One of the persistent awkward issues for writers of superhero comics is getting their top villains out of jail and back into the storylines. Many treat it as if there is no problem, and the villains have just escaped and that’s all there is to it, all right? “Released on a technicality” is another dodge – I can’t ever recall anyone defining what the technicality is. Others have them out on parole – in actual story time, this means that trying to devour New York City to gain enough power to rule the world gets a sentence that comes up for parole in about two weeks, which is surprisingly lenient. Especially when the last 45237450754 times this villain was released, they instantly attempted to consume New York City again.

In Daredevil #63, new boy Roy Thomas tried to come up with something better – being the obsessive fanboy he was, he’s undoubtedly noticed the lameness of the above conventional devices, and thought he could improve on them. Sadly, he was deeply wrong.

The Gladiator was one of the few half-decent DD villains, a stand-out in a dismally weak crop. He was a big bruiser in armour, with spinning disc-blades at the wrists (this may sound a pretty dull villain, but in the company of the imaginative desert of a rogues’ gallery that was Leap Frog, Frog-Man, Cat-Man, Bird-Man, the Owl, Ape-Man and so on, he looks great). He’d never seemed much of a criminal genius, but he has a brilliant plan to get out of jail here: “I’m not the Gladiator. I was framed!” He’d been defeated fighting Iron Man in the costume, and was positively identified by witnesses for earlier similar rampages (and no one says this, but you’d think he’d have been fingerprinted on at least one of the previous occasions), but still, who knows? Why would he be lying? He must have lost his memory, obviously! We must transfer him to a lower-security prison, since he seems to be insane. But how can we bring his memory back? Obviously, by dressing him up in his armour! When even that doesn’t work – and I should point out that Matt Murdock, DD’s secret identity, is standing there when they are doing this, and can only whisper an “I don’t like any of this” to his legal partner – they fit those blades, his deadly attack weapons, back to the costume. To be fair, they aren’t naive about this – “Don’t try any funny business,” they tell him.

I don’t imagine I need to explain the rest, do I? It turns out, to everyone’s surprise, that he was faking because he knew they would try this approach. How he knew such a ludicrous thing is not explained. For the record, the escape is foiled by Daredevil.