Friday, April 15, 2011

A Real Dud For Daredevil! Typhoid Mary Is A Confused Story With Poor Artwork!

The Good: Decent concept, Picks up at the end
The Bad: Boringly repetitive, Terrible artwork, Obvious resolution, "Missing" chapter, Punisher diversion.
The Basics: Marvel's Daredevil Legends Volume 4 - Typhoid Mary mortgages its potential with a repetitive and winding story that ultimately ends up in the middle of an entirely different storyline.

For those who might not keep up with my many graphic novel reviews, I have declared this my "Daredevil" year and I have been very slowly working my way through the complete works of the Marvel superhero Daredevil.  My latest foray into the Daredevil universe comes in the form of Marvel Daredevil Legends Volume 4 - Typhoid Mary.  This disappointing anthology collects 9 comic books that lack subtlety, definition or a real hook for adult audiences.  The introduction of Daredevil and Deadpool villain Typhoid Mary is a meandering story which is problematic on far too many levels to be considered successful.

Typhoid Mary is largely considered to be one of the best villains in the Marvel Universe, but her appearance in Daredevil is far more erratic than it is compelling.  Introduced as a pawn of the Kingpin, Mary, who suffers from a multiple personality disorder, is given the million-dollar task of destroying both Daredevil and Matt Murdock and she takes on her task with both relish and horror.  Unfortunately for the reader, on the way the story meanders into ridiculous crossover spots which leave the reader too frequently scratching their head.  This, by the way, coming from one who believes comic books can be literature and great literature at that!

The nine issues contained in Daredevil: Typhoid Mary follow a strangely distracted narrative.  The story finds Matt Murdock defending a child who has lost his sight due to the negligence of a company owned by the Kingpin.  While the Kingpin watches Murdock and his struggling law clinic team stand up for the child, he bribes a juror in the attempt to demoralize Murdock with the idea that there is no justice.  Meanwhile, the Kingpin arranges for a mental patient, Mary, to be sprung and she almost immediately assumes the toxic personality of Typhoid.  As Typhoid, Mary romances the Kingpin and accepts his job - a $1,000,000 reward for utterly destroying both Daredevil and Matt Murdock.

Mary seems uniquely suited to this dual mission.  As Typhoid, she attacks Daredevil in the streets and on the rooftops as she begins a vigilante action that kills a number of known gangsters in Hell's Kitchen.  Even as she cleans up the streets brutally, she flirts with Daredevil and knocks him about.  During the day, Mary - the kindly, normal personality of the same woman - approaches Matt Murdock and flirts heavily with him.  Soon, she is driving a wedge between Matt Murdock and his longtime love, Karen Page.

While this might seem like a decent plan and a wonderful story, the narrative becomes sidetracked in far too many places.  First, in the middle of the nine issues used for this anthology, there is an issue skipped. Whatever is in that chapter is not present and if it could enhance the storyline, it does not.  But after that "break," the story continues with a rather ridiculous insertion of The Punisher.  The Punisher appears, hunting in Hell's Kitchen and has the be thwarted by Daredevil.  This pointless altercation has nothing to do with the Typhoid Mary storyline and there's no good reason it is included.

But beyond that, there is not even the appearance of a conclusion when Daredevil's adversaries team up to take him out, leaving him for dead.  This evolves into a bizarre invasion plot which may have been a Marvel crossover event, but is a baffling conclusion to this book.  As Karen searches for Daredevil, Hell's Kitchen is overrun by robotic scorpions and this is hardly a conclusive or even relevant end to the story of Typhoid Mary.

More than that, Matt Murdock is portrayed in this volume as a complete loser.  He and Karen are doing well when Mary enters his life, empathizing with his blindness and for no particular reason, he begins making out with her.  There is no compelling character aspect which leads Daredevil to begin cheating on Karen and as a result, the reader feels like Matt Murdock is pretty much just a jerk.

Matt Murdock's blindness is reiterated virtually every chapter in such a way that reads like a comic book trying to keep new readers up to speed without and respect for those following the serialized narrative.

As well, Daredevil: Typhoid Mary suffers seriously in the artwork department.  While the inks are bright and fresh, the drawings are sloppy and cartoonish.  The artwork does not have a strong sense of movement, so the book looks more like a collection of photographs than the flow of a film.  While this might seem like a silly complaint, having read many, many graphic novels that do it right, this seems more juvenile now.  It's sloppy and the book reads more like a fractured comic strip than a sophisticated graphic novel.

Ultimately, this makes it very easy to pass by the entrance of Typhoid Mary and this whole chapter in the Daredevil Saga.

For other graphic novels featuring Daredevil, please check out my reviews of:
The Essential Daredevil Volume 1
Daredevil: Guardian Devil
Deadpool Classic Volume 2


For other graphic novel reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts.  May not be reprinted without permission.

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