At the start of issue 5 of Daredevil we are informed by Stan Lee of the arrival of the permanent artist for the Daredevil comicbook: Wally Wood. While thankful to the previous art team of Daredevil (Everett, Orlando, and Colletta), Marvel makes a lot of to-do for the apparently highly-regarded Wood with blurbs announcing his arrival in both the cover and the splash page.
More than that, Wood is allowed to do a slight redesign of Daredevil's costume. Let's take a look at the costume before and after Wood does his redesign.
The costume on the left panel is from Daredevil No. 1 and the one on the right panel is from the splash page of this issue, Daredevil No. 5.
Let's see. There are now two 'Ds' on Daredevil's chest. And the font of the D has changed from squared to rounded. The billy club holster's crimson straps has been reduced from two crimson bands around Matt's thigh to just one. The crimson torso cladding, boots, and gloves will henceforth look like solid black when before a lot of red highlights were used. In particular, those red dots in the gloves and boots are gone. The red belt is narrower and is now bisected by black belt straps. Minor changes to be sure.
As our story begins a villain called the Masked Matador has been staging a crime spree across New York City.
Matt decides to track him down. It is Matt's third opportunity to use his hypersenses for tracking. And for the first time he is met with success!
Has Daredevil improved as a tracker? Not really. If we read the caption in the first panel above it says that this success came about after days of persistent searching. Previously, Daredevil would search no more than a day with no success. I think his effectiveness as a tracker is no different then before. The key to his success is persistence, Matt simply searched till he found. With the Owl he gave up after a day of searching, with the Purple Man he got lucky and the news crews found his target for him.
Now that he has found his "quarry", so-to-speak, let's take a look at this Masked Matador.
Hmmm. Treating a truck like a bull. Seems dead simple; but let's break it down to see what skills the Matador is bringing into play.
Mastery in handling a heavy cape, even when throwing it.
Perfect sense of timing.
Knowing the exact moment to temporarily "blind" an opponent with a cape.
Speed and agility at dodging an oncoming attack.
The skills of a bullfighter being applied to criminal activities.
Daredevil has "seen" enough, he goes down to street level to challenge this criminal.
These two panels are pretty much all we have of the initial encounter between Daredevil and the Matador because they are, or rather, Daredevil, is interrupted by somebody needing a rescue.
From these two panels we can glean several things. The first thing to note is that the Matador's speed is the equal of Daredevil's. This is the first time DD will encounter someone as fast as him. Electro certainly wasn't and neither were the Owl and the Purple Man. The next thing to note is that the Matador treats all opponents like bulls. He calls both Daredevil and the truck he caused to crash by the name 'toro', Spanish for 'bull'. Presumably, thinking of all opponents as bulls allows the Matador to "be in the zone", it is a focusing technique for his skills.
The impending skirmish is cut short by this hapless fellow.
Daredevil cannot ignore this and he does not.
In the meantime, the Matador escapes the scene.
Later, in the firm of Nelson & Murdock ...
In the left panel is Karen dressed as Cleopatra for a charity ball that she and Foggy are supposed to be attending. But Foggy has to work late so he asks Matt to escort her while Foggy catches up later. All very well and good but look at the panel to the right with Matt in the taxi and what he's thinking. This has been building up for a while across several issues so let's do a quick review: In issue 2 we find out that Karen is very attracted to Matt but he's clueless. By issue 3, Matts hypersenses clues him in that, yes, Karen is attracted to him and by the end of the issue Matt - as Daredevil, no less - is losing a bit of control and saying sappy things to Karen like seeing her in his dreams. The fourth issue was pretty quiet between these two because Killdare had Karen under mind-control pretty much most of the time. And here we are, issue 5. Karen doesn't know it but Matt is pretty much putty in her hands; look at his face in the taxi!
The masquerade ball is a great showcase of Wally Wood's talent.
Matt's power quickly detects the presence of the Matador in the ball. Furthermore Matt has become aware that the Matador is stealing something from a wall safe. Mr. Murdock quickly calls attention to the Matador. Caught red handed, the Matador is forced to confront the ball guests as they attempt to stop him.
The Matador handles all attackers with ease, nay, with enjoyment. He's about to walk out of there with his loot but Matt has managed to change into Daredevil.
