Monday, September 13, 2010

Evil will always win, because good is teh suck. Also, could I get another rum & coke?

Even though the issue opens with carolers singing "Silent Night," I've had "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" stuck in my head since reading Daredevil #266 again. I hate both carols, yeah.

Christmas issues (that apparently came out in April or May...) were apparently once a tradition for the book. Miller and Mazzucchelli did a right jolly old cover for #229, but Nocenti had Christmas issues for #241, #253, #266 here...and without having the issues in front of me, I'm almost positive there's at least another Christmas for DD in Nocenti's run. Sometime in the issues with Karnak and Gorgon, Number Nine gives out presents or something...

But this one is probably Daredevil at his lowest...maybe. I mean, half the point of writing Daredevil is to make his life utterly miserable, and Ann Nocenti was succeeding: tricked and seduced by Typhoid Mary, Matt had cheated on Karen Page, who leaves him, and for good measure Typhoid gets a batch of DD villains to beat the hell out of him, then drops him off a bridge. Matt is just about dead, manages to fight his way back to life after a vision of Stick, just in time for the X-Men crossover Inferno to dump a ton of demons on New York City. DD spends most of those issues wearing more bandages than costume.

And with that done, and Karen gone...guess it's time for a drink.

A question: has Matt had a beer in Daredevil recently, like in the last couple of years? He's obviously an adult, and you never see him have the kind of drinkin' fun that Tony Stark does in the movies; but it seems like Marvel wants the characters to be more kid-friendly now that no kids read them. If I'm wrong, and DD's been pounding shots in Shadowland, let me know.

This issue was from 1989. Kids could buy it; I must've been in like eighth grade. And it's crushing. It opens with a couple pages of (mostly) happy Christmas scenes, before going into a bar, packed with people with "no family, no friends, no place to spend Christmas?" Yeah, pretty much.

Daredevil isn't very chatty, but the barflies don't seem especially impressed or interested in him: it's pretty obvious he's human wreckage, just like them. The guy on the stool next to him tells an amusing story about leaving his wife, mostly because a game show told him to:

Afterwards, the guy gets up, presumably to take a leak, and someone takes his seat. Someone who appears differently to everyone who looks, but for DD is a strangely attractive woman.

As DD and the woman talk about evil, the rest of the bar continues on, including a fight between two brothers that escalates. The woman kisses DD, who is irresistible even covered in bandages, reeking of smoke, blood, and shame. But Daredevil completely misses a stabbing, that ordinarily he could've stopped with ease. He turns on the 'woman' after she tries to convince him to steal the unattended cash from the bar, and she reveals Mephisto. Who John Romita Jr. would draw the living hell out of, if you'll pardon the expression.

Even though he's already done a pretty solid job of showing DD how weak 'good' is, Mephisto proceeds to tell him all about it to boot, growing to giant-size to further illustrate his point. He dumps DD in the snow outside the bar (and next year, aside from the murder, everyone would just remember something weird happening) where a couple of the barflies offer to help DD to Christmas dinner. At the soup kitchen. And that's the happy ending for this one.

You don't realize it at the time, but this issue sets up a lot of later issues of Daredevil, including his trip to hell. Great, great issue. Daredevil #266, "A Beer with the Devil" Written by Ann Nocenti, pencils and co-plots by John Romita Jr, inks by Al Williamson.

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