I recently completed a discussion of 13 volumes of Marvel Masterworks - Daredevil over in the "What Comics Have You Read Today?" thread. While I'm waiting for the 14th, I thought I'd skip ahead to Frank Miller's celebrated run. I didn't start read Daredevil until nearly the end of Miller's tenure (I'll point it out when we get there), but I almost immediately began collecting backissues and, before too long, had acquired a nigh-complete set. I never did get an original copy of #158, Miller's fist, though. While it was readily available, it was simply too expensive. When I finally got to read it I realized it fit better as the conclusion of the previous storyline rather than as the beginning of a new one, so that's how I'm going to handle it. The question remains, then: with which issue should I begin this discussion?

I've never been a big fan of What If...?... except 1) when the stories were actually part of the MU proper (such as #4, "What if the Invaders Had Stayed Together After World war II?" or 2) when the stories were told by the regular title's creative team (such as #32, John Byrne's "What If the Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Powers?). Issue #28, "What If Daredevil Became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D?" (co-plotted and drawn by Frank Miller) seemed to fit that bill, but although a acquired this issue many years ago, I did not read it until today.

It's honestly not very good.

Oh, the story itself is okay, but the continuity (for those of use who care about such things) is way off. Teenage Matt Murdock is struck across the eyes and blinded by a radioactive isotope as per usual, but in this version, Tony Stark is following behind. "Blast it. I told them not to take that stuff through Manhatten! Given five minutes, i could have arranged for air transport!" Well, why didn't you? setting aside that this revelation makes no sense, it opens up the question of Tony Stark's liability in the blinding of Matt Murdock. 

But that's not my problem with this scenario. the next thing stark does is load Murdock into his flying car and go zooming off to the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier. Daredevil #1 was published in 1964.Strange Tales #135 (the first appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D.) was published in 1965. Even given the sliding nature of "Marvel Time," the accident which triggered Matt Murdock's heightened senses was a flashback. After that happened, he still had to attend college/law school, all of which would have taken place years before S.H.I.E.L.D was created. 

I've been looking for an "alternate" beginning to Daredevil besides MMW V1, but this isn't it. 

NEXT: "Marked for Murder!"

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Since some people can beat a lie detector* and some people are so nervous they would appear to be lying, they don't admit the results as evidence in court. I would think that DD's hearing heartbeats would have the same limitation. DD shouldn't trust it 100%.

*as I understand it, a sociopath, lacking a conventional conscience, wouldn't see anything wrong with the crime and therefore wouldn't provide clear lie detector results.

I wonder if any readers complained that this cover was misleading, since the Punisher didn't kill DD in the story?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

#183:

Richard Willis said:

Since some people can beat a lie detector* and some people are so nervous they would appear to be lying, they don't admit the results as evidence in court. I would think that DD's hearing heartbeats would have the same limitation. DD shouldn't trust it 100%.

*as I understand it, a sociopath, lacking a conventional conscience, wouldn't see anything wrong with the crime and therefore wouldn't provide clear lie detector results.

That's because "lie dectectors" don't detect lies. The polygraph measures stress, and the operating principle is that lying causes stress.

The way it works, the machine measures one's blood pressure, pulse, perspiration and skin conductivity. The test examiner asks a series of yes or no questions, first to establish a baseline. One is asked questions with obviously true answers ("Are you indoors?") and obviously false answers ("Are you John F. Kennedy?") 

After the baseline is established, the test subject is asked a series of questions about whatever it is the investigator wants to find out about. For the specific thing the investigator wants to know ("Did you commit the burglary?"), the question is framed several different ways ("Do you know who committed the burglary?" "Were you present when the burglary was committed?"). The test results are compared against the baseline readings, and one is absolved or condemned accordingly.

But the innocent person can be totally stressed out just by being caught in the wheels of the criminal justice system, or by things unrelated to the crime at all. I once read a short story in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in which a person was nearly convicted over a polygraph reading that indicated his involvement in a crime, but he was nervous during the test because it triggered memories of an assault he had experienced. 

Not to mention, there are ways to throw off that initial reading, thus invalidating the baseline results. There's a scene in one of the Ocean's Eleven movies -- I forget which one -- in which Livingston has to take a polygraph, so he secrets a thumbtack in his shoe and steps on it during the questioning.

