The Man Without Fear Part 5 by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.
One Sentence Overview: Matt chases after the Kingpin's right hand man, Larks, who has kidnapped Mickey
One of The Man Without Fear's legacies is the whole unfortunate 'dead' prostitute/Typhoid Mary set up. The most controversial aspect of this is not that the poor woman falling to her doom is actually one of DD's latter day enemies/girlfriends but that Matt kills the young lady. This makes Matt a 'killer'. However, later retconning revealing her to have survived means that he's not. Hurrah!
Er, wait a second. Episode Five may take issue with that as we open with Matt and two thugs sinking in a bay and, oh dear, one of them has a knife. A struggle ensues. The text tells us "A knife... No choice.. Give it back to him".
Hmmm. And actually he's not the only one who's killed as a direct result of interaction with Daredevil this issue. Indeed, in terms of scoring - and not counting Typhoid Mary - the Man Without Fear saga still ends with a score of two in the 'Bye Bye Sweet Life' stakes against Mr Murdock. Frank Castle would have wept with pride over this issue.
As one expects with the final episode of a saga, the issue is dominated by an action set piece involving Matt and the villain of the piece. As in the best Daredevil, the bad guy's not exactly Galactus, rather he's the Kingpin's premiere hitman, Larks - a prototype Bullseye, if you will. Not surprisingly, this action oriented conclusion zips along at break neck speed - remember, this was originally to be the conclusion of a graphic novel, so it's not surprising that the creators didn't pause for breath and leave too much space for talking heads. However, it's also the predominant style of comic book writing these days, with the apparent assumption of wandering attention spans.
Anyway, it's still pretty good. Long time readers of this blog will know that action scenes aren't always what enthralls me but when it's done well, it can be really effective and Daredevil's eventual confrontation with Larks is both thrilling and chilling.
I also enjoyed how Mickey, who is presented as living in a pre-superhero New York, assumes Matt has 'magic powers' rather than superpowers when he comes to rescue him. A throwaway line that seems well thought through.
However, the best moment occurs in the story's coda and, perversely, involves my least favourite ongoing DD character. Matt's shenanigans in New York when he should have been back in Boston have led to him being fired - so who else is he going to get together with than his old buddy, Mr Nelson. Here, one essential Daredevil detail is finally revealed in rather winning fashion - how they decided upon 'Nelson & Murdock'. I've always loved the fact that Matt works for 'Nelson & Murdock' and not 'Murdock & Nelson' - it tells you something about Matt's character as well as reminding the reader of Foggy's legal worth too. However, it turns out that it wasn't so much Matt's being humble as the naming being established by a coin toss. Strangely, the coin goes astray and ends up in Stick's fist (who just happens to be drinking in the same bar as the boys). Stick returns the coin to Matt, informing him he's lost the toss and now he has to "come in second... so don't you get cocky."
A great line. And, yes, the fact that Matt's accepts the result does still say something about his character.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Apologies, folks, for the lack of posting over the last few months. I guess partly I needed the break and I've been doing other writing too. However, now TMWF is finished, we can start on volume two and I'll try and step things up a gear so that we're a good way through this by the end of the year. Hopefully. As always, thanks for reading.