Thursday, February 07, 2008

Daredevil #104: "...More hardcore than I thought"

Spoiler warning: Review of "Daredevil" Vol. 2 #104. Plot details are dealt with here, so beware if you haven't read this issue and the previous ones as there are spoilers ahead.

Nota a los seguidores de la edición en Castellano de Panini: para los que sepais inglés, recordad que actualmente hay un año de diferencia entre la edición USA y la española de Daredevil, eso quiere decir que en este post sobre "Daredevil" Vol. 2 #104 se destripan elementos de la trama. Avisados estais.

Now Lily... What did Foggy told you about visiting Milla? You see now he was right about that not being the clever thing to do, but now it is too late, too late...

OK, what happened? Five days ago, Lily came back from buying groceries to find that a strange guy with a skull mask was waiting for her, uninvited. He was the petty Mr. Fear (Larry Cranston), surrounded by a mist of green gas: not chlorine, but just as deadly in the long run. This unique chemical allows him to manipulate everyone's will by coercing them with their greatest fears into obeying him.

Under the effects of his fear gas, Cranston persuaded Lily to do some errands for him. The first of those would be to change her story so Milla got released from custody, and then a few little other things. Cranston is so-o-o magnanimous, you see: he might have that from Lily just by having her utterly terrified of disappointing him, but he offers a payment to Lily in case she carries all his orders satisfactorily. First, he will cure her from the bothersome effects of the pheromone perfume which makes her irresistible to men, and second, he grants Lily he'll give her anything that she wants... Guess what? Like Jenny, Lily wants to get herself a husband, even if it isn't hers.

Hmm... where did we leave Matt? O yeah, about to barbecue Ox with an acetylene torch. Ox thinks Murdock is bluffing, but Murdock lets him know he's not. Actually, after a wee burn, Matt ticks a nerve spot to make Ox temporarily loose his sight, and then pinches other spots to cause him intense pain, making Ox feel like the Maid of Orleans. Matt further softens Ox by using him as a sandbag à la Battling Jack. In the end, Ox surrenders and gives Matt the address he wants. Matt then leaves in order to give Cranston a taste of the Murdock style Ox has just savored.

"I want my mom!"

Surely this hasn't been Ox's best day, but he gets help from an unexpected source: his boss' enemy in the gang war for the Kitchen, The Hood. Chained, bloodied, mauled as Ox is, his first priority is to make a call (BTW, that could make a terrific cell-phone commercial).

Daredevil gets to Cranston's penthouse and beats the crap out of his little army of security guards towards his private rooms. Surprise, surprise, Cranston is again one step ahead (Aside: Larry sure likes wine, there's a good number of wine bottles in the boudoir... a possible weak point?). Damn it.

Don't you hate it when they go away and just leave a note?

Matt rushes to his home. Elsa the nurse is beaten, Milla with her hands bloodied and in a state of shock. I must say that I'm sorry about Elsa. I suspected she might be "Lois II", but evidently I was misguided in my speculation. That makes two innocent victims already fromthe out-of-control MIlla. Mr. Fear has indeed a royal disregard of casualties. There's nothing now that Foggy can argue to Assistant DA Algren to keep Milla from being confined again.

A scary sight for Lily

Matt senses Karen Page's smell all over the place, and realizes what happened: so he pays Lily a surprise visit. He's enraged like the fiend at Lily's new betrayal. Actually he's mad, real mad, and scares the hell out of miss Lucca, who tells him trembling everything she knows. Seems that Mr. Fear has played a winning hand... but does he have the trump?

Lily is really paving the road to hell with her best intentions: she only wanted to help, but her perfume and her being pawned by Cranston make of her a pitiful figure, a walking box of Pandora. That, and Milla loosing control under the effect of Fear's drugs surely make a sorrowful picture of women in distress. I recently started to read Brubaker's run on Catwoman, and I know that he can write strong, resourceful women, but this doesn't seem to be the role written for neither Milla nor Lily in this tragic story. I really hope we have the strong girls of the cast (Dakota North and Becky Blake) showing up for good in the future and kicking some serious ass to counteract Lily and Milla's role as victims. Or the victims vindicating and/or redeeming herselves...

Back to the wall, and with every possible exit door being closed around him, Matt is losing it. Even though he is scientific enough in his way to deceive Ox into thinking he's being burned, in his beating Ox like a sandbag, we see a man out of control. At the point when he confronts Lily he's really frightening, an enraged madman, who stops short of murdering her.

The Hood makes a brief, if relevant apparition. He comes in this series like a chess player who knows what piece to move, and when to do it. He even manages to surprise Mr. "I have planned everything carefully" Fear. It's a bit annoying to see that the villains always manage to move ahead before Matt reaches the place. I'm distressed at Matt's powerlessness: I'd really have liked Daredevil to be the one surprising Fear, rather than the Hood. Foggy's forlorn gaze as the police take Milla away sums up well the situation.

But of course, Matt's the one targeted, he's the one with the pressure. Villains can afford to be more clever, they don't have a Damocles sword above their heads.They don't have, as Matt, his loved one in danger. What will come next? I bet most readers are, like me, eagerly waiting to see Matt giving Cranston the freakin' good spanking he deserves, which I suspect -hope- we'll see in next issue. However, I don't think everything will be as neatly packed up as in #93: my guess is that some issues will be resolved in #105, but not all, and the ones remaining will provide plot (or sub-plot) of future events. If you ask me, I fear much that Milla won't regain her sanity in next issue (much as I'd like her to) and she's certainly a misdoer in the eyes of the law: Matt and Foggy will have a though act to get her out of the jam, unless Daredevil stops Mr. Fear and makes him confess in front of the District Attorney.

#105 sure is preluded as a climactic one. Again, I'll be biting my nails till then.

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