Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Walking Tall: Eulogy for a Stilt-Man

One good thing about the delay of Civil War #5 is that it also delays the inevitable death of the Stilt-Man in Punisher War Journal #1. Based on the preview page above and a dismal, hard-rock scored “trailer” over at the Marvel site, it’s clear that Stilt-Man will be the first casualty in Frank Castle’s renewed war on guys dressed like porcupines and frogs. I know writer Matt Fraction has to show how badass the Punisher is, and how much he “means business”, by having him kill off some old loser villain, but why, oh why did it have to be Stilt-Man?

Stilt-Man, (or “Grimy” as he preferred to be called), made his debut appearance in Daredevil #8. After failing to steal the Stilt-Man armor through legal means, Wilbur Day stole the prototype, becoming the villainous Stilt-Man. The Emir of Elevation initially gave the horn-headed crime fighter a real run for his money:

The Lofty Lawbreaker spent his glory years being regarded as a legitimate threat by Daredevil, before the book went all grim and gritty. I remember one story where a major plot point was Matt's fear that Stilt-Man and Leap Frog might actually join forces, becoming an unstoppable threat. He was seriously worried about this. Daredevil had it easy back then, before Elektra, the Kingpin, and scores of ninjas became defining elements of his world.

Daredevil was just the first of many superheroes to defeat the Stilt-Man. The Towering Terrorist went on to get beaten by all the greats: Spider-Man, The Avengers, the X-men and more took turns beating up on the Sultan of Stride, but undeterred, he kept coming back for more. Once Frank Miller took over the book, it would have been reasonable to assume that Stilt-Man would never be seen in Daredevil again, but in Daredevil #186, recurring small timer Turk Barrett stole the Stilt-Man armor in a vain attempt to get work with the Kingpin:

Maybe Turk can take up the “mantle” of Stilt-Man again, now that the original is gone.
Farewell, Stilt-Man. You may not have been a good man, or an especially successful one, but you still towered above us all. Because of the stilts.

R.I.P. STILT-MAN: 1965-2006
Good night, sweet mechanically-augmented prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.


The Mutt said...

I always loved the look and concept of the Stiltman, but I couldn't have told you his name or origin, so I don't care if he gets wacked. Turk would make a great replacement!

Matthew E said...

I wonder if Stilt-Man was the inspiration for Rex Ruthless on The Kid Super Power Hour.

Brian Hughes said...

I'm not claiming he's a great or complex character, but c'mon...STILTS! What's not to like?

I'm afraid I have no idea who Rex Ruthless is, but aren't we all inspired by Stilt-Man?

coco67 said...

Poor Grotto. Turk gets all the love.

Brian Hughes said...

Grotto can be the new Leap Frog, making Daredevil's worst nightmare come all too horribly real.

R-Lex said...

Is it even the original Stiltman? Some jerk showed up in the armor in Marvel Team-Up last year who wasn't the original. Could it be we haven't seen the last of the true blue Baron of Being Really Tall?

Brian Hughes said...

His real name wasn't mentioned at all in Punisher War Journal #1, so who knows? Either way, I'm sure Stilt-Man will be back sooner or later.

The Mutt said...

Yeah, man! I want to see Turk bestride the narrow world like a man repossessed! Turk and Grotto as the new Stiltman and Leapfrog would rock hard. What's Leapfrog up to these days anyway? Is it still the original guy? Wait, is the Leapfrog the same dude who hung out with a gorilla and a bird and wore little thingies over their ears? Has he gone straight and joined the X-Men or something? See how It doesn't matter to me who wears those silly villain costumes?

Brian Hughes said...

Frog-Man was one of the Ani-Men, along with Ape-Man, Bird-Man, and later, Dragonfly. Leap Frog was a different guy and an independent operator.The original Leap Frog retired and was replaced by his son, Eugene, who tried to become a superhero. Daredevil remains the only superhero with two frog-themed villains.

Pere Ubu said...

What the hell is it with Marvel - every time they want to do the "grim gritty" routine they have to slaughter minor villains.

Cripes, I'm getting more and more motivation to just stick with the "All-Ages" comics.