Guardian Devil Part 6: The Devil Divested by Kevin Smith & Joe Quesada
One Sentence Overview: Daredevil is left reeling by the death of Karen but is also compelled to try and track down who hired her murderer, Bullseye
So last issue ended with the tragic demise of Karen Page at the hands of Bullseye, making that assassin a particularly fearsome presence when it comes to the loves of Matt's lives. The end, though, I think was well written, Karen sacrificing herself to save Matt's life from Bullseye's deadly accuracy - indicating that whilst her life was often tragic, at root her heart was good and true.
Here then Kevin presents a eulogy, with Matt unsurprisingly revisiting scenes from his romance with Karen that show warm and intimate moments. Indeed, the first of these, where Karen persuades Matt not to don his Daredevil suit one night and instead spend some time with his girlfriend, highlights what elsewhere would be regarded as a highly unusual choice on Matt's behalf that it's no doubt our hero recalls it so fondly. Another scene shows that Matt was thinking of having a child with Karen, a revelation that tugs on the heart strings just a little bit more and tells Karen he would have given up everything to ensure the child was kept safe. To his surprise, in this scenario, Karen tells him to continue - she'll look after the baby and Matt can ensure that there's some degree of sanity for the child to grow up in. These are touching scenes, beautifully realised by Joe Q - illustrated in black and white, one intriguing detail is to break from the monotone by painting Matt's pupils red.
These early scenes seem to recall some of Daredevil's best moments. Matt putting a bullet into one chamber of a gun and threatening to blow his own head off seems an explicit homage to 'Roulette' (DD191) whilst his exit from despair and into anger, whereby he tears up the room, echoes 'Crisis' (DD151).
I even enjoyed reading a report of Karen's demise as written by Ben Urich. For once, the writer sticks to recording the facts, as if written in a real newspaper article instead of the ugly purple prose some other writers have been guilty of when trying to record Ben's award winning voice.
This great start cannot, however, sustain the whole issue and, once Matt gets back on his feet and starts searching for who was responsible for employing Bullseye to extricate the baby (remember her?), it's a slightly less compelling read. Whilst it's nice to see Turk Barrett return (even though Joe appears to be lifting his model of the thug from the rather white looking figure from DD351 rather than classic Turk), it's only so that he can reprise his role as DD's stooge.
I can't believe Turk could have survived in the underworld so long if he was so consistently willing to spill his guts to Daredevil time after time. Those gangsters must be pretty sloppy.
This leads to some by the numbers DD foe battling, though at least the confrontations with underlings allow for our hero to gradually work out who exactly is behind what's going on - as well as some freaky moments where he thinks he encounters Karen in Hell and the recent incarnation of Baal's insistence that he's DD's guardian angel. And we'll come on to the man behind everything next time...
I notice from Tim Roll-Pickering's comment on my last review that there was a considerable gap between this issue and its predecessor. Indeed, issue five is dated March 1999 and this is June 1999, which I guess must have been highly frustrating to DD fans, and especially those biting their nails and wondering if Karen was truly dead. No doubt it whetted the appetite somewhat so I hope the early recollections made up for the wait, whilst the issue's conclusion, thrilling as it is, might have set pulses racing as well as heart's sinking at any further possible delays...
Nicholas Macabes/Mysterio/Quentin Beck
Rating: 7 out of 10