You know those numbers you can call to have someone read your fortune or give you advice on a pressing matter? I’m not going to get into a discussion on whether psychic abilities are real, but I will take a look at how, in the Marvel Universe, you can call a trusted superhero colleague for guidance. At least if you happen to be friends with Matt Murdock, owner of the sharpest ears in town. Too bad this particular scenario, from Daredevil #38 (volume 2), by Brian Michael Bendis and Manuel Gutierrez, doesn’t actually work. Read the below scene carefully (click the images to enlarge), and we’ll get to all the ways it doesn’t make sense…

Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 1
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 1

Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 2
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 2
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 3
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 3
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 4
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 4
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 5
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 5
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 6
Matt hears heatbeats by phone, panel 6

Let’s first get to the obvious fact here: Matt isn’t in the room! Nor is he in the next room or even the same building. This trick presumably happens over the phone, and that is all kinds of wacky. The most obvious problem here is that a regular telephone would not transmit a particularly broad range of sound frequencies. A heartbeat would be too low (and too soft) to even be picked up by the microphone. Superhearing is pretty useless in this case.

As if this isn’t wacky enough, there’s also the notion that Matt appears to be hearing things in stereo (he can tell which guy is sitting on the left versus the right?). This wouldn’t work either, even if we go along with the idea that he’d be able to hear the heartbeat. It’s like talking to someone who’s got two screaming kids in the background. You can tell they’re there, and estimate how far away from the phone they are, but that’s about it. The sound is entering through a single telephone receiver, which you are then holding to one ear. All complex three dimensional information is lost.

Unless Matt actually is psychic, nothing about this situation makes any sense at all, and I suspect I wasn’t the only reader to lift an eyebrow upon reading this scene for the first time. Sorry Bendis, this just doesn’t work.

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

6 comments

  1. The left-right confusion makes me angrier each time I see it again.

  2. Holly cow, that never bothered me until you said something. I do like the vibe between Cage, Fist and Matt though.

  3. Geez. I just can’t read Luke’s speech bubbles. That darn outfit he’s wearing automatically translates everything written in them into “c’mon” “y’all” “uh-huh”.

  4. Ah, but this is Marvel Universe, they have True Voice before we do, LOL!

  5. The other annoying thing about this is that it’s backwards. The first time Luke points, he is pointing to the guy on his right. After Matt says, “No, your other right,” Luke points to the guy on his left. Either the artist screwed this one up, or Matt did.

  6. Y’know, it does occur to me that Matt was bluffing (or just plain wrong) about the “the one on your right” comment. With all 3D information lost, it makes sense that Matt would say “the one on your right” and accidentally identify the wrong one. He probably could only tell it was the wrong one after the guy responded, by matching the voice to the heartbeat.

    Still doesn’t explain how the phone somehow managed to transmit the heartbeats at all, but it’s a start…

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