Monday, June 19, 2006

Blind Alley (Marvel comics)
Daredevil #163 When: March, 1980
Why: Roger McKenzie How: Frank Miller

The story so far...
A swanky New York City fundraiser dinner in an expensive high rise appartment may require the attentions of attorney at law, Matt Murdock -- but when the pounding thud of a monstrous heartbeat echoes from the streets below, the Catholic has no choice but to abandon all fun and become -- DAREDEVIL: the man without fear!

Facing a confused and violent Hulk in a back alley, Matt Murdock manages to connect with the beast and calm him down. Thus, Bruce Banner becomes a temporary ward of the blind lawyer, who tries to help him through his struggle.

Banner attempts to escape the densly populated metropolis, but the charm of the New York subway and it's commutors eventually proves too much.
Ergo, the Hulk is unleashed upon an unsuspecting city.

Recommended reading:
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk: A rare and unlikely meeting for the two characters in this TV movie.
Deadpool #4: Hulk faces Deadpool, a character comparable to Daredevil.
Marvel Comics Presents #49: Daredevil versus Scope, a man much larger than he.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Daredevil 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Daredevil 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Daredevil 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Hulk 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Daredevil 2 (Projectile Weapon)

Okay, whilst cruising the net recently I ran afoul a discussion that seems to come up periodically. It's one of those arguments that seems to get settled, but always manages to pop up again somewhere else.
It's the matter of the super strong, and the super fast.

Here Daredevil is uncomfortably denoted the speed rating of four, which is described in terms of running speed, even though this pertains more to the reaction and physical speed of the character, rather than his sprinting strengths.

There seems to be some confusion over the potential for characters like the Hulk (or Thing), that display incredible muscular power, but err on the side of lumbering, rather than speeding.
I suppose there are many things to consider, not the least of which, is comic book physics.

When it's all said and done, no matter how realistic these stories become, there are comic book laws that help steer the dramatic potential of any given character pairing, or story.
Quite relevent here is the balancing law of strength and speed. David overcomes Goliath through one of two contrasting abilities -- strategy, or speed. These two factors are inevitably the equalising factor when any giant is faced by a lesser character.

Ultimately, Hulk's mass probably does denote a relative speed, because he isn't hindered in movement by his bulky figure and musculature.
His incredible leaps are attributed to the sheer muscular strength of his legs, which is a stretch that doesn't really denote any inate speed, even in comic physics.
He lacks the 'fast twitch fibres' and general agility of a speedster. That said, like the Rhino, over a larger distance, the Hulk could no doubt throw his weight into a sprint of tremendous momentum.

How does this relate to a fight with Daredevil?
Daredevil, like any David, is going to be relying on speed and guile against a creature like the Hulk. Hulk's ability to thwart Daredevil's attack is reliant upon his ability to react to the greater speed and agility.

Daredevil is an extremely skilled fighter, and could no doubt out-maneuver the Hulk for quite some time.
Given the urban surroundings, some of that energy might be expelled in efforts to protect innocents. Likewise, those surroundings could be used by the Hulk as weapons, and a way to contain the movements of the blind lawyer.

When the smoke settles, there are very few general measures that give Daredevil the advantage. The Hulk is simply too powerful in the broadest sense, and try valiantly as he may, Daredevil has no business beating the Hulk.

What went down...
Finding himself trapped in a busy subway car, the Hulk bursts forth through the lower levels of New York, up, up to street level.

With traffic backed up, Daredevil is the only man within his vicinity to hear and know the true horrors that wait up ahead.
While the Hulk tosses cars and bends street lamps, the man without fear leaps into action to once again quell the rages of the rampaging Hulk!

Daredevil's efforts to use brain over brawn are thwarted when a well-meaning NY police officer opens fire on Hulk while his back is turned.
With the connection lost, Hulk swats Daredevil away, assuming he was trying to trick him into an ambush attack.

