Daredevil as the world's greatest cook. It's hard to resist that one-line pitch, so when 'Hell's Kitchen', written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Jonathan Marks, cropped up in solicitations of Secret Wars Journal #2, I started salivating onto my keyboard. Cookery! Puns! Matt Murdock in chef's whites! It's exactly the kind of high-concept silliness I want from my alternate-universe superhero crossovers, and an all-too-rare chance to delve into the fourth and fifth senses of comics' most famous blind person.

There is a precedent for Matt's culinary career, right in the heart of the Daredevil canon: Frank Miller's Born Again. Beaten down by the machinations of the Kingpin, Matt Murdock does what any self-respecting man with enhanced senses would: he hangs up the horns to flip burgers, turning round a diner's fortunes until it gets blown up by out-of-control super-soldier Nuke.

 

Frank Miller

 

Otherwise, while we see a lot of ol' hornhead's enhanced hearing, his senses of taste and smell are generally ignored. It's not too hard to see why. While comics is a purely visual art form, we've developed plenty of workarounds for depicting sound: caption boxes, custom lettering, those trademark all-caps sound effects. Smell and taste, though, are a common blind spot for writers in almost any medium --- at least, any that don't come with a scratch-and-sniff board.

Not that you'd want one for the menu in 'Hell's Kitchen'. Spurrier has great fun whipping up uniquely Marvel dishes like Man-Thing gumbo (served giant-sized, of course), 'Magret De Canard Caricaturée A L'Excelsiorange' (poor Howard), and eventually something considerably more sinister.

 

 

Don't let the puns fool you. 'Hell's Kitchen' isn't the light soufflé of a story I expected. What sous-chef Spurrier and maître d' Marks serve up here is something much darker, like a rich stew, or some of that really-high-percentage-cacao chocolate. I won't spoil it, but squeezed into these 10 pages is one of the bleakest Daredevil tales I've ever read. And with a history as grim as Matt Murdock's, that's really saying something.

 

Best Daredevil Art Ever