Fall from Grace Part 4: Descent by DG Chichester and Scott McDaniel
One Sentence Overview: Now accompanied by Stone from the Chaste, Daredevil seeks out Dr Michael Morbius for his opinion on 'About Face', unaware that a news story outing his secret identity is about to make its way onto the news-stands.
One of the aspects of Fall from Grace that can be a little confusing is that the story seems to pick up at a totally different point at the beginning of each issue. The last episode concluded with Daredevil and the Shield cyborg, Siege, seemingly being confronted by Elektra, whilst this kicks off with Daredevil and Stone fighting Morbius, the living vampire. Er, did I miss an issue?
Actually, no. In fact, this deliberate storytelling causes the reader to reflect on what's going on and pay attention. Not everything about Fall from Grace has worked well but, as we go further through the pages, an explanation for the dramatic change is given, rewarding the attentive reader. It turns out that Siege and Daredevil had not encountered Elektra at all - the person wielding a sai was actually Stone. Given that Matt is sightless, you could be forgiven for excusing Daredevil his mistaken identity error, though one has to wonder why his other usually flawless senses hadn't been able to distinguish the pretty significantly different body forms of Elektra and Stone*.
[Siege's disappearance is somewhat less well handled - apparently he got bored and returned to Shield. Actually he feared the "temptation" of the virus. These cyborgs. No staying power.]
Stone and Daredevil have tracked down Morbius for his expert opinion on 'About Face'. Those not aware of the living vampire, more commonly associated with Spidey, will not realise that he is actually Dr Michael Morbius, a biochemist and therefore it's understandable why Matt might seek him out. Of course, given his vampiric side, it also allows everyone to indulge in a bit of creepy action and fighting as well before we actually get to the point of their visit. Incidentally, Morbius appears to have been a fairly popular character in early 90s Marvel, actually having his own ongoing title at the time, reflecting Marvel's interest in horror related fare at the time (which fits with Dan Chichester's interests).
Morbius gives a long winded explanation of the virus (well, he is a biochemist after all). I won't bore you with it but at least it's a much better insight than that given by Harry Kenkoy (the whole 'make heroin nice' thing that doesn't really fly). Rather, he is able to explain that it is a "viral prototype with the power to remake whomever it infects". His explanation is much more detailed than that and really you'd probably want to have a scientific degree to understand the nuances of it. As I say, I won't bore you with it. Needless to say, though, like just about every other character who's heard of it, Morbius starts to wet himself with excitement at the possibilities it may have to change him.
So we have Daredevil and Stone now trying to rescue Eddie Passim and sort out the whole About Face thing. As they struggle on, there's a nice little piece of dialogue between them regarding the Chaste. Matt's confused about the name of Stone's order. "Stick never called your Order by name," he notes. "Your teacher had a more colorful four-letter equivalent," Stone deadpans in reply. Yes, very Stick.
Whilst she has only appeared in flashback to date, the spectre of Elektra has haunted the pages of Fall from Grace. Here, there's a scene revisiting Elektra's resurrection. I think it's included partly because of a letter a few issues back querying why Stone wasn't dead because hadn't he given his life to resuscitate Elektra back in DD190? The story doesn't explicitly given another reason for how Stone brought Elektra back, merely choosing to emphasise that, like Matt, the reader doesn't know. It's a mystery, folks. As ever, Scott and his art team use the flashbacks to play about with the look of the pages - one frame illustrating Matt and Elektra's relationship at college was particularly intriguing, if only because I couldn't really tell where Matt's body ends and Elektra's begins in their passion play. Though, perhaps that's the point...
Anyway, without giving away too much just yet, I think all the Elektra hints are leading to something - and we'll get more of it next issue.
For those who are a bit confused by who exactly the Snakeroot are, Dan finally gives us some background on his characters, revealing how they've come to join this elite. Genkutso, the Torturer's story is perhaps the most peculiar. He was a "holy man" who nevertheless finds "peace in the careful applcation of pain". Eh? Is this more satirical comment on right wing religion?
The confusion rendered by the deliberately opaque writing is highlighted by a bit of extra explanation regarding Matt's new costume during a battle with the Snakeroot here. Previously, I noted how in DD321 the text included some passages from a mock technical science book but no more explanation than this about the costume. Here, the text talks about bio-mimetics, explaining that Daredevil's new costume is made of fabric that gives it the consistency of armour - but that it's not armour per se, more like how a spiderweb is flexible yet incredibly strong.
If you're wondering why the writer's highlighted this, then this issue's letter page, Redlines, shows why. Already there's a palpable sense that reaction to the costume change has been poor. One correspondent, Matthew Large, complains that Daredevil is a man without fear and therefore does not require armour, especially armour with "shimmering shoulder pads". You can tell it's irritated editorial as they spend almost a column in response talking about how high tech the new costume is, often in BLOCK CAPITALS TO EMPHASISE THE POINT THAT THE COSTUME IS GOOD, GET IT, IT'S GOOD, SO STOP GIVING US A HARD TIME ABOUT IT, OKAY? OKAY? OKAY?????
Well, I think we all know where this all heads eventually but this letter gives a flavour of the dissonance in the response at the time.
In other news, the Big Apple Advocate's lead story is causing Matt a big of grief and one of the highlights of the issue is Matt's initial response to the paper's front page.
Matt's soon tracking down Ben to give him a piece of his mind (understandably). What I like about this scene is that, at first glance, I wasn't sure that the whole thing wasn't taking part in Ben's imagination, his own anxiety about having let his friend down. The scene lends itself to this with the waiter in the diner wondering who the journalist's talking to.
Unfortunately, the first panel on the next page reveals Matt leaping away from the diner. I think they should have left it ambiguous, that would have been more fun.
Dr Michael Morbius
General Harry 'TNT' Kenkoy
Rating: 5 out of 10
*For those unconvinced about Matt's ability to tell such a difference - check out the cover for the current Daredevil 12. Mamma Mia!