Hello all! I’m sorry for being absent for much of the past week (real life and all that…), but now it’s time to kick start a new month. There hasn’t been much on the news front with the exception of Tom Breevort’s semi-lengthy reply on the topic of Daredevil and relaunches in his second most recent “T&A” with CBR. Coming up later in the month on this blog are two small nuggets I’m already working on: a guide for Daredevil beginners and the first in a series of character spotlights, starting with Foggy Nelson.
Before getting to that, let’s do a little intermission featuring Daredevil: Ninja by Brian Michael Bendis and Rob Haynes. This three issue mini-series is one I think of as the misfit step-child of the Bendis run. It doesn’t really feel like an example of Bendis’s work at all (on Daredevil anyway) and doesn’t match the tone of the rest of his run. Granted, the mini-series ran from late 2000 until early 2001, just months before Bendis’s first effort on the main title (with the arc Wake Up), but the differences between the two are jarring. I wasn’t a Daredevil reader at the time, but if I had been I would have been a little worried about Bendis taking over if this was all I had to go by.
The first issue starts with Matt in bed, while a young woman sneaks into his house to steal Stick’s stick (that sounds weird, I know) which had apparently been occupying an honorary position in Matt’s basement gym. This is all overlaid with a long row of caption boxes detailing things like our title character’s relationship with his master as well as how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep when you’re Daredevil.
His chase to find who stole Stick’s stick (I’m going to have to start calling it a “staff”) leads him to two tea-drinking strangers of Asian descent whom he spends much of the issue fighting for said stick. It’s a fight they seemingly let him win, at which point he returns home to his apartment and falls asleep in costume. The final page sees him wake up in a foreign locale.
This brings us to the second issue where Matt learns that he’s in Osaka, Japan and that he’s been drugged. The drug in question is so sophisticated that Matt has been semi-conscious (and behaving normally) for his entire trip to Japan yet can’t remember it. Among his captors he finds Stick’s old associate Stone who explains that the Hand is back and that his own group has been severely decimated. They needed Daredevil’s help and the fighting over Stick’s staff (that’s what I’m going with) was just a means to test Matt’s ability as a fighter, given the time that had passed since his last encounter with Stone. So, I guess this means all of issue #1 was mostly padding then…
Next, they decide to go to The Hand’s compound in search of information and encounter a lone ninja who says the “next one” is in New York. This spawns the idea that the team must return to New York. Not before encountering the rest of the Hand, however, who are suddenly everywhere. Matt takes care of the situation by calling the police and the fire department(!).
So, to recap, we have a first issue that’s basically just one long test fight followed by a kidnapping that really doesn’t get any kind of explanation in the second issue, except that Stone “needs help.” Really, why are we in Japan given that it was apparently Matt’s idea to go to the ninja compound? (So that wasn’t it.) I’d hate to think that we’ve had two issues of ninja fighting for no other reason than that people like ninja fighting.
If the first two issues were thin on story and consisted of mostly fighting, the final issue has a completely different kind of pacing problem. You see, on the plane back to New York Matt and Stone have a telepathic conversation that’s about five pages too long (and I don’t dislike “talking heads” in comics, quite the contrary) that finally explains what the whole thing is about, starting with a story that takes us back to the year 81 AD.
To make a long story short, Stick was apparently the last in a line of incarnations of a particular great hero of Japan who was capable of wielding a powerful sword, which has now been stolen by the Hand. The soul of the warrior is now in a new body and if one side has access to both the sword and the warrior, that’s apparently some kind of ninja grand slam. The objective now is to find either the Hand or the baby before the former can get to the latter. As it turns out, they don’t have to look very hard as a huge gang of ninjas attack them in the middle of LaGuardia airport. In full ninja gear. Very smooth.
This leads us into yet another drawn-out and hard to follow ninja fight during which Stone and Trahn make an exit without telling Matt, more or less using him to fight their battle for them. Matt goes home and is not included in what happens next.
So, what does happen next? Well, Trahn and her male associate show up at the orphanage where baby Karen of Guardian Devil fame lives and adopts her. Now, how did they find her? Argh, nothing about this makes any sense! Anyway, here’s a panel from the end of issue #3. Wow, Karen is one butt-ugly baby (the art really got even weirder in the third issue). The twist that has Stick being reborn as Karen remains one of most ridiculous things I’ve read in a Daredevil comic, and that’s saying something.
So, did any of you guys read Daredevil: Ninja? If so, did any of you actually enjoy it? Let all of us know in the comment section!