Daredevil: Love and War (Marvel Graphic Novel #24)
Issue(s): Daredevil: Love and War (Marvel Graphic Novel #24)
The story plays on the fact that the Kingpin's wife Vanessa has been semi-comatose for a long time. Since Frank Miller's first Daredevil run, in fact.
So he kidnaps the wife of a psychiatrist, Paul Mondat, to force him to heal Vanessa. Kingpin says he couldn't have simply hired the psychiatrist because he wants the guy to work like his (wife's) life depended on it. What's interesting is that Dr. Mondat does not accept his victim status and instead decides that Vanessa is his "weapon".
He's aided by the fact that Vanessa's mental state is at least partially due to the fact that she feels trapped by her husband's crime empire and wants to escape.
So while this is nominally a Daredevil story, he's really not needed since Dr. Mondat essentially defeats the Kingpin on his own.
You'd think Daredevil would at least have to rescue the two and help them escape, but while he does infiltrate the Kingpin's building, he finds that after Mondat's coup, it's basically unguarded, with the Kingpin allowing Mondat to take Vanessa away. It's actually kind of anti-climactic from that point of view, especially after a lot of build-up to Daredevil's break in.
The rest of the issue is filled with scenes concerning Dr. Mondat's wife, Cheryl, who is blind. The actual kidnapper is a low level psycho and drug addict named Victor, depicted with a baboon face.
Miller does a great job giving Victor a memorable personality. "--her name is Cheryl Mondat. Not Monday which is the name of a day. She's a looker. She's blind so that's a funny thing to say". "Not Monday. Mondat. I wrote it down. On a card". And when he knocks her out with chloroform: "She slumps against me. I only touch her face. Nothing like that." But he does become obsessed with her, despite her being a "married woman", and after Daredevil rescues her, he transfers that obsession to other women, including his sister and a cleaning lady.
Despite being crazy he's smart enough to figure out the connection between Daredevil and the law firm of Nelson and Murdock, and he eventually makes his way to Matt Murdock's home, where Daredevil has been keeping Cheryl. Victor breaks in while Daredevil is out, but Cheryl kills him with a fireplace poker.
One thing i'm not particularly thrilled about is the dialogue of Turk, who plays his typical bumbling stoolie role in this story. His ebonics-ish dialect is more pronounced here than his appearances in previous issues of the regular Daredevil series, and to my ears at least, his "Guess we partners now" and "Gots to use the can, man" and "I hates to beg" are kind of offensive. Maybe it was different when Mr. T was on television. And it's arguably realistically the way a streetwise thug would talk. But when the only non-white character in a story is being written as even more of a stereotype than usual, it makes me uncomfortable.
One thing's for sure, though. Victor is a straight-up racist.
The ending here represents a real blow to the Kingpin.
Someone should look into whether or not the Kingpin's choice of clothing had anything to do with Vanessa leaving him.
It's said that the Kingpin will never see his wife again (and look, the kitten's ok!).
However, the events here will be reversed in the final issue of Gang War in Amazing Spider-Man. It seems that plotting for that series didn't take this Graphic Novel into account, and so Vanessa appeared in that series still comatose. Then someone must have pointed out that this issue had Vanessa leaving the Kingpin and instead of just saying that this story takes place after Gang War, the final issue of Gang War has the Kingpin revealing that after Vanessa left for Europe with Dr. Mondat, he had her followed and then later, when there was a threat to her life, he had her brought home, and he's subsequently been keeping her drugged to prevent her from leaving. Those are some interesting choices on the part of Christopher Priest, but to make matters worse, the Amazing Spider-Man issue also shows that the Kingpin has a drawer full of the amulets that you see above, and when he breaks one he just pulls another one out. Dealing with the logistics of Vanessa's location is one thing, but Priest seems to have deliberately set out to undermine this story, even having the Kingpin say there, "My crystal image of Vanessa... shattered and ruined. How ridiculously symbolic."
Despite that, this is a strong story and it remains the case that Vanessa has rejected the Kingpin. Even after Gang War, Vanessa is returned to Europe.
Some other odds and ends. We learn that the Kingpin met Vanessa when she was brought to him by some thugs as an offering when he was a "leader of a band of petty thieves". Considering her poise and willingness to stand up to her husband (prior to her experiences in Miller's run), i'd always assumed she was from a rich family.
I like this goofily buff image of Daredevil, as he bursts into Josie's bar. He could give the Tick a run for his money. I assume the idea is to exaggerate what he looks like to the lowlifes at Josie's.
