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DD Book Club One-Shot: Prophesy

 
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Mike Murdock
Lowlife


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1434

PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:29 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club One-Shot: Prophesy Reply with quote

This is a bit of a random one, but it's an interesting issue and a bit of a change of pace. Plus, Denny O'Neil issues are hard to come by. Let's enjoy a bit of adventure in the wild west.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #215 - Prophesy



Due 2/6
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To my knowledge, the only trade collecting Denny O'Neil issues of Daredevil is Love's Labors Lost, and this issue is in it. It's a shame, because he was writing Daredevil when I first encountered the character, and I would still rate him as my second-favourite Daredevil writer, after Frank Miller.

This issue is the only time I ever heard of the Two Gun Kid. Apparently Lee and Kirby created Matt Hawk in 1962, and before that there was a guy named Clay Harder who was the original Two Gun Kid in the Golden Age. That makes Matt Hawk Lee's first lawyer with a secret identity.

The first thing you notice in this issue is Mazzucchelli's art. It's very clean, and remarkably consistent from panel to panel. The panels from the Wild West have a faded and pixelly quality.

The story is a very cool idea. I like the idea that something from the historical past can provide an adventure for the present day.

Since I don't know anything about Matt Hawk outside of this issue, I wonder if he was this tolerant towards First Nations people in the 60s and 70s.

Is it a spirit that is affecting the two Matts? Who is making Hawk think that trials will be more complicated in the future, and leading him to leave a message in that cave? Who made Matt have that dream? It would seem to be the shaman from the title page, but maybe not, because Hawk seems to have those thoughts before that dialogue. Oh well -- not knowing doesn't seem to hurt the story. You can come up with your own conclusions.

O'Neil is almost as good as Miller at handling Matt Murdock as a character. The "never give up" attitude is there for all to see when he's under water. The disgust for the people working for Keeno, especially when one lied to him, was great. I like how that moment forced him to abandon his client. When it comes down to it, Matt fights for what's right.

I had only two problems with this issue: Timmy Red Moon's first few lines are painful to read nowadays. The inclusion of Little Big Horn and "pow wow" is like an elbow to the ribs. Get it? He's native! Perhaps the general population has grown less ignorant about First Nations people since 1985. For instance, I never refer to people native to North America as "Indians" anymore, which this issue does repeatedly.

My other problem is the ending. After Daredevil defeats Keeno, he inspects Hawk's bullet, which is cool, and feels the presence of the characters from the past. It's a pretty picture, but he just defeated Keeno on the same page. The decompression from that feels hurried, and the issue feels like it just puttered out.

But I love Denny O'Neil. I know he's far better known for his Batman work, but it bothers me that even among us his Daredevil work rarely comes up. It's probably because he's sandwiched between legendary runs by Frank Miller. I think everyone should read his Daredevil work.

I give this issue a four out of five.
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Bullseye11
Flying Blind


Joined: 05 Oct 2013
Posts: 67
Location: PA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue is such a step back for DD. After Frank Miller left, the quality dropped but continued to still have a certain quality to it. Then oneil introduced the boring Micah Synn story line and then this. I dont understand the point oneil is trying to get across here. DD is the reincarnated two gun kid? They just parallel each other? Theyre somehow magically connected. Is he just trying to say native americans were treated badly? The story is ok but seems to lack a point. Ill give it 1 out of 5 stars. This is one of my least favorite issues of DD that ive read.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1174
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bullseye11 wrote:
The story is ok but seems to lack a point.

I think the point was that what Keeno was trying to do was unjust, and Daredevil fought for the side that was right. I think another theme was how messages from the past can affect the present day. I don't think O'Neil was trying to suggest that Matt Murdock is a reincarnation of Matt Hawk. I think we're left to theorize for ourselves what caused Matt to have that dream. I think it has something to do with the shaman around the fire.
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Mike Murdock
Lowlife


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1434

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ I love the Micah Synn storyline. If it were on MU or collected in a trade, I would cover it in the book club (I still can if people have access to it). Anyway, my review.

