Perhaps the strongest aspect of this tale to date has been Scott's gradual reveal of what's going on. Despite the egregious fault in the first episode of the summary at the beginning of the issue effectively acting as a spoiler for what's going on, Scott has bravely introduced various characters in an alien scenario without feeling the need to say too much about their purpose. For example, thus far there have been a couple of characters lurking in the background, hanging out with Wilson Fisk. Here, in the penultimate episode, their purpose is revealed.
So we have Synapse, a guy with some kind of electrical brain power (not yet fully explained), whose main contribution to this issue appears to be to laugh at the Kingpin - which, as we all know, is not a good idea.
There's a larger contribution in this issue by Le Concierge, who is described as having "super-human athletic abilities". I guess the Frenchness of the name fits with the setting, though nevertheless it feels a slightly weak pseudonym for a supervillain, don't you think? I associate concierge with those who carry out service duties in a hotel. When was the last time you encountered a villain called 'The Butler' or 'The Valet'? Still, at least, in the long duel between he and Laurent/Matt this issue, he gives a partial revelation about why all this action's taking place in France. Rather amusingly, Le Concierge points out that the Kingpin is set upon world domination and has decided to begin such an action in Europe because it is the continent with "the lowest super hero per capita ratio".
Well, that may make some sense on one level but just because you're a threat in one continent does not a world breaker make (we know that well enough from history). But actually, I think the Kingpin's own motives are a little different and more to do with lighting his eyes up with dollar signs. And, thankfully, it all relates to the main plot point - why has Matt ended up in France, as a supposedly dark haired French man, with no memory of who he really is. The Kingpin has managed to obtain information on all Shield's undercover agents and has done so due to a rogue agent - Max Mullins, aka Synapse (now we're getting a clearer idea of what this guy does), who was active in some kind of brain rewiring technology developed by Nick Fury's agents. Before he died, Harlan had subjected Matt to this, in order to have him operate undercover and find out who had killed his brother (well, I think that's why - I'm not sure it's entirely clear).
We learn most of this thanks to a chinwag between Shield Agent Tia Senyaka and Foggy Nelson. Why tell Foggy all this, I hear you ask, especially as Shield (supposedly) don't know that Matt Murdock is Daredevil? Good point and I guess only makes sense in how much faith you put in the recent media hype in the comic - that Foggy and Daredevil are best buds. Still, it seems a bit of stretch that they felt the need to ship Foggy all the way over to France to sort this out - wasn't there any other superheroes who might have been of more use? Even stranger is Tia's method of transportation. One huge helicarrier appears to be carrying Tia and Foggy over the Atlantic Ocean. Hmmm. The espionage budget was a little more profligate in the Clinton era.
There's another aspect of this rewiring scenario that needs pointing out - and it's the most disappointing part of the whole tale. To begin with, I thought that Laurent was 'seeing' the world as Matt did and, as Laurent did not have Matt's memories, this may have led 'Laurent' to think that seeing in this manner was normal (he would have no other reference point after all). This, in itself, I think is a really intriguing interesting scenario. Unfortunately, it appears that it's not what Scott was intending.
After a scene where we see Laurent/Matt read in the dark with his fingertips (clearly tapping into a residual skill of Mr Murdock's if not his actual memories), Laurent is then confronted in daylight by Le Concierge. Thus follows something rather odd - our hero decides to dial down his eyesight "like a light dimmer".
So this implies eyesight. Even more disturbingly is what Foggy discovers on a Shield computer - that the man Harlan was messing with had 20/20 vision.
Eek! More on this next time...
Daredevil/Matt Murdock/Laurent Levasseur
Dr Claudia DuBois
Rating: 3 out of 10