Monday, April 17, 2017

DAREDEVIL #173

"LADY KILLER"
Story & Breakdown Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art : Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein | Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: On his way to meet with his new client, Melvin Potter, Matt Murdock is accosted by a group of hoods who he efficiently dispatches. But during the skirmish, a pair of nearby reporters are attacked by a hulk of a man who is soon misidentified as Melvin.

The next day, Matt and secretary Becky meet Melvin in jail and Becky immediately faints. Later, she confides in Matt that she was assaulted on her college campus years ago, an incident which cost her the use of her legs, and that she saw the assailant’s face: it was Melvin. Upon learning that Becky never contacted the police, Matt throws a fit and leaves.

The next day in court, Matt is granted a delay in jury selection in Melvin's existing case until the defendant can be cleared of the new assault charge. Matt changes to Daredevil and searches the city for the truth, but comes up empty-handed. Later, Melvin escapes police custody and heads to the Dibney Museum for his Gladiator paraphernalia, but Matt shows up and convinces him to turn himself back in.

That night, Melvin’s social worker, Betsy Beatty, is assaulted by the Melvin lookalike. He’s scared off by neighbors, but Betsy’s experience allows her to tell Daredevil the sorts of places he should be looking for the guy. He finds him in a leather club and after a barroom brawl, defeats him.

The Melvin lookalike is indeed Melvin’s doppelganger, and Melvin is exonerated in the assault case. Matt convinces Becky to testify against the lookalike to put him behind bars.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: References are made to the Gladiator’s crimes at the museum “a few months ago” and issue 166 is footnoted.


Detective Manolis pops up again, arriving at the scene of the initial crime almost immediately, and is officially identified as working out of Manhattan South.

Matt visits Foggy’s wife, Debby, who admits that something is wrong with Foggy. Foggy himself barges in and kicks Matt out a moment later.


My Thoughts: I think I’m too dense or too naïve or something. This is either the third or, probably, fourth time I’ve read this issue and I just now tumbled to the fact that Becky was raped. I read Miller’s DAREDEVIL when I was in college, and at least one more time some years ago when I was a little past 30 or so — but I’m almost certain there was another reading in there somewhere in my twenties. And every time, I took her statements at face value: she was knocked down and beaten, and that was that. Only now, at age thirty-eight, do I realize Miller is giving us a very thinly veiled description of rape! But then I have always been a very literal person, so this isn’t exactly surprising.


I’m also only now noting the somewhat troubling victim-shaming on Matt’s part here. He’s so invested in upholding the law over all else that he immediately jumps on Becky for not reporting the crime, telling her plainly, “You let him get away with it!” Granted, for his part, Miller does have Becky fight back, and he does have Matt realize later in the story that he may have overstepped his bounds by behaving this way, but even so, it’s kind of a callous attitude for a so-called superhero; not to mention a defense attorney who has probably interviewed other sexual assault victims over the years. (But then again, as a defense attorney, I guess he's more often on the side of the alleged assailant rather than the victim; something I never really considered!)


As of this issue, Miller begins providing breakdowns only, in order to spend more time on writing. Klaus Janson does an outstanding job of finishing Miller’s work, and it’s barely noticeable that anything has changed. As I understand it, by the end of the run, Janson will more or less be the full artist, working from very loose layouts to bring Miller’s stories to life. I don’t believe I took notice of this fact any of the other times I read these issues, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on the artwork’s evolution as we go forward.

3 comments:

  1. Matt is not very understanding here, but he isn't Victim-shaming/blaming; he's upset that her fear of feeling powerless and society judging her kept her from coming forward could (and did) result in more people being hurt. If anything, he's not showing an understanding that society often blames the victim: Becky even blames herself because she walked somewhere alone ("I guess that was stupid").

    It's also a bit strange that the villain is not even a disguised leather fetishist. I guess this is Miller stealing ideas from "Cruising," (released in 1980) but it's a bit weird to not even make it a metaphor of BDSM/leather culture (like about half of Spider-Woman's one-off rogues).

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  2. It's bothersome that Miller doesn't really actually own up what he is strongly implicating at of the nature of the violence (unless the Boston reference by Mikey is meant to bring the Boston Strangler into mind), but if he did, the very agitated "helpless... Just! Like! Betty!" bit by DD in the leather club would probably not have been okay in the editorial sense.

    It's a very peculiar and disturbing grin DD has when beating up the leather clubbers right after.

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  3. There are glimpses of what’ll become Miller’s definitive style circa Ronin and Dark Knight but lots of stuff that doesn't particularly call out his name to me too. I’m not sure how much of that is due to Janson finishing over Miller’s breakdowns versus what is still, I think, Miller’s relative greenness at this point (especially in terms of having a regular monthly deadline). Faces and other details, I mean; obviously, Miller’s doing the page design and panel layout.

    I got a laugh out of Not Melvin sitting in the bar with a biker hat on over his gimp mask, smoking through its mouth zipper.

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