Issue(s): Daredevil #202
A recent expedition of Belgian geologists has discovered a tribe called the Kinjorge at Mount Suruba (not a real place) in Eastern Africa. The tribe is made up of the descendants of British explorers who went to Africa in 1775 and reverted to "savagery". They've been brought to New York and are being hosted by a Professor Horatio Piper, who brings them to Nelson and Murdock for legal representation.
The tribe's leader is Micah Synn.
Synn's wives laugh at Matt and Becky because they are both handicapped. We get some more insight into how the Kinjorge do things soon afterward.
He doesn't care (in fact, he snickers) when his wife gets killed in a car crash.
But he doesn't like that cop who pepper-sprayed him (the lettercol in issue #206 confirms a coloring error in the scene with the police above where it looks like both a black and white cop are beating Micah down, but it's really just supposed to be the one guy that Micah shoves out the window here). Luckily Daredevil is around.
Daredevil says that he does have "basic" but "ugly" emotions, and says he may be the most dangerous man he ever met.
Frankly, it's a brilliant plot that examines how a group of people completely unfamiliar with modern civilization but nonetheless strong, intelligent, and self-sufficient would interact with us soft modern folk. The plot will continue to look at the degree to which civilization softens our self-serving survival instincts. So it really is a "nature of man" plotline that's being set up. And it's done very well.
And by having the "savages" be descendants of a group of white Europeans, it avoids any racial implications.
That said, with this issue i'm beginning to get concerned regarding O'Neil's treatment of women.
Foggy has had the sign on the door to Nelson & Murdock's office re-lettered to make his name more prominent.
He says it's because Matt has been "traipsing around the world" while Foggy's been holding down the fort. He seems to forget that Matt was (theoretically) taking a vacation because he had a concussion from the dynamite that got thrown at him when Foggy's wife wouldn't let Foggy warn Matt that he was in danger.
In reality, Foggy's wife is behind the sign change. Debbie Harris was never depicted as being a Lady Macbeth type before, but that's clearly what's being set up here, and it will continue in future issues in exaggerated proportions. By itself it's not the end of the world, except that Harris has been around a while and hasn't exhibited these types of traits.
But then you get this:
Really? He can brutalize me any old time he wants?!? Holy crap! And don't tell me that someone, somewhere might actually say something like that. The point of this scene is to inform the reader of Synn's animal magnetism (and that will have implications for Harris in the upcoming storyline as well), and those women are meant to be "everywomen" characters, not weird outliers. Really awful.
If you can ignore that, this was a great set-up issue.
As for the Assistant Editors' Month segment, it's an unfunny story about a kid who dresses up like Daredevil for show and tell (J.A. Morris points out on his blog post - linked in the comments - that this kid is Dirk McGirk, a recurring character in Marvel's comedy book, Crazy). And the real Daredevil shows up, throwing Turk through the school room window.
I can't help thinking about this in the context of that letter that was included in issue #197. Here's Daredevil beating up on Turk with no explanation and saying, "When I punch you you're supposed to stick around and thank me...". I know it's just a bad attempt at humor. But it seems gratuitous.
I know i'm being pretty PC with this entry. I won't make a habit of it.
(Maybe it's wrong of me, but i can't give a higher rating due to that "brutalize" panel.)
Quality Rating: C+
Historical Significance Rating: 2 - first Micah Synn
Chronological Placement Considerations: Tony Stark appears in Daredevil #204 between Iron Man #177-178 so i've pushed Daredevil #202 and #203 back in publication time a bit to accommodate. The MCP includes the appearances in the Assistant Editors' Month segment as "real", so i've included Turk in the Character Appearing section.
Crossover: Assistant Editors' Month
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBecky Blake, Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Micah Synn, Turk
I have a feeling that O'Neil was thinking of Debbie Harris's introduction in Daredevil 10-11, where she initially helped the Organizer in his scheme to become mayor and justified it on the grounds that she was in love with him.
Posted by: Michael | November 23, 2011 12:05 AM
O'neil had a great run on daredevil and Michah Synn was his best creation, especially the way the story unfolded over over 2 years.
And yeah fnord, i think you are really being too sensitive here. Debbie's descent just shows that women can be manipulative, rotten people, just like men. and bystanders was just a throwaway comment.
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 23, 2011 1:06 PM
The thing is, people who say things like that don't think of themselves as weird outliers, and may not present that way otherwise. If you can down a bottle of an antiemetic or otherwise suppress your gag reflex, look at some of the comments you see FROM WOMEN in newspaper stories, on line, or in "person on the street" TV interviews the next time some athlete is accused of rape or domestic abuse.
