Saturday, April 05, 2008

Daredevil #106: Through the eyes of others

Daredevil Vol. 2, #106
A Marvel comic.
Script: Ed Brubaker
Art: Paul Azaceta
Color: Matt Hollingsworth
Cover: Marko Djurjevic

Spoiler warning: Review of "Daredevil" Vol. 2 #106. 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 hay varios números de diferencia entre la edición USA y la española de Daredevil, eso quiere decir que en este post sobre "Daredevil" Vol. 2 #106 se destripan elementos de la trama, que podrían alterar el disfrute de la saga que justo ha comenzado en la edición española. Avisados estais.

In the previous issue, Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil, defeated Larry Cranston, a.k.a Mr. Fear. But Cranston is happy in jail, for he has made Matt's life utterly miserable: the chemicals he gave to Milla have turned her mad, and there is no remedy, no cure for that. A month has passed. An angry Daredevil beats and terrorizes every ruffian whom he finds perpetrating the slightlest misdoing in Hell's Kitchen. Ben Urich reads the news. Foggy hasn't seen Matt set foot at the firm's offices for weeks. They know what can happen to their friend and worry. A lot.

Matt is haunted by Milla's smell, all over the house, as he was haunted once by the smell of Jack Murdock: it reminds him constantly of what he has lost. Dakota North drives Matt to see Milla, as she's been doing three times a week. This time, the doctor says that Matt will have to stop seeing Milla, for his visits are upsetting her and compromise her progress. Matt is angry, and Dakota takes him to drink and talk his troubles over: only to narrowly avoid Matt compromising in public his secret identity.

Ben, Foggy and Dakota do their best to make Matt come to his senses, even if their attempts can't, so far, reach him. However, they won't give up, and hope that, somehow, Matt will get out of the tunnel sometime soon.

Three distressed amigos

This issue is a breather between archs. A story to recap and set the scenery of the things to come. Here we see Matt through the eyes of his friends. Here we see Matt's life having been screwed again.

Have we been here before? Yes and no. Maybe this issue covers old ground, as some longtime fans say, but while this is similar to other Murdock crises we've seen before, this time is also different. Let's go back for a short while and let's realize that Matt's current misery was, unfortunately, unavoidable. When Brubaker took the mantle as the new writer of the series, he found his blind hero in a somewhat conflicted marriage to a blind woman, with his secret identity outed, and in jail. In his first stories, Brubaker had Matt escaping prison, finding some answers and returning back to his life, with a reasonable doubt regarding his double life firmly established in the public eye: that was how the events were wrapped happily back in issue 93. Back then, there were tears, but tears of joy, as friends and lovers reunited and the hero could, after a long time, sit, relax and breathe. I recall loud complaints then: "Back to status quo!! Meh!". Murdock's life, some readers said, was bland if the hero was happy. So one suspects Brubaker felt inclined to turn that opinion upside down, and show that, with all the previous events in Matt's life, the road to happiness was going to be difficult... if possible at all.

In the previous arch we have seen that, even if people is generally inclined to think that the hearsay about a blind lawyer being a superhero is an urban legend, the hero's enemies know better. The hero and those around him are highly vulnerable, as we saw earlier with Foggy, and now with Milla, and Matt must realize that his life is going to be anything but a bed of roses. How else, I ask, could that have been done? Brubaker is a serious writer, and in writing the events in Matt Murdock's life, although he's writing a super-hero story, he does so giving believability to it. How could he have gotten Matt out of jail and back to his life? By having a Lord of the Netherworld, in painful Demon Ex-Machina fashion, magically fixing everything? Fer Chrissakes, no! Daredevil is a GOOD comic!!

The roll call of Murdock's love life's casualties

I said that even if some might whistle "Everything old is new again", there is something new in this issue. First, the realization of a pattern. What Foggy argued to Matt, back in the Bendis run, is evident again: that his life as a hero is bond to bring him pain. This time, however, we get a full list of Murdock casualties. Smith killed Karen Page most gratuitously as if no other of Matt's loves had been killed ever before (when the hero had three dead girlfriends already!). Brubaker, instead, remembers Heather Glenn and Glorianna O'Breen, which I appreciate: it was sad enough that they died, but it was even sadder that their deaths were forgotten by most subsequent writers... I feel that Brubaker is making a statement there: like if he was saying, "look, these are the tragedies in Matt's life, and they are a lot: I've made him suffer, like some of you demanded... do you want him to suffer even more? I think that's more than enough"... well, I can't swear that this is what Brubaker thought, but sure as hell no-one is asking anymore for Matt getting a worse living, more like everyone is pleading on their knees so his life isn't screwed further.

