Issue(s): Daredevil #236
...and bringing up Nuke...
...and i'm immediately looking for a connection to Weapon X. There isn't one, and i'd say this is much more of an Ann Nocenti comic than a Barry Windsor-Smith comic, despite his distinctive art style. And it is Nocenti at her Nocenti-est, as we'll see.
This was meant to be a fill-in waiting for Steve Englehart's run but developments in this issue derailed Engleharts plans, and next issue, Englehart's first, turned out to be a one-shot instead (as per that Comic Book Legends post, the fact that he was "[a]lready feeling pressure from following one of the most acclaimed Daredevil stories ever" was another factor), with Nocenti then becoming the regular writer on the title. Englehart says himself that "an editor took it for herself", which is a slightly different interpretation of events. Anyway, we'll focus on that more next issue.
This issue, the plot is for Black Widow, who is working for an unnamed agency or company at this time (Natasha will later tell Daredevil that this assignment is part of a "cushy private job" that "should keep me in Mercedes and sables for years", but she is possibly lying), to find a rogue super-soldier that her employers had developed but went AWOL after hearing about the Nuke incident, and is in danger of causing an incident of his own. The agent is named Jack Hazzard. The Black Widow's mission is to convince Hazzard to kill himself or, failing that, murder him.
Widow is also dealing with some hostile working conditions. Someone's HR department needs to implement some sensitivity training.
Hazzard winds up in Hell's Kitchen, and we find that his abilities are very different than Nuke's. Despite having a soldier's physique and training, Hazzard's special ability is more mental: a limited form of telekinesis that stops people's hearts (in fact, the name of the program that developed Hazzard was Project Heart Attack). When Hazzard kills a guy on the street selling fireworks (it's "always Independence Day in New York")...
...Daredevil gets involved.
Widow and Daredevil meet and compare notes, with Black Widow explaining the situation (and, as mentioned above, not being 100% clear on who she's working for)...
...and also apologizing for not being around to help him when the Kingpin was tearing down his life.
Notice, though, that Widow is eying Daredevil's devil mask while they are talking. Widow had been briefed with the info that Hazzard was an extremely religious man. Widow was originally telling Daredevil that she didn't want him to come along, but she suddenly changes her mind.
Hazzard is in Hell's Kitchen because he wanted to see his mother, who lives in the building that Nuke's handler's helicopter crashed into (and hasn't been removed from yet).
After talking with his elderly and not-fully-there mother, he's left alone with a nephew while she goes to work, and Hazzard delivers a long monologue to the boy.
Widow and DD arrive and Hazzard attacks them on the roof. Daredevil's devil costume immediately sets off the psychotic Hazzard, who thinks he's facing the real devil.
Daredevil deduces that the Black Widow deliberately set things up that way to provoke Hazzard to commit suicide.
And while that doesn't immediately work, Hazzard eventually forces Black Widow to kill him.
From there, it's like an LSD flashback, except instead of a psychedelic trip we have Nocenti's characteristic metaphorical commentary about fireworks.
Holy god, i can tell i am in for a long run with Ann Nocenti's Daredevil.
We're left with a vision of Hazzard's nephew following in his footsteps.
Despite my... reactions to Nocenti's writing style, there's a lot to like about this issue. It definitely feels more relevant than it ought to thanks to my imagined associations with Weapon X and the Super-Soldier program (in truth i don't think we'll ever hear about Project Heart Attack again, although per Michael's comment the doctor will appear again), and in any event Nocenti has a lot of commentary mixed in with an interesting meeting between DD and the Widow. For what was meant to be a fill-in, it's a strong issue.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This should take place after West Coast Avengers annual #1, since Black Widow was feeling guilty about not reaching out to Daredevil during his Born Again trials and she addresses that here. Because of that and the fact that Daredevil #238 takes place during the Mutant Massacre, there's a tight timeline here, with this issue possibly occurring during the Massacre as well or maybe during the events in Central Park.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
We'll be seeing Project Reptile and Dr. Strike again in issue 247.
Posted by: Michael | January 17, 2014 7:58 PM
According to Marvel Wiki (http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Tommy_(Earth-616)), Hazzard's nephew is the same character as a boy that was saved by Beast back in X-Men #8.
Posted by: KombatGod | December 31, 2016 12:59 PM
Ok, that apparently was a mistake, they split the two character pages.
Posted by: KombatGod | June 1, 2017 1:34 PM
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