Sunday, June 29, 2008

Big Ben Donovan

The solicitations for DD #107, first issue of the current storyarc of Daredevil, mentions "a Marvel villain now sitting on death row".
A "Marvel villain"! Holy cow. If they're anticipating a villain in a story by saying that he's a Marvel villain, that probably means he's someone big, like, who knows, Dr Octopus? Mr Sinister? Loki?
He -has- to be somebody this important, otherwise - come on - what need was there to say that this guy is a "Marvel villain" in the solicits of a Marvel comic?

Allright, here's a little hint for neophyte comic book readers: Never trust the solicits.

Here's the so much anticipated "Marvel villain":

"Big Ben" Donovan.
What, you don't recognize him?
That's understandable. He can be considered a D-list villain, whose level of irrelevance would put to shame guys like Leap Frog or Stilt-man (who at least have become iconic in their ridiculousness as villains).

As far as I know, this guy was a foe of Luke Cage, appeared for the first time in the pages of "Luke Cage: Hero For Hire" back in the days when the hero with unbreakable skin was fresh of creation, the umpteenth product of the "blaxploitation" trend of the late seventies, complete with a fancy metal tiara under the afro hairstyle and ghetto slang (today things have changed, and Luke is now the reflection of the blaxploitation trend of the 2000s, complete with bald head and gangsta rapper attitude).
Luke Cage is also revealed to be the "old friend" the solicits talk about, the one who brings Matt the last minute appeal of Donovan.

When in DD #107 Matt goes to meet Big Ben Donovan in jail, from the dialogue that they have it appears that the two already know each other. When did that happen?
Their last, and maybe only encounter dates back to Marvel Knights vol. I #12, a totally forgettable series of the year 2001 in which some street level heroes including among the others the Black Widow, Luke Cage and Daredevil decide to form a team to... um... fight bad guys, I guess.

That series, in fact, was literally packed with fight scenes. In one of these fight scenes, the writer, Chuck Dixon, has the team composed by Moon Knight, Black Widow, Luke Cage, Shang Chi, Dagger and Daredevil take on Bengal, Bullet, Big Ben Donovan and the one who gathered them, Tombstone (who is evidently fond of alliterations when it comes to hire muscle). Already from the number of characters involved you can imagine what kind of mess the brawl is. The artist, however, ensured to make it look even more messy.
Our hero, anyway, takes on Big Ben.

Two things are evident (besides the fact that the art in this book is heinous) from this first panel about Big Ben.
First. He is big, strong and mean. His level of strength is probably peak human. It's the kind of villain that in general works well for Daredevil, with above average strength, speed or endurance, enough to be a match for our hero, and one step above from the ordinary street thug.
Second - and a bit disappointing - he refers to himself in third person. Coupled with the fact that he's big, this translates into the fact that he's not supposed to be very bright.

Daredevil responds with a move that will make Chris Sims' fans rejoice:

The enormous Ben counterattacks with a bear hug, but DD just continues pounding on his face.

Notice what Ben is saying here:
"Uh uh uh UH!"

Wha...? Is he somehow replying to what DD is telling him? Feeling that single blow to his face multiple times?!? Imitating a Mandrill's mating call?!? I'm totally lost here.
Daredevil is clearly having the upper hand, until Ben seizes him by the head with his enormous hand.

How do you get free from a hold like this?

Simple, you just kick your enemy in the torso with both your legs (assuming that's what DD is doing in the above panel). That will automatically make him slacken his hold without risk of any other reaction. Especially if the writing of the book you're in sucks.
After that, with an uppercut from a professional superhero and a simultaneous Widow's bite, Donovan is taken out of commission.

But our heroes now face a new threat: Tombstone is shooting at them with a bazooka he happened to have brought with him for that fight!

How will they escape that? I don't know, don't ask me because the suckiness of this book is overwhelming and I can't just take to read it anymore.
I'll just post another panel from it, that fits in a singularly nice way with the situation Daredevil is facing with Big Ben in the current storyarc:

Man, how I wish Matt would re-enact this panel for real (especially after what Ben said to him in jail, remarking on his inability to protect Milla).

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