Yes, it’s time for one of those radar posts again, and we will finally be moving into post-Miller territory, and covering the Daredevil of Denny O’Neil. As we’ll see, there are a couple of noteworthy things about O’Neil’s interpretation of the radar, so let’s get on with the show and tell…
In this scene, from Daredevil #195, with art by Klaus Janson, we see the radar referred to as a “mysterious para-normal signal.” Like others before him, O’Neil clearly thinks of the term “radar” as being just a metaphor and not literally a radar signal, but it’s the first time I can remember seeing it described as para-normal. There is no doubt that the event that gave Matt his heightened senses was a supernatural event – in the sense that it couldn’t happen in our own universe – but earlier descriptions of the radar have suggested either radio waves, sound waves, or Miller’s “proximity sense” which was described as having a natural origin. Using the term para-normal suggests something a little closer to a sixth sense rather than the hard-to-pin-down yet definitely physical sense we’ve seen so far. A similar description of the radar sense occurs later in a different issue as well. Of note is also, the notion that this signal is sent forth on command, a description which also recurs later in O’Neil’s run.
The scene above, from Daredevil #198, with art by William Johnson, gives another example of something that will continue to be very common throughout the O’Neil run, that is Matt’s ability to detect things through walls, and often at distances much greater than simply the next room. This is hardly new, but O’Neil makes frequent use of this ability.
In Daredevil #204, with art by Luke McDonnell, Matt is shown picking up an intruder. This panel is included here more for the strange “third eye” artistic representation than anything else, though it also features the, by now, pretty typical delayed radar reaction, where the impressions are perceived more as an afterthought than as a primary sensation.
Above, in Daredevil #206, with art by David Mazzucchelli, we see Daredevil perform a nice radar-related trick when he notices the knife in someone’s pocket. Regardless of the interpretation, it makes sense that Matt would be able to sense a hard object on a person’s body, though how he knows the hand is mother of pearl remains a mystery to me. Does mother of pearl have a distinct smell?
As mentioned above, O’Neil often showed Daredevil scanning large areas and “seeing” past walls. Above is one such example, from Daredevil #207, with art by William Johnson.
Included for both the artistic representation and the unusual wording, the above panel, from Daredevil #207, with art by William Johnson, shows Daredevil taking a look at a rather crude scene. The use of the term “radar hearing” is also curious, but hardly new. Long before Brian Michael Bendis dropped the radar sense proper and replaced it with a sum of all senses, the occasional writer would talk about “radar hearing” or “radar senses” (plural). This may not fit with O’Neil’s earlier description, but writers being inconsistent in the radar department is hardly new either.
In Daredevil #210, with art by David Mazzucchelli, we get a look at the god Mow, the deity of choice for the Kingore tribe. Matt gets an impression of it that is fairly typical of the O’Neil run. While the range and ability to look beyond solid objects comes across as impressive, the radar i clearly shown as being more crude than vision would be. When coming face to face with this alien object, it takes a little deductive reasoning before Matt realizes what it is he’s “looking” at.
Daredevil #211 gives yet another example of how the artist, in this case David Mazzucchelli, can draw the objects perceived through the radar. This type of outline has, of course, been seen before, and looks similar to how Frank Miller would draw the radar. This scene also features another O’Neil trademark in that he would often have Matt deconstruct a scene as seen here.
All writers occasionally find themselves in situation where the radar needs to be played down a bit in order to challenge the main character. Here, in Daredevil #212, with art by David Mazzucchelli, Matt finds his radar sense confused by some bushes. Isn’t it odd how someone who can “see” through walls can’t see through leaves? Personally, I would prefer a happy medium in this case, but, as promised in the first installment of this series, I’ll try to keep my personal opinions out of it for the time being. 😉
In the next issue, Daredevil #213, with art by David Mazzucchelli and Danny Bulanadi, Matt is back to seeing through metal and cement. Question: If someone waved some branches in front of him, would he still be able to spy on our underground suspects? Okay, there I go with the sarcasm again…
What is is with Matt Murdock and vegetation? In Daredevil #216, with art by David Mazzucchelli, he finds himself in a flower store, and once again taken out of commission. This time it’s both the scent and the “floral pieces.”
In Daredevil #221, we see the by now regular penciler David Mazzucchelli try something new in the art department with a rather blurry and crude rendition of a knight.
In the same issue, we see a half-naked Daredevil have his trip to Venice go from bad to worse when a medieval caste threatens to fall on top of him. Again, we have the radar sense looking confused. On the other hand, the noise and chaos of falling rock makes this more understandable than the less threatening situations we’ve seen above.
Daredevil #222, with art by David Mazzucchelli, sees our hero back in a challenging environment that does look a little worse than the flower store. It makes sense that someone whose spatial perceptions are based on echoes (whether these, in turn, as based on sound or some other form of energy) would feel more comfortable in a city with hard straight lines than out in the woods. The rain, too, is another old enemy out on the battle field.
We’ll end this post with Denny O’Neil’s last issue, Daredevil #226. It was co-written by Frank Miller and lead directly into Born Again. The art is by David Mazzucchelli. This also brings us back to the very first panel. Once again, Daredevil is shown “letting the waves out” as an act of will, similar to what we saw in the beginning of the post. The image itself is also interesting in this panel, with the outline of the Gladiator being superimposed on top of the image of Daredevil.
To sum up Denny O’Neil’s radar, we see a sense with a possible “para-normal” origin, which is both powerful and vulnerable, available at will (though not necessarily active by default) and generally rather crude in terms of image quality. And with that geek-out, I’m off to bed. I’ll see you next week when we’ll look at recent sales numbers, and Foggy’s relationship with his mustache. Not necessarily on that order