Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dealing With Mobsters...

The following sequence is from the Golden Age storyarc, part 2 (vol.2 #67), by Bendis and Maleev. The story is about the former kingpin of New York city, how he came to power, how he was overthrown by a young Daredevil and how in the present day he attempted to get vengeance.
In the second part of Bendis' run, after an important event like the self-proclaiming of Daredevil as kingpin of Hell's Kitchen, this story came up as a fill-in, in comparison, but it is a neat tale, with homages to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America, in which different artistic styles are used to illustrate the three different timelines of the narration.

After the intervention of Daredevil, the crime lord of New York Alexander Bont is having some troubles with justice, and is in need of a lawyer, preferably a newly-graduated, fresh of college and needing a job, who would defend him without creating too many problems. He goes to Nelson & Murdock (and this is also perfectly coherent with the intent of imitating the silver age style of the book, since all evildoers always ended up turning to the protagonists' law firm, back in those days).
Unfortunately for him, Matt unexpectedly refuses to accept his case:

(Wow, isn't it true that nowadays people don't care about conflicts of interest).
Bont, being the criminal big cheese he is, is not used to receive a no for an answer. But Matt is adamantine. They cannot defend him in court because they're already representing some Hell's Kitchen citizens in a lawsuit against him. You can imagine if realizing that those lawyers are actually his adversaries doesn't piss him off even more:

Figgy. Foogy. Fiji. (!)

Man, Foggy timidly correcting a man like that (a pissed off man like that, on the top of that) on how to properly say his nickname is a priceless image.
Anyway, not only Matt doesn't flinch, he even slyly tries to take advantage of the situation for his other clients:

If you're giving me a dirty look in hopes of intimidating me... I'd like to now remind you that I am blind.

Heh. Take that.
Through Matt's character, Bendis here points at a thing that is almost always true. Mobsters and the like can try to be scary and intimidating as much as they want, but deep down, they're just poor idiots.

Bont seethes with fury at Murdock's stinging mot juste! And when even mild mannered Foogy err... Foggy Nelson indirectly participates to the mockery, he snaps. And goes into full "C-list gangster threats" mode:

Notice how, confronted with all that crap that guy's throwing at him, Matt keeps a straight face. One who doesn't know him would wonder if it's because he's blind or rather because he's just badass enough not to give a damn about what even the chief gangster of his city has to say to him.
But Matt is not done with verbally raping his interlocutor yet:

[...] it is apparent to me, from this angle, that you drink in the afternoon. And my professional advice to you would be to stop doing that as you are about to go to federal court.

Holy s%*#. If that's not a complete ownage we got there, I honestly don't know what it is. Bendis' run is really rich with such dry humor moments, and this is one of my favourites. Among the other things, it also shows that Matt is fearsome to have as opponent not only in his guise of costumed crimefighter, but also (maybe even more so) in his civilian role of lawyer. Not to mention that the sequence shows him in the beginning of his career, long before he became one of the most respected legal eagles of his fictional universe.

A short time after this encounter, thanks also to the meddling of a DD still in his yellow duds, Bont is arrested and sentenced to jail. He would get out of there only years later, at the age of 93.
And with that (as a fellow DD fan pointed out to me once) we learn that during the course of his career Daredevil has taken out of commission not one, but two crime overlords. Not too shabby, considering that certain other superheroes - in other comic book universes - have been trying unsuccessfully to do the same with crazed clowns for seventy years now.


JP Nguyen said...

Well, one of the thing that doesn't work in Golden Age is the Timeline.
I don't want to go the "Joe Q"'s way but, really, "it's aging the character". More precisely, it's aging him too much.
Otherwise, this scene has funny dialogues (as often with Bendis).

alice said...

Yeah, that's the main problem I had with Golden Age. There really was no way to condense all that history to retrofit the timeline. You really had to just "fuggedabowdit" and enjoy the story.

There were some funny moments in all that tension. I really liked this one a lot.