And finally, a cameo by John Garrett, who apparently became a guard in the Kingpin's building after Elektra finished messing with his head in the Elektra: Assassin series. Ok not really.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This definitely has to take place before the Gang War in Amazing Spider-Man #284-288, because that run references the events of this story. The MCP place this between Daredevil #241-242, but it has to take place earlier, prior to Born Again. Matt's home looks like a nice brownstone, not a Hell's Kitchen apartment. Karen Page is nowhere to be seen, which has relevance to the portion where Matt brings Cheryl Mondat home, and why when Matt smells Cheryl's hair he only has to remind himself that she's a married woman and not that he's already in a relationship. Victor also breaks in to the office of Nelson & Murdock, and of course Matt was disbarred during Born Again. It's all circumstantial and i suppose you still could come up with explanations for all that if you had to place this after Born Again, but i don't see a need to do that. In Amazing Spider-Man #288, Kingpin does say that Vanessa left him "recently", but that's a relative term. Foggy Nelson also makes a brief appearance, and he has a mustache...
...placing this before Daredevil #222 (where he shaves it). Vanessa Fisk appears in Web of Spider-Man #2, so this has to appear after that. Placing this directly before Gang War also further undermines the impact of this story, by having the Kingpin essentially pick up Vanessa immediately after she leaves, and not really leaving enough time for him to have her tracked for a while and then respond to the threat on her life.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showDaredevil, Foggy Nelson, Josie (Bar owner), Kingpin, Paul Mondat, Turk, Vanessa Fisk
One issue with this story- Miller describes it as taking place on the Kingpin's 20th wedding anniversary. Is Richard Fisk really supposed to be less than 20 at the point?
Posted by: Michael | April 3, 2014 9:19 PM
Dr. Mondat isn't listed- he has an appearance later on in Chicester's run.
Posted by: Michael | April 3, 2014 10:08 PM
It's possible Richard was born before they married? It's been know to happen... ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 4, 2014 1:17 AM
Wow, I never even considered that anyone would think this took place after Born Again. It always seemed obvious to me that the events of this story are what pushes Kingpin to take horrible revenge on Daredevil, after some time of relative peace.
I don't honestly think there is a better Marvel run than Miller's 1st DD run, but if one were to think of his second run as consisting not only of Born Again but also this and Elektra: Assassin, it's truly a worthy follow-up.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | April 4, 2014 1:17 AM
I think the artist got the Kingpin mixed up with the Slug.
Now this would have scared me as a kid. I remember reading a Cloak and Dagger graphic novel where this creepy purple guy with coils fed off people in a hospital or something. that scared me too, that was my introduction to Cloak and Dagger so I was surprised when they popped up in Spidey with slightly less vicious personalities. Maybe I can dig out the graphic novel.
Posted by: David Banes | April 4, 2014 4:22 AM
@Michael, i've added Paul Mondat. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 4, 2014 7:41 AM
Interesting to see that shitty comicbook art wasn't only from the 90's till the present.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 7, 2014 11:27 AM
This GN was briefly announced as just "The Kingpin".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 7, 2014 2:18 PM
Looks like someone's trolling in the hopes that they'll get somebody to step forward and defend Bill Sienkiewickz.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 8, 2014 1:28 AM
If that comment was directed at me and not at the others making fun of the art, no i dont think i'm a troll and i definitely dont want to hear anyone's defense of that "art". I was just expressing surprise that the degredation of marvel art started so early.
Last thing in the world i want to do is turn fjord's site into a message board, so if you don't like my opinion of the art, just pretend you didn't see my comment and everybody's happy.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 8, 2014 1:49 AM
Cheryl Mondat isn't listed either. Whatever happened to her? Did Dr. Mondat run off with Vanessa Fisk, and essentially leave his OWN wife?
Posted by: bloodyarts | April 20, 2015 7:38 PM
I was always intrigued here that one of Kingpin's hired goons looked a lot like Garrett, the SHIELD/ CIA cyborg, which I'm sure can't have been a coincidence. Was this more CSA wheeling-and-dealing, just like their leasing of Nuke to Fisk in #230? Do we think Miller had a story planned here?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 20, 2015 8:13 PM
@bloodyarts - i believe that this is Cheryl Mondat's only appearance so i wouldn't list her in the Characters section. But i had to be told that Paul Mondat appears again (even though i did read parts of Chichester's run in realtime), so i won't know for a while if it's explained what happened to his wife.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 20, 2015 8:49 PM
Comments are now closed.
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