In all the excitment I felt after seeing the preview for Daredevil #9, I completely forgot to look for that other book Daredevil appears in, namely New Avengers. Issue #21 of New Avengers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, also hits the stands on Wednesday and I want to thank Mark for bringing my attention to the panel below.

If you’ve read my series on the history of the radar sense, you know that few things excite me more than trying to make sense of Daredevil’s radar sense (in spite of this sad fact, I manage to lead a fairly exciting life). Now, we’ve seen Daredevil’s radar sense overwhelmed by loud noise (happens frequently), a blanket thrown over his head (Daredevil vol.1 #3) and various other more or less odd scenarios, but this has to be the first time I’ve seen him complain about the wind screwing up his radar sense. Unless we’re talking about the sound of the wind in which case I’m willing to give Bendis a pass on this one.

But that’s not the only problem here. One of the keys to writing Daredevil really well is to try as hard as possible to divorce oneself from the percpetions of the average person. The question I think Bendis should have asked himself here is this: Does Daredevil primarily rely on his radar sense to recognize people? Generally speaking, the answer is no. Even if we count the radar sense as a form of vision, “vision” is still by far his weakest sense compared to his senses of hearing, smell etc. If Daredevil has met Thor – as we know he has – the keys to recognizing Thor the next time he encounters him should have more to do with what Thor sounds and smells like than his physical shape even while that might also – in this case – be distinctive.

Okay, glad I got that one out of my system! 😉

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.

12 comments

  1. Wow. Despite the nonsensical nature of that panel, I’d give Bendis a pass on focusing on the radar sense here. Clearly, they’re identifying someone at a decent distance, so smell and sound wouldn’t be reliable/practical yet.

    Who’s saying “Uh, if you are indeed Thor, could you go and–“? It looks like the invisible man between Spider-Man and the lump that’s probably supposed to be Dr. Strange.

  2. really really dumb writing on Bendis’ part. Sometimes it feels like he adds people to the avengers’ rosters for the heck of it.

  3. This is silly on so many levels. Even with DD’s identity somewhat public, I’ll never understand why he’s started talking about his powers openly, even with allies.

  4. Maybe Daredevil’s just trying to play down his powers so they’ll let him out of the Avengers! He probably wants to get away from Squirrel Girl by now …

  5. “Clearly, they’re identifying someone at a decent distance, so smell and sound wouldn’t be reliable/practical yet.”

    I beg to disagree, Aaron! I agree that this is probably at some distance, but in that case it would have made more sense for DD to just say “I can’t tell, he’s too far away.” Distance should also affect his radar sense. If “Thor” is very far away he should just register as a man-shaped blob or something. As far as scent goes, I always imagined Thor appearing in the sky would smell of ozone or something, like after a lightning storm. 😉

  6. @Christine – I think we can both agree that Matt’s line makes little sense regardless. And I love your theory as to Thor’s smell. I always figured it was more of an earthy smell, like goats and mead. Asgardians seem like they should smell medieval.

    I also discovered that my assumption was very much wrong: this is not at a distance at all. See http://www.comicbookresources.com/prev_img.php?pid=11433&pg=3 In fact, they’re so close to Ragnarok (the evil Thor clone) that Wolverine covers that distance in a single leap. In light of this new information (new to me anyway), smell is definitely back in play (though seriously hampered by wind) and Matt’s line becomes even more confusing.

    The best no prize explanation I can come up with: all the wind kicked up by Thor is blowing about a great deal of debris that is acting as chaff, obscuring Matt’s radar. This fails to explain why all this debris does not obstruct the others’ sight, or why it’s not visible to the reader, or where it came from since they’re on top of a building and not on a street, but oh well.

    Two last thoughts on this preview page. First, Thor can’t float in air. While often forgotten by writers and artists, Thor doesn’t fly: he throws Mjolnir and gets dragged along after it. To float in the air, he has to whirl Mjolnir around like a helicoptor. Thor should be plummeting to the Earth on this page, a much less intimidating opponent.

    Second, what the hell is Wolverine doing? Who jumps off a building to attack a guy who can fly? What if he missed or got batted away? He’d fall who knows how far and be out of commission for a long time. Just because it turned out to be the best play possible doesn’t mean it was smart at the time.

  7. When you mentioned the part about how Thor can’t fly without swinging his hammer, that reminds of this clip* with Stan Lee. He talks about coming up with Spider-Man and, later in the clip (at 6:28), about how having Thor use his hammer that way makes it more “realistic” than Superman who can fly on his own. 😀

    *It’s a RealPlayer file, but should work in VLC (free to download and able to handle almost every format) and others I might not know of.

  8. A few thoughts on this:

    I’m not all that up-to-date on Ragnarok but perhaps whatever energy maelstrom he is generating in hovering (for that is what it looks like to me), wind included, may be hampering Matt’s radar sense.

    Has Matt met Ragnarok prior to this encounter? If not, he may not know he is a clone. Thus any difference or odd sense Matt gets from him, Matt may chalk up to interference from the maelstrom, weather, whatever.

    Although this brings up an interesting point. Whose sense of smell is ‘better’, Matt’s or Logan’s? Matt can’t tell but Logan is adamant. So how can Logan know for sure yet Matt doesn’t??

    And it is hard to tell who is saying what. Stranger and stranger…

  9. @Bee Clayton – Though I don’t really have reason to think so, I’m guessing that Wolverine’s certainty is more based on his instincts than his senses. Ragnarok LOOKS evil.

  10. Despite some occurrences that seem to say Logan (generally when a specific writer has trouble humanizing him), the general consensus is that Matt’s senses are all stronger than Logan’s. Also, Logan may well have actually encountered Ragnarok before; off the top of their head, does anybody remember whether or not he was there when Ragnarok killed Goliath?

    No-prize for Daredevil’s line: Ragnarok smells and sounds like Thor, leaving Matt’s radar as his only means of hoping to spot some difference between the two. This is obstructed by the wind twirling around Ragnarok’s cape and hair, both distracting Matt and possibly obscuring details that could help to differentiate the two. Thoughts?

  11. Actually, I may have been wrong in what I said before. I didn’t find this until just a couple months ago; it’s really by chance that I was reading through the History of the Radar series again and came across this.

    In the 1989 Daredevil Annual (part of the god-awful Atlantis Attacks crossover), there’s a two-page spread where DD describes all of his senses and how they compare to other characters in the Marvel Universe with super-senses. It’s a fascinating read, but the takeaway here is that Daredevil specifically says that smell is the only sense where Wolverine’s is better than his. So, I was wrong in my earlier post. There you go.

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