Monday, August 18, 2008

Preposterous Plot Points #6 - "I'll dress DD in clothes like mine, too!"

This update to the Preposterous Plot Points series can be considered a direct sequel to the very first entry of the series (sequels seem to be all this big thing nowadays, so I'm adapting), the one regarding the Ox and his stratagem of carrying a spare set of his own clothes so that in the event he meets and takes out a superhero he can dress him with those clothes and somehow frame him for any damage he had caused.

Well, despite the absurdity of it, it worked well the first time, with the cops hauling an unconscious DD, wearing oversized everyday clothes over his own outfit, to the cell of the police station.
In issue #56 of the first volume, Daredevil is in the countryside of Vermont, following the trail of his beloved Karen, when he runs into a supervillain of all respect: a figure with a grotesque mask, riding on the back of a skeletal steed, with his body covered by bandages and glowing intensely with radiation.
The phantasmatic figure calls himself "Death's Head" and greets our hero with a standard gloating villain speech and with a huge fireball, in the attempt to intimidate him from meddling with his plans.
On their second encounter, they fight each other. Daredevil battles the monstrous foe, managing to evade the bolts as best as he can while trying to get close enough to attack, but eventually gets too fatigued to keep the pace:

I don't know why the heck Death's Head here decides to stop using fireballs, pull out a bola and hit DD with that instead. If you ask me, fireballs at close range are clearly superior than an attack with a bludgeoning object. But maybe Roy Thomas had in mind of making the new villain use an exotic weapon like a bola and that was his only chance to stuff it into the issue.
By the way, someone should've told him that bolas don't work that way. Then again, that's actually a "glowing bola", we are told. I don't know how being glowing makes it any special. Maybe they work differently than regular bolas. Who knows.

Yet, senseless as it is, that simple panel with Death's Head striking DD with a weapon that shouldn't be used that way for some reason cracks me up. Maybe it's the words with which Death's Head accompanies the blow:

"Winded already, my friend? Let by glowing bola ease your misery!"

In order to say a phrase like that, either you're completely insane, or completely badass (to the point that you don't care if you sound ridiculous).
Instead of burning the unconscious DD to a crisp and be done with that, the baddie puts in action the Ox's stratagem. He pulls out of nowhere bandages and a mask identical to the one he's wearing. He doesn't use his own mask, it's actually another identical one he was inexplicably carrying with him. I know of motorcyclists who bring with them a spare helmet in case they have to carry a passenger, but this is ridiculous. Especially because we're later told that the mask the guy is wearing is an ancient Aztec artifact. So either he had found another identical one, or he had made a copy of it just for such an instance.

The vestition lasts a couple of panels. I figure that tying up someone like a mummy would require slightly more time, but maybe this villain is particularly experienced in doing it. Apart from that, you gotta love the panel where DD is put the spare mask on his head. It looks like he's conscious and about to give a thumb up, as to say "Okay, I'm ready".
The plan of Death's Head, while sharing similarities with the one used by the Ox, is slightly more sophisticated (or if we want, more idiotic): basically, he's setting DD up for a "suicide by cop". A police patrol in fact, lured by the lights and the noise of the battle, has approached the scene. After having tied up his hands with more bandages, Death's Head puts DD on the saddle of his ghastly horse and sends the horse gallopping towards the policemen, so that they, believing him to be the bad guy, would shoot him.

... I know, don't ask me. I would've just burned him with fireball at point blank. But I'm an engineer, not a supervillain, so what do I know?

A little test. What would you do if you were in such a situation, with a ghostly figure gleaming of an unreal light charging towards you on the back of a skeletal horse, threatening you with a voice that sounds "like something from the grave"?

1) I crap my pants and get out of there as fast as I can;
2) I crap my pants and pass out;
3) I stay there and prepare to shoot the approaching figure with my firearm, discussing with my partner on where it's best to aim in these cases.

Answer 3) is clearly the most unlikely, and yet Death's Head's plan is based entirely on the chance that the cops follow that one course of action. The author is clearly on his side, here, and so the policemen do exactly that.

In any case, the issue ends with a cliffhanger. Will the officers shoot our hero, granting him a most shameful end after he has been knocked unconscious with a glowing bola and then dressed up for halloween? Find out next issue!
And, in the following issue, we find out that the policemen's bullets just graze our unlucky hero, but the horse he's riding doesn't stop. It leaps over the police car and keeps prancing wildly along the countryside, with Daredevil still on its back.

After a while DD manages to free himself from the ropes and get off the restless horse. However, he falls badly and injures his shoulder. The cops, who have been pursuing him all the while (without ceasing to shoot at him, of course), reach him and, seeing him wounded, remove his mask. And, to their surprise, they see...

...that the individual who had charged towards them before wears a Daredevil mask under the Aztec mask, and so they gratuituously assume that he's in fact Daredevil and not anybody else wearing a Daredevil mask, and that they should not do anything to him since Daredevil is a good guy and all.
I wonder what's the standard procedure that police agents in the Marvel universe were supposed to follow whenever they found a person wearing a superhero costume under another disguise. When it was with the Ox, they hauled him into a cell without thinking about it twice. In this case here, they let him get away with it, despite the situation being highly suspicious.
Certainly, if I were a supervillain and learned of this episode here, I'd start committing my crimes while wearing a good guy's mask under the one of my own costume. Can you imagine that?

"No, officer, there has been a misunderstanding! Don't you see the mask? I'm Iron Fist, I'm just keeping an eye on the villains, in incognito! Say, could you give me a lift to 387 Park Avenue?"


Gloria said...

The funny thing is that, after all the things goinh on, what nearly makes the cop drop his jaw is the fact that DD... is in Vermont!

He should be in San Fran!

Francesco said...

Gloria! What happened to your lovable avatar?

Gloria said...

Ah, I think I signed with the other google account!

Francesco said...

Now that's more like it!