The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
Kevin Smith does
'Daredevil'; Shannen
Doherty is a witch

September 17, 1998
By Franklin Harris

Lots of comic book writers want to become screenwriters, or at least see their four-color creations make the transition to the big screen. So, it seems odd when an acclaimed independent filmmaker decides he wants to write comic books.

Kevin Smith, the writer/director behind the critical successes "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" and the hilarious if superficial "Mallrats," tries this month to revive one of Marvel Comics' second-tier characters as he begins his stint as the writer of "Daredevil."

With Smith's arrival, Marvel has decided to restart "Daredevil." So, while the comic has been around for years, Smith's first issue is "No. 1." Thus continues the most annoying trend in comics: the tendency of companies to renumber even decades-old books at the least provocation.

Oh, well. It's what is between the covers that counts, right?

Daredevil, for the uninitiated, is really attorney Matt Murdock. (I know what you're thinking: "An heroic attorney? Is this a joke?" No. It's not a joke. And leave the lawyer jokes to the professionals.)

Like all superheroes, especially those created in the '60s, Daredevil has a gimmick: he is blind. But his handicap is more than compensated for by his other senses, all of which are super-enhanced. For instance, his sense of touch is so acute that he can read by feeling the ink on a page. Daredevil also has a bat-like "radar sense" that allows him to "see."

You see, as long as you are lucky enough to be blinded by a mysterious, radioactive substance, there is an up side.

"Daredevil" is not Smith's first venture into comics. He has written books centered on his film characters, Jay and Silent Bob -- the latter of whom is his celluloid alter ego -- for Oni Press. But "Daredevil" marks his highly anticipated mainstream comics debut.

None of this is surprising. Smith's films contain a multitude of comic book references. You almost have to be a comic book fanboy in order to enjoy "Mallrats," which even features a cameo by Marvel Comics' guru Stan Lee.

Not wanting to disappoint, Smith tackles some big issues, setting up a crisis of faith for Matt Murdock and a battle between good and evil in the Biblical sense, complete with a virgin birth. But is the resulting child the savior or something a bit more sinister?

Well, you don't expect Smith to give everything away his first issue, do you?

Smith is joined in his effort by the art team of Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti.

And by the way, Smith's next film, "Dogma," which also deals with religious themes, is due in theaters next year.

It rhymes with 'witch'

The last time I saw Shannen Doherty in anything worthwhile, it was Smith's aforementioned "Mallrats." Now, the "Beverly Hills 90210" troublemaker is back, and, amazingly enough, working for her old boss, executive producer Aaron Spelling.

Her new show, "Charmed," is set to debut on the WB network next month. Doherty will play Prue Halliwell, one of three sisters, all of whom just happen to be witches.

Okay, I guess that jokes about the appropriateness of Doherty portraying a witch are too easy. I'll excuse you this once. (Actually, though, Doherty is the only one of the "90210" crowd I actually like, so don't push it.)

Doherty will be joined by another favorite of mine, Alyssa Milano, who will play another spell-casting sister.

Now, any show starring both Doherty and Milano and produced by the man who gave us "Charlie's Angels" and "Melrose Place" is certain to be delightfully classy trash. Some have already dubbed the show "Charlie's Witches," making me feel jealous because I didn't think of the moniker first.

Holly Marie Combs plays the third sister, but that's not important.

More Japanese animation

Response to last week's column on Japanese animation, or anime, has been heavy. Some readers have wanted to know where they can find a copy of the Concerned Women for America's absurd press release attacking Disney's release of the anime classic "Kiki's Delivery Service."

I live to serve. The press release is available at the Concerned Women for America Web site:

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: The above link to the Concerned Women for America WWW site is no longer active.]

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