Sunday, 29 April 2012

Daredevil 318

Grease Monkeys by DG Chichester and Scott McDaniel

One Sentence Overview:  In order to entrap the disparate band of villains, Daredevil manipulates their path to Slick Jimmy's secret stash of grease

Now I know what you're thinking.  Grease?  There's money in grease?  This is surely a truly bonkers scenario.  In this story, Slick Jimmy sells the excess waste from restaurants on to the makers of animal feed (Skip Ash might take an interest?) but the idea is not completely idiotic.  Check out this article from 2006 in the British newspaper, The Independent, about its use in recycling, particularly as a potential biofuel.  If only Jimmy had managed to survive so long he may have solved the oil crisis. 

If you were wondering how Jimmy came across so much grease he reckoned its worth was half a million dollars, well, wonder no more (I can just imagine you've been fretting about the matter ever since the last post went up).  This issue shows Jimmy holding up poor kitchen staff at the bins round the back of their restaurant and forcing them to scoop it into his bags. 

Well, every innovative businessman has to make a start somewhere.

This scene sets up the fact that this is a somewhat tongue in cheek story, a tribute to the old Hollywood movie, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".  I mentioned last time that I thought it pretty clear that Dan had this movie in mind when putting pen to paper.  This issue it's made explicit as the credits that tell us who's the writer, penciller, inker etc. reveal that each contributor is given an 'alias' from the movie cast so Dan is (naturally) Spencer Tracy whilst Scott is Phil Silvers.  However, I think letterer Bill Oakley and assistant editor, Pat Garrahy, took the best roles for themselves - as Sid Caesar and Buster Keaton respectively. 

Would have liked to have been in the Marvel office the day the divided up the spoils on that one.

Having so many competing villains could have been a mess but Dan has learned his lesson from the lacklustre 'Dead Man's Hand' (see DD309 in particular) and here the sparring is quite delightful.  Spit's discovery of his old buddy, Jet's less than macho tattoo is quite amusing.

Better still is his handling of perhaps the darkest character on show here, the Taskmaster*.  He demonstrates that edgy ruthlessness with his intent to dispose of the more knockabout Wilbur Day.  Luckily for Stilty, Daredevil's billy club gets his hydraulic legs moving just in time as the Taskmaster plays executioner.  Great scene!

Elsewhere the Taskmaster has enough wit to deceive the anti-materialist Tatterdemalion into freeing him, by telling the hobo that he's been entrapped by gold.

The combined brains of the seven foes looking for the grease is insufficient for figuring out where Jimmy's hidden his 'treasure' and so it's left to Daredevil to prompt the gang and (with the assistance of Tatterdemalion) lead them into his trap.

It's a highly enjoyable, completely silly read.  I guess your enjoyment of this kind of tale is if you're willing to go along for the ride and accept that, despite the usual darkness, this is acceptable Daredevil fare.  As I argued in the last review, comedy is not completely alien to the Daredevil canon so I had no trouble with it.  And whilst Dan's more at home with horror or 'blockbuster' action, he's also pretty good at comedy (albeit pretty broad comedy).  So to my mind, this stupid little story worked.  Heck, I'd go much further than that.  Darling, I loved it!

Meanwhile, on the letters page  With 'Fall from Grace' just around the corner, it's interesting to see editorial give a sense of unease about the future with a nice creative use of 'Devil's Advocate'.  Don't know if the story's any good, but that's a nice set up.

And finally, it's time to bid farewell... to the corner box!  The joy and delight of my childhood was to see the box in the corner of a Marvel comic.  I don't know the rationale for these though I'm guessing it was so that those who were stacking comics on their stall could lay them out in such a way that allowed easy access for potential purchasers looking for their favourite book.  Once the specialist comic book stores took over, I guess there was little use for them.  But they always had a charm.  Yes, they've disappeared before - when Marvel experimented with circles atop their titles in the early 70s - and they kind of make a comeback before volume one concludes, though not in the same fashion and much less attractively.  But this is kind of the death knell for this little idiosyncracy in Daredevil.  It's a shame (though perhaps oddly appropriate) that the last box does not contain DD but a flamin' cockroach. 

Ah, well...

Daredevil/Matt Murdock
Karen Page
Ben Urich

Stilt-Man/Wilbur Day
The Taskmaster
Pete London
Slick Jimmy Norton

Rating: 9 out of 10

* For those who think this guy doesn't suit comedy, please check out his appearances a couple of years back in Avengers: The Initiative.

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