Thursday, 5 April 2012

Daredevil 304

34 Hours by DG Chichester and Ron Garney

One Sentence Overview:  Daredevil hangs out in New York city for a day and a half and makes interventions when he feels he should

Here's an arresting little interlude, perhaps revealing a slightly mellower side to Dan's writing.  34 hours in the life of a city with Daredevil looking over it.  So what does Daredevil do when he's not fighting crimelords or going a bit mental?  Well, here we have DD rescuing a baby that's hurtling from a subway platform - and then rebuking the train driver for being so oblivious to it.

He prevents a car accident (how poignant), intervenes in a mugging, lets the right woman catch a cab and, perhaps sweetest of all, corrects the trolly of a homeless man, who's been splashed by big car driving by.

However, the story's centrepiece revolves around an afternoon in Central Park.  There's a 'all human life is here' sentiment, though the characters drifting through the piece appear a good deal more 'together' in general than the denizens of Hell's Kitchen that provided the wallpaper in Ann Nocenti's run.  Some talented young folk are shooting a movie for themselves, whilst an upbeat juggler draws a crowd.  But there's still darkness - in an unexpected place.  A seemingly benign old fellow makes a move on a younger guy, though his lechery doesn't escape Daredevil's unseeing eye.

There's a nice scene towards the end after DD finally decides to intevene on the action where he bows to an applauding crowd.  Like Spider-man, Daredevil rarely wins the plaudits of the citizenry.  He's often up to his neck in unseen misery to achieve this so this little scene is a bit of a gem.

In all this, Dan's writing is a little more toned down that what I've been used to and the whole story reminds me of something Ann Nocenti might have written.  However, one brief panel breaks the fourth wall quite spectacularly and surprisingly.  Commenting on a Wall Street financier who has lost his job, Dan can't resist a bit of political commentary - "Here's to your 'No Recession', Mr President" (for once we aren't treated to Daredevil's narrative voice, so this is a third party voicing this, presumably the voice of the writer). 

True, other writers have been happy to add political comment, though perhaps none as direct as this.

Both inconsequential and delightful, 34 Hours revels in those things that are what we often like best about Daredevil - his interactions are not with overly powerful supervillains but connected to the neighbourhood he wishes to protect.  But why 34 - rather than 24 - hours?  Perhaps it's to indicate that Daredevil gives and then gives some more - he goes the extra mile.  Maybe it's to avoid accusations of cliche.  Or maybe he's just got too damn much time on his hands.  Because the parting thought that lingers is why isn't he at work?  Or, well, you can see why he can't hold down a relationship if this is how he spends all his free time.  But forgetting that, 34 Hours still manages to be a fine ride, a pleasantly diverting sorbet marking time until the next horrible thing to happen in Matt's life.

Afterthought  I've just re-read Christine Hanefalk's take on '34 Hours' (it's here!), which alerted me to the fact that this was a pretty good tale.  Interestingly, Dan Chichester responds to Christine's review with an insight that reveals the significance of the story's title - that he had read a news story where 34 hours had passed in New York without a murder.  The significance of the story was that that was an unusually long time.  Sheesh, I guess that reflects the darkness of the city but also why this story is a lot 'lighter' in tone, giving a greater resonance to the tale.  That's actually quite moving.

Daredevil/Matt Murdock

Benjamin 'Babe' Ragguch
'Dangerous' Don Smith

Rating: 8 out of 10

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