Issue(s): Daredevil #95, Daredevil #96
Not only are all your so-called "heroes" male supremacists, but practically all your female characters are portrayed from the male chauvinist's idea of what a woman should be like.
The response, i think, is an enlightened admission:
It's true, for instance that Marvel would probably never portray a racist, black or white, as a hero. But there's one major difference between racism and sexism: racism is accepted, even by those who practice it, as wrong. Sexism, on the other hand, is often difficult to discern. Gerry actually admits that he didn't realize DD was treating the Widow in a sexist manner until a spate of letters like yours convinced him to re-examine their relationship!
I don't agree with everything above, but i still think this was a great response. And we already started to see some evidence of that turnaround in the previous arc. In practice, so far it's meant the Black Widow and other female super-heroes shouting Women's Lib slogans in battle but that's about it.
This issue tries to go a little further with that, and almost - almost! - makes it.
It's the return of the Man-Bull, who is currently in prison. But he learns from an issue of the Daily News that Daredevil is now in San Francisco (note the announcement of a series by Sergius O'Shaughnessy, Denny O'Neil's pen-name).
This causes the Man-Bull to accelerate his plans for revenge. He was going to wait until he was out on parole before going after Daredevil, but now that he knows that DD has moved from New York to San Francisco... well, i don't know how to finish that sentence, but for some reason he thinks it means he can't wait any longer.
Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is getting set up in his new office with Jason Sloan.
The Man-Bull tries to draw Daredevil out by rigging an incident with a runaway car, but it's the Black Widow who first encounters the Man-Bull, and she has a decent showing...
...but has to leave the scene because Ivan is injured.
The next time the Man-Bull surfaces, both Daredevil and the Widow are there to fight him. But Daredevil is shot by the Man-Bull's henchman, and injured badly.
This sets up the next issue which is largely a Black Widow solo story. And it starts off pretty well, with the Widow getting to be a badass (and thanks for that strategically placed dialogue bubble)...
...and Daredevil being the damsel in distress.
Natasha has to let the Man-Bull go so that she can get help for Daredevil. Matt is taken to a hospital where a surgeon saves his life while refusing to take off his mask.
For a deliberate attempt at addressing the complaints of chauvinism, it's all been going well so far, but things take a dive during the Black Widow's final match with the Man-Bull. The Man-Bull and his henchman ("Itch") and the scientist that created the formula that transformed him have a scheme to poison the city's water supply, turning everyone into Man-Bulls (I presume that they won't necessarily have the original's power, although that's not clear; if they do, it seems like a scheme that could backfire very badly). And the Black Widow swings by while they are about to poison the water, but she swings off as if she doesn't see them, so the bad guys think they are safe. But then, after they poison the water, she shows up with an "Aha! Did you really think i didn't see you?!" type of thing. Except... it's too late now. We've got Man-Bull poisonings!
So she's already not looking so smart. And then she just gets trounced in the final fight.
That's it. She's out of commission for the rest of the issue. Who saves the day? The guy that just took a bullet and is, what, hours? minutes? out of surgery.
I'm sure some readers here probably think i go overboard with the feminist angle, and to be fair a comic needs some drama and the titular character (or co-titular character) deserves to get his licks in too. But after how many issues of the Black Widow taking something of a background role, it would have been nice to see her get the full star treatment and save the day here. And we were so close!
In addition to the focus on the Widow, Conway also introduces a female reporter named Lucretia Jones who is tired of getting all the human interest assignments but gets the Man-Bull story.
It's not clear from the coloring of the first issue, but in issue #96 we see she was supposed to be black, too.
Not much is done with her here, although she will appear again, but it's interesting to see Conway adding a female character and some feminist workplace politics into the background. Dude was trying!
The Man-Bull is not one of my favorites. He's a goofy looking guy, and this kind of thing isn't a strong point for Gene Colan.
He also has some unbull-like traits. Bulls are vegetarians, right?
And what's with all the drooling?
I mean obviously he's a Man-Bull, so he can eat whatever he wants, and the drool shows that he's a horribly mutated monster, but that actually brings me to my next point.
The weird thing about the Man-Bull's revenge plot is that he claims to be upset over his transformation into a Bull-Man. But he was a human at the beginning of these issues and willingly transformed back into the Man-Bull to escape from prison. So if he really didn't like it, why not just wait out the jail sentence and return to his previous life. I'm not even sure why he was in prison. "I'm sorry i did what i did but i was forcibly transformed into a horrible bull monster at the time" seems like a pretty solid defense.
One thing i really did like was when the Man-Bull turns on "Itch". It was a Mr. Hyde kind of moment.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Daredevil #95 begins with a prologue occurring "one week earlier" showing the Man-Bull's escape from prison.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showBlack Widow, Daredevil, Ivan Petrovitch, Jason Sloan, Lucretia Jones, Man-Bull, Paul Carson, Robert 'Ironguts' O'Hara
It's weird that the response is that Marvel would never portray a racist as a hero. Medusa is openly racist towards non-Inhumans and she's sometimes portrayed as a hero (as opposed to Namor, who's usually an antihero). I guess it's okay to portray racists as heroes, as long as fictional races are involved.
Posted by: Michael | March 23, 2013 4:20 PM
"Jameson Pub. Co"? So Jonah publishes his own rivals?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 23, 2013 4:42 PM
It's possible Jonah had recently bought a rival newspaper. If so, he would keep publishing it until circulation collapses or combines it with the Bugle. Cities used to have multiple newspapers before other media slowly whittled them down.
Posted by: Chris | March 24, 2013 3:26 PM
"Bulls are vegetarians, right?"
The Minotaur of myth certainly wasn't.
And there needs to be a 'What If?' story in which the tainted water turns all of San Francisco into Man-Bulls and Lady-Cows, only to be saved by Rintrah or somebody. Couldn't be any worse than 'Capwolf', right?
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 10, 2016 1:09 PM
That's an... interesting sound effect in the panel where Man-Bull is hitting the police officers.
Posted by: James M | January 18, 2018 6:32 PM
In the UK, that sound effect is sometimes informally used as slang for punching someone, so it's kind of appropriate, though I suspect Conway would not have known that meaning of the word at least.
Not sure how well it was known in '70s America?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | January 19, 2018 11:34 AM
Not well I don't think. Seems plausible that Conway might not have knowin it. I don't recall ever seeing or hearing the word until I started reading English comic writers in the 80s/90s.
Posted by: Holt | January 19, 2018 11:44 AM
My mistake, I thought I was posting on the "Bollox" thread ha. Sorry.
The word it appears you're talking about? It was well known around here in the 70s. (St. Louis area)
Posted by: Holt | January 19, 2018 11:49 AM
Yeah, I suspect it's an example of sneaking filth under the radar that just happens to co-incidentally be fitting (if still crude) to British ears. For that panel only, we can imagine a world where the creators of Viz took over Marvel...
Posted by: James M | January 19, 2018 1:35 PM
Comments are now closed.
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