Monday, July 3, 2017

DAREDEVIL #184

"GOOD GUYS WEAR RED!”
Story & Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art & Colors: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Daredevil stops the Punisher from assassinating Hogman, then, the next day while defending Hogman in court as Matt Murdock, he runs a bluff which leads to a phone call from Coach Donahue of the local high school. The coach requests a meeting in the school gym, but when Matt shows up, Donahue is high on angel dust and attacks him. Matt subdues Donahue and considers that, although he is Hogman’s dealer to the school’s students, he doesn't seem like a user.

Meanwhile, Hogman kills a witness who saw him shoot his partner, Flapper. The next day, Hogman is acquitted of Flapper’s murder and he subsequently gloats over his guilt to Matt. Soon, Daredevil confronts Hogman and learns he has a pacemaker which kept his heartbeat even when he initially proclaimed his innocence, thus fooling DD's hypersenses.

That night, young Billy calls Hogman and requests a meeting. The boy prepares to shoot Hogman, but the Punisher intervenes. He takes out Hogman’s bodyguard and wings Hogman, but Daredevil arrives and stops him from killing the drug lord. DD shoots the Punisher with Billy’s gun and convinces Billy to let Hogman live. Soon, Hogman is indicted for the other murders on his hands, but Billy remains unconvinced justice will prevail.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The Glenn Industries board of directors continues to manipulate Heather — or so they believe. But she investigates some of their activities and learns her company is in business with a manufacturer of plastic explosives for some unknown reason.


We also learn that Heather has little interest in Matt’s marriage proposal, though she does seek him out for help with the company — but when he blows her off for the Hogman case, she takes matters into her own hands.


My Thoughts: I love this idea. Matt Murdock, hotshot defense attorney, conned into defending a guilty man. How does Daredevil, who has dedicated his life to upholding the law, who believes very strongly in the law, deal with something like this? It could’ve been fodder for a multi-issue arc in which Matt loses confidence in the very ideals to which he’s dedicated himself. But Miller chooses instead to wrap things up pretty quickly. I have no real problem with how this story ends; I just think it could’ve been more.


But I love Miller’s resolution to the Punisher aspect of this story. From the get-go, Daredevil adopts an unflinching zero tolerance policy for this guy. In his eyes, the Punisher is a murderer, pure and simple, and he will not let him go traipsing off into the night after bringing Hogman to justice. No, our hero picks up a gun and shoots the Punisher rather than allow him to leave! This is far more than most heroes ever do. Spider-Man had been the Punisher’s main team-up buddy up to this point, and the web-slinger usually seemed weirdly at ease with the Punisher’s bloodlust. Typically, when the two of them found they were both on the same case, Spidey would insist that for the duration of their mission together, the Punisher use non-lethal rounds. The Punisher would concede to this demand, they’d beat up the bad guys, then Spidey would stand idly by while the Punisher wandered off, ready to reload his guns with real bullets and take up the slaughter again the next day.


It always felt totally out of character for Spider-Man — why would he not haul the Punisher in immediately after their mission together was complete? Miller seems to recognize this creepy double standard and addresses it. The Punisher isn’t a hero and he’s certainly not a role model. His crimes must be addressed as would those of any villain. Any story in which he stars, if it’s aimed at kids, should feature him behind bars or in custody by its conclusion — or, at the very least, should feature the hero of the piece fighting tooth and nail to bring him in even if he ultimately escapes.

Or maybe I’m just too old-fashioned for this sort of thing.

3 comments:

  1. I've always had a problem with the Punisher also.
    Especially after Mark Gruenwald wrote the "Scourge" story-line in Captain America.
    The Scourge character was treated as a complete villain who needed to be stopped, yet his actions were the same as the Punisher, who was often treated as a hero.

    I'm not as sympathetic to liking the fact that DD shot the Punisher to stop him though.
    I've always found the hero's actions of, "I'm willing to kill you to stop you from killing!" to be quite hypocritical, and downright defeatist of the writer's intent.
    I'm also thinking of Wolverine almost killing Rachel Summers during Claremont's run on Uncanny X-Men, because "X-Men don't kill!".

    The Punisher should be apprehended by DD, yes, but I don't think that DD should put the Punisher's life in jeopardy to stop him from killing someone who is guilty of more than one homicide.

    Yes, I realize he shot him in the arm, but what if DD missed, or if Punisher bled out from the wound, or something similar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point about Scourge. He essentially is the Punisher, but is treated as an outright villain.

      The way I look at it, DD's hypersenses and radar meant there was pretty much no chance he'd miss in this situation. I don't view it as a blind shot (no pun intended), but as a fully intentional sharpshot. I could be reading it wrong, though.

      Delete
  2. I always like the notion of Daredevil standing up to the Punisher and saying "you're going to jail."

    I never liked him doing it with a gun, though.

    Maybe this is MY old fashioned side, but I always saw heroes as having a particular moral ground and set of rules and methods. Even when Daredevil finally chose to "definitively" put an end to the harm Bullseye causes, he didn't suddenly grab a gun and shoot him. He simply let him fall.

    Daredevil snatching up a gun and shooting the Punisher always felt wrong. I'll grant that the issue probably didn't have the space for a fight scene, but Daredevil should've stopped the Punisher AS Daredevil.

    I'm reminded of a story from the Punisher series in the late 80s, where he and Daredevil are chasing the same bad guy. The Punisher finds him first and is just about to kill him when Daredevil shows up. And the brilliance of that story is that the Punisher lets him win. Lets Daredevil beat him to a pulp, rather than fight Daredevil since they're on the same side.

    Always thought that story was commenting on this one, myself.

    And good, we're almost to my third favorite story in this run. The next one is a treasure.

    ReplyDelete