Saturday, October 11, 2008

Preposterous Plot Points #8 - "Dinner and a movie is overrated..."

Here we are again. This time, this installment won't take place on the regular series, but on a miniseries. Specifically Daredevil: Yellow, issue #3, by the creative team of writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale.
For those who don't know, this mini is a rewriting of the early days, narrated from Matt's point of view as he tries to cope with the recent death of Karen by recalling those days: his father's death, the beginning of his quest as a yellow-costumed Daredevil, the two of them meeting for the first time, the forming of the Nelson & Murdock law firm.
One of the themes of this miniseries is the love triangle forming between Matt, Karen and Foggy. Both the young lawyers were in fact profoundly attracted by the pretty, gentle, blonde-haired secretary. Those DD fans who've read the early issues surely remember how Stan Lee made a mawkish, tiring soap-opera of this love triangle. I suggest those who didn't to read the funny commentaries made by Chris in her blog.
Jeph Loeb ensured to make the budding love story between the protagonists as much as mawkish as that of the silver age, with some extra forced melancholic introspection on Matt's side thrown in for good measure. Before we go to the plot point object of this entry, here's an example of it:

The context: the Fantastic Four have come to the N&M law firm to recruit our protagonists' legal assistance and have just left. Foggy is overjoyed, because they're their first clients. Karen then says:

"Please, don't make fun of Mr Murdock, I think we should be very proud of what he did today"

To which Matt's V.O. comments:

"I forgot as about the FF and what they thought. On that day, I mattered to you"

Oh, geez. Last time I got gooey gooey like that to such a slight praise coming from a woman, I was in secondary school. This is even more exaggerate if we consider that what Matt did of so heroic was just saying something like "uhm, okay" to Mr Fantastic's request of assistance. What's coming next? They'll make him a statue for pushing the right button in the elevator?

Be as it may, Foggy invites Matt and Karen to celebrate in his and Matt's "old college watering hole".

So, Foggy invites the girl he wants to impress in a hole of a place that stinks of cigarette smoke and has society rejects like an old woman who growls and a hobo referred to as "the mad poet" as regular customers. Matt mentioning the urinal in his description doesn't help improving the general image we get of the place, either.
"Well, come on" you'd say "the place doesn't really matter - after all it's a place from their past - what's important is to enjoy oneself, be at ease with friendly people and in good company, right?".
Of course. In fact, what does Foggy do to put his female friend at ease while they're waiting for Matt?

He brings her to the back of the place, to enjoy the company of shady individuals gathered there to play billiards, and instead of dedicating his attentions to her, he relegates her to sit isolated and out of place on a stool, and bets with the rascals on a game of 8-ball. Look at how happy he looks there, stubby in one hand, cue in the other while he's putting his friends in a rather embarassing situation.
"there's nothing bad in a having game of pool at a bar" you may say "it might be a way of passing time".
I bet it is, especially with gentlemen like these:

Foggy's behaviour, lines and facial expressions here remind me of how Loeb didn't get his character at all. Here, and in the whole story, he comes out as an unreliable simpleton, the stereotyped slow and naive friend who serves as a foil to the handsome, wise, cool protagonist. I'm sorry for Loeb, but although his appearence may lead to label him as such a character, Foggy has never been like that. Not even in the early years of DD, in which, if memory serves, the only really foolish thing he ever did was posing as Daredevil in order to impress Karen. But apart from that single episode, in the regular series the Fogster has always been shown to be a serious, reliable person, not the "Donald Duck-esque" caricature we're fed here.
Oh, and you'd think that, presented with a situation like this - with the simple young girl uneasy and out of place, things looking to get ugly, your friend taking unreasonable decisions (maybe already a little drunk) - the one friend who's supposed to be wiser would take the situation into his hands, convince everyone to go in a decent place and, later on, give the other friend a good scolding for the poor showing he made.
Think again:

Is there any need I tell you how the game of pool goes? Matt-the-blind breaks, pockets a couple of balls with the breakshot and then proceeds sinking the remaining balls one by one, ending with the black. How obvious.
And how far-fetched. Not exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from a person who seeks to appear like an ordinary blind man to help conceal his secret identity. And, besides that, Matt has never been the type to either show off or to respond to taunts coming from a bunch of scoundrels.

Strangely enough - but at the same time conveniently enough for this coup-de-theatre to fit into the plot - Foggy doesn't ask himself too many questions on how his blind friend can be a pool wizard. As many fanfiction writers surely know, one of the difficulties of writing stories set in Matt's past consists in the fact that his identity and powers were still a secret to his closest friends, and so there's this always present discrepancy between how his friends see him (as a friend with a disability) and how he really is (a blind man with superpowers that allow him to do things entirely out of the ordinary).
In here, Loeb takes this complexity and throws it all out of the window with great nonchalance. After all, in this miniseries, Foggy is a simpleton who invites a timid girl and his blind friend in a stinkhole of bar to gamble with lowlifes, and Karen is a pretty airhead whose only function in the scene is to hold the main character's jacket while he deals with the baddies and to stare in amazement at his display of coolness.

It is not clear if they leave right after the game or if they actually spend sometime in the bar and have something as they were supposed to do initially. It would be weird if they didn't, but no hint in this sense is given. The scene cuts to them outside, preparing to leave for their homes. Foggy (coherently with the dickery he's showed beforehand, if nothing else) privately asks Matt if he minds if he takes Karen home in a taxi. Matt agrees, telling them that he feels like going home on his own.
As the taxi is about to leave, Karen worries about Matt being on his own:

But it doesn't matter. Matt is the tough guy of the situation here. What really matters is that the poor sweet thingy has hiccups. One more chance to impress her! And what better way of boring the crap out of a ladyimpressing a lady than telling her a good old granny's remedy to make hiccups go away? On a side note, I don't know if doing all that crap he suggests actually works, but I bet that in the time needed to grab a knife, take a lemon, cut a wedge of lemon and go to your neighbor's to ask him if he has some Worcestershire sauce to lend you, it is very likely that the hiccups has gone away on its own.

Well, after that, Matt is left alone in the deserted street in front of the café. I still think it was quite stinky (and out of character) of Foggy to leave his blind friend alone in a street of New York, by night, just so that he could stay alone with the pretty girl.

"Well, maybe they've already done so in the past" you might think "and Foggy is confident that really, Matt is a rather independent person despite his blindness, and that he won't have any trouble to get home on his own".
Think again:

Yeah. The lowlifes Foggy has had them meet before have waited outside to ambush them and get their revenge. Who could've thought of that?
Obviously Matt, not being your ordinary blind man, has no problems in defending himself. This leads to another scene with a number of absurdities, but it's better to stop here and leave it for a future entry because the flux of preposterous in this mini is practically continuous.

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