In this series we spotlight comic book stories that are best left forgotten. Here is an archive of past installments.
Today, based on a suggestion by a few folks (most recently reader Valentijn), we take a look at Daredevil’s team-up with Uri Geller.
At the heart of it, Daredevil teaming up with a dude with mental powers is not really a big deal. After all, he knows a lot of superpowered folks. He is the lawyer for the Fantastic Four! He routinely hangs out with Spider-Man, the most powerful superhero of all-time. So it’s not that weird for him to hang out with a guy who can bend metal with his mind.
But that, of course, is the IN-comic story. The OUT of story aspect of Marvel doing a comic promoting the controversial “psychic” Uri Geller makes this comic one that is best forgotten about.
You have to love the introduction of Geller in 1976’s Daredevil #133 (by writer Marv Wolfman and artists Bob Brown and Jim Mooney)…
Note that that is actually a TONED DOWN version of what Uri Geller ACTUALLY TOLD PEOPLE about how he got his powers. In 1971, he said (under hypnosis) that he “was an ambassador sent by extraterrestrials (from a spaceship called Spectra located some fifty-three thousands light years away) to prepare Earthlings for the conquest of the their planet.” Yep.
Anyhow, Geller and Daredevil fight the villainous Mind-Wave and his awesome Think Tank (which, okay, IS pretty darn cool) and Geller and Mind-Wave face off in some epic thinking at each other…
It just seems so slimy to see Marvel used as a way to promote this guy’s shtick. I mean, whatever, if people want to buy into stuff like that, fair enough, I guess, but can you imagine Spider-Man teaming up with, like, John Edward? Ugh. That’s be rough. This is sort of like that (although I’d argue Geller is far less aggravating than, say, the Long Island Medium and her ilk).
Since it is always fun to watch, check out Geller’s appearance on the Tonight Show in 1973 where Carson and James Randi mess with Geller…
Hilarious. I love the BS reasons these guys always have when their tricks don’t work.
But the promotion of Geller didn’t just stop with the comic itself, as Marv Wolfman also wrote a bit in the letter column about Geller…
Before one of our Marvel Armadillos takes over the letter column, I’d like to say just a word or three about this issue of DAREDEVIL. It began a few months ago; Stan Lee called, asking me to come up to his spacious, luxurious, carpeted office, so I picked myself off my milk-box, tripped over the file cabinets lining my broom-closet, and headed up to our ninth floor offices.
Stan said he’d like to use Uri Geller in one of our comics, and that I should find a place for him. At that time, I had heard of Geller – he was some sort of a metal-bender. That’s all I had heard, and frankly, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, and so I said I’d use him in DAREDEVIL (easier for me to do this than to assign it to another writer, I thought). Cut to a week or so later – I was at a party up at Paty (Cake) Greer’s upstate New York home and I happened to see a copy of “Uri Geller, My Story” in her bookstand. Asking if I could borrow it for background information, I began reading it, and getting more and more involved with the reading. It was a fascinating story – and, yes, I was hooked – though still a total cynic.
It was then that Uri called, asking if he could come up to the offices to speak with me, to discuss the story. I said sure, hoping that this would be a chance to find out some things not in the book. He did come up the next day, and I found him to be a very likeable person, an avid Marvel fan, and not at all what one would expect a person with “special powers and abilities” to be like – in other words, the furthest thing from an egomaniac that you could hope to find. During the course of our talk, he asked for a key, which I gave him, then asked me to hold his fingers to see if he was pressing on the key. They were loosely around the heavy metal key, and slowly, as I held his fingers with mine, I watched the key bend.
Yeah, I may be a cynic, but I don’t ignore facts – the key had bent – I was holding his fingers so I know he couldn’t bend them with his hand, and it was my key. Whatever powers he had – were real. At that point, he asked me to draw a picture and not show it to him. He then began drawing his own picture, and as you can see from our two illustrations reproduced on this page, the sketches are very similar. Considering the rough drawing style from which Uri was trying to receive his psychic impressions, he was able to come very close to my own illustration – even duplicating the bizarre front view of the face on the side view of the body.
Afterwards, Uri bent another key for Sparklin’ SCOTT EDELMAN, with virtually the entire Marvel staff watching. We also took a few publicity pictures; the best printed here.
As for me, I began a cynic, and now I’m a believer – of whatever abilities Uri has, and if there are any super heroes in this world, we should hope they are all as nice as Uri.
Take care, enjoy the story, and now, back to the Armadillo.
Below are the drawings by Wolfman and Geller…
Mithra: Uri Geller, the famed ‘psychic’ made an appearance in Daredevil as well. How much criticism did you get for having him in the comic, since many people consider him to be a fraud?
Wolfman: We received some criticism, mostly from other magicians. The problem was Marvel made a deal with Geller to appear in one of their comics. No writer wanted to do it, and since I was editor-in-chief I felt I had to do it. I made his abilities somewhat bigger than life (this was a Marvel Comics, after all) and handled it like any typical Marvel comic at the time, so whether the real Geller had ‘powers’ or not wasn’t important. It could have been a new character for all I cared. I did like the idea of the Fearsome Think Tank, however.
Mithra: You wrote in that issue that Geller was able to bend your key (or something to this effect) and you saw it with your own eyes. Looking back, do you still believe he has powers, or is there a logical answer to how he did it?
Wolfman: Of course it was magic. Magic being some slight of hand manipulation. However, he was wonderful at it and I have no idea how he did it since I was holding the key and couldn’t feel any pressure as he bent it. I also kept the drawing he made based on mine. There was no way he could see what I drew. Now, I know magicians can do this although I don’t know how. I never believed he had powers. I believed he was a really good magician. However, again, since this was a contractual deal Marvel made, I couldn’t come out in the letter column and say he did a great trick that I couldn’t figure out.
I obviously don’t begrudge Wolfman for going through with the contractual agreement (it likely is not so surprising that he left the Editor-in-Chief job soon after finishing this issue), but I wish they didn’t have the contractual agreement in the first place.
Okay, that’s it for this installment! If you have any other suggestions of comic book plots that you think are best off forgotten, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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