Daredevil #26 – The Man Without Fear
(This review contains minor spoilers, but no major reveals)
Matt Murdock is in trouble. A villain with a sharp mind and acumen for finding weak points has him running scared. Daredevil’s confidence and self-assured manner fade away, leaving him anxious, disheveled, and shivering. Foggy Nelson sits for hours in a hospital bed, waiting through chemotherapy. He has recently received a positive diagnosis for a type of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. Cancer cells attack the major bones of the body, but survival rates are high following chemo.
What could have been a depressing read is elevated by a punchy thriller of a story.
Daredevil slips in and out of paranoia as he dashes around the busy streets and subways of New York. Eventually, with Foggy’s help, Murdock draws together the strings that have been carefully threaded around him. Violent attacks from villains including Lady Bulls-eye, Coyote, and Ikari are not random assaults (These characters have fun code names, and stylish costumes). What unwinds is a conspiracy that Daredevil will need calm and focus to overcome.
Daredevil is all about super-sensory experience. His special ability is seeing by echolocation using his super hearing. Touch and smell are also enhanced, which are useful in his detective and legal work. The comic’s art gives readers hints at what the world looks like from Murdoch’s perspective as he runs through a busy street. Waves of sound are expressed through parallel lines in alternating purple and black. Hearbeats stand out in a contrasting fluorescent green. The art is a fun glimpse into Daredevils point of view. Bold lettering in shades of blue communicate the volume of character voices in some scenes, which is also a good addition.
A stylish, exotic, and colourful ninja garb for the assassin Ikari ensures he stands out in every scene he appears in. Bright yellow is often used as a warning colour, and Ikari certainly looks deadly.
A bit more on Daredevil #26
What I found most affecting about the comic can be found in the short story included after the action story that makes up the bulk of the comic. Children dealing with different types of cancer make a comic about super heroes fighting off monster. That monster, as envisioned by the kids, is made monstrous by cancer cells, and cured by the efforts of Iron-man, The Avengers, and Dr. Reed Richards.
Foggy and a Doctor discuss the story. Foggy ponders whether the fantasy is unhealthy and superficial: isn’t it a pointless diversion to have the kids fantasise about a hero saving them instantly from the rogue cells? The Doctor argues it is a form of therapy: Their heroes are certainly real, and they look up to them as examples of strength and courage under pressure, which is one of the key values of super hero comics.
“If they have any chance of survival, they have to believe that their condition can be battled, can be beaten – and if imagining the hulk punching cancer right in the face…if that’s what gets their blood racing and kindles their fighting spirit, I’ll take it.”
It’s a good opinion about story telling, which expertly captures the value of super hero stories, and hero stories in general. Daredevil #26 should be noted for including this strong short story.