I’m not sure exactly what you’re thinking right now as you read the title of this article, but I bet it goes something like this “What the (place mild explicative here) are you thinking, Stilt-man, really?” Well, since you asked I have been thinking about Stilt-man lately. I’m not sure why, as he had minor contact with Spidey at best, but none-the-less here I am, and hopefully there you are, so why don’t we put on some galoshes (it’s been raining here a bit), a cap with a brim (I’m bald and I hate when rain runs down my neck) and take a walk down the alley (it’s Stilt-Man, no glory road here) that is the Stilt-Man.
Stilt-Man was born into comicdom in 1964 as a villain for Dare-Devil who at the time had an odd rogue’s gallery to say the least. For a company that was moving its way up the ladder by introducing tragic heroes and villains, Marvel did none of that with our old pal Wilber Day. No struck by lightening, no radioactive sludge, not even a horrific death in the family for this soon to be terror of the skyscraper. Good ole Wilber just didn’t like the way he was treated in the company. Scientist, inventor, and engineer you would think he invented the legs while working at the Klaxton Company, nope, he stole a hydraulic battering ram that his boss invented and made it into telescoping legs so he could steal other people’s stuff from high places. In a city where a super hero is regularly scouring the rooftops maybe this wasn’t his best idea.
At first this Tower Terror was a legitimate threat to Horn Head but soon enough he was getting his head handed to him on a regular basis. For whatever reason, people hired the Emperor of Elevation to kill other people usually a District Attorney, although as far as I can determine he never accomplished his goal. This Titan of Telescoping legs has a penchant for stealing other people’s things. Going back to his roots, the Sultan of Stilt, stole an experimental molecular condenser from the Klaxton Company and promptly sent himself to the Microverse by accident. While trying to kill the Falcon he stole some of the Trapster’s weapons, and using the Z-ray, which he stole, he teleported Black Goliath to another planet only to get his butt kicked again.
Speaking of butt kicking the Prince of Pylons is well versed in the subject. Dare-Devil has pummeled him so many times that it’s become a codependent relationship. Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Champions, the Falcon, Black Goliath, and Thor have all put the hurt on our poor Wilber over the years. When he fought Thor he was wearing a suit made from second hand adantium (second hand metal for a second hand villain), with radioactive isotopes and not only got thumped but was stripped of his armor.
There’s another old axiom that goes “what comes around goes around”. For Wilber it came in the form of Turk Barrett. In an absolute brilliant use of irony, Barrett knocks out Wilber and steals the suit, only to be defeated by Dare-Devil because Wilber told him how to take out the gyro-scopes. It seems only fitting that even when he wants to retire no one takes him seriously, and he ends up leaving his suit on Matt (Dare-Devil) Murdock’s desk.
As pathetic as Stilt-Man was it didn’t stop the other would be pretenders to the crown, and in some cases exceeded Wilber’s ineptitude. We already looked in on Turk Barrett, but another gentleman (again loosely referred) Michael Watts “claimed to know a guy, who knew a guy, who ends up being the Tinkerer gets the suit and is such a miserable idiot that the Punisher lets himself be talked out of killing him because the Rhino says” you punish the guilty Frank, not the stupid”. Another unknown person became Stilt-Man only to be taken down by Dare-Devil and Luke Cage. The fight lasted only long enough to ensure the guy didn’t die from a too high fall when Dare-Devil knocked him out.
Finally, Wilber is mercifully brought down by the Punisher. Keeping with the irony that surrounds Stilt-Man, during the Civil War arc Wilbur is working on the right side of the law, tracking a child pornographer and takes a bullet in the head from the Punisher who as it happens is at that time on the wrong side of the law. I’m not sure what you’re thinking now as you read this, but I bet it goes something like this “Stilt-Man, Really”? Yeah Stilt-Man! 46 years of fun and unfortunately not counting.
D L Robertson