And, as noted above, the sociopath may not have the physical reactions that are supposed to be indicators of lying. There's a classic Barney Miller episode -- yeah, yeah, I think they're all classics -- in which Lieutenant Scanlon of Internal Affairs, as always, looking to trap one of the 12th Precinct's detectives, brings a scientist who has invented a voice-activated polygraph. Dietrich asserts he was an alien born in another galaxy, and the machine is silent, to the point Scanlon and the scientist think it's broken.

The thing is, polygraphs really work, to the extent that they work at all, because people believe they do.

Dietrich said that he was born "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." Then at the end of the episode he said aloud the city and state of his birth to the other detectives and added, "I felt it needed to be said." By contrast, when Scanlon (or whoever was administering the test) asked Wojo a baseline question about his mother, he lost his temper and the needle went off the scale without him even answering.

Yeah, they're all classics.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Dietrich said that he was born "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." Then at the end of the episode he said aloud the city and state of his birth to the other detectives and added, "I felt it needed to be said." By contrast, when Scanlon (or whoever was administering the test) asked Wojo a baseline question about his mother, he lost his temper and the needle went off the scale without him even answering.

Yeah, they're all classics.

Thanks for correcting the record. The thing is, I just saw that episode, "Voice Analyzer" (Season 5, Episode 14) a couple of months ago (and it'll be on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. Eastern on FETV, for those who might want to watch it, if you get that channel). 

I love Barney Miller -- I can always drop what I'm doing and watch it -- but they aren't all classics; I just saw "Rape," (Season 4, Episode 15) and it is problematic. It's in 1978, so spousal rape wasn't an established legal concept, which Dietrich unhelpfully points out in his usual pedantic way, asserting that tradition stemming from English common law supports a husband having sex with his wife against her will. Harris and Wojo make goo-goo eyes at the assistant district attorney because she's hot. The suspect's lawyer acts like the whole matter -- charging a man with assaulting his wife -- is as outlandish as repealing the Bill of Rights.

Worse, Barney's inclination to conciliate and get the contending parties to resolve their dispute without taking things into the criminal justice system ill serves the complaining spouse who comes in wanting to see her husband arrested.

I love the show, but that one was a clunker. Again, it was 1978, so we shouldn't expect it to play like an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (which is problematic in its own right much of the time). It's clearly a case of good intentions but poor execution. 

Yep, and a sociopath can pass a lie detector with flying colors after telling all manner of lies and denying crimes he actually committed.  I think it can be a useful tool but courts must be very wary of putting too much faith in it and it should never be used as the basis for a conviction or exoneration of any suspect.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Richard Willis said:

Since some people can beat a lie detector* and some people are so nervous they would appear to be lying, they don't admit the results as evidence in court. I would think that DD's hearing heartbeats would have the same limitation. DD shouldn't trust it 100%.

*as I understand it, a sociopath, lacking a conventional conscience, wouldn't see anything wrong with the crime and therefore wouldn't provide clear lie detector results.

That's because "lie dectectors" don't detect lies. The polygraph measures stress, and the operating principle is that lying causes stress.

The way it works, the machine measures one's blood pressure, pulse, perspiration and skin conductivity. The test examiner asks a series of yes or no questions, first to establish a baseline. One is asked questions with obviously true answers ("Are you indoors?") and obviously false answers ("Are you John F. Kennedy?") 

After the baseline is established, the test subject is asked a series of questions about whatever it is the investigator wants to find out about. For the specific thing the investigator wants to know ("Did you commit the burglary?"), the question is framed several different ways ("Do you know who committed the burglary?" "Were you present when the burglary was committed?"). The test results are compared against the baseline readings, and one is absolved or condemned accordingly.

But the innocent person can be totally stressed out just by being caught in the wheels of the criminal justice system, or by things unrelated to the crime at all. I once read a short story in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in which a person was nearly convicted over a polygraph reading that indicated his involvement in a crime, but he was nervous during the test because it triggered memories of an assault he had experienced. 

Not to mention, there are ways to throw off that initial reading, thus invalidating the baseline results. There's a scene in one of the Ocean's Eleven movies -- I forget which one -- in which Livingston has to take a polygraph, so he secrets a thumbtack in his shoe and steps on it during the questioning.

And, as noted above, the sociopath may not have the physical reactions that are supposed to be indicators of lying. There's a classic Barney Miller episode -- yeah, yeah, I think they're all classics -- in which Lieutenant Scanlon of Internal Affairs, as always, looking to trap one of the 12th Precinct's detectives, brings a scientist who has invented a voice-activated polygraph. Dietrich asserts he was an alien born in another galaxy, and the machine is silent, to the point Scanlon and the scientist think it's broken.

