Fall from Grace Part 4: Conflict by DG Chichester and Scott McDaniel
One Sentence Overview: Snakeroot having kidnapped Eddie Passim, Daredevil and Venom fight over the right to interrogate Bisento, a Snakeroot member who appears to be seeing the error of his ways.
That's quite a cool cover, actually, when you examine it - a nice combination of inked and pencilled styles to contrast Matt and Venom. Yes, that's big, bad horrible Venom, who's been lurking in the background eager to get his hands on the one man who has the secret to Harry Kenkoy's 'About Face' serum. Like loads of others - Snakeroot, Shield, Hellspawn/Devil Ge Rouge... Oddly, Fall from Grace follows the same kind of theme we saw parodied in Grease Monkeys - a load of bad guys desperate for a supposed pot of gold, yet plays it without laughs. Hmmm, think I know which I prefer.
I haven't really outlined what 'About Face' is and that's partly because I'm trying to get my head round it. The storytelling at present is deliberately obtuse, only partially revealing what's going on, but Kenkoy's mentioned a couple of times that 'About Face' removes the 'lethal' aspect of heroin in order to enable those addicted to stay alive and continue to throw money at the drug (and hence the drug supplier - you see where the good General's coming from now, don't you?).
But I'm not sure exactly how this would work. Whilst heroin is typically cited as the substance most likely to cause death (a statistic backed by UK agency, Drugscope) , these deaths are linked to a range of factors. Yes, there are overdoses but drug deaths also occur because of adulteration or a mix of substances and also due to things like needle sharing - and all this is exacerbated by heroin being an illegal, poorly controlled drug. In a controlled environment, as morphine, it can be quite useful as a painkiller. In other words, I think Kenkoy's plan is ultimately based on flawed thinking. Sorry about that but sometimes a previous career in drug education does impact on my reading of a comic...
Venom doesn't have a drug habit he wants 'About Face' to help him with. Rather, he thinks the virus will work on his anatomy and improve it (very versatile, this 'About Face', don't you think?). Weird to see this guy turn up just after Devil Ge Rouge, as one could surmise that Daredevil's fiendish alter ego has its roots in Eddie Brock's alias. Still, there's some nice art to illustrate the spidervillain's tussle with Daredevil - look at how distorted Matt's body is in this frame, for example, Scott working overtime on biologically improbable poses.
Whilst Venom steals the limelight here, there's a weird sequence involving a Snakeroot operate called Bisento revealing that he's had enough and goes rogue, happy to turn in secret information about his former colleagues. I did find this a little odd. Given how ruthless and efficient the Hand are at dehumanizing and indoctrinating its members - and that Snakeroot are some kind of elite spin off - is a member, in the middle of a battle, making a sudden 180 really likely? Still, handy for Matt, who now knows where to head next in his quest to rescue Eddie Passim.
Daredevil is being helped by Shield brick outhouse, Siege, a bit of bruiser but, like many of Dan's characters, has a sly wit as well. Despite his bulk, Daredevil's impressed with Siege's knowledge of obscure Greek mythology. Siege shrugs and explains that his databanks "kick in with all sorta B.S... next time it'll be 'Louie Louie'."
That's interesting on two counts. Firstly it shows that Siege is not fully in control - he appears (or at least his alias, John Kelly) as much an enhanced and manipulated weapon of Shield as anything Harry Kenkoy was doing, yet Nick Fury doesn't appear to have objections to the trampling on this man's psyche. Secondly, his databanks clearly do the impossible as everyone knows that the lyrics of 'Louie Louie' are completely indecipherable.
Elsewhere, Bugle intern, Sara Harrington is readily selling her secret - and Ben Urich's copy - to another New York rag.
I quite enjoyed seeing the 'Big Apple Advocate', obviously quite a lowly paper, ruminating on the ethics of promoting a story that is potentially quite a big exclusive. The paper is under pressure financially but, despite this, they don't leap at Harrington's scoop, revealing a heartening reserve often lacking in the British press (well, certainly, given recent coverage anyway). Despite one journo noticing that the notes sure look like Ben Urich's handwriting, the paper decides to run with it, but at least they thought about not doing so don't go too hard on them, Matt. Oops, Dan's writing, so he just might...
General Harry 'TNT' Kenkoy
Rating: 5 out of 10