Daredevil Catches Captain America’s Shield

Since viewing the last image of the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I have been reminded of a certain scene in Mark Waid’s current run on the Daredevil monthly series.  What is it like to handle the star-spangled discus?  Waid shows us the answer.

Waid started his run by taking the character, Matt Murdock, up out of the depressive slog and reinstalling him into the mode of do-derring adventurer.  I say a “mode” because the Waid enacts the shift within the continuity of the character, and this is to Waid’s great credit.  He succeeds in making the regression a progression.

The first issues revitalize the reader’s sense of the sightless man’s superhuman powers, namely, the augmentation in the other four senses, such as hearing and touch, with the result of one or two other benefits, namely, the augmentation of his natural reflexes and the emergence of a certain “radar” sense.

In Issue 1, for example, Matt remarks to Foggy Nelson, his best friend and law partner, about the slightly unique smell of each strawberry on a street vendor’s fruit stand.  He also leads Foggy down to the subway, following the strains of a street performing violinist.  The following scene plays out:

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And Matt gains competency on the musical instrument in the time that it takes a subway train to pass:

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The scene is a vignette of sorts.  It stands on its own, to some extent, but it accomplishes dual functions.  First, it instructs the reader about Daredevil’s sensory style of life–by showing and not telling, I might add, in a fairly clever way.  Second, it furthers the story by keeping Matt ahead of Foggy.  Again, it does this by showing and not telling.  Foggy does not believe that Matt can relieve himself so easily of so much sorrow as he has had to endure.  Matt’s “keeping ahead” in their walk represents his “going forward” in life and his “withdrawing from” his friend and may be both a cause and an effect of it.  Matt “keeps ahead” of Foggy in a bodily way, of course, but also by way of his thoughts, feelings, and actions.

The scene accomplishes another function in Issue 2.  Captain America comes to see if Daredevil is himself again or whether he must be brought under arrest.

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As narrowly as Daredevil dodges the super soldier’s projectile, so narrowly does Captain America dodge the devil’s of Hell’s Kitchen.  With some reluctance, however, I admit that I noticed the mirrored “pak’s” only on my second read-through.

The heroes’ skirmish is not terribly prolonged, but it is terribly effective.  I leave the reader to discover the battle in full in the intervening pages while I skip to the last of them.  Captain America is convinced for the time being that Daredevil is not subject to the same insanity under whose sway he set himself up as king of Hell’s Kitchen by the enforcement of an evil ninja clan–as one occasionally does in superhero comics.

ImageCaptain America’s shield is a one-of-a-kind weapon.  Not a sword or a spear or any conventional means of attack, but rather a means of defense, the shield is constructed from Vibranium, the fictional alloy with the very singular property of annulling all kinetic energy that lands upon it.  (See Agent Carter’s application of bullets to the shield in The First Avenger or Thor’s application of Mjolnir in Whedon’s The Avengers.)  It also seems to multiply the force coming behind it (see the intervening pages of DD and Cap’s fight).  How the thing remains painted, I cannot say, but attempts at reproducing the alloy have produced Adamantium, the alloy that coats Wolverine’s skeleton.

We could ponder the ties of that God-fearing man’s shield to St. Paul’s “shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fire-tipped arrows of your wicked enemy” (Ephesians 6:16); but the relevant point here is that it is also designed to be thrown.  Hence, the round shape is highly advantageous, and here it is that we discover that Matt has kept up with his latest hobby from Issue 1.

Matt has done more than play a few notes on some man’s fiddle on a subway platform.  He has gotten access to specimens that have been built by the world’s finest luthiers.  The works of their hands apparently exhibit a kind of tangible music sister to the sonic music that they produce.

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