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DD Book Club: Genetrix/False Man
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:31 am    Post subject: DD Book Club: Genetrix/False Man Reply with quote

Inhumans is about to come out and, regardless of whether anyone likes the show or not, I'm not missing up an opportunity to tie in to something. Originally, I was just going to do the final two issues with Ultron in them (275-276), but I figured I would never cover 271-272 unless I did it now. #271 is on Marvel Unlimited. #272 is not, but is available in the Lone Stranger TPB. Alternatively, on October 10, Daredevil Epic Collection Heart of Darkness will come out, which will also have that story. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #271 - Genetrix



Quote:
Daredevil takes a stand against inhumane treatment of animals, when he helps a young ecologist take down her father's slaughter farm. But darker secrets lurk inside the barn, secrets that, if unleashed, would raise moral questions too grisly to answer!


This story arc is interesting because many people wrote in to Ann Nocenti to say how it made them want to become vegetarians - something Nocenti herself is not.

Due 9/30
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember in High School, I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. My mom told me how she couldn't eat meat for a month after reading the early chapters talking about food production, my dad said it just made him hungry. This opening sort of feels the same way. Many people have said this story made them a vegetarian, which isn't true for the author. But it's still shocking and done in a way that's even creepier because of how they're talking about it. The whole point is engineering animals as a commodity for consumption. The point about the pigs not needing legs because they never walk is probably the more shocking moment. The idea of genetic modification as an answer raises these questions when they discuss that they could make a pig with no nervous system, which has no rights at all. This engineering a commodity thing is the theme of the story as it's clear that animal experimentation isn't the end of it. As bad as it is to create Number 9, it almost feels more like a sliding scale than a clear break from what came before.

After that, we're introduced to our hero and heroine. Brandy Ash is immediately an ambiguous character. She's got great fire and it's immediately obvious she's more sympathetic than her father, but she's also complicit in this cycle by accepting his money. Her use of violence (a firearm and hand grenades) also create some ambiguity. She's also very wonderfully 80s in her John Romita Jr. design.

The story explores gender roles, particularly with Skip Ash and his need to dominate. He's convinced that as the creator, the women engineered to be perfect wives would always be submissive to him. Likewise, he's created a dependency in his daughter who comes crawling back "like some shameful, hungry dog" for more money. Even though she's convinced she's subverting this by being an activist, she's also failing as well by gratifying her father. That's where the animal rights part comes in: "If we allow men to believe they can dominate animals to the point of such gross cruelty, it's an easy next step for man to feel that way about his fellow man."

This is a difficult comic to pull off. As interesting as the themes are, it's a superhero story. I think they do a good job at least building some suspense with the super-powered experiment being described and then escaping at the end. At a minimum, some teenage boys might be intrigued by a naked blonde woman with sexy hair covering her face seductively saying "Daddy." There are also moments between the dialogue/diatribe that have some life and flow quite well. The page with Daredevil riding Brandy's car just feels wonderful all around. Likewise, even during the speeches, the pictures of all the people on the right-hand side eating meat is a cool looking splash.

I know this story might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it a lot. Four and a Half Stars.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think I ever read this before.

Ann Nocenti isn't one of my favourite Daredevil writers. My main reason is her tendency to lecture, and that is full front in an expository speech Brandy levels on our hero. Brandy even goes as far as to admit it's a lecture.

Other than that, I enjoy Ann Nocenti's willingness to bring politics into the pages of Daredevil. Some might not enjoy it as much as me, but to each their own.

In this issue, Nocenti takes on Big Agriculture and genetically-modified food. What must have kids in the late eighties have been thinking when their comic book opened up with a tour of an inhumane farm? I think it's admirable that Nocenti dared to bring such adult topics to a young audience. Challenge them while their young.