This one is marketed as "strangest adventure of all." To be honest, I sometimes think that was Marvel speak for "uh oh, we don't think you'll like this one." The story opens with an Indian shaman who explicitly says the Two-Gun Kid and Daredevil have a lot in common. At the time I first read this, I didn't know the former was an established character, so I didn't get the point. Now that I know better, it's kind of cool. Two red-headed lawyers named Matt who are superheroes. What are the odds of that? Is it enough to sustain an entire issue? We'll see.

It starts off with Matt Hawk defending an Apache. It's somewhat corny. It's very dated. But I like that he gives the law side its due (fwiw, there are Judges I practice in front of who might do the same thing today even though they're not supposed to). However, Matt Hawk doesn't succeed in finding the documents protecting the Apache land.

Cue Matt Mudock to save the day. They're in the office and Foggy is having marriage issues (and a really awkward mustache that I had completely forgotten about). The coincidences of the dream and Matt's faith in it are very odd. I can't say they feel like a Daredevil story. Matt's somewhat questioning but vaguely compliant in order to drive the plot along. It's all a bit too easy. But the coincidences are done cleverly. For example, the map is designed so a sighted man would be misled while a blind man would succeed. In the end, Matt (or Matts) succeed and the day is saved.

Like I said, the issue feels "off." I like a lot of Denny O'Neil and I like the direction he built towards with the destruction of Nelson and Murdock (although, by the time he finished, Frank Miller was back on the book and it got completely overshadowed). It was a long culmination of stories like this one where Matt follows his conscience at the expense of his bank account. In a later issue, it's revealed that he backed out of this case and returned the money, even though they desperately needed money at this moment. But, judged by itself, I don't think it stands up. It just feels forced and the story doesn't really flow. It feels like he loved the premise of comparing the two characters, but it didn't really go from there. Three and a Half Stars.
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Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Bullseye11
Flying Blind


Joined: 05 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read the Micah Synn story line so I would love to cover it. It definitely had its highs and lows. I can see why people would like it and why people would not. I personally thought it was way too long for a mediocre story but I would love to hear others perspectives on it.

As for this story, I feel like i would have liked it better if it was done before Frank Miller was on the book. I may have been a bit harsh on it but this daredevil seems like he belongs in the silver age. Which would be excusable if this was made during the silver age.
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The Overlord
Paradiso


Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1095

PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
To my knowledge, the only trade collecting Denny O'Neil issues of Daredevil is Love's Labors Lost, and this issue is in it. It's a shame, because he was writing Daredevil when I first encountered the character, and I would still rate him as my second-favourite Daredevil writer, after Frank Miller.

This issue is the only time I ever heard of the Two Gun Kid. Apparently Lee and Kirby created Matt Hawk in 1962, and before that there was a guy named Clay Harder who was the original Two Gun Kid in the Golden Age. That makes Matt Hawk Lee's first lawyer with a secret identity.

The first thing you notice in this issue is Mazzucchelli's art. It's very clean, and remarkably consistent from panel to panel. The panels from the Wild West have a faded and pixelly quality.

The story is a very cool idea. I like the idea that something from the historical past can provide an adventure for the present day.

Since I don't know anything about Matt Hawk outside of this issue, I wonder if he was this tolerant towards First Nations people in the 60s and 70s.

Is it a spirit that is affecting the two Matts? Who is making Hawk think that trials will be more complicated in the future, and leading him to leave a message in that cave? Who made Matt have that dream? It would seem to be the shaman from the title page, but maybe not, because Hawk seems to have those thoughts before that dialogue. Oh well -- not knowing doesn't seem to hurt the story. You can come up with your own conclusions.

O'Neil is almost as good as Miller at handling Matt Murdock as a character. The "never give up" attitude is there for all to see when he's under water. The disgust for the people working for Keeno, especially when one lied to him, was great. I like how that moment forced him to abandon his client. When it comes down to it, Matt fights for what's right.

I had only two problems with this issue: Timmy Red Moon's first few lines are painful to read nowadays. The inclusion of Little Big Horn and "pow wow" is like an elbow to the ribs. Get it? He's native! Perhaps the general population has grown less ignorant about First Nations people since 1985. For instance, I never refer to people native to North America as "Indians" anymore, which this issue does repeatedly.

My other problem is the ending. After Daredevil defeats Keeno, he inspects Hawk's bullet, which is cool, and feels the presence of the characters from the past. It's a pretty picture, but he just defeated Keeno on the same page. The decompression from that feels hurried, and the issue feels like it just puttered out.