The thing is, polygraphs really work, to the extent that they work at all, because people believe they do.

#185:

After passing up #184, this was my first new issue of Daredevil (since Giant-Size #1, anyway). It turned out to be a pretty decent jumping on point. Hang on, because from this point on things barrel headlong to the end of Miller’s run. On the first page, Dadedevil breaks the fourth wall to address the reader directly. After that, Miller experiments with voice again, this issue being narrated entirely from the POV of Foggy “Guts” Nelson. After the past heavy issues about child drug addiction, this issue is light-hearted and humorous in tone. The narration (Foggy’s tough internal monologue) is juxtaposed with his wimpy behavior.

Daredevil shadows “Guts” the whole time, keeping him safe, but Foggy doesn’t know it. At one point, Turk brings “Guts” to the Kingpin as a potential applicant for his new assassin. (The Kingpin doesn’t recognize the man he sent Elektra to kill a few short issues ago?) The most important thing to happen this issue is that Daredevil is caught in an explosion near the same type of radioactive material which gave him his radar sense in the first place.

Also, Klaus Janson takes over as full penciler this issue.
#186:

Glenn Industries becomes involved with Stiltman. At Melvin Potter’s costume shop, Turk meets Stiltman, follows him home, steals his suit. Due to the explosion last issue, Daredevil’s hypersenses are randomly going nuts. Matt prosecutes Glenn Industries, then defends Heather, the implication being that, now that she’s powerless, she’ll have no other choice but to marry him.

Dark.
#187:

Daredevil’s senses are out of control. He seeks Stick for help. The Black Widow is back, with a new costume and haircut. The Hand steals Kirigi’s body from the morgue. Black Widow steps on foot-spikes and is poisoned. The Hand is also after Stick. Stick is at Matt Murdock’s brownstone. He has called an emergency meeting of “The Seven” (later called “The Chaste”), but only four, including himself, answered the call. Meanwhile, four members of the Hand give up their life force to restore Kirigi to life.

I don't think that Matt was ever before portrayed in quite so negative a light. 

At this point he is very much preying on Heather - who he knows full well to be mentally fragile, particularly after the death of her father and learning of Matt's dual identity - in order to sustain his self-esteem.

There is a clear implication that he needs some outlet for his frustration after Elektra's death and the Kingpin's manipulations.  But this is not a healthy one, nor an ethically defensable one.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

#186:

Glenn Industries becomes involved with Stiltman. At Melvin Potter’s costume shop, Turk meets Stiltman, follows him home, steals his suit. Due to the explosion last issue, Daredevil’s hypersenses are randomly going nuts. Matt prosecutes Glenn Industries, then defends Heather, the implication being that, now that she’s powerless, she’ll have no other choice but to marry him.

Dark.
#188:

The Black Widow confides to Ivan that she has less than a week to live. She seeks Matt, first at his brownstone, then at Heather’s, at his office and, finally, asks the Kingpin. Little did she know that he actually was at home… in the basement in a sensory deprivation tank. Stick, Shaft, Claw and Stone are with him, but had she looked, they would have killed her. They can communicate using a form of mental telepathy.

The Hand’s jonin sends Kirigi after Stick. Kirigi tracks him to the brownstone just as Stick is explaining that the radiation has wore off, “just as it did before.” then he goes silent, forcing Daredevil to emerge from the tank. They defeat Kirigi and, this time, destroy his body. The Black Widow’s physical exertion is speeding up the poison. Just then she staggers in and stumbles as her body begins to dissolve.
#189:

Love that cover. As I’ve said before, Frank Miller put the “ninja” in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Stone uses his energy to restore the Black Widow. Just then, the Hand attacks… two score of them. Claw falls in battle. Stick and Shaft mystically sacrifice themselves in order to drain the life-force of the remaining Hand, leaving only Stone, who is reluctant to involve outsiders. Just then, Heather arrives, drunk. Matt puts her to bed and Daredevil and Black widow go their separate ways. The Widow pays a visit to Foggy and gets the lowdown on Matt and Heather and Elektra. She then forges mutual break-up notes, one from Heather to Matt, the other from Matt to Heather. (This always struck me as kind of dark, too, in and of itself.) Stone discerns the Hands plan: to resurrect Elektra.

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