Daredevil Legends: Typhoid Mary Graphic Novel Review.

Writer, Ann Nocenti. Artist, John Romita Jr. Inker, Al Williamson. Letterer, Joe Rosen. Colorist, Max Scheele, with Janet Jackson and Greg Wright. Published by Marvel Comics.

This collection includes Daredevil (volume 1) issues 254-257 and 259-263. It skips 258 which was a fill in issue and not part of the story, but is also the first appearance of the Bengal.

This was the first comic I became heavily invested in during my childhood introduction to comics. It started with a Spider-Man comic, and I saw ads for this Daredevil story. Next time I was near a spinner rack I searched for Daredevil and there was issue 256. Which means I came into this story in the middle but I was still hooked. I knew nothing of Daredevil or Born Again or anything that had happened but this story was so compelling.

Now that I have reread it in one sitting thanks to this graphic novel I’m left feeling unfulfilled. The story still holds up but the entire story isn’t here, and I remember that from my childhood. Daredevil is so defeated he leaves Hell’s Kitchen for upstate NY (and as a resident of the true upstate I wonder how far up he went). He doesn’t return until many issues later which are issues that are not included in this volume. I need the entire story and believe me I’ll be looking for the rest of these issues one way or another.

Kingpin wants to once again break Daredevil. The story is already in motion when this volume begins but it’s easy to get caught up to speed. Karen and Foggy are here, there’s a court case, Daredevil is dividing his time between the super hero and the man as he tackles the same case from different angles. Then Typhoid Mary enters Hell’s Kitchen and messes up everything. Mary has two personalities – sweet innocent na├»ve Mary and the psycho killer with some telekinetic abilities, Typhoid. She begins taking out drug dealers as part of a master plan to get both Daredevil and the Kingpin to notice her. Her two personalities have distinct heartbeats, movements, even smells so Daredevil is unaware they’re the same woman. Typhoid wants to break his heart, his spirit, and his body. As the Kingpin is tired of waiting and demands results now, Typhoid recruits some of Daredevil’s previous enemies to all attack him at the same time. It’s amazing. A fight that should take place in comics more but is probably more special because it doesn’t. Daredevil has lost everything and is close to losing his life as well and then…

Well, we don’t quite know. I mean I don’t quite know, because I need the next volume. Which is a shame because there are chapters in this collection that don’t really flow. Marvel wanted to cross over Daredevil with the Punisher’s first ongoing series and issue 257 is a unique crossover with Punisher issue 10. Both comics tell the same story, but from their title hero’s perspective. In 261 the Human Torch comes to help find DD. When did these two become friends? I’m not an expert on either but I’m aware Spider-Man is friends with both. However I have never read of Torch and the Devil hanging out. If anyone has examples, please let me know. Then the next two issues are crossovers with the Inferno event. It’s interesting and I’m not sure how much is actually Daredevil against demons and how much is him metaphorically putting himself back together. Then he heads out and I guess that’s it.

Credit to Ann Nocenti for tying in what I imagine are editorial requests to work in Punisher and Inferno into her epic Daredevil story and doing so in such a great way. I just wish she didn’t have to and this story was more focused on the battle with Daredevil and Typhoid Mary, plus everyone else of course. This was my first exposure to JRJR’s art and to this day it’s my favorite work of his. Again though, I just wish I had the full story in one volume. I say that as I am searching my local library system and online for the next few issues. Or I could look though my longboxes because there’s a good chance I have some of the story.

Daredevil comes across so conflicted. He wants to do the right thing but there are certain temptations in life that make it difficult. Typhoid Mary is so confident, so sexy, and so dangerous. For the first exposure to such a woman to a young male comic book reader, of course she’s going to have an impact. A young reader who so far has read one hero versus one bad guy and the good guy always wins. Maybe a team against a bigger threat, but the risks are lower. This story though. I honestly believed I met a hero just to see him die. If not die, be forever broken. Of course DD is still around today and has starred in many stories since this one that brought more eyes and love to the character. Yet I still love this tale when I first met the Man Without Fear.

Usually I say that I highly recommend reading a title, and I mean that here too. This story is so intense and awesome. But really what you should do is find the first comics that you read. The first books you fell in love with. Read them again as an adult. Read the entire run from that writer and/or artist. Do it all in one sitting with some soda and snacks and fall in love with comics all over again for the first time.

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