Review by Ian Keogh
The lasting legacy of Ann Nocenti’s run on Daredevil was her creation of Typhoid Mary, a stock Marvel character to this day numbering among Daredevil’s most challenging adversaries. Mary is a bi-polar mixture of harridan and innocent, the evil side of her generally suppressing the harmless.
Her opening sequence is an impressive statement of female empowerment if you want to take it that way. Here’s a strong woman who’s no victim, manipulates men to her needs, and makes no bones about her sexual appetite. She begins by targeting the Kingpin’s criminal operations, progressing to working for him. While her uninhibited personality targets Daredevil on the Kingpin’s behalf, her more innocent side sets her sights on his alter ego, blind lawyer Matt Murdock.
When good, there’s an enthralling quality to the scripts, but they’re horribly inconsistent, and feature gaping lapses of logic that really nag. The Kingpin delivers an imposing speech emphasising how important it is that no-one know he’s behind a chemical corporation on trial for malpractice. He then turns up at the courthouse for the hearing. One aspect of Mary’s personality is stated as innocent, even naive, yet comes across as extremely manipulative when it comes to forming a relationship, and other, smaller inconsistencies occur. These are compounded by the often stilted and overwrought dialogue and thought balloons.
If you can ignore the up to the minute 1980s fashions, John Romita Jr’s art is excellent. He’s still using the style that saw him through from the late 1970s, but over the course of this book there’s an added grittiness, and everything is provided with an exceptional polish by the inking of Al Williamson, himself no slouch as an artist. Romita Jr’s quite the chameleon, incorporating influences from other artists (Frank Miller on the sample page), but never slavishly imitating. He’ll always bring his own talents to the table, and his designs, especially of a bulky Kingpin, are well conceived.
As we reach the final pages, the story rather peters out. A very good sequence of Daredevil missing progresses into chapters of an across the line crossover in which demons invade Earth, and Typhoid Mary sort of shuffles off, stage left. The ending leaves Daredevil wrecked. Those interested in how matters continue would be better advised to consider the more expensive Daredevil Epic Collection: A Touch of Typhoid, into which this entire content has now been incorporated.