Daredevil #12, Jan. 1966
Story: Stan Lee
Layouts: Jack Kirby
Lettering: Sam Rosen
..and introducing: The matchless artistic wizardry of Marvel’s newest, and most eagerly-awaited, illustrator… The inimitable John Romita!
Yep, John Romita begins his short run on Daredevil with this issue. You may know his name from his long and acclaimed run on Spider-Man, which he starts after Steve Ditko leaves, or you may remember him as Marvel’s artistic director from the 70’s after Stan Lee promotes himself to president and stops being so involved in the day-to-day artistic side of things. Hell, you might even know him because his son, John Romita Jr., is a nearly modern Spider-Man artist himself. You may not know him at all, I guess. That’s possible too.
Last issue, Matt Murdoch declared that he needed a vacation from his law office (so that Foggy and Karen could start dating, I guess?) and decided to go on an ocean cruise. Nearly immediately the liner is besieged by the Plunderer (nee Lord Parnival Plunder), and Daredevil has to go into action to save the crew. Cap’n Plunder likes Daredevil’s style and calls off the raid, instead taking Daredevil with him. He offers the scarlet swashbuckler (yes, they actually call him that, I didn’t make that up) a spot on his pirate crew and gives him until they get back to Skull Island to decide.
Skull Island turns out to be part of Ka-Zar’s “Savage Land”, the area underneath Antarctica where the X-Men voyaged a while back. Not only that, but Skull Island turns out to be part of the area where Ka-Zar claims dominance and he attacks the pirates soon after they land. The Plunderer accidentally shoots his own munitions stockpile and blows everything up. For some reason, a single punch from Ka-Zar knocks out Daredevil’s radar sense and he gets knocked out by the explosion. The jungle man saves Daredevil and goes out in search for some jungle medicine to heal the hero.
Ugh, Ka-Zar is awful. He basically beats Daredevil with one punch, then suddenly decides that he’s the most worthy fighter there and saves him, even goes out of his way to get magic healing jungle berries for the guy. I guess the only way to explain why Ka-Zar does the things he does is that he’s just so damn stupid he can’t keep his motivations straight from minute to minute. Romita really excels at the whole jungle adventure art, though. It’s definitely a different take on the Savage Land than Kirby’s, but it’s no less awesome-looking.