Friday, 8 April 2011

Daredevil 223

The Price by Denny O'Neil, Jim Shooter and David Mazzucchelli

One Sentence Overview: In an attempt to persuade Matt to represent him in legal matters, omnipotent alien, the Beyonder allows the lawyer to regain his sight

Oh, blimey. It's a tie-in. A phrase that strikes fear into the heart of any sane comic book fan. Daredevil, being the kind of guy he is and because of the earthy territory in which he dwells, doesn't lend himself well to this kind of thing. The last tie-in I can recall prior to this was waaaay back in Gerry Conway's run and involved a misconceived Iron Man (plus just about everyone else) yarn - the only issue to date to receive a Rating of 1. (Actually, I've just realised there was a team up with Power-Man and Iron Fist back in Frank Miller's run that actually involved both books - and that was a pretty solid issue.)

However, whilst a tie-in with heroes such as Luke and Danny actually works fine because they're on the same level and operating on the same turf, the difficulty here is that Matt's mucking about with a deity level entity and, as such, the tenor of the piece, when we're so used to realistic storylines, takes us to the realms of the bizarre not seen since Steve Gerber (nearly) relocated DD to the moons of Saturn.

Of course, the whole concept is to allow Daredevil to interact with one of Marvel's best selling storylines of the 1980s - Secret Wars - no matter if it ends up a misfit. There's no point even conceiving a potential tussle between DD and the all powerful Beyonder. Therefore, what we have here is a fairy tale akin to something like 'It's a Wonderful Life' - well, in reverse.

The set up is, and I'm being kind, pretty bizarre. As noted previously, Foggy's been panicking over the financial condition of the lawfirm. He needs money and lots of it. Luckily for him, the all conquering Beyonder (in fabulous 80s mullet and jumpsuit!) pops by and drags up $1,000,000 that he just happened to recover from a shipwreck (seemingly put off by a previous attempted conquest of earth, the Beyonder is very conscious of not breaking any earth laws and therefore acquires the money through the legal means of 'salvage). He wants Foggy and Matt to represent him so that he - wait for it, seriously, this is a good one - can legally acquire ownership of planet Earth. Yup, why conquer when you can sit through weeks of legal wrangling and traverse mountains of bureaucratic red tape... and how the hootin' heck do you actually end up dealing with the request (can you imagine getting the agreement of everyone on earth?).

Still, this convoluted set up is essential in order for the main point of the story - namely, the recovery of Matt's sight. Matt's playing hard to get - if Jason Sloan couldn't persuade him to do dodgy law work for big sums, the Beyonder's hardly likely to, eh? - but, of course, being able to see's a whole other ballpark. Weirdly enough, the issue I referenced above - DD106 - also found Matt retaining his eye sight and nearly going wild with lust over foxy ol' Moondragon.

This time round, however, Matt's a little more measured and, actually, the scenes of a bewildered Matt becoming accustomed to the sights of New York are pretty good - he and a bemused Glori become tourists for the day (with Kim deMulder's inks Matt looks as wonderfully fresh faced as if he's stepped out of an 'Archie' comic). However, the best bit occurs with Matt staring a baby in its pram, in a couple of frames, his curiosity getting the better of the fact that the child's mother is about to call Social Services and the NYPD if he doesn't start looking elsewhere.

So, it all ends with Matt and Foggy getting rich off representing the Beyonder and Matt now having his sight for the rest of his life. Hurrah! Of course it doesn't. As one might expect with the conventions of the genre, Matt realises that one of his 'heightened senses' is his sense of justice and he fears this will be devalued if he retains his sight. Therefore, it's bye, bye to all that. [Actually, what's really sad is, in all his wooing of Foggy and Matt, the Beyonder doesn't bother to think of helping Becky out of her wheelchair - selfish sod.]

In the end we have a story which is decently told, but also a story which does not feel in keeping with what we all like best about DD and which is ultimately fairly predictable. The whole aim, presumably, is to fetch up some new readers from the Secret Wars tie-in. Wonder if it was worth it, back in the day?

Daredevil/Matt Murdock
Foggy Nelson
Becky Blake
Glorianna O'Breen
The Beyonder
'Skeeter' Frizzel

Rating: 5 out of 10


Anonymous said...

hi Robert, I think I liked this one more than you. its an aspect of matts that hadnt been explored before when he regained his sight. seeing him do simple things like looking at skyscrapers or picassos was wonderfully human. even the obvious joy he gets out of the expression "I can to SEE you."
for an issue with no action it still held my young attention span. the final rooftop scene with the beyonder was well written (even if the beyonder looked like michael jackson)
Kveto from prague

Robert said...

Hi, Kveto

Actually, I agree with you - I'm quite keen on the scenes of Matt wandering around NY. It's the whole contrived set up leading to this that bugs me. Also, the rating of '5' hopefully gives indication that this certainly has its moments. After the first few pages, I was worried it was going to be considerably lower...

Heh, I do like the Beyonder's 80s fashion choices. It's not as obvious here as in other titles but his mullet is quite an eyeful from what I remember elsewhere.

entzauberung said...

I don't think the Daredevil editor had any choice in the matter whether Daredevil was going to tie in or not. EVERY Marvel book did at the time (I guess that's what happens when a hit series is written by the EIC).

Under the circumstances I think Denny and David managed pretty good.

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Craig said...

This is the first issue I ever saw on the newstand and bought. (technically my dad paid for it, but you know what I mean.) The cover intrigued me. I recognized DD from one of the comics my mom had given me (see bought one of those 3-packs at the drug store). "The Man Without Fear" looking as though he's going to mess himself. I had to read it and find out why!

When DD gave his "gift" back at the end I was blown away. What a hero! (Later I'd be struck with Matt's sense of duty again when I read issue 163). This stuff really stuck with me as a youngster.

As you may have gathered from my other posts, the art of comics is what really turns me on. I'm thrilled to say after all these years later I tracked down and bought the original art to the cover of this issue.

Robert said...

Hi, Craig

Yeah, that's a cool cover and a nice piece of art to have in your possession!