter that much when you're getting slapped around by an enraged mountain of beef like that, but interesting theory nonetheless.

Damn. Who was he fighting again?

Oh, yeah. It had escaped me momentarily. Anyway here we have an example of the corny spidey-esque wisecracks that DD was made to say - or think - those days:

We are not shown how he manages to do it, but Daredevil tries to play smart by cutting the Smasher's supply of oxygen using the ropes of the ring:

Yeah, yeah, I mean the Crusher, geez.

Ouch. Anyway, we get a long sequence of the guy wrecking everything around, with DD utterly incapable of doing something about it. In all the ruckus, the structure of the old building gets compromised, and a wall is about to collapse on Pop and Kid Gawaine. In a brief moment of lucidity, "the Crusher!" throws himself between them and the collapsing wall. The young man reverts to his normal self, which, incidentally, didn't have any alopecia and didn't sport the hardcore metallic pants and boots of his monstrous alter-ego.

The issue ends rather abruptly, with a scene that was probably supposed to be touching, but fails miserably to be so. After all, there's no way any three-panel sequence can be touching, if it comes after pages and pages of a bald guy wearing only iron pants repeatedly yelling "The Crusher".
Notice also how DD asks pop for the boy's health status, even though he should know better than anybody else, given his heightened senses.

*sniff* how sad. This anyway, is the last we see of the Crusher.
Luckily, to cheer things up a little, I have here a panel from the same issue that will almost certainly make a certain DD fan jump for joy:



JP Nguyen said...

Oh, you're really doing some DD-archeology, here !
I didn't know this villain!


I mean... THE CRUSHER !

Francesco said...

Hey JP, what's up!

You know, I'm totally gonna do this one of these days.
I mean, going around yelling my title at every action I do.

(I added your new blog to the links. Keep them coming!)