Daredevil minus Daredevil Part 2: A Gestural Rose-Bush

In regards to Daredevil #270 (Writer Ann Nocenti/Penciler John Romita Jr./Inker Al Williamson)

Ok so yeah here I go.

Daredevil $270 titled “Blackheart” begins with three one page splashes overlaid with very purple prose.

Page 1 is a woman slumped dead on the ground face-forward with blood spattered on the ground and hundreds of crows flying above her.

“In 1658 on the crown of a gentle hill, Abigail Housman was brutally, irreverently murdered.”

Page 2 kids look at a ripped kite and the hill has become shaggy and out of control growing with evil.

“The grass on the crown begin to deepen in color, to a blue-green, and finally a violet.

Page 3 is just a a cool picture of a really scary hill.  You can tell that Romita Jr. and Williamson got into this because splashes of landscapes were not quite a thing in comics till Brian Wood came along with his boner for geography.  This is a really spooky hill made of gesture drawing rose bushes and a sky of tiny wavy lines that I have to figure is a Williamson signature because tiny wavy lines are all over this run of Daredevil.

“Strange plants, with a melancholy beauty–romantic, tragic roses with a thousand thorns for every blossom.”

“Tragic roses”, dig that man.

But yeah, this is rape and murder hill for women and that is some pretty evil shit.  The villain of the piece and I’ll call him that for right this second is collective of conscious evil born from the brutal deaths of women and youth.  But Abigail Housman was the victim that was her blood draining into the ground not her killer’s.  This Blackheart is born of evil acts and victim consciousness and not just that a women’s consciousness.  Blackheart is birthed as rape is about to be committed and instinctively knows he will kill the man but he kills the girl too because he cannot sort out, I guess you would call it his brand of evil?  Mephisto shows up, one of Marvel Comics many versions of Satan, to be clearcut unambiguous evil for Blackheart to play off of.  The nature of evil is discussed here and further on in the story when the two characters return.  This issue is a by itself prologue that takes a while to get back to.

Two things are brought up in this discourse

1)To just kill is common and boring. True or sublime evil is corrupting a good person.

2)”Evil grows and flourishes when hidden and covert, dies when exposed and looked at.” -Mephisto

But! Its time for Daredevil and he is flipping around an out of season amusement park (Coney Island? I can’t tell)and thinking about how his life has been bumming him out because he’s Daredevil and his life is always bumming him out and will forever because he’s a masochist.  Blackheart is there and attacks Daredevil for no real reason except for his instinct to kill good things. As luck would have it Peter Parker is riding by on a bus and sees these shenanigans.

Daredevil and Blackheart fight and Daredevil is outmatched because he doesn’t have super strength.  Spider-Man leaps into the match more physically equal to the challenge.  Spider-Man and Daredevil are in strong contrast here.  Daredevil becomes winded during the fight while Spider-Man doesn’t.  Daredevil becomes susceptible to Blackheart’s influence and wants to kill him while Spidey is not affected and is able to act with conscience   Here’s the thing though the main difference between Spider-Man and Daredevil is that Spider-Man had three comic books coming out about him at that time (Amazing, Spectacular, and Web of…)to Daredevil’s one.  Spider-Man had stopped becoming a sum total of his experiences the linear experience of life had long since left him leaving him here to act as a moralistic constant since nothing ever happens to him except being a superhero and all he ever does is fight and fight forever without thinking. Nocenti only presents action into the story when it means something or will mean something but here it’s because it means nothing and that will matter later on. The consequences of violence matter.

Blackheart slinks back into his hill to gestate again unable to comprehend his existence, hating to act on instinct he doesn’t understand.

Note that Daredevil had nothing to do with the story of Blackheart he just crossed into his path.  Throughout these issues Daredevil is subject to wandering into other stories and becoming victim to them never rising to become the lead in his own title in this story again after this issue.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011

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