With the policeman's life in peril, DD springs to life to deliver a swift flying kick.
He continues to try to reason with the man-monster, using his agility to duck and parry his lumbering blows.
DD attempts an offensive, swinging his billy club into the Hulk's nose, but it has no effect. Hulk snatches DD by the wrist, and flings him into the air like a ragdoll.

DD hits the side of a building, and tumbles down to a roof below with a splatter of blood trickling from his nose and mouth.
Lucky to have survived a physical encounter with the Hulk, the man without fear rallies himself in the interest of the greater good, and his own dignity!

Hulk, still freaking out in the middle of an inter-section, starts shouting accusations at the skyscrapers, believing his predicament to be some kind of evil plot set-up by his alter-ego, Bruce Banner.
Fairly desperate by this stage, Daredevil does the only thing imaginable: He drives a bus into the Hulk.

The machine ultimately comes off second best, with DD flying out through the windshield as the bus makes contact [always buckle your safety belt, kids! - Mike].

Hulk tears the bus to smitherines, giving Murdock the time he needs to recover and make a second attempt at subduing the Hulk through mental and physical means. (Kinda sending mixed messages there, aren't you DD?)

Daredevil unloads with all the speed and skill he has, all the while desperately trying to calm Hulk down enough to realise he is not the victim of banner, but rather Banner himself.
Never the less, fearless as he may be, this man is no match for the Hulk.

Hulk again sends DD hurtling away, swatting him through a fence into a nearby alley.

Barely conscious and unable to stand, Daredevil feels the Hulk looming over him via his radar senses. He continues to plea with the Hulk for better sense, and as the beast stands over him with a slab of concrete, ready to crush the Hell's Kitchen hero, something twigs.

As the world falls out from underneath him, Daredevil collapses into unconsciousness, while the Hulk shows mercy for the 'puny human,' leaving him to resume a quest for his own inner devils.

The hammer...
Despite resisting the killer blow, Hulk comprehensively dominated his oponent, and is clearly the victor here.
Not only did he beat the snot (and blood) out of DD, but he also fascilitates a panicked slip by a friend, who pleas for authorities to protect "Ma--" from the Hulk. Not something you want your friend doing if you're Daredevil, and Ben Urich is within earshot.

This issue isn't by any means Shakespeare, but damned if it isn't what Secret Earths is all about. It's fun! It's exciting! It's action packed! Heck, there's even a little bit of story in there to boot.

There are a lot of traditions in comics that are now frowned upon by the self-conscious and embarrassed. People who refer to graphic novels instead of comics. People who don't want to indulge or invest in characters and stories. People who cower in fear, and cover their eyes and ears should any fan explore upcoming projects purely from the realm of speculation.

These people suck. If you see them, do as they wouldn't, and engage in an act of mindless brutality. Bend them backwards over a mailbox, or drive a bus into them! Show them what made superheroes the dominant species in the comic book format... and then get yourself a damned good lawyer, because no doubt they know some poseur lawyer who is a huge fan of graphic novels.

But seriously, there isn't really a lot to say about this particular issue. It is what it is.
The Hulk, a character who has no real business entering the world of Daredevil, is placed in the middle of a populated city. Daredevil, a character who has no business approaching the Hulk, tries to stop a rampage of chaos.

It's just fun.
Two unlikely opponents against one and other, in an old fashioned spit-fister.

Just so I don't wrap things up here without any reference to the issue specific, eagle-eyed fans will have already spotted a young Frank Miller on pencils.
This is, of course, before Miller developed a more stylized look, adopting more of an asthetically commercial Marvel pencil.
It's not terribly flashy, but Miller shows great sense of action and movement.

And I assure, despite my choice in panels to scan, there ARE many backgrounds littered throughout the entire issue. That's just an obscure coincidence. - Mike]

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4

NEXT: The clash of the titans! Captain Marvel versus Superman!


Pedro Cruz said...

They don't make them like they used to...

Mike Haseloff said...

Back in those days before Miller got writers powers, and was finally able to break the void, and feature strong female characters.

Wait, something about that doesn't sound right... :-p