Another thing which is nice is to see Matt's friends teaming up: sure, in the past Matt was also backed by friends when things got rough, but this time his friends are looking after him, and doing so in a cooperative effort: Foggy and Ben brief Dakota about Matt's past breakdowns, Dakota keeps Ben and Foggy informed: it's nice to see Matt's friends sticking together. One is touched when Ben is concerned about Foggy loosing his appetite over Matt's disturbance (I am worried, too: is Nelson going to loose his adorable double chin?).

It's grand to have Ben Urich back, too. In this issue he finds himself acting as the editor he is now, and dissuading a reporter from writing some "hot" article about Matt and Milla. Urich, who is only too hard on himself, thinks that he's acting like JJ Jameson did with him, back when he was a journalist in the Daily Bugle... No Ben, you're wrong, Jameson crusaded against Spiderman out of a wish to sell more newspapers and make the editorial line of the Bugle submissive to his folly, you are censoring an article about Matt in order to protect a man you know to be a hero and a good man, someone you know he's been prodded by his enemies without mercy and beyond measure (by the way, I find that the papparazzi-like journalist had it a bit too easy to search through Ben's desk: I think that ben should be more careful with his files: that's how Matt was outed the first time, back in the Chichester run)

What will happen next? When even Dakota says "Okay... Even now I'm depressed now", one gets the feeling that is time for things to start looking up. My bet is that things could be a bit as in Brubaker's Catwoman, where Selina also paid a high price for being a heroine, but then she found her way back, with the help of friends. After Frank Miller, Daredevil has been often likened with a samurai warrior, and, as the old saying says, a true samurai will rise on his feet, no matter how many times, or how badly, he fell before. Oh, well, I'd like to hope so.

Matt performs a Chippendale bit for Dakota

Paul Azaceta has been a good fill-in artist for Lark. In previous issues, both David Aja, and Lee Weeks (with Gaudiano's inks), used a style in tune with Michael Lark's. Azaceta's art is a departure from that: his style is one of a energetic, bold sketch, strong in line and effective, which suits the story well. While I still prefer -and love- Lark's subtler pencilling, and will be glad to have him back in the next story (for one, Michael Lark draws a cuter Foggy ;p), I feel that Azaceta's fill-in was solid, his style reminiscing me of the early style of Argentinian comics artist José Antonio Muñoz , and there's that nice, almost poetic image of Dakota catching Matt's clothes, falling from the sky as autumn leaves. If I have a criticism for Azaceta's work here, is his drawing of Foggy Nelson: I mean, the guys at Marvel should change that model sheet which has been around ever since Wally Wood drew it... For: Plaid jacket? Plaid waistcoat?... Plaid bowtie??!?, where are the elegant, taylor-made duds in which Lark has been drawing him of late?

P.S. As for Other things? one is a bit intrigued about Matt being banished from seeing Milla... Is there more than meets the eye? One fears so. Please, Matt, don't allow yourself to be backstabbed again, goshdarnit!


Anonymous said...

Ben fet! Hay que apoyar a ésta colección, és una maravilla... de hecho la única que consigue motivarme actualmente entre Marvel y DC.
Salu2, he visto el blog buscando cosas de Daredevil por la red.

Gloria said...

Gràcies per la visita ;D

Si, crec que s'ha de recolzar la serie, jo cada dia estoc més desmotivada amb el mainstream USA i em refugio en col·leccions com aquesta, sense grans crossovers idiotes ni "one more days", només bons guions i bons dibuixos.

Anonymous said...

Ets tú la tal "Gloria P" que fa comentaris dels números a "themanwithoutfear"?

Gloria said...

Si, no sé fins a quin punt el meu anglés es un xic patatero, però de moment en Kuljit no m'ha fotut cap bronca, ha, ha ;p

(nota: també acostumo a fer férries defenses d'en Foggy Nelson al Message Board)

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