Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Manuel Gutierrez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with a pair of late night visitors to a pawn shop finding themselves confronted by a beat cop, but after the officer makes his call for back-up, we see he is stuck in the head by a stereo system thrown by one of the thieves. We then see this same criminal takes out his gun & shoots the downed cop. It is upon this scene that a costumed vigilante named the White Tiger arrives but when he is momentarily distracted by a television set thrown by one of the thugs, the thieves makes a clean getaway, and the White Tiger is the only person on the scene when the police descend upon the pawn shop. We then look in on a meeting that Iron Fist & Luke Cage are having with Daredevil, where we learn the duo want Matt Murdock to be the White Tiger's lawyer, as the costumed vigilante has been accused of murdering a police officer. While his defamation case against the Daily Globe for their story accusing him of being Daredevil makes this the worst possible time for Matt to be taking on a case like this, we see a meeting with the wrongfully imprisoned man appeals to Matt's sense of justice, and he takes on the case. However, we quickly see Matt's problems with the Daily Globe are going to impact this case.
I realize that I'm revealing my inner nitpicker by bringing up these questions, but given the case against the White Tiger relies upon what the police officers witnessed when they entered that store, I can't help but ask questions like this? Isn't it standard operating procedure to send officers around back, before they go charging in the front? Wouldn't one's first reaction if someone threw a television at you be to get out of its way, and not try to catch it? One also has to wonder why after catching it did the White Tiger stand there holding the television while the villains raced out the back door? There's also the fact that the real criminals left their fingerprints all over the store, including on the murder weapon, and the question of why a store that looks to specialize in electronics wouldn't have video surveillance. Then again if any of these questions had been addressed then the case against the White Tiger would look even more flimsy that it already seems, and I understand why Brian Michael Bendis would want to avoid making it too easy to clear the White Tiger of the murder charge. Still one has to love the police arriving at the perfect moment to draw their erroneous conclusion.
On the other hand this issue does offer up a nice little diversion from the plot that's been dominating these pages, since Daredevil's secret identity was ousted back in issue number thirty-two. I mean the case against the White Tiger does seem to be fairly easy for Matt to secure a victory, but the idea that Matt is currently embroiled in a case to protect his own secret identity, should nicely muddy the issue. Based on the evidence Matt should be able to convince a jury that the White Tiger is innocent, but all the public is going to see is Matt Murdock leaping to help a costumed vigilante, while he embroiled in another case trying to prove he isn't Daredevil. This is a nice little scenario, and it should be interesting to see what Matt does when he begins to notice that his own problems are acting to hurt the White Tiger's defense, as thanks to the closing scene in the elevator we know the district attorney in charge of the prosecution is going to make an issue out of Matt's own connection to the world of costumed vigilantism. The two cases may not be connected, but we've already seen that the judge isn't above connecting the dots, and as such Matt does have a very real problem.
First off while the cover has nothing to do with the story inside, it is a wonderful looking piece of art, and it's also one of the most effective looking winter scenes this Canadian has ever seen in a comic. As for the interior art, the issue is delivered by guest-artist Manuel Gutierrez, and while his art is a bit of a switch from what we had been getting on this book, especially when it comes to the light & shadows, the art is still quite good a capturing the gritty, urban mood of this series. The opening scene dealing with the cop killing has a very nice intensity to it, with the series of panels where the cop is shot being particularly effective. There's also the nice little touches like J. Jonah Jameson finding a photo of the White Tiger that also includes a jovial looking Spider-Man, so he can continue his crusade against Spider-Man even though the case is against another costumed vigilante. I also had to smile at the scene where Iron Fist makes the attacking thug back away by simply showing his iron fist, while Luke Cake is busy looking at the knife hole in his vest. The insertion of photos into the art is a bit noticeable though, as they don't really blend in with the art as well as they should.
Given the last six issue have dealt with the idea of Matt's secret identity being exposed, this issue is a nice change of pace, as while his bid to preserve his secret identity is still very much a part of this book, this issue introduces a new idea to the mix, as we see Matt is called upon to defend a fellow costumed crime-fighter, who has been falsely accused of murdering a police officer. Now if one looks too hard at the case that is complied against the White Tiger, then the situation feels a bit contrived, as any good police detective would dig a bit deeper than this issue seems to have them doing. Perhaps if the story hadn't shown us what really played out in that pawn shop, then I'd be more inclined to buy the haphazard police work, but since we did see elements like the criminals weren't wearing gloves, and the murder weapon was left at the scene, the only real problem with this case is that it's being handled by Matt, who is currently under a veil of suspicion, thanks to the Daily Globe story.
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