Monday, October 8, 2007

Even A Blind Man Could See...

I recently got a little ragged on for not being personally acquainted with Mr. Matt Murdock, and his very good friend Mr. Frank Miller. Two noted Columbia comics bloggers took me to task for my ignorance of one of Marvel Comics' most notable set of books.

I had some familiarity with Frank's excellent work in superhero comics via The Dark Knight Returns and was also familiar with his recent... eccentricity regarding superhero comics as evidenced in All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder and The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

I'd heard from multiple sources just how good his run on Daredevil was. (It obviously launched his career, helping propel him to the point that he can pretty much do as he pleases.) But Daredevil had never really appealed to me. I'd thought about looking into the character, and Miller's work on the title, but it never seemed like an urgent thing. But I finally decided to give it a good look. After purchasing and devouring Miller's Born Again story, I decided to go big-time. I found an eBay auction of the Frank Miller/Klaus Janson Daredevil Omnibus, and scooped it up for a little more than half the list price.

I'm certainly not finished with the behemoth, but between it and Born Again, I think I'm starting to change my views on ol' Hornhead. It seems to me that one of the things I like about it is something that's fundamentally Marvel. In one issue, Daredevil has to deal with the Hulk. In this corner, eight hundred pounds of green muscle and rage. And in this corner, a blind man in a red suit. Let's have a clean fight, and no driving city busses into your opponent.

What I'm trying to illustrate here, is that Daredevil's got zero chance of taking the Hulk. None. Not on his very best day, even if it were also the Hulk's very worst. And yet, he refuses to give up, even though the end result is near death... even though he cheats and does in fact hit the Hulk with a city bus.

If this were a Batman story (and Batman is the closest DC analog I can come up with on the spur of the moment) Batman would approach the situation with self-assured confidence. He wouldn't falter, and ultimately there'd be no doubt of the outcome. Batman would find a way to outsmart or outmanuver the Hulk. My impression of most DC characters is that they're seldom outclassed, even the ones without powers. In a situation like this, I'd have very little doubt that Batman would fail and that undermines the storytelling a lot. Daredevil ultimately succeeds only because the Hulk realizes he's nearly killed someone who was trying to help him. I have trouble actually putting that one in the win column for Matt Murdock.

I'm enjoying these 'old' Daredevil stories so much, I think, because it genuinely feels like the outcome is less certain. Oh, sure, there are plenty of situations where I know Daredevil will come out on top... but throwing the Hulk in there helps to show that he's not prepared for everything.

I think I'm going to start looking into the current Daredevil stuff. But I'm definitely going to finish reading that Omnibus.

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