It’s a Synn

Apr 22, 2008

It’s a Synn

Apr 22, 2008

I apologize for the lame pun in the title. You may stop laughing now (really, I know it’s lame, no need to spare my feelings). Okay, so I thought I’d devote this post to the Micah Synn storyline, which began with issue #202 (penciled by William Johnson). What’s interesting about these issues is that most fans seem to be divided over whether they’re good or just really corny. Personally, I actually quite liked the stories of Denny O’Neill, and that includes Micah Synn and his savage wickedness. The thing about Synn is that he manages to be both a fairly laughable figure (he talks like Tarzan and worships a god named Mow…), and a pretty scary and serious badass. There’s something disturbing, á la psycho serial killer, about him. For me, the seriousness of the very real threat he poses ultimately makes him a little less laughable than his bio would suggest.

So what’s his bottom line? His backstory is a rather intriguing one. Micah Synn is the chief of the East African Kingorge tribe. He and his tribesmen are the descendants of 17th century British explorers who became cut off from the outside world. Over the centuries, the members of the tribe reverted to some kind of savage state, with few concerns other than survival by any means necessary. The Kingorge people are not very nice. They are violent brutes who take what they need, and laugh at other people’s misfortune. And, they’re polygamous too. Bastards…

Above, we see Micah’s introductory panel when he enters the law offices of Nelson & Murdock, accompanied by wives M’tha and Sra. Note the outfits, which are really not far from what actual civilized people would wear in the 80’s. And I know, I was there… *sigh*

So, what’s he doing hanging around Nelson & Murdock? I’m glad you asked! Micah and his posse have been brought to America by a Professor Horatio Piper, an anthropologist. Professor Piper has sought out our favorite lawyers in order to provide legal representation for his research subjects, who are becoming quite the sensation.

If I may be serious here for a moment, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Professor Piper is African-American while the subjects of his academic interests are uncivilized savages of European descent. I think there’s supposed to be some kind of commentary here that addresses the historically common views on non-white populations held by Europeans. Heck, this may even be viewed as commenting on the “nature vs. nurture” debate. That’s certainly something to think about, but let’s move on…

It doesn’t take long before Synn needs legal representation for all the wrong reasons. Back on the street, he robs and assaults a street vendor and is quickly taken into custody by police, though not before we get to see one Marvel citizen make the following remark:

“He can brutalize me any old time he wants.” Wow, I don’t even know what to say about that… The apparent attraction of savage men in animal skins is not lost on Foggy’s then-wife Debbie Harris either, but we’ll get to that later.

After Foggy gets Micah off the hook with the police, using the good ol’ “they didn’t know what they were doing” excuse, one of Micah’s wives (M’tha, the one with the deer antlers on her head) runs out into traffic and gets herself killed. Micah takes the news in stride, not even reacting to this tragic event, and just goes on to dangle his arresting officer from one of the hospital windows. Daredevil arrives on the scene and a fight ensues, in which Micah is taken out when he runs his fist into a fuse box. It’s obvious to Daredevil that Micah is a formidable foe:

“He’s strong, fast, tough and basically intelligent. He’s probably absolutely ruthless. He may be the most dangerous man I’ve ever met.”

Thus concludes the first issue in the Micah Synn saga, which continues in issues #204 (penciled by Luke McDonnell), 206 (penciled by David Mazzucchelli), 207 (penciled by William Johnson), and 210-214 (penciled by David Mazzucchelli). The next chapter in the story introduces a threat against Micah, in the form of distant relative Lord Barrington Synn, who has hired an assassin, Crossbow, to kill him off. Meanwhile, Foggy is enjoying the spotlight as the attorney representing the newest sensation to hit New York, and he is eagerly cheered on by his wife who is completely smitten with Micah and even invites him to her high society party. Matt is more hesitant, knowing what he knows from his “other” job, and we begin to see a rift between the partners. Daredevil shows up at the party, having to deal with Crossbow, Micah, a flat-out wasted Tony Stark – who is only trying to “help” – and a Micah Synn who’s bent on destroying him (and who incidentally just locked lips with his best friend’s wife). It’s all in a night’s work…

Next, Micah goes on to completely ruin Matt’s Christmas party! Now that’s just rude… Of course, Matt manages to take out the lights, switch to Daredevil and take him out, landing the poor savage in the hospital. This prompts the suddenly media savvy brute to call a press conference where he claims that Daredevil beat him up, unprovoked. Both Becky and Matt know that this is an obvious lie, but the rift between the partners is complete when Foggy, under the infuence of his horrendously unsympathetic wife, backs up Micah’s story.

