Sunday, September 19, 2004


Well, I finally read Daredevil: King of Hell's Kitchen, the trade paperback collecting the arc of which Daredevil #56 was the first issue. And I'm sorry to disappoint anybody looking for blood, but I didn't hate it. Which is not to say that I liked it, or would be willing to spend money for it; but I have to confess that I found it mildly interesting. In any case, whether because this time I knew not to expect anything like real literature, or because right now I don't feel compelled to be an aesthetic missionary, I have no urge to dissect King of Hell's Kitchen the way I did its first few pages. (By the way, all that stuff about Daredevil "saving the city" which I took such exception to plays no role in the rest of the arc whatsoever, as far as I could see.) There were a couple of things about it which struck me as strange in an interesting way, though.

In issue #59, one of the yakuza says "Killing an American hero? This has never been done." Bendis's overall aim seems to be to combine superheroes with the hardboiled city-as-cesspool school of crime writing (viz. Milla's speech about how "the city" has taken everything away from Matt); and this latter presupposes an amoral cosmos. On the other hand, to state that heroes never die implies a cosmos that's fundamentally moral. You can't have a hardboiled crime story in which it's guaranteed that heroes never die: like the proverbial irresistible force and immovable object, these two can't both exist in the same universe. (Please note that I'm not objecting on the grounds that it's unrealistic; I have no desire to revisit that argument.)

Second, while I haven't read much of Bendis's Daredevil aside from this arc, I did look at #50, the final issue of the arc that proceeded this, and I've read some online discussion of that arc. And in both that arc and this arc, the climax depicts Daredevil crushing his opponents with ease. Now of course, everyone knows that Daredevil will overcome his opponents; the trick to maintaining suspense is to make the reader wonder how he will do so. And it just seems to me that if you repeatedly show Daredevil beating formidable-appearing opponents with no trouble, you're going to undercut this suspense. Maybe the point is that though Daredevil has no trouble with external foes, he can't slay his inner demons. But actually he doesn't seem to have much trouble with his inner demons, either. All he needs is a good talking-to from Ben (plus being attacked by a hundred yakuzas).

UPDATE: Dave Fiore provides an intelligent critique of the above post on his blog (to which I've replied in the comments). Among other things, he takes justifiable exception to the phrase "real literature." Even before reading his comments, I was regretting having used it; but if I sat on my posts until I was sure they were perfectly polished, I'd never post anything. At any rate, for the phrase "anything like real literature," substitute "anything of aesthetic value."

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?