Issue(s): Daredevil #237
See, i really loved Mr. Soup-oop-oop from Secret Wars, and i was disappointed to learn that outside of that series he was a fairly generic and not crazy villain. It had occurred to me much earlier to find the issues where Dazzler absorbed Klaw and then shot him at Galactus (because, awesome), but it was only after re-reading some later Klaw issues that i thought to wonder if they ever explained why Klaw was once again a regular schemer and not addled. And to Englehart's credit, he does indeed address that this issue.
But before that, let's get back to Englehart's aborted plans. According to the CBR article, Englehart intended to have both Daredevil and Black Widow move back to San Francisco and join the West Coast Avengers and thematically move Daredevil out of his small nook and into the larger super-hero world.
And this issue is clearly designed to set that up. We start with a small time crook mocking Daredevil for being "the Captain America of West 44th".
And then Black Widow shows up. The script has been changed to acknowledge the fact that they had already met last issue, but beyond that things don't seem to have been modified much; Widow mentions the events of Born Again, which is a topic she already discussed last issue.
Englehart seems to be setting up the idea that Daredevil really isn't all that recovered; he's talking about Daredevil and Matt Murdock like they are two separate people and denying that he's lost anything from Kingpin tearing down his life.
Natasha also tries to recruit Daredevil into a strange publicity event organized by a Florida senator that would have Daredevil taking a drug test to make a public statement.
DD is a weird choice for that, but i guess it's not like you could ask Captain America. In any event, Daredevil is opposed to drug testing on ideological grounds...
...and in the ensuing debate Black Widow clunkily puts her foot in her mouth about Karen.
I wondered if the "recruitment" scenes were really about the Widow recruiting for the West Coast Avengers instead of this strange drug testing event, but the crazy-eyed "wahf" of the Senator is drawn in, so she was likely part of the original plot.
Meanwhile Matt returns home to Karen, and it's on their way home from dinner we encounter Klaw. Matt detects a strange frequency and sends Karen away and investigates, and finds Klaw.
In keeping with the theme of the book, Klaw is also looking to elevate himself. After being "perverted" and "inhabited" by the Beyonder, he was returned to Earth, "whole again". And now he's looking for a quick victory to re-establish his cred.
Klaw blames the Beyonder for what was done to him, and doesn't seem to remember that he was a babbling loon even prior to that, or that Dr. Doom cut him up into slices to capture Galactus' power. It's possible he doesn't remember the specifics, or maybe he realizes that a vendetta against Dazzler wouldn't be wise. And he's chosen Daredevil, who is basically at the bottom of the super-hero totem pole, because it should mean an easy victory.
Moreso than Klaw knows, for that matter. Because while Dazzler's sound absorbtion powers make her perfectly designed to easily defeat Klaw, Daredevil's enhanced senses are a liability.
At least until Daredevil finds his way to an electronics shop and locates a tone generator which he can set to the exact frequency that will disrupt the one that Klaw is vibrating at.
The fact that Daredevil is also friends with Klaw's enemy, the Black Panther, was also a minor factor in Klaw's decision to go after Daredevil, but the fact that he would score a quick win was the primary reason. In his next appearance, defending his defeat by Daredevil to an incarnation of the Frightful Four, Klaw will claim that he was still disoriented after the events of Secret Wars. There's no sign of that here.
The story ends with Matt telling Karen that both of them have a chance for a fresh start and that this time they are going to get it right.
Aside from that mention of Hazzard, it doesn't seem like anything in Nocenti's issue would have prevented Englehart's plans here, with that "fresh start" signifying the move to San Francisco and Klaw's "small time" comment clearly rattling Daredevil and making him want to prove himself. I find it difficult to believe that he gave up on writing Daredevil just because of that. I suspect the concern issue that the CBR article mentions in passing, that Englehart had doubts about following Frank Miller's acclaimed run, was actually the bigger factor here and the Nocenti issue was just a good excuse to bail. Englehart would have had a lot to live up to, and his awkward expositional dialogue ("Wait -- what is that toy you hold which I can barely discern in the darkness?") was not going to compare favorably to Miller's.
I don't think having Daredevil go in a more super-hero oriented direction would have been a bad move, but i am glad that Englehart didn't have him and Black Widow join a team of Avengers that already included Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Tigra.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushed back in publication time because Daredevil #238 takes place during the Mutant Massacre.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Maybe Englehart felt that the Hazard story made it difficult for Matt and Natasha to work together. I agree, though, that could have been ignored relatively easily. It's not as jarring as Cly seeming to get over her brother's death in Fingergoth's fill-in and trying to kill Tony in the first story of Micheline and Layton's run.
Posted by: Michael | January 21, 2014 8:54 PM
I'm glad that they didn't do that to WCA. Aside from the lack of firepower on the team, it would essentially split the team in half - those who were sexually involved with Tigra and those who had been sexually involved with Natasha.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 4, 2015 12:43 PM
Huh. When Mark Waid had the man with super-hearing go up against the man made of sound I thought (and they acted like) the two had never met before. Guess I was wrong.
Posted by: Andrew | April 14, 2017 5:19 PM
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