Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blast from the Past: Daredevil #220

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Artist: David Mazzucchelli
Company: Marvel Comics

It's late at night, a storm is rolling in, and you're craving something to read. That's the situation that I found myself in the other evening. To remedy said problem I went to the bookshelves and happened upon a collection of Daredevil entitled Loves Labor Lost. I couldn't remember buying it, but I must have, considering it's sitting on my shelf with all of the other Daredevil collections. Being a Daredevil fan to the extreme, I quickly settled in and devoured it. The stories inside were all notable. A few of them I even remember stealing from my brother's collection to read. This one however, this issue eerily titled The Fog, was the stand out.

It was the standout for a lot of different reasons, but main among them is the fact that it is a very human story. Writer Denny (Green Arrow/The Question) O'Neil immediately followed Frank Miller on the title, and while he continued the darkness and the trend that ultimately led to some depressing aspects of Matt Murdock's life being explored, he too hit some notable stories that stand the test of time. The gist of The Fog is fairly simple. It revolves around Matt getting multiple phone calls from his ex-girlfriend, Heather Glenn, where she tells him that she's in trouble.

Heather's need for Matt is palpable, as is her unstable mindset when she reveals that she has merely manipulated Matt into coming for her. Matt's mind is just as clouded though. On his way to rush to Heather, in fear that her life is actually in danger as he leaps through the fog thickened streets, he passes up the opportunity to stop a domestic abuse incident that ultimately goes bad. The scenes between Heather and Matt are harsh and heartfelt. The anger that Matt feels towards her and his inability to see how hurt and close to the edge that she truly is is great storytelling. As is the outcome of Matt leaving to find the culprit behind the domestic abuse incident. Heather's death rips through Matt, clearly and dramatically depicted through Mazzucchelli's artwork. The horror in that scene where Matt is called to Heather's apartment and where he sees her body is chilling. O'Neil could have left it at that and he would have had a story that amazed, but he took it a step forward and let Matt's rage and denial of the facts take him over as his belief that Heather was murdered solidifies. His need to find the culprit (instead of it being he himself who left her alone) is soul crushing and ultimately, even though the resolution is dark, it punctuates the tale with a huge exclamation point.

One of the other reasons that this issue has such an impact on the reader is David Mazzucchelli's distinct artwork. Here he was still finding his legs as an artist, which is strange to say, but he was still a few years away from the Awesome Fest that was Batman Year One. Still, that didn't stop him bring such power to this story. His characters expressed a great range of emotion and the rawness of it and the framing of it smacks of intelligence and skill. He also adds such personality to the city of New York and the borough of Hell's Kitchen specifically. It's amazing and the claustrophobic nature of this issue's other main character, The Fog itself, is such a master stroke. It hinders our characters, confuses them and makes for one hell of a setting. Add to that to the fact that his overall storytelling and action sequences are top-notch and you have a combination of flash and skill that made anything and everything amazing to look at.

So yes, this issue and pretty much all of the stories that are collected in Loves Labor Lost are worth seeking out. O'Neil and Mazzuchelli work so well together and were able to accentuate the Dare in Daredevil.

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