Characters Appearing: Alfred Coppersmith, Daredevil, Kingpin, Punisher, Typhoid Mary
Issue(s): Daredevil #257
Daredevil's method for hunting down the killer doesn't involve Jehovah's Witnesses. He detects "an oil used by weightlifters" on the tampered aspirin bottles, and then he goes and talks to the "oldest employee" at Zum and finds out that a guy named "Alf" was recently displaced by machines.
This is the start of an incredible effort to add nuance to the character of Alfred Coppersmith, who was depicted as a straight-up villain in the Punisher issue.
Meanwhile, unlike in Mike Baron's Punisher issue, Coppersmith is giving a stream-of-Nocentisms monologue while he works out.
When Daredevil catches up with Coppersmith and the Punisher, it's again full of Coppersmith's narration instead of the near-silent Punisher version.
I wondered about Punisher throwing the fight in the Punisher comic. At least by Coppersmith's narration, that doesn't seem to be the case here.
The scene with Coppersmith trying to get into the fight is funnier here.
After the fight's over, Matt Murdock convinces Coppersmith to let him help with his defense (choosing my words carefully since Matt is actually disbarred at this point, so he can't be Coppersmith's lawyer, although that's not something that's mentioned here).
I don't think Nocenti's attempt at showing another side to Coppersmith works very well. I mean, we can all sympathize with someone who has lost their job to automation. I ramble about it regularly on my main blog. And if Coppersmith had been specifically targeting Zum, i could see a more lenient approach here being appropriate. But he was killing random people! That's not a protest, and i have a hard time buying "temporary insanity" as an excuse. That's just someone who's completely lost his moral bearing. The idea that he should be able to go to prison for ten years while studying computers and then get out on parole makes me want to take the Punisher's side of this argument. At least Murdock is saying ten years in jail and not that a temporary insanity defense will get him out right away. But he killed at least four people, according to the Punisher issue. More to the point, it's not about the amount of time served, just the idea that Nocenti thinks that there's a twist here or that this guy is deserving of some sympathy because of how he lost his job.
Even with the crossover, Nocenti doesn't neglect the Typhoid Mary portion of the plot. Typhoid arranges for her "Mary" persona to show up at the Kingpin's place.
Later, Typhoid forces her way back to dominance...
...and goes to see what the Kingpin thought about that.
Despite my misgiving's about Nocenti's ending for Coppersmith, it's still nice to see JRJR's version of the Punisher/Daredevil fight, and the Typhoid Mary subplot continues to be interesting.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue actually starts with the Punisher shooting up a crackhouse (my reprint oddly cuts two pages of it, leaving only the opening splash panel. You'd think that if they were going to cut anything from a Punisher vs. Daredevil it would be one of the unrelated Typhoid Mary pages. Not that i'd want them to cut any of it.), and reporters ask Daredevil about that before they ask him about the aspirin killer. So technically the Punisher appearance at the beginning of this issue takes place prior to Punisher #10. But this issue also goes longer beyond the end of Punisher #10 and shows what happens to Al Coppersmith after Daredevil takes him away. So i've placed this after the Punisher issue. The stories should be understood to be taking place concurrently, in any event.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Punisher vs. Daredevil #1 (2000)
I agree with you that Nocenti's effort at "understanding" here might be both heavy-handed and wrongheaded, but bearing in mind that this is fiction, I also think I'm a little bit more sympathetic to what she's doing. Part of what helped create the receptive cultural context for 'vigilante anti-heroes' was this notion that we (real-life America) are infected and surrounded by unhinged psychopaths who just kill babies for thrills. While it's true that people like that existed, if you judged the actual situation from crime TV, "news" specials, films and novels at the time, there was a new Zodiac Killer or Ed Gein every week. In order for Punisher to have a monthly series where he's portrayed as 'heroic'(while accumulating quite a body count), the population of Morally Reprehensible Demons With No Redeeming Qualities - who Only Understand Lethal Force - must continue to rise.
Posted by: Cullen | June 26, 2014 9:10 PM
Cullen, if that's a rant, feel free to rant more. And i actually agree with your main point, but that's why i'm disappointed that Nocenti chose this character/situation to do this with (although maybe she was handed this plot and it was her only opportunity to do a twist on a Punisher story). I also agree that at least it's not the old standby of "he was abused as a child". But she's still asking us to basically feel sad for a serial killer because he had a bad day at the office (i'm overstating for effect). And that's exactly how the "bleeding heart liberal" stuff got laughed at and dismissed.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 9:24 PM
As soon as I read the part where Matt tells him to plead insanity, he lost my respect and he became another "shark" lawyer. I can't feel any sympathy for a man that went around killing the public. Like fnord12 said, if he was targeting Zum, I might have felt a bit of sympathy but I still wouldn't agree with the insanity plea.
Posted by: JSfan | June 28, 2014 5:14 AM
The colorist seems a bit confused; part of the Kingpin's word balloon in that last scan was colored pink(unless that was deliberate to show Typhoid controlling him).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 28, 2014 5:09 PM
It's weird how times change- Nocenti thought she was being liberal by portraying Coppersmith sympathetically. Nowadays, someone like him would be probably be depicted as abusing his wife/girlfriend even before he lost his job.
Posted by: Michael | April 22, 2018 6:41 PM
Comments are now closed.
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