Like a nod to the Murdock boxing heritage what follows next is like a ringside fight. The ballroom is the ring and the masked guests are the spectators. Let's sound an imaginary bell for Round 1:
Well, this is certainly something that we are not used to from Daredevil. Matt is leaning on his speed; an ability that has never failed him before. But the Matador can match his speed and the Matador brings something else to the table from his years of bullfighting: impeccable timing. But Daredevil isn't outclassed, far from it, he has skill enough to humble the Matador. Plus we all know that Daredevil - being a Murdock - will simply keep getting up.
Still, Round 1 to the Masked Matador.
Going back to our boxing metaphor, let's check what the ringside crowd thinks of all this.
It's a hodgepodge of reactions. Not entirely negative. Some are even encouraging Daredevil to get back into the fight.
Once again the Matador gets into the mindset that he's fighting a bull. Between fast fighters it's a war of seconds and the slightest miscalculation could be costly. This is what happens to DD as the Matador pretty much takes away his hypersenses at a critical time in the fight. After he hammers Daredevil to the ground, the Matador leaves.
Round 2: The Matador.
The Masked Matador is naturally flamboyant, he's not after to really hurt his foes; but then again, humiliation is pretty painful. We are not shown how the crowd reacts to Round 2 but I think it would be safe to say that the comments are negative and biting. Even worst, Matt would be able to hear those comments loud and clear.
Matt Murdock is not having a good night. He goes into a corner and changes back into Daredevil. Of course, he has to rejoin the ballroom crowd. You can just imagine how excruciating it is for Matt to hear the comments while at the same time maintaining a calm front.
As a last twist to our boxing match metaphor, the news of the ballroom fight goes out to the rest of NYC. Matt and Karen get to see something that is symbolic of the City's reaction.
It's a popularity contest and right now the Masked Matador is more popular than Daredevil.
This hits Matt in two levels. First, it sucks to lose. It specially sucks to lose if you grew up in a boxing tradition like Matt. Winning means prize money and comfort; losing means struggle and unpaid bills. Second, it hits the lawyer in Matt. Daredevil is a crimefighter. The Matador is a criminal. The criminal is being lauded over the crimefighter. Crime trumps the law and that can't possibly sit well with Matt Murdock. Let's hear it from the man himself.
As for the Matador, he's on cloud nine. His latest crime involves a new tool in his arsenal. A matador's sword or estoque
As you can see, the Matador is out to burglarize the Acme Alarm Company. A silly crime that promises little to no material remuneration. It's also entirely in keeping with the Masked Matador's personality: He wants the flamboyance of successfully burglarizing an alarm company. It's all about the show to him.
Matt may try to deny it, but he too has that showman in him - he wants to win the fight. In the middle of his frustration Foggy walks in with a bombshell.
And there it is. Foggy fancies Karen so much he's ready to propose to her. We all know that inside Matt's poker-faced exterior he's deeply infatuated with Karen himself. This on top of his utter disappointment at losing to the Matador. You know how it is right? When multiple sources of stress start hammering you at the same time. You can't think straight. You're likely to do things that you'll regret. Matt is in that place right now.
But nonetheless, Matt forges ahead. Donning his Daredevil costume he goes to find out who the Matador is. And here we have it: 'The Origin of the Matador'.
For bullfighting fans to say that Manuel Eloganto is cruel to animals, well, he must really have been doing horrible things to the 'toros' in the ring. Because of his playful style I've looked at the Matador as a whimsical character but with this revelation not anymore. This megalomaniac has a cruel streak.
The next move is not by Daredevil but by Matt Murdock. He calls a press conference.
The next day we have this headline.
Matt is referred to as a prominent New York lawyer and and he has enough clout to call a press conference attended by the major news services. It looks like the firm of Nelson & Murdock is no longer th startup firm we saw in issue 1 or even the firm that the Owl was so quick to dismiss in issue 3. Matt and Foggy have really built up the business.
The other thing to note is the reason why Matt is doing this in the first place. I think he recognizes the Matador for the megalomaniac that he is. By saying that the Matador is Daredevil he pretty much steps on Eloganto's obviously gigantic ego.
