Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daredevil's Centrific Feats #2 - Tricking the Grandmaster

This centrific feat takes place in Giant Size Defenders #3. In it, Daredevil is chosen to participate in a game along with the superhero group of the Defenders, a game in which the fate of the Earth hangs in balance.

And the very moment he decides in his heart to partecipate, following a request from his ex-foe Nighthawk, he's teleported to a strange dimension. He's now a pawn in a game between the elder of the universe known as the Grandmaster, a nearly omnipotent being obsessed with games, and the Prime Mover, an artificial intelligence created by Doctor Doom, who achieved self-awareness and evolved into a godlike-intelligent being capable of calculating the most complex probabilities without any chance of error.

Responding to a challange to a game sent by the Prime Mover across the space, the Grandmaster accepted, and agreed to grant the Prime Mover the power to enslave Earth if he were to lose.
The game would've consisted in a battle between a team of six champions picked by each competitor. The Gamemaster chose the group of the Defenders - composed by Hulk, Doctor Strange, Namor, Nighthawk and the Valkyrie - plus Daredevil.

In particular, this is how the contest would've functioned, as told by the Grandmaster himself to his pawns in his pre-match pep talk:

"Each player [...] will divide his squad into teams of two. Each duo of pawns will be placed upon one of the team worlds we have created [...] to face a team from the opposite side"

among other things, he adds:

"Neither you nor his men will be at any advantage due to the environment. All will find the play areas equally hostile"


Nice. Apart from the fact that Daredevil, teamed with Namor (Valkyrie was already taken, sorry) ends up in a hellish world, hot, rocky and freckled with loud geysers exploding with sulphuric jets of vapor.
"equally hostile" my a$%.
His direct adversary is an amorphous jelly with tentacles, a sort of poor man's Shuma Gorath, who, also thanks to the noise and the heat disorienting his senses, makes short work of him.

Shortly after, Namor, also weakened by the heat and the lack of moisture in that atmosphere, gets beaten to death by a sort of abominable lizard-guy. The round is lost, but thanks to the remaining good guys winning their battles, victory goes to team Grandmaster.

As you can see by the pic above, the hyper-intelligent machine reacts in a manner akin to that of a 9 year-old who loses a game of checkers.
The Grandmaster has won, and so Earth is now safe, right? Not so much:

Confronted with the perspective of eternal slavery under the Grandmaster, the heroes fling themselves at him like one man. But however heroic, their effort is futile. The Grandmaster blows them all away by just thinking about it.
... except for Daredevil who wisely decided not to partecipate to the collective attack. This makes the Elder of the Universe curious:

Daredevil here does a thing he's usually very good at (certainly better than other more powerful heroes): playing smart.
Having understood the obsession of the Grandmaster for games, he challanges him to another one:

I love how DD here lays on the line the Earth "and the moon in addition" while managing to keep such a serious face. But it's not like he has much to lose, at that point. Will the Grandmaster accept?
A transition of panel that seems to last forever, and then...

"The Grandmaster nods"

Still, the Grandmaster is puzzled as to what sort of game is DD proposing. Daredevil snatches a disc-like piece from the ruined carcass of the Prime Mover and explains the game to his adversary:

Yes. Daredevil has just bet the Earth - and the moon, in addition - in a game of heads or tails. The Grandmaster, intrigued by the novelty and the simplicity of the game, invites him to proceed. Still unsure if his unearthly interlocutor has figured out the trick or not, Daredevil flips the disc in the air.


The side DD had called comes up! Humanity is safe. Notice how the Grandmaster takes it with truly admirable sportsmanship, of the kind you seldom see in comic book villains. Really, seems that he couldn't care less about losing a planet that was already his. Oh, and, Doc Strange, you can look now. DD has just saved Earth.

Still a little envious that Daredevil has been the one who saved the day, and not he, the Sorcerer Supreme with the fancy cape and the trés chic spotty gloves, Strange scolds our hero, asking him if it wasn't a little risky to bet the fate of Earth on a fifty-fifty chance. He's probably forgetting that Earth was already lost to begin with and that his alternative plan was "let's suicide-attack the omnipotent guy".

Daredevil reassures that there was no risk at all, and makes his exit, without explaining them the reason. Which is revealed by his thought baloon in the last panel, for those who still didn't get it: he has used his heightened sense of touch to flip the disc so that it would've come up with the side he chose.



Gloria said...

With his... hum... "luck at games", I wonder why Matt doesn't spend his spare time in casinos (except the online ones): thus he could provide lavish funds for the firm so he, Foggy and Becks could work ONLY in cases for justice (even if that means zero benefits).

Plus, Matt would have more time available to Daredevil around in swashbuckling fashion (Gotta love the helycopter bit in #110!)

Francesco said...

Gloria, if the way they work at the firm is consistent with how it was presented in the early issues (no one was ever seen working!), I think it's safe to say that's exactly what Matt does to avoid bankrupt.
I theorize that he's still an avid gambler, regularly hitting casinos in the guise of his nonexistant twin brother (with totally cool sunglasses, fancy hat and obnoxious attitude).

If I were any good at it, I'd make a comic strip parody about that...

You love swashbuckling huh? I take the opportunity to remind you that suggestions for future entries are welcome ;).

Darediva said...

What is REALLY absurd in this whole deal is that DD is assuming that the gravity of wherever they are in the universe, Earth gravity rules apply in his theory of which side of the coin lands up.

Yeah, Mike Murdock might make a little scratch out on his own in Atlantic City every once in a while.

Francesco said...

I disagree. He's not assuming, he knows that in that place gravity works like on earth. Anyone would immediately feel it if were otherwise (that is, an environment where you have the same mass, and so the same inertia, but a different weight).