Friday, May 20, 2005
DAREDEVIL #305 Marvel Comics, 1992
This comic book sucks.
Daredevil #305 is the sucky first part of a suck-ass two-issue storyline written by D.G. Chichester with pencils by Scott McDaniel and inks by Chris Ivy. As you can see by the sucky cover, Spider-Man teams up with DD in this issue to fight the menace of The Surgeon General. I’m not including the second part of this gripping saga because – you guessed it – it sucks too.
I don’t mean to be cruel, but I have to call it like I see it. All parties involved have created comics that I enjoy, particularly Scott McDaniel, whose work I generally like. However, the art on this one sucks. Look at the cover, above. Where are they fighting, M.C. Escherland? The fence thing is just a visual mess. Daredevil is placed very strangely on the cover so it looks like he’s standing on the fence, creating the illusion that the fence is in the background – an illusion that is shattered by Spider-Man’s arm wrapping around the same fence. The angles of the fence are all fucked up, too. Plus, one of the spikes is jabbing into Daredevil’s bathing suit area. The whole cover just makes my head spin.
The interior art is not so good. McDaniel’s work has really evolved since the year 1992, during the Dark Age of Comics. The characters in this book all look like buff blow-up sex dolls with creepy glass eyes. Chris Ivy’s inks don’t work with McDaniel’s pencils – the whole thing has a scratchy, sloppy vibe. The coloring mistakes don’t help, either. All in all, the art sucks.
The story makes no damn sense, either. Lest anyone call me to task for making unreasonable demands of a superhero comic, I assure you that I’m judging Daredevil #305 by its own standards. There’s a certain level of realism established in Daredevil and generally speaking, the stories make sense, so I’m not being unreasonable, here.
The plot involves Daredevil and Spider-Man hunting the Surgeon General, a psycho who picks up young men in Manhattan clubs and then removes their organs for sale on the black market. The Surgeon General is a foxy young woman who changes from her clubwear into her surgeon costume before killing her victims – for effect, I guess. Hornhead finds a guy in the Park whose liver has been removed. He brings the dying man to a local hospital, where we’re treated to a scene in the ER that I am guessing would make the good doctor from Polite Dissent cringe:
“Life turns cheap, then it turns up in the emergency room.” “God’s got nothing to do with it, not if this ultrasound’s right!” Those are some poetically jaded doctors! I think Daredevil stumbled into Raymond Chandler Memorial Hospital or something.
The chief flaw of this story – this two-part – story is that it relies on The Riddler Factor to succeed. The villainess Surgeon General has no powers whatsoever and no formidable skills aside from a medical degree - she just has a bandolier full of scalpels and bone-saws and a head full of crazy, yet she’s more than a match for our two seasoned heroes. Shit, it takes two whole issues for Daredevil and Spider-Man to stop her. How is this possible?
The Riddler Factor is that combination of luck, moxie, and plot contrivance that allows lame villains to survive when they are hopelessly outclassed by their superhero opponents. Basically put, the writer is on the villain’s side. It’s how The Riddler manages to survive 22 pages against Batman – sometimes even longer! It’s how Turner D. Century doesn’t get pounded to dust by Spider-Woman. It’s how tons of minor villains actually manage to hurt or annoy Superman. The Riddler Factor is like a big invisible Cloak of Lucky that protects the villain – until your 22 pages is up, that is. Then you get knocked out with one punch.
Writer D.G. Chichester does whatever it takes to keep the Surgeon General out of our hero’s clutches, like making DD and Spidey incredibly incompetent – just for this storyline. Seriously, in Spider-Man’s books he fights Dr. Octopus and The Rhino, cats like that. Here he can’t catch a regular, non-powered woman with a scalpel – and if memory serves, both he and Daredevil get captured in the next issue! Come on, she wouldn’t last two seconds against Spider-Man! I call bullshit on that.
Anyway, to catch the Surgeon General before she kills again Daredevil talks Spider-Man into dressing up like a member of the Village People and hitting the club scene. Sure enough, it only takes one night before she takes the bait, which is convenient. Either that, or the art depicts Peter Parker going out night after night in the same outfit. The Surgeon General lures Spidey out on to an empty penthouse bar, where she’s stashed her costume and paraphernalia. While her potential victim conveniently has his back turned, she changes into her work clothes and sneaks up behind him, making menacing innuendos.
Village Person Peter Parker (new from Mattel!) is saved at the last second by Daredevil, who tosses him off the edge of the roof before he can get stabbed. What the hell kind of medical instrument is she holding anyway, is that like a Klingon scalpel? Daredevil engages the Surgeon General in combat and promptly gets his ass kicked. In this very issue Daredevil defeated two armed thugs with fancy acrobatics and fu, yet he is suddenly, inexplicably unable to fight this slender woman.
Here’s Daredevil going down like a sucka:
What a chump! The same guy who fights The Hand and Bullseye can’t stop this woman from gassing him into unconsciousness. That’s the Riddler Factor in play right there.
Of course, Spider-Man intervenes before the Surgeon General can use the bonesaw, but he, too is unable to catch this wily unpowered woman. She makes good her escape through a crowded dance club, slashing and stabbing people as she goes while our heroes pursue, apparently in slow-motion. The “horror” of the scene is undercut by the dialogue of the panicked club-goers. Stuff like: "Holy--! A doctor! Somebody get a real—" and "—ain’t worth no cover –" and "Marcus Welby with an attitude!" Reading those lines physically pulls a deep agonized groan of agonized agony from my body.
The Surgeon General jumps into a waiting getaway van driven by her similarly garbed nurse/thugs. Daredevil pursues, but as he jumps inside the van, the invisible hand of The Riddler Factor intervenes once again. The Surgeon General throws an icy cold organ transport case at Daredevil, knocking him out of the van. Fortunately, Spider-Man saves him with a web, but Daredevil is s-s-so cuh-cuh-cold…
What the fuck? Does that make any sense? When the Surgeon General hits DD with the case he thinks, via narration caption: “Sudden searing cold against my abdomen, burning. Chill spreads outward, an icy wildfire locking up my limbs.” Yes, as far as I know human organs are carried in special cold containers, which are probably kept chilly with dry ice or liquid nitrogen or something. How would that make the outside of the case freezing cold? How exactly would anybody carry such a case if it was that fucking cold? You’d have to have special cold-proof robot couriers dressed up like monkeys to carry that.* Yet the case that hits Daredevil is so cold that it instantly incapacitates him, much like the gas earlier.
Either Daredevil is a big wuss, or the writing is just bad. I’m going to choose “b” in this case.
Daredevil #305 is so bad that it makes my soul die a little bit when I read it. Truly it is deserving of “The Pain” award.
*I don’t know, it sounds like a cool idea: Robotic Organ Courier Monkeys.