Sure enough the Masked Matador comes barreling through the Nelson & Murdock offices - this time with his estoque - and Daredevil has his much hankered for Round 3.
The fight begins, but after a few moves, Matt perplexingly crashes out of the office window into the external fire escape ladder.
I like the clever coloring of this panel where everything outside the window is in natural colors but the figures inside the window are done in white and an icy blue shade.
Anyway, Matt claims he is taking the fight outside where he can utilize his acrobatic skills. Fair enough. But when the combatants do get outside we see something else that could be a reason why Matt chooses to fight in the external fire escape.
The fight has an audience outside. What's Round 3 without spectaors?
For the first time Daredevil will face the estoque. Of course, DD always has his trusty cane.
Not that the Masked Matador isn't bringing his cape into play. In fact he tries an old trick on Daredevil.
The question is why isn't Matador's cape routine working now when it was so effective during the fight in the masked ball? I think it's two things: First, the external stairwell has less noise than a room full of people in a party so Matt's senses aren't getting confused. Secondly, Matt is simply more focused on this fight. He lost Round 1 and 2 at the party. It's a hit to his ego. He needs this to be a win. Also at the masked ball he was distracted by Foggy's intent to propose to Karen together with his own burgeoning attraction to his secretary.
Matador's intent here is straightforward. Blind Daredevil with the cape and disarm him with the sword. Unfortunately for the Matador the cape doesn't do the job. And the sword? Well, Daredevil takes care of the sword.
Look at the Matador's face in the right panel. He's so used to things going his way that this setback looks to unbalance him emotionaly.
Eloganto's internal collapse is naturally followed by the collapse of his external prowess.
What I suspected before is now confirmed by the panel above. Daredevil does want an audience for this fight. Partly it's selfish. So what of it? Nothing wrong with that. But also surely it is for the City to stop cheering for a criminal like the Masked Matador.
To his credit the Matador rallies for a counterattack. This will lead to the best fight sequence in the Daredevil-Masked Matador match.
Eloganto is done.
Daredevil finishes the fight with a unique move.
And, of course, the defeated Masked Matador is turned over to the cops.
Round 3: Daredevil. it is time to recall the words of Killgrave, the Purple Man and I paraphrase: He who wins the final round wins all the rounds.
I don't know if the Masked Matador was ever meant to be a part of Daredevil's roster of villains. I, for one, cannot classify him as one of DDs rogues because this issue is pretty much his only big appearance in Marvel Comics. He'll return in Daredevil 129 but only for a brief appearance in connection with the Man-Bull. And then later he will be a failed target of an assassination. So what did ultimately happen to Manuel Eloganto? He gave up his life of crime, regretted his criminal ways, and now lives as a private citizen.
Issue no. 5 of Daredevil is the last issue for 1964. The first issue of Daredevil had a cover date of April 1964. Daredevil comicbooks would come out once every two months.
Now is a fitting time to do a recap of Daredevil comicbooks by the end of '64. We have the inaugural origin issue, of course, where we meet Marvel's only blind superhero and - between the two big comicbook companies - only the second blind superhero after DC's Dr. Mid-Nite. Matt was able to avenge his father's murder in the first issue. On his second outing in issue 2, he nearly dies at at the hands of Electro - twice. In issue 3, a major Daredevil and Marvel villain is introduced - the Owl. Issue 4 has DD matching wits against the Purple Man and then this surprisingly hard fight with the Masked Matador in this issue.
Outside of the adventures of Daredevil, these five issues bears witness to the rise of the firm of Nelson and Murdock as well as an unfortunate love triangle between the three members of that firm - heretofore unresolved.
We see Marvel tweaking DDs costume. First, experimenting with putting a hood/backpack, then some visual adjustments on the chest logo, holster straps and colors. But so far, these issues are Matt's rare appearances in his 'yellow' costume.
So far I am loving the fact that Daredevil is so underpowered compared to the Marvel heroes of that time (FF, Spidey, Thor, Hulk etc.). It's just nice to see somebody who is in actual danger when confronting street criminals. There's a gritty down-to-earth quality in stories like that.
Most of all I love the persistence, the 'keep getting up' attitude, not only of Daredevil but of Matt; and also his Dad, Jack.
The 1964 Daredevils are pretty good. I wonder what 1965 will be like?