Guardian Devil Part 3: Dystopia by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada
One Sentence Overview: Whilst Matt announces his intentions to defend Foggy against a murder charge, Karen's perception of her physical well-being is altered by a mysterious visitor
Okay, part two ended with the very disturbing revelation that Karen, who had returned to Matt, has AIDS (Karen's words, not mine - Matt, who is more sanguine, states here she is HIV positive). This dramatic invasion of real life into Daredevil may feel uncomfortable but hasn't that often occurred when DD is at its best? Given Karen's former activities following her initial leaving Murdock & Nelson to pursue an acting career, it's certainly true that her lifestyle choices were leaving her at greater risk of contracting that particular disease. What is more unusual - and significant here - is the timing. As Karen herself expresses, she had submitted herself to regular testing following her recovery from heroin addiction, but that strange chap, Nicholas Macabes, has another theory as to why she's suddenly HIV positive - the baby.
I guess a lot of how you view Guardian Devil relies on how much you believe in the ability of this Macabes fellow to pull the wool over the eyes of our favourite characters. After all, they've been round the block, they're experience and Nicholas' reasoning isn't really terribly rational. But I guess part of the overall story is about extraordinary beliefs - and also misdirection. Whatever you think of the tale, though, I do enjoy Joey Q's art. I like Karen's downtime outfit of (presumably) Matt's boxing shorts - oh, and the socks. Boy, Joe Quesada's good at drawing socks.
Well, before you accuse me of being perverse, let's see what else is going on here. Last issue, Foggy was about to get frisky with one Lydia McKenzie. Here, we learn that once Mr Nelson and his seductress made it as far as the bedroom, Lydia's disrobing was revealing in a rather unexpected way.
Lydia then hurls herself out the window to her death, leaving Foggy suddenly arrested and accused of murder. This allows Matt, naturally, to stand in the gap, as he so often does and agree to defend his old buddy no matter what. His mother, perhaps unsurprisingly, given what we know about her to date, does not appear to be just as willing to throw the company resources to defend her son. When she informs Matt as such (and Matt blows a gasket in response), what strangely doesn't ring true is not so much her dispassion but the appearance of tears when she tells Murdock that she's agonised over how she could possibly clear him. I say this because, firstly, she's never really been actively involved in Foggy's life and, secondly, she makes is clear to Matt early on that she's taken on Foggy in order to obtain the services of Mr Murdock (on the final page of DD353). Nevertheless, Rosalind's latter day acquisition of a heart isn't enough to save Matt from uttering that immortal phrase...
Free from the shackles of Ms Sharpe, Daredevil takes out his frustrations on a thug (which makes one wonder, how often DD actually uses his superheroic duties as a kind of stress relief). This turns out to be a trap and leaves Daredevil facing a behemoth type calling himself Baal in a strange sensory deprivation environment clearly developed to mess with DD's powers (implying that whoever set it up has an awareness of who our hero actually is). That's not as interesting as the fact that this is the second time Daredevil has fought a villain called Baal - the first time being DD84, where the being in question was some freaky weirdo from 12,000 years in the future. This clearly isn't the same guy and his naming is presumably down to the idol that frequently appeared in the Bible, given the theme of this whole tale.
The ongoing storyline of Guardian Devil, and indeed how comics now conduct themselves more commonly as episodes that perhaps are more satisfying when read in a collected edition, mean that some episodes aren't quite as satisfying as others. I like the story but this particular chapter is perhaps more about unwrapping some exposition before the shocking impact of some of the later events. But it's still well written and the art is lovely.
Rating: 6 out of 10