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Into the back issue box #28

by  in Comic News Comment

Well, it’s the weekend, and the NBA decided to SCREW the Suns and award the cheap-shot Spurs with a trip to the Western Conference Finals and I’d like to goddamn know why no Suns player ever got fouled by Tim Duncan or Bruce Bowen even though Steve Nash won two MVP awards and we all know the NBA favors stars and he and Amare Stoudemire kept getting hacked when they went in the lane.  I mean, shit.  What a shitty series.

Oh, this is a comic book blog?  Whoops.  Okay, I’ve skipped the last two weekends, because I’ve been busy.  This week, however, I’m back with a classic character written by a classy gentleman (and another guy who is very polarizing) and drawn by an excellent artist.  How can you go wrong?  One word: BEYONDER!!!!!!!!!!

As always, the rules for the posts can be found here.  Let’s move on!

Daredevil #223 (“The Price”) by Denny O’Neil, Jim Shooter, David Mazzuchelli, and Kim DeMulder.  Published by Marvel, October 1985.

                       


Yes, it’s a “Secret Wars II” crossover!  This should automatically disqualify it from being considered for new comic book readers, but we must forge on.  We must!!!!!

On the splash page, a guy who looks like a seedy tourist in Bermuda steals a camera from a redhead.  On the next page, a blind man comes up and asks “Glorianna” what’s wrong.  When he belittles the theft (and we learn that these people are regulars in the book, and not just random mugging victims), she calls him “Matthew” and says he’s dense, because the camera was given to her by her father before he was killed.  Matthew tells her that as he’s a lawyer, he has some connections in the underworld, so he’ll ask around to see if he can find her camera.  So in two pages, we know that these two are probably a couple and that Matthew is a lawyer.  But where’s Daredevil?  That’s who we came for!

              


The next page introduces us to a “seemingly human figure,” who happens to be floating in space above the Earth.  “He is the most powerful being humanity has ever encountered,” and he comes from another universe where he was the only being.  Something happened and he gained awareness of our universe, so he came to Earth to study humanity.  He seized control of the planet and bent everyone to his will, but the “results were unsatisfying.”  He decided to try something rather than just doing it, and the first step of his plan is to “retain the services of Nelson and Murdock, Attorneys at Law.”  As this Matthew is a lawyer, I wonder if he’s part of Nelson and Murdock.  Boy, that would be a coincidence!  I do notice, however, that on this page, there are 200 words (yes, I counted, and yes, there are exactly 200) but we don’t learn this character’s name.  Strange.  (We know from the cover that he’s called the Beyonder, but Matt says it only once in the issue.)

                    


We switch to a swanky skyscraper in Manhattan, where Matt and Foggy (whose name we learn in the third panel) are talking about their law practice and how skint they are.  A weird light shines in the office and Matt thinks, “Foggy’s pulse is beating like a jack hammer.  And I sense a … a presence -“  This lets us know that Matt has powers beyond our ken.  Yes, he’s blind, but he can hear Foggy’s heart beating?  Wow.  The Beyonder is standing in the office (well, floating in the office, but at least he’s vertical) and he proclaims that he is “from beyond” and he wishes to hire them.  He’s wearing what looks like coveralls and some goofy boots with the pants tucked into them.  He’s totally stylin’!  He explains that he wants to own the planet, legally and legitimately, and he wants Nelson and Murdock to help him incorporate and lay the groundwork for his (probably) hostile takeover.  Matt says it’s hard to believe, but Foggy does believe, because he can tell the guy isn’t lying.  The Jheri-curled Beyonder says that they’ve handled cases for the Avengers before, but Matt is still unsure, and he leaves to think about it.  After he leaves, Foggy hints around at a retainer, and the Beyonder makes one million dollars appear.  Hey, that’s handy!  He also splits his consciousness and follows Matt, who is wrestling with his conscience.  We learn that Matt can hear the electrical relays in the traffic signal switching, and the Beyonder realizes that Matt is blind.  We also learn, as he changes clothes, that Matt is Daredevil.  That’s good to know.

                 


Daredevil swings through the city, looking for Glorianna’s camera, and we find out that his blindness is the result of a childhood accident.  He stops a punk from robbing a pawn shop and asks the owner about a thief who’s “little” and “wears a smelly shirt and old floppy hat.”  The owner, amazingly, knows who he’s talking about (in Manhattan, there must not be a lot of thieves) – a guy named “Skeeter” Frizzel.  Daredevil gets a lead on Skeeter’s brother, but as he leaves, he runs into the Beyonder.  We learn that Matt is the “Murdock” of Nelson and Murdock, as the Beyonder calls him by name.  Matt wonders why the Beyonder chose their firm, and the Beyonder tells him, “You … have the most profound sense of justice.”  He wants to do everything fairly, so that’s important.  He also knows Matt can’t be bought, so he offers to pay him some other way.  Matt says he’ll think about it and leaves.  He heads to Brooklyn, where Skeeter’s brother works in a “snuffa-roach” plant – do they make insecticide?  He finds Skeeter trying to bum a place to stay from his brother, who tells him he has to be out by the morning.  As Daredevil climbs in, he thinks to himself that he’s going to help the Beyonder, which is a bad thing, because the Beyonder perceives this and gives Matt his gift – sight.  This takes Daredevil by surprise, and he falls into a vat of insecticide.  Skeeter escapes, but Matt is too busy thinking about how great it is that he can see.