But I love Denny O'Neil. I know he's far better known for his Batman work, but it bothers me that even among us his Daredevil work rarely comes up. It's probably because he's sandwiched between legendary runs by Frank Miller. I think everyone should read his Daredevil work.

I give this issue a four out of five.


I actually read this story first in the Labor's Love Lost trade I got from the library a couple of years ago and I have to admit, I didn't like a lot of the stories in that trade and there was one simple reason for that, really lackluster villains. The Cossack, those swamp red necks and those Italian fascists who dressed like Renaissance fair rejects, they were all kinda silly and really dull, they really brought down the stories they appeared in. I certainly liked the stories that featured more interesting villains in that trade, like the ones with Vulture and Gladiator (the Gael shows up for a little bit in this trade, but his main story wasn't featured in this trade). I'm not sure I can say O'Neil is the second best DD writer, considering all the stories with very lackluster villains in it, that just made the stories weak overall. He never created a really iconic DD villain, like the way he created Ra's Al Ghul in Batman. Nothing sucks the energy out of a story quite like a weak villain.

When I read this story though, I thought it was okay. Its pretty weird, people will either love it or hate it. Keeno is kinda of a stock villain, just another racist greedy evil tycoon, who we will never see again, but I think he served his purpose well in the story. He was certainly better then the swamp red necks or the fascists with bad fashion sense.

I will agree that Tim's dialogue is very dated and unfortunate, at least most of the slurs against the Natives were made by characters who were supposed to be racist.


I like the idea of Matt helping Native Americans with land claims, its an issue that is still relevant.

The spiritual stuff and the connection between DD and Two-Gun Kid is pretty weird and I think its one of those things you either go with or you don't. I didn't have a problem with it, but it is very weird for DD and I can see how some people don't like it.

Another point, if Matt goes to a different place (it was kinda cool to get a story outside of NYC for a change) and DD shows up in the same place, doesn't that compromise DD's secret identity?

Anyway, I just wanted to give my general thoughts on this story and that trade, rather then trying to do a plot summary, which others have already done.

I will give this issue 3 stars, it has good and bad points, I liked overall (I certainly liked more then some of the really dull stories in that trade.)
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Darkdevil
Humanity's Fathom


Joined: 04 Apr 2009
Posts: 331
Location: The Bright, Sunny South

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, the real star of this issue is Mazz's art. His crisp style highlighted by the very effective coloring, lettering and inking gives this issue a very distinctive look and feel. The opening sequence with Two-Gun is so well done, it almost feels like you're watching an Old West film. And the last shot, with DD staring off with the faces of Two-Gun, the shaman and the others faintly visible within the majestic clouds, very well done. We may talk about the creative heights Mazz achieved with Miller, but it began here with his work with O'Neill.

As for the story, I still enjoy it, one of the more unusual DD stories that I've ever read. The premise is very intriguing, the similarities between two already existing Marvel characters is eerie. When I originally read this issue back then, I had heard of the Two-Gun Kid before and was surprised by these similarities. It's not something that's immediately apparent but once you learn of it, it seems rather obvious and odd.

For that matter, I wish Marvel would give more focus to their classic Western characters. Their catalog of such characters is equally impressive as DC's stable of Wild West characters. There must still be an audience for such material as DC's Jonah Hex title had an impressive run recently, lasting for nearly a decade or so. Marvel's stance may change under ANAD with the new Western title featuring Red Wolf that was spun out of SW so we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, what's the cause of the spiritual/psychic connection between Hawk and Murdock? What is the shaman? What is fate or kismet? Who knows, a lot stranger things have happened in the MU for a lot crazier reasons. But I give large credit for O'Neil in writing this type of story for this type of character. It has an almost Batman-like type feel to it. A hidden past mystery that ties into it's solving in the present. Both heroes feel drawn into doing the right thing, but it's only through working together that they are able to achieve justice. These themes of the past influencing the present, the slow but steady achievement of justice, fighting for what's right, these resonant quite strongly throughout the issue.

My only quibble, if that was the same cave DD and Timmy got trapped in as Two-Gun did, then who cleared out the initial cave-in at the entrance?

Between the story's uniqueness and Mazz's excellent art, I'd give this issue 4.5 stars.
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