Back at my local 7-11, new comics continued to come in regularly every Thursday, and I was there every week without fill (except in extenuating circumstances such as sickness or family vacations and the like) to pick up the new books. It’s a pattern that continues to this day. This issue of DAREDEVIL greeted me that particular week. It’s a book that I had been following for several months at that point, so buying it wasn’t even really a question. That’s some nice work from accomplished inker Steve Leialoha on this cover, interpreting the always-challenging pencils of Gene Colan.
This issue featured the climax of the long-running subplot concerning Daredevil’s girlfriend Heather Glenn’s father, who had been controlled by the Purple Man into kidnapping Foggy Nelson’s fiancée and who later took his own life, unable to understand how he did what he had done. Sounds a lot like the synopsis to a soap opera, doesn’t it? In part that’s because this particular storyline had passed from writer to writer over a period of many months. It had been kicked off by Marv Wolfman, was continued by Jim Shooter, and was now wrapped up by Roger McKenzie. The latter had become the new regular writer of DAREDEVIL, but until he could make any plans of his own, he was obligated to tie off the stories already in progress.
The artwork was now being handled by Gene Colan, who had a long connection with the Man Without Fear going back to some of the earliest issues of the series. Consequently, Colan’s Daredevil always felt right–he was familiar with the core characters. This was a period in which his storytelling began to become a little bit more shaky, requiring his scripters to occasionally carry more of the water in regard to whatever story was being told. But the pages looked good–especially when inked by somebody as proficient as Steve Leialoha. Still, you look at the two-page spread above and how empty it feels, despite still having some impact. It gives the sense that Colan was often working exactly as had as he needed to in order to make his page quota, and no more.
I was going to talk about the plot a little bit, but there really wasn’t much of a plot at all–just another long fight sequence that was dramatic and energetic, but not especially elaborate or intricate. As the issue opens, sick of the long game they’ve been playing out, Killgrave the Purple Man has captured Daredevil as well as his girlfriend Heather Glenn. He decides to put the sightless crusader in an arena with a quartet of his other foes: Mister Hyde, the Cobra, the Gladiator and the Jester. They’ll fight to teh death for his entertainment–with Daredevil presumably on the receiving end of that death, being outnumbered four to one.
For the first half of the book, Daredevil takes the fight to his enemies, clobbering them relatively easily given how often they’ve engaged him for multiple issues in the past. But there are enough enemies for him to contend with that, even as he takes one out of the fight, another pops up to step into the gap. Relief seemingly appears in the form of Paladin, the mercenary hero introduced a few issues ago who has also been hunting Killgrave. But unlike Daredevil, Paladin is vulnerable to the Purple Man’s control, and he finds himself being forced to target Daredevil rather than his intended objective.
But with a supreme act of will, Paladin is able to point his blaster at Killgrave and fire, stunning the surprised villain and freeing Paladin from his sway. Thereafter, Paladin seals up his combat armor, isolating him completely from his surroundings and making him impervious to Killgrave’s pheromones. Killgrave still has a card to play, however, and he demands that Daredevil and Paladin permit him to depart, or he’ll have Heather kill herself. Paladin stops short, but Daredevil takes his blaster out of his hand and proceeds to shoot the gun from Heather’s grasp before she can fire, using his radar-sense as a guide.
Daredevil chases Killgrave to the top of a watchtower in teh abandoned prison they’re using for their showdown, and when the villain turns and attempts to fight, he misjudges his leap and when the Man Without Fear ducks, Killgrave flies over the edge and falls to his seeming doom. It’s super-villain death 101, so he’d clearly be back, but for now his threat has been dealt with. And that’s a wrap. Poor Paladin doesn’t get to collect his bounty on Killgrave, but Daredevil and Heather do get to go home, only slightly worse for wear for their experiences. And finally, this long-running subplot was at an end.