Wacky power #14 – Discerning photographs

Jul 24, 2008

Wacky power #14 – Discerning photographs

Jul 24, 2008

I have a couple of panels ready for this post and the distantly related “seeing goof” I’ll get to next, so I thought I’d just get them out of the way and get ready to have my Daredevil #109 review posted by tomorrow. I want to apologize in advance for being really obnoxious with this one. In fact, my last post was pretty obnoxious as well (I’ve just been in that kind of mood lately). I promise to crank up the funny in the next post. 🙂

On the right, from issue #56 by Roy Thomas, is one of the goofier examples of an ability Daredevil used to have in the good ol’ days which he has since lost (as in it explicitely being mentioned as a “weakness” in the MUH).

Here we see Daredevil using his gloved hand to discern the appearance of Karen’s father. We can probably also assume that this framed photograph is protected behind a glass cover. However, aside from those external “obstacles,” there are plenty of reasons why Matt should have big problems with any and all forms of imagery, beyond very simple line drawings or prints, and something like a photograph should be the least accessible of them all. Here’s a short list:

  1. An image usually makes much more sense when processed as a whole rather than the sum of its parts. Even if we go along with Roy Thomas in this example and assume that Matt’s fingertips give him an actual picture of what they’re “seeing,” he can only “see” what he’s touching at any given time. Try making sense of a large map on a wall if you can only see it through a narrow tube. Kind of hard to get any real feel for it, isn’t it?

  2. Images are meant to be perceived by the eyes. I know, this one sounds like a no-brainer, but what I’m getting at is that something like a photograph represents a two-dimensional color image of the three-dimensional physical world, as viewed through the eyes. If that image doesn’t really correspond to what the world “looks” like to you, it won’t make a lot of sense. The idea of Matt being able to match a flat color image to a three-dimensional colorless reality with any kind of reliability is wacky in and of itself.

  3. How would such an image be perceived? Matt’s print-reading ability actually makes sense to me, since it’s based on differences in texture. Depending on the printing process, the ink layer can actually be quite high and well into the realm of where even the average person can perceive it. If you crank up the sensitivity and, most importantly, the resolution of the fingertip it even seems logical that it would be possible to get something from that. Most photographs (or even printed color images), on the other hand, are completely smooth, so he can’t use differences in texture to learn anything about them. That leaves color. I personally think that any color sensing ability at all is goofy. I just don’t buy it (I could go into the long and technical explanation for why that is, but I won’t). It gets even goofier when you imagine what kind of resolution this ability would have to have for him to be able to discern fine detail. His fingertips would have to match the human retina in photosensitivity. Yeah, not really buying it. 😉

Again, sorry for getting long and technical here. It’s that old science degree creeping up. This was just the wordy and geeky way for me to say what could be summed up in one word: Wacky!


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