Amazing Spider-Man 395: I can recognise your mouth, nose, chin and voice, what the hell?

  

Credits: J M DeMatteis writer, Mark Bagley pencils, Larry Halsted in inks and edited by Danny Fingeroth.

Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Daredevil (who apparently isn’t Matthew Murdock?), Mary Jane Watson- Parker, her sister Gayle, Leland ‘The Owl’ Owlsley and Adrian ‘The Vulture’ Toombs.

Plot: Two men in an alley are talking about a mutual acquaintance who isn’t going straight, without warning they are both attacked by the ‘New’ Daredevil. He’s looking for Leland ‘The Owl’ Owlsley and beats the pair to a bloody pulp before he accepts they don’t know anything. After the dust settles Daredevil announces that he knows he has been followed and Spider-Man drops down and tells Daredevil that he needs a friend and that one of his oldest friends is Matt Murdock, whom Spider-Man knows to be this ‘New’ Daredevil.

Subplot time and at Gayle’s house, Mary Jane is at the back door remembering her childhood, from the flashbacks, we see that these aren’t particularly happy memories. Gayle comes out to join her and the two become closer.

 

Elsewhere in the city, the subject of Daredevil’s search Leland ‘the Owl’ Owlsley is perched high up, wondering what to do, either to embrace his recently reawakened conscience and humanity, or once more be the more savage Owl. As he flies, he is joined by the recently rejuvenated Vulture, whom Owlsley has recently sought out.

Daredevil refuses to acknowledge that he is Matt Murdock, even to the point of violence against Spider-Man, who much like Owlsley is desperate to shed his humanity and identity of Peter Parker, to live as his alter-ego full time. Daredevil tells him to just do it, bury Peter Parker and never look back, or at least he says that it’s what Matt Murdock would say, but he of course isn’t Matt Murdock. The tension gone, the pair go out to find the Owl.

The Owl is trying to find a way to walk away from his ife, the Vulture’s response is to use an experimental military-made virus to kill anyone who knows who Leland Owlsley or Adrian Toombs (the Vulture’s real name) to the extent of using birds as a delivery system for the virus.

 

Appalled by both plan and the testing of the virus on a homeless man, the Owl leaves, only to be cornered by Spider-Man and Daredevil. Before either side can do anything, a pidgeon (?) clips Spider-Man’s neck with it’s claws and as the Owl flies off, unwilling to share what he knows about the birds, Spider-Man starts to feel the virus being to work as he falls to the floor.

Notes: While I have since read a lot of Daredevil and am fairly well versed in much of the character’s past, this was not the case when I first read this issue back in the 90’s. As a result, I was dependent on this comie to introduce me to Daredevil and in that this issue does the job very well. In the Silver Age, there was a lot of crossover with Spider-Man, in that they were both fairly upbeat swash-buckling types, but as Frank Miller re-wrote how you do Daredevil in the Bronze Age and beyond, they now work more as opposites. Spider-Man is all fighting to save people and is very outgoing, Daredevil is more brutal and whatever line he has regarding excessive use of force is a lot more extreme than Spider-Man’s. In this era, Matt has faked his death and is pretending to be a different Daredevil and that’s kind of where this issue starts to fail a bit. He moves like the old DD, talks like the old DD and what little face you would see is the same as DD. The conceipt that someone wouldn’t identify you apart from the mask is one thing, you accept that as part of the suspension of disbelief that comics need for you to buy into the stories, but surely he’d still be recognised as Daredevil. That takes some of the drama out of his interactions with Spider-Man, since you know it’s the same guy, DD knows he’s the same guy and Spider-Man spent three days, seriously three days, working out it’s the same guy, so everytime he denies it, makes it all the more silly, in a story that begs to be treated more seriously.

The Owl’s team up with Vulture is also a little bit on the flimsy side, with no real objectives in common beyond the hand-waviest of hand-wavy reasons. This more serial-killer side of this younger Vulture does seem at odds with the older version who whilst not being a particularly nice person, saw violence as part of his job, or a means with which to cement a tough reputation, but here he seems willing to murder a hell of a lot of people. The virus McGuffin is a bit tired at this point, but it does seem to give the story a bit of a cliffhanger and some much needed jeopardy. It’s all a bit 3rd chapter out of 4, but it’s not giving me anything to latch onto, there’s only enough silliness to take me out of the story, not enough to find it funny. The only positive is that I have a 3.75 inch action figure of that Daredevil costume, so it was nice to see on the page.

Writing: J M DeMatteis nails the dialogue and the psychological points he needs to, but the overall story seems false. 2 out of  5

Art: Bagley is in his element here, with lots of movement, lots of action and a chance for him and Halsted to shine. 4 out of 5:

Overall: In the end this is a bit of a missed opportunity, art and dialogue working well, but this is very much the whole being less than the sum of it’s parts. 6 out of 10.

Next Time: We return to the Age of Apocalypse and Gambit decides to start stealing on a galactic scale.

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