        


The next morning at a law library, Foggy finds some precedent for what the Beyonder is attempting.  Matt isn’t helping him, because he’s too busy traipsing around Manhattan seeing everything.  Life sure is wonderful!  First he creeps some mother out by hovering over her baby “for five minutes” staring at him.  Then he bumps into a guy moving a rack of clothes.  Then he stares at the buildings.  Finally he reaches Glorianna’s apartment, but not before we learn that he still has all his super-senses.  Glorianna is so amazed by his enthusiasm about seeing everything that it takes her a few panels to ask what the hell happened, but Matt deflects her by taking her out and experiencing all the glorious sights of Manhattan.  They go to the top of the Empire State Building and Matt gets all weepy, because, as he puts it, “I guess I’d forgotten the little of beauty I’d experienced.  And I had no idea there was so much more.  So much, Glorianna … so much beauty.  Everything … so beautiful.”  Sheesh – get a tissue, ya nancy-boy!  Suddenly, however, he leaves because he needs to “see … a client.”  So he just leaves Glorianna on top of the building and ends up on top of one of the Twin Towers, demanding that the Beyonder make an appearance.  His speech to the invisible god who gave him his sight back is, well, strange:

I have to admit you really hit the nail on the head – this “retainer” of yours is a wonderful thing.  Too wonderful.  It means a great deal to me.  It means everything to me!  I – I never realized …!  And that’s the problem, mister!  The longer I have my sight back, the plainer it is that I value it too much.  Maybe enough that I’d do anything to keep it.  And that worries me … Because that “profound sense of justice” of mine is even more important to me.  There’s no place for anything which compromises it – or might compromises it.  No room for doubt.  So there’s only one thing to do … I quit.  I’m not going to work for you.  Do you hear me, alien?  I resign!  So take your retainer back.  NOW!

The Beyonder appears and tries to get Daredevil to keep his sight, as “payment … for the insight you have given me into a strange facet of human nature.”  DD threatens a law suit if the Beyonder DOESN’T take his sight back.  So he does.

            


The next morning, Foggy realizes that the case is impossible, and even though he regrets losing the retainer, he deals with it.  Daredevil, meanwhile, has returned to the chemical plant to get Skeeter.  The punk thinks Daredevil is a pushover based on their last “encounter,” but our blind hero is more than a match for him.  He gets the camera back and tells Skeeter why it’s so important: “The woman you stole this from says she uses it to catch a little of the world – a world she describes as ‘grand and glorious.’  I know, now, exactly what she means.”  And thus endeth the lesson!

                 


For a comic book that is tied into a bigger crossover, this does a pretty good job giving us some nice insight into the character of Matt Murdock.  We learn about his powers, we learn how he lost his sight (and from that we can infer he got his powers at the same time, even though O’Neil and Shooter never say so), and we learn about his moral fiber.  It’s not the greatest story in the world, but it does answer a lot of the questions we might have about Daredevil, and so we’re not lost at the end of it.  We might even decide to come back, in which case we would be rewarded in a few issues when some fellow named Frank Miller decided to come on board and write something.  Mazzuchelli’s art is decent, giving us a nice look at some of Daredevil’s gadgets and telling the story competently.  Unlike many other artists, in this issue we don’t get a “Matt’s-eye-view” of the world, so that’s missing, but a first-time comic book reader wouldn’t care about that as much.  The resolution, frankly, is kind of stupid.  I can deal with the fact that Matt returns the “retainer,” but when the Beyonder offers to pay him for his insight, he still rejects it.  For a first-time comic book reader, this might indicate that Matt is, well, idiotic.  A long-time reader will know that such a change to the status quo must not stand, so the instant Matt regains his sight, we know he’s going to lose it again.  We’re waiting for the lame reason that he can’t keep it, and we’re ready for it.  Looking at it as objectively as possible, it’s kind of dumb.  Matt doesn’t want to compromise himself, okay.  But to reject it when the Beyonder tells him he’s learned something?  Maybe if he accepted it then, what the Beyonder learned about human dignity wouldn’t apply, and then the lesson would be lost.  But this sort of story leads into all kinds of moral qualms by the main characters, which was a staple of the Secret Wars II storylines.  Whenever the Beyonder offered a character something, the Marvel U. status quo would dictate that they must reject it, so it gets kind of dull.  For a first-time comic book reader, the story is somewhat interesting because it does illuminate a great deal about Daredevil, but it lacks a lot of tension, because we know what’s going to happen.

                     


Again, what this does nicely is give us a thumbnail sketch of what kind of person Matt Murdock is.  It’s not very exciting, but it does a good job showing us who Matt is and what he can do.  Therefore, it might be a very good issue to hook new readers, because Matt does emerge as a fascinating character in this issue.  A stupid one, sure, but at least he’s noble.

And, of course, there’s no way anyone should have imagined him being played by Ben Affleck.  But maybe that’s just me.