Fathoms of Humanity Part 2: Bearing False Witness by Gregory Wright and Tom Grindberg
One Sentence Overview: When two of Joshua's underground dwellers are arrested by the NYPD, convinced of their innocence, Daredevil seeks out friends and acquaintances to help.
Last issue saw Daredevil descend and encounter a whole socially excluded other culture in the sewers and tunnels underneath New York - it's a idea that was first mooted back in DD180. That story felt more like a comment on a mythical underworld, whilst this is a little more grounded in reality, particularly early on here. I had heard of such dwellers elsewhere (particularly Eastern Europe) but a quick Google ascertained what was perhaps a very real inspiration for a story like this, a 1993 book called "The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City" by Jennifer Toth.
What I particularly enjoy early on in this story is the sense of tension Daredevil has with the alternative lifestyles these people have chosen. Any notions that the sightless Mr Murdock would be completely at home with the sewer dwelling denizens are quickly quashed when he holds in his arms a young child who appears in urgent need of medical attention and, in Matt's view, caring foster parents.
In one sense, it's a knee jerk reaction but one that doesn't appear utterly unreasonable. Unsurprisingly, the community close ranks and tell DD to basically butt out - he shouldn't judge their own standards by his. It's a common dilemma for anyone working with people in need but who also have to recognise cultural differences and what is unacceptable in one area may be permissable in another context. It's a difficult road to walk down and I don't object to Murdock's sense of dissonance at all here.
Later, talking with the group's apparent leader, Joshua, Matt also has to contend with another alternative lifestyle - that of members of the group hitting the surface to steal what they feel is necessary to survive.
It challenges our erstwhile lawyer's sense of morality. It's good to see these difficult issues being given air time in a comic book. However, I also felt that the criminal aspect is unnecessarily softened because two of the characters who are accused of arson are later revealed to have been set up by big business. Well, okay, but the moral complexities here would have been increased to a greater extent if they had been guilty, pointing out the desperation that sometimes excluded communities feel they need to resort to in order to achieve some kind of parity.
The scene where the NYPD burst into the sewers to arrest the would be arsonists is a good one, nevertheless, with the bright lights that the police use effectively blinding all the quasi morlocks, bar of course Daredevil. The art team illustrate this nicely by using bright black and white.
No longer a lawyer, Matt's desperate to get help for the accused. He wants Foggy to represent them but, of course, given that he's 'dead', he can't ask his old partner himself for help. Step forward, one of Matt's new friends, Lamar Sanders, a lecturer in media studies, who goes to Nelson for help. There's a nice little scene, albeit one that 's a bit surprising, of Foggy unable to help out because he's actually snowed under by work - cue some fun shots of the phone ringing, surrounded by empty candy wrappers.
Foggy snowed under? Well, that's one in the eye for all those who thought it was Murdock who was the brilliant (yet probably quite negligent) partner in the firm.
Matt rues that he's lost contact with his old friends and instead pauses to think on his new accomplices, hinting that there are characters here be earmarked as a new supporting cast. As well as Lamar and the ironmonger, Stithy, Sinclair Spectrum's still on hand (hilariously hanging on in a strip joint called 'Cin Sity' - now where did that name come from?).
And he also has the appropriately named 'psychic', Randi, to go to for help. As one sees, Randi hopes that 'Jack Batlin' has interest in all her particulars.
That's about it apart from the setting up of a confrontation with one of DD's old chums, the overly zealous Bushwacker, next time - Bushy's been hired by big business to put a stop to Daredevil's interfering in trying to acquit the two underworld lads who have been set up. We'll see how that pans out next time.
Meanwhile on the letters page Before the issue ends with a preview of Dan Chichester's new Elektra story, 'Redlines' is back and, despite the whole 'Tree of Knowledge' storyline, it seems new technology is being adopted in the Marvel offices as, for the first time I've notice, there's an e-mail address listed on the letters page for those who are so advanced as to use something other than pen and papre for correspondence. Incidentally, one of the letters ends with editorial promoting Dan and Scott's next tale in the book, 'Mark of Cain'. Interesting, that, as no such story ever appears - and if you want to know why, check out Kuljit Mithra's fascintating interview with Dan Chichester on the topic on the Man Without Fear website right here! (And we'll come on to the revised version of the plotline soon...)
Rating: 6 out of 10