Over the next few issues, Micah and his gang become increasingly sophisticated. They bust Crossbow out of jail, kidnap Barrington Synn and manage to get Daredevil pretty good too. They then go on to kidnap Becky, an unnamed woman, and a third woman hired by the Kingpin to impersonate his wife Vanessa. Daredevil is badly wounded and is not able to get Becky out by himself while fighting off Micah’s men and the Vanessa look-alike dies going back for Becky, who does manage to get out safely. Issue #211 ends with Daredevil teaming up with the Kingpin to go after Micah Synn. Meanwhile, there have been other developents as well. Matt has figured out that Micah knows that he and Daredevil are one and the same, and we also know that when the Kingorge talk about “Mow eats,” they mean that literally. As in human sacrifice…

When Becky calls a press conference to tell the world that the Kingorge practice ritual killings, Foggy sells another little piece of his soul when he accuses her of lying in front of everyone in attendance, and claims to have heard Matt and Becky cook up the story on their own. Well, Foggy… I know that Matt has done some pretty nasty things to you, but that’s pretty low. Even more so considering poor Becky’s part in all of this. Feeling pretty bad about the whole thing (as you should, Mr. Nelson!), Foggy goes to see Matt. He apologizes, and tells Matt that Debbie was going to leave him if he didn’t lie for her, and that he’d never believed that someone like Debbie would marry him. Matt decides to be the bigger man and forgives him. Debbie, meanwhile is living it up at the “Kingorge Mansion,” but all is not well…

In the second to last issue of the arc, we see Debbie slaving away and Professor Piper fully realizing what he has gotten himself into. He’s in a bit of a tight spot, however, as there is a juicy book deal waiting for him. After a visit from Daredevil he decides to do what is right. He rescues Debbie from her captivity, and gives his own life in doing so. Debbie returns to Foggy and tells the world what she knows, clearing Becky’s name, along with Matt’s (and Daredevil’s). Foggy decides to be the good husband and rushes over to confront Micah. It’s got to be rough to be a superhero when your friends insist on getting themselves into trouble. Daredevil comes to the rescue, and in issue #214, he faces Micah Synn, now a broken helpless man, one more time…

No one knows what became of Micah Synn after this as he was never seen again. The most logical conclusion is that he was hauled off to prison, but perhaps he is happy in a jungle somewhere, be it New York or the real thing.

Despite the goofy elements, this storyline has a few things going for it. It’s got a little bit of everything in it as far as themes go, and it manages to be fairly complex without being confusing. Aside from that, there are quite a few things that seem like stretches of the imagination: What exactly does Debbie see in Micah Synn?, Why is Foggy being such a coward? and Why would isolation for a mere four hundred years cause your language and culture to degrade to that extent? Oh, well. It’s comics after all, and the Micah Synn saga packs a bigger punch in terms of entertainment value than as a serious contribution to modern literature. Love it or hate it!


  1. Thomas W

    I actually greatly enjoyed these issues. It’s pure soap opera drama, but occasionally, that’s a good thing in a super-hero comic.

  2. Eva

    Im sorry but these are the worst issues of daredevil. Period. I felt unclean reading them. Their portrayal of women was downright appalling. Like its up their with frank millers modern portrayal of woman in terms of sexism (admittedly oneil is more about actions ie womans throwing themselves at micah versus millers cleavage). These issues are not bad for being corny. In fact outside of the first couple issues, corny doesnt apply. Sick mysoginistic harem porn does


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