INFINITY COUNTDOWN: DAREDEVIL #1 / Writer: Gerry Duggan / Pencilers: Chris Sprouse, Phil Noto, Lee Ferguson / Inkers: Scott Hanna, Karl Story, Phil Noto, Lee Ferguson / Color Artist: Matt Yackey / Letterer: Clayton Cowles / Publisher: Marvel / Released: May 16, 2018
Turk and Daredevil make about as much sense in a cosmic event as butter on toast. I didn’t anticipate this natural pairing and was blown away by its obvious strength. Focusing on the smaller scale makes Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 into a repudiation of the excess of the primary Infinity Countdown mini-series, and it’s that focus that turns the issue into such a success.
Infinity Countdown Prime established that Turk possessed the Mind Stone. Since then nothing has been heard from him. Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 picks up on a random day at the courthouse as Matt Murdock is heading for security and Turk Barrett is also there. Amidst everything else Matt perceives he “sees” the stone at the end of Turk’s cane. After a quick outfit change, Daredevil scales the courthouse walls and watches through a window as Turk sits down in the back of a courtroom and a judge—seemingly out of nowhere—acquits a man who was sure to be convicted. From there Daredevil goes on a hunt through Hell’s Kitchen for information on Turk. This leads to a face-to-face encounter where Turk recounts how he acquired the stone before the story leaves readers with two unexpected cliffhangers.
I actually had to double check after reading this issue that it was written by Gerry Duggan. Much of what makes Duggan’s writing work well in Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity Countdown is the out of place, borderline satirical humor. I’d previously commented in Infinity Countdown Prime that the reason Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock failed was its lack of humor. That use of humor balances out the larger-than-life scope of the cosmic stories and the more unusual characters featured in them. I bring this up because Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 has none of that humor. Not a trace. It’s almost a complete stylistic shift that works and remains a tight, compelling read.
Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 flows like a river with none of it feeling like characters are just bouncing between pre-ordained plot points. Duggan’s writing of Daredevil pursuing a criminal has an old-school feel to it, but his presentation of Turk wins the day. Turk has power to get everything he wants, but he’s also formerly a minor street crook. The risk was writing him as a greedy, over-the-top faux crime lord. Duggan instead writes him with quiet ferocity; it’s the quiet enemy that’s most dangerous, and Duggan made me believe that Turk is truly a dangerous villain. Additionally Daredevil’s and Turk’s individual portrayals are stepping stones to a brilliant piece of scripting. The first two pages revisit Daredevil’s origin, and Duggan devotes a page to depicting the sensation of young Matt suddenly getting enhanced hearing. What seems little more than an origin for those unfamiliar with Daredevil comes back during Turk’s recollection of getting the stone; Turk describes suddenly being able to hear people’s thoughts. That symmetry links Turk and Daredevil: two people whose extra senses allow them to take advantage of what others cannot perceive.
The artistic complement for Duggan unfortunately doesn’t meet the level his writing achieves. That isn’t a put-down; Duggan’s story for the issue was superior. But when an issue has three pencilers and four inkers it’s less likely to hit a home run visually. The one piece of note on the penciling/inking front that I will point out as a success is Turk’s appearance. Turk ascended from stabbing hobos under overpasses in the snow to reading peoples’ minds and building an empire. Both his appearance and his actions could go larger than life—the small man finally getting what he hasn’t had—but thanks to Sprouse, Noto, and Ferguson his depiction is that of an inscrutable man who knows what he wants and what he’ll do to get it. Save one “action” scene where he shoots at Daredevil Turk is reserved—even in his outfit that pushes the edges of criminal taste. It is a smart choice.
Standing out on the artistic front, though, is Matt Yackey’s color work. Daredevil issues over the last several years have often been heavily shaded with dark and muted colors. Yackey’s Hell’s Kitchen is a more vibrant place. It’s more alive. It’s more connected to the bright Mind Stone. The color palate wasn’t something I liked at first—what with my expectations being locked in—but by the time Daredevil was confronting Turk I was sold.
How could Daredevil and Turk possibly fit into an Infinity Stone event? That’s what I kept asking myself. It was a question I had never needed to concern myself with. The Mind Stone is an integral part of this story from the beginning but it never overshadows the elements that make a Daredevil story a Daredevil story. It’s hard to call anything involving an Infinity Stone “noir,” nor does Duggan aim for that style. But “crime story lite” is a fair label, and as a balance between street and cosmic this is an unexpected success.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 flaming hats
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Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he’s published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.