Monday, July 31, 2017

DAREDEVIL #188

"THE WIDOW’S BITE”
Writer/Storyteller: Frank Miller | Penciler/Inker/Colorist: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Black Widow fights her way out of S.H.I.E.L.D. medical custody and goes in search of Daredevil, but doesn't find him at either his brownstone or Heather’s apartment. Meanwhile, Stick speaks with Matt, who is in a sensory deprivation tank hidden in his basement, while Kirigi is given an assignment to kill Stick.

Widow is also unable to locate Matt at his office and continues her search. As Matt and Stick continue their conversation, Black Widow enters the Kingpin’s office but he, too, is unaware of where Daredevil could be. As the Widow fights Kingpin’s goons, he notices that she appears to be dissolving somehow.

Meanwhile, Kirigi enters Matt’s basement but he is defeated by Stick and his associates, Shaft, Claw, and Stone. As Matt emerges from the sensory deprivation tank, Black Widow arrives and collapses.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Black Widow visits with her friend and father figure, Ivan, before setting out on her quest. She notes that “…he's been through a lot lately,” but there's no footnote explaining the comment.

(However, stay tuned to this very site and we'll find out what she means in another month or so!)


The Widow’s costume makes its full debut here, rendered by Janson using what I believe is called “halftone”. She will remain in this costume for just about a decade, up through the early nineties.

Matt says he was hit by a second dose of the radiation that gave him his powers, but again there is no footnote. It happened in issue 185, “Guts”, though this is the first indication of the cause for his recent issues, which he previously seemed mystified about. It's almost like Miller forgot he hadn't clarified this earlier.

Stick tells Matt that the radiation has worn off by now, and that the radiation which originally blinded him wore off long ago as well. According to Stick, as with the radar sense explained some issues back, Daredevil simply has access to the same hypersenses any human could have if they trained hard enough.


Heather is drinking heavily since Matt forced her to renounce her company and accept his proposal. Still no word as to his motivation behind callously and mercilessly destroying her self-confidence this way.


Stick’s friends all wear white ninja uniforms. Shaft is an archer, Claw is armed with… claws, and Stone is a towering bruiser who uses a sword and apparently has uncuttable skin.


My Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the new Black Widow costume. On one hand, this is what she was wearing when I first encountered the character as a member of the Bob Harras/Steve Epting Avengers, so I sort of have a soft spot for it because of that. But, that said, I think it's far inferior to her original look. The long red hair and black catsuit are so much more visually distinctive than her short cut and gray outfit.


I don't have mixed feelings, however, about Stick’s revelation that the radiation was not responsible for Matt’s hypersenses. I'll say now what I said when he made the same claim about the radar sense: this really makes Daredevil a lot less special in my mind, if literally anybody could have the same abilities as him. For whatever reason, it seems Miller is determined to make Daredevil as “normal” as possible; i.e. to remove any sort of superhuman ability from his repertoire. Certainly he's still got all these senses no one else has, but per Stick, anybody could have them if they wanted it badly enough.

Maybe Miller wants there to be one less radiation-powered hero in the Marvel Universe. Maybe he wants to justify his creation, Stick, and needs to take DD down a peg or two in order to do it. Or maybe he just thinks Daredevil having actual superpowers is silly. I don't know. But, whatever his reasoning, I don't like it.

Also, for some reason Miller refuses to refer to S.H.I.E.L.D. by name in these issues; it's simply called "the agency" and Nick Fury is referred to as "Nick" or "Colonel", but never by his full name. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but as we move closer to the end of his run, I'm almost getting the impression that Miller is sort of... embarrassed...? about some of the more outrageous trappings of superhero comics. But then again, he does have ninjas resurrecting a centuries-old warrior at the same time, so perhaps not.

10 comments:

  1. (However, stay tuned to this very site and we'll find out what she means in another month or so!)

    Oh! Oh! Are we allowed to deduct from this which book will be featured next as the Miller DAREDEVIL draws to end?

    I like how Natasha thinks of the pretty picture this makes, "the red-hot femme fatale of the international set, crawling on her hands and knees and begging for help -- from a blind man" (and in the end she does just that). We of course did see exactly this happening very recently in the Elektra death scene.

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    1. Be my guest, deduce away!

      Good call on the parallel between Black Widow and Elektra. I wonder if that was intentional on Miller's part?

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    2. In my opinion there's no chance in hell that Miller didn't formulate the specific wording by Natasha to exactly fit also to Elektra. In-universe, I expect Natasha to be oblivious about this though. But it's a nit wink&noddy to us readers, and adds an amount of pathos to the final page cliffhanger with DD again having a loved one dying on him.

      As for the deducting, I don't think it's such a herculean effort to work out that Black Widow hints at her previous recent appearances with Ivan's ghosts riding over to here too with her from them (and that obviously more than gels it all up as a one coherent Marvel Universe). But I'm too nice man to just go and blurt out my suspections before your official announcement.

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    3. "Be my guest, deduce away!"
      That's too easy- Marvel Fanfare!
      The reason for the lack of footnote is that the Marvel Fanfare issues with Ivan were delayed and didn't come out until 9 months after this issue. (In fact, the Marvel Fanfare issues featured Sam Sawyer and he'd been killed off nearly a year earlier in Captain America.)

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    4. Yup, that would be it. Though I have to admit I was unaware Sawyer had been killed off prior to the FANFARE story (or at all, actually), so I don't believe there's any mention of it in the upcoming posts, even though I do delve into why those issues might have been delayed for so long.

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  2. This series has made me realize that, while I kept reading after the sublimely funny #185, I wasn't really enjoying it as much. It felt like he'd run out of enthusiasm for the book after he pulled off the run from #167 to #181, and some of his decisions-the truth about DD's radar sense, his amazingly awful treatment of Heather, even the return of the ninja business-just felt off, as if Miller was getting bored. The only thing that really shone towards the end was the Black Widow. I'd have loved a Miller written Black Widow book back then.

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    1. Yeah, Miller clearly seems to be running on fumes at this point. I think he wants to finish his Elektra story, but he also feels obligated to tie up some other loose ends in the process. He probably outstayed his welcome on DAREDEVIL by a few too many issues.

      I agree with you -- a Miller Black Widow series, or even mini-series or one-shot, would've been a lot of fun -- especially if it focused on her as a superspy rather than a superhero.

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    2. Not CHAMPIONS then? Damnit, I though I had caught one ahead of the curve. Ivan's personal history had some presence in those issues where Darkstar and co come visiting.

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    3. Yeah, I was thinking it might be the Marvel Fanfare story-arc, but I was hoping for the Champions.
      They're a more obscure Marvel team, and I enjoyed the book when I was hunting down back-issues about a decade ago.

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    4. I read CHAMPIONS once about ten years ago and thought it was okay. It's a nice finite run, though, so it's something I could see myself looking at someday!

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