I don't know enough about any gender issues O'Neill may have, so I'm not necessarily letting him off the hook; but here, I thought he was just effectively and realistically showing the dangerous allure of someone who is physically beautiful, magnetic and masculine in a very old-school way. It's a micro example of what will lead to the ruination of Karen in its macro form.
I wanted to say, also, that I appreciate this site so much. I read Marvel books in that era and had a lot of these. It's a part of my life that is long over (I sold everything many years ago), but there are fond memories, and seeing the artwork really brings it back. Plus, the reviews are so intelligent and well written.
Posted by: Todd K | December 13, 2011 4:48 PM
Correction to above comment: "Debbie" for "Karen."
I always thought penciler William Johnson (of whom I never saw anything else before or after his short DD run) was underrated. Really good kinetic artwork in the panels above.
Posted by: Todd K | December 13, 2011 5:02 PM
Quick note on the "brutalize" comment: critics were quick to note that Chris Brown fans made similar comments after the Rhianna beating incident, and still do, in fact.
Posted by: Ross | September 15, 2012 8:50 PM
I blogged about the 2nd story last week, check it out if you feel like it:
Posted by: J.A. Morris | April 19, 2013 3:53 PM
When Aaron Hernandez, the former football player for The New England Patriots, was arrested for murder and had his mugshot posted, several women on Twitter and Facebook made comments much like the women in this comic.
It's no different than men who don't think of attractive female teachers who have sex with underage boys as sexual predators.
Both are wrong but many people do feel that way. Too many.
I think O'Neil's writing is on point.
Link to Hernandez story
Posted by: A.Lloyd | October 6, 2014 6:06 PM
Comicbook women swooning over a savage? In the real world, Charles Manson still gets marriage proposals sent to his maximum-security prison, as does Scott Peterson, a man on death row for murdering his pregnant wife.
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 5, 2016 7:01 AM
"And by having the "savages" be descendants of a group of white Europeans, it avoids any racial implications."
It is just as racial. One could be offended that the writer portrayed a group of white explorers as savages? I am not offended by the story which is pretty cool but I have to question your statement.
Posted by: Grom | September 9, 2016 12:46 AM
Matt himself is a descendant of white Europeans. A story where the hero as well as the savages are from the same race certainly isn't pigeonholing that race as savages.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 9, 2016 2:21 PM
Maybe people are looking for racial implications and pidgeonholing where there are none.
Posted by: Grom | September 10, 2016 10:36 AM
The point of my original statement was that making the characters white avoided anyone finding racial implications in a "savages from Africa" story where the creators clearly didn't intend any.
If it seems odd to you that people might see black people being depicted as savages differently than if it were white people, i suggest taking your questions to a political forum. I assure you it's not something i made up, and a discussion of the historical reasons is well beyond the scope of this project.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2016 12:05 PM
I read many political forums already and certainly hope this great comic forum which you have created does not become a political one. It is certainly worrying if it has been suggested that fictional villains a hero should fight should always be of the same skin colour lest some people imply racism.
Posted by: Grom | September 11, 2016 3:44 AM
Grom, there is a centuries-old history of racist stereotypes depicting Africans as brutes and savages. This, among other things, was used to justify slavery, as Africans were seen as lesser beings than Europeans. So having a savage, brutish character who comes from Africa be black would only work affirm that racist stereotype. However, there is no such history of racism relating to white Europeans, so having Micah Synn be a descendant of English colonists does not validate any real-world stereotype.
Racism doesn't just work in the here and now, it's always based on the history of how races are depicted and understood. If that history would be erased, so would racism, because people would have no predetermined ideas on "what black people are like", or "what Asians are like", etc. Only in that kind of ahistorical situation would it not matter whether the savage villain of a story was black of white. But because we live in a world where history of how races have been depicted very much affects how they are seen now, it does matter.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 11, 2016 6:15 AM
Well said, Tuomas. I'd also point out that those racist stereotypes and the racist beliefs that black people were somehow "savage" or "subhuman" were also used to justify laws regarding segregation and miscegenation. And those laws were in effect in the South well into the 1960's. Just two decades before the release of this comic.
Posted by: Zeilstern | September 11, 2016 7:33 AM
Guys, fnord asked you politely to drop the subject, regardless of your position.
Posted by: Andrew | September 11, 2016 8:48 AM
Thanks for your articulate response Tuomas. I appreciate it.
Unfortunately slavery and racism involving all races has been around for thousands of years. Many Europeans were slaves about 700-900 years ago. My point is that to move forward people should stop talking about race or looking for racial implications. Morgan Freeman said it well: "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history. The only way to end racism is to stop talking about it. He noted that there is no "white history month."
Be great if sections of society stopped fixating on race.
Posted by: Grom | September 11, 2016 9:17 AM
If he did say drop it, I apologise and will drop it.
Posted by: Grom | September 11, 2016 9:19 AM
Comments are now closed.
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