Issue(s): Daredevil #297
It's also worth recognizing that this story is "important" because Marvel has allowed it to be. There have been several stories that have teased a takedown of the Kingpin - especially in Punisher books, but in Spider-Man and even Daredevil as well - but they ultimately concluded with the idea that the Kingpin can't, or shouldn't be, stopped. In the latter case, the reasoning was that if the Kingpin was removed, it would just create a gang war in New York that would hurt ordinary people even more than the Kingpin's organization does. We'll see after this storyline how much that is true, but the fact remains that while other stories had to come up with excuses to maintain the status quo, this story gets its mileage from being allowed to change it. Again, that wouldn't mean much if Chichester and Weeks didn't execute the story well, and they do.
The story starts with Daredevil having broken into the Kingpin's building. He taunts the Kingpin a bit, but the important thing is that he leaves behind the cracked amulet holding a portrait of the Kingpin's wife, Vanessa (from Daredevil: Love and War).
That creates friction between the Kingpin and Typhoid Mary, who the Kingpin is currently sleeping with. And Mary recently just missed a meeting, leading the Kingpin to suspect that she's consorting with his enemies.
The next day, Matt Murdock tries to convince Karen Page to come back to him. And then later he goes after Typhoid Mary, who is currently punishing one of the Kingpin's lieutenants, Jerry 'The Whale' Sabini, for coming up short. The Whale has already had an eye removed for insulting the Kingpin (last arc).
Daredevil leads Mary away from The Whale, and is very aggressive in attacking her.
That aggression takes on a sexual nature.
This snaps Typhoid Mary back into her innocent "Mary" persona, but to seal the deal, Daredevil (seemingly) sleeps with her.
This is clever, in a twisted way. Typhoid Mary's powers seem to come part and parcel with seduction, and she is mentally ill, with a multiple personality disorder. So Daredevil is exploiting that by reversing the roles on her. But of course it's also gross. If he did sleep with her (and that's certainly the implication), that's rape. And the story seems to acknowledge that, with Matt seemingly being disgusted with himself over what he's done.
Matt has also forged papers committing Mary to a mental institution.
So in addition to the moral problems, i have a practical concern. Right now, Typhoid is in her docile Mary persona, but at some point she's going to revert to Typhoid and escape, probably killing people along the way. She really should be put in the Vault. But the idea, i think, is that if she were to be processed via normal legal channels, the Kingpin would be able to get her out. So Daredevil has to take her off the chess board in a way that he isn't aware of. Her unexplained disappearance instead adds to his paranoia.
So it does make a logical sense, but geez, what a line to have the titular character of the book to cross. The closest equivalent i can think of is Manslaughter's rape-y mental attack on Moondragon in Defenders #152 (with the full support of the other Defenders). I suspect that Marvel let this pass less because they were committed to making Daredevil a rapist-for-a-good-cause and more because they didn't really see it as rape. But it's hard to look at those scenes any other way. I do think that Chichester and Weeks get that, although it's possible to interpret the vomit scene as him being disgusted over having to sleep with Mary, especially while he's trying to get back together with Karen. But i'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on that. Daredevil has been repeatedly torn down and is practically as mentally unstable as Typhoid Mary, and i have no problem with him being depicted as being morally compromised as long as the story acknowledges that, which i do think is the case. And beyond that, this is a good opening salvo in Daredevil's attack on the Kingpin.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Despite the fact that i have this storyline in a trade, i'll be covering the issues individually because of how they intertwine with The Name of the Rose in Web of Spider-Man. Time definitely passes between issues. The loss of Typhoid Mary is referenced in Web of Spider-Man #86, so this story takes place prior to that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: The Fall of the Kingpin TPB
Inbound References (1): showDaredevil, Foggy Nelson, Jerry 'The Whale' Sabini, Karen Page, Kingpin, Maltese, Typhoid Mary
I haven't read this issue in twenty years, so I may be getting this wrong, but I don't think Mary's mental illness has been portrayed in a way to indicate she's incapable of consent. Both Typhoid and Mary do seem to act deliberately and in ways that suggest they are in control of their actions, however volatile their emotions might be.
I take DD's disgust with himself not to be out of a realization that Mary can't consent but because he was manipulative and cruel in using seduction as a weapon at all.
Part of the problem in all this is the way Marvel treats mental illness: I don't think we've ever seen a mentally ill character so far in this project who has non-superhero trouble functioning or seems more likely to be the victim than the perpetrator of crime. Usually mental illness in the comics just means you act emotionally extreme or act like a supervillain. Nocenti has tried to get beyond that--I don't recall the "Mad Dog Ward" arc in Spidey well enough to say if she succeeded--and Mary is presented as a very weird character, but still rather closer to Hulk/Banner comic-book mentally ill than like the real thing. That's my reading, anyway.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 21, 2015 5:51 PM
Looking again at the scans, Mary's lack of memory of her time with DD, and the fact that these memory lapses have been characteristic of her, there's a pretty good case that Mary's ability to consent really is impaired. I'm not sure that the creators or editors themselves were clear on what they were doing here, however.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 21, 2015 6:06 PM
Weeks almost seems to be taking JR JR's drawing style as a guide for Mary. Just Mary, though. His other characters look more "traditional."
Posted by: cullen | November 21, 2015 7:44 PM
It seemed pretty clear to me that Typhoid Mary was in charge up until the point they did the deed and she fell asleep. Daredevil speaks of TYPHOID's preconceived notions of what he'd do--and what he wouldn't do and explicitly states he surprised "HER into dropping HER guard"; thus indicating that it was dealing specifically with Typhoid. Indeed, it was by cheating her out of the traditional role of "pursuer" that he brought out a more humane side of her, one which manifests itself in Mary Mezinis. Mary Mezinis may have had no memory of her time with DD, but that only means that the one side of her that may have refused him wasn't there at any point. Typhoid has yearned for Daredevil, she was actually teasing him for a while, and did not become confused until she realized that he wanted her as well; it's not that her ability to consent was impaired, it's just that she was deprived of the thrill of the chase. She was willing to go all the way with Daredevil, it's part of who she is, she was bewildered simply because she was unaccustomed to tenderness. Having experienced it, having gone to sleep in genuine tranquility, she faded away, essentially because she exists to protect Mary from harm, and there was no harm involved.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | April 17, 2018 11:51 AM
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