Marvel Two-In-One #3: Inside Black Spectre

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Cover date: May 1974

Writer: Steve Gerber

Penciller: Sal Buscema

Inker: Joe Sinnott

Letter: Dave Hunt

Colorist: P. Goldberg

Editor: Roy Thomas

Continues from: Marvel Two-In-One #2, Daredevil #109, Shanna The She Devil #4, Ka-Zar #2.

This is a Daredevil story that is appearing in The Thing’s book, as it continues Daredevil’s battles with Black Spectre. Which in turn is actually a continuation of a Shanna The She Devil story. All of which Steve Gerber wrote or co-wrote.

I have a fondness for grand stories that just happen to be told across whatever Marvel titles a writer ends up writing at the time. Jim Starlin’s tales of Thanos are probably the most obvious of these, but I have a fondness for Joe Casey’s tales that spread from Cable in the 90s to Vengeance just a few years ago.

This comic though, it’s not really moving things forward, it’s more treading water.

Two things are advanced here for the ongoing Two-In-One storyline, it’s confirmed that Wundarr is an adult man with the education of a newborn infant and Reed creates him a suit to control his powers. Not exactly exciting stuff.

It does lead to Daredevil’s appearance in this book as during the tests on Wundarr there’s an explosion, which ol’ hornhead thinks might be another Black Spectre attack and investigates (every superhero in Manhattan is but an explosion’s earshot away from one another).

Once he realises it’s the FF that have caused the explosion he goes to the Baxter Building to give them a piece of his mind about setting off explosions in the middle of the city. There he meets Wundarr, for whom Reed has built a special suit that will prevent him exploding again. And between panels, Daredevil and Ben explain their ongoing story lines to one another.

Daredevil then goes to see Foggy Nelson and Shanna O’Hara (aka Shanna the She-Devil). She thinks Black Spectre has something to do with the Mandrill, the mutant supervillan who kidnapped, and subsequently murdered, her father.

Then changing back into street clothes, Matt Murdock goes on a date with Candace Nelson, Foggy’s half-sister. This date involves going to heavy handed parody of avant garde theatre, which ends in a hypnotised actor portraying Hitler killing an actor playing Captain America before blowing his own brains out.

Daredevil investigates, discovers a Black Spectre agent, but gets attacked by the Black Widow, the surprise having already been spoilt by the cover.

In order to pursue the Black Spectre aircraft he sees flying away with her, he goes back the Baxter Building to ask to borrow the Fantasticar. Well, steal it actually.

Ben catches him and after an explanation the pair go off to clobber Black Spectre. They board their ship and after some pummelling of henchmen, they get roundly defeated by the leader of Black Spectre and Black Widow, who drug Daredevil and hypnotise Ben.

The pair are thrown off the ship in the Fantasticar. Why they didn’t just throw them off and keep the car I don’t know. Plus, Ben would probably be OK however he fell. He’s super strong monster made of rock. Really bad planning here by the Mandrill, who the mysterious Black Spectre leader obviously is (he has a giant statue of a Mandrill on his aircraft). Nekra was in this fight too, but does so little it wasn’t worth mentioning her.

Within panels, Matt comes to, and lands the car. The abrupt and disappointing end. There aren’t even enough pages for the abject and utter failure of our heroes to rescue their friend to sink in. To be continued in Daredevil #110.

All in all a let down after the first two issues. We get some progression with Wundarr in the side story, but the main story ends up pretty much where it started. I imagine you’d have been fine just reading the Daredevil issues and skipping this.

Buscema’s art is fine, the highlight being the theatre sequence. I was never a Sal Buscema fan as a kid, but turned around on him as an adult. I guess changing artists three issues in goes to show that comic launches haven’t changed all that much in the ensuing decades.