This farm owner is such a colossal jerk! I like how Romita Jr. drew him wearing such a tacky shirt and a cartoonish mustache. Everything about this character is detestable. I'm not sure if Number Nine is designed to replace someone he lost, which may show a thread of humanity, or if he is just a dirty old man. It doesn't matter. I may have been searching for a single thing that would have made the character somewhat empathetic, and I don't think I found one. Brandy doesn't even seem to have a single thing she loves about her father. He is just wrong, through and through.

I thought John Romita Jr. had some gorgeous panels in this issue. Daredevil looks so dynamic in this issue. Other panels with Brandy are less detailed and may have been rushed, but I think this is overall great art.

This is also a great concept for a story. If we're willing to genetically modify farm products, what's to stop an immoral Big Agriculture mogul from taking genetic modification to the next level?

I would have liked to see why the scientists continue to work for the jerk. Does he have something to lord over them? Is he promising something? They clearly have ethical issues with what they're doing. I think it would have been good for Nocenti to show what they're going to get for their work, other than a lot of money, which isn't that interesting from a story perspective.

I do think Nocenti could have scaled back the space dedicated to unethical farming. I found a lot of it interesting, but at times I forgot about Number Nine, which may have made the ending more powerful, I have to admit.

But this is a strong issue. I give it a three and a half out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh, I didn't realize you hadn't read this. That'll make for a nice change of pace.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inhumans just debuted on ABC on Friday. Feel free to check that out or, even better, read this issue!

Daredevil Vol. 1 #272 - Liberation



Quote:
Number Nine has escaped! The favorite creation of a mad geneticist is on the loose, and she's run straight into the path of Daredevil! Will 'Miss. Nine' be rehabilitated? Or will her natural instincts overwhelm? Special appearance by the Inhuman Royal Family!


Due 10/7
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening narration of this issue explores Number Nine and the themes Nocenti is playing with. In many ways, it's a return for Nocenti, because Typohoid Mary explored society's expectations about women as well (it doesn't help that Romita Jr. seems only able to draw one type of female face here). But this is definitely a different character - someone who gave up everything for conformity to an idealized pefection. In story, though, it's something a bit more traditional. A young woman (albeit a naked woman) with special powers and no memory running while being chased by the police.

Her personality is interesting. "Number Nine is superior, I am destined to cook." She could theoretically be anything with her near invincibility, but her programing leads her to be in a subserviant role. She's frankly creepy chopping with a knife to give them all food. This is basically the "Lone Stranger" arc we did earlier and Daredevil continues his urge to move on, but it's obvious something is different. He's more engaged with the world. Although he's paying lip service to wanting to leave, he's at least communicating. The cover promises the Deadly Menace of Shotgun! To their credit, the cat and mouse scene where he's shooting at DD is quite good. I think he's more of a walking political commentary than a threat, but it's still possible for him to pack a punch. He did go down a bit like a chump, though.

The side plot is of the Inhumans. A bit of background here for those who don't know. In the Graphic Novel (collected in "By Right of Birth"), the Genetic Council of Attilan refused to let Medusa become pregnant because they were concerned the genetic offspring of Black Bolt would be too dangerous (since Black Bolt is destructive just from talking and his brother Maximus is both insane and has mind control powers). Medusa basically decided she should have a right to control her own body and give birth if she wants to. In that story, she became pregnant and hid out on Earth in secret. In this story, it appears her child has been taken from her. I'm curious to see if there's a thematic overlap or if Nocenti is really just using an excuse to continue the story she started. There's definitely an exploration of society's rules and whether they should be followed, but that's the closest I'm seeing so far.

Overall, it ends on a nice action note. The big takeaway is the change in Daredevil. By the end, he's focused and motivated and is going to stay and fight. Other than that, there are some interesting moments along the way. Four Stars.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
Ooh, I didn't realize you hadn't read this. That'll make for a nice change of pace.

I read that issue on Unlimited, because I misplaced my copy of Lone Stranger. I have since found it, and it seems obvious to me that I must have read these issues before. It's odd that these stories collected in Lone Stranger just don't stick in my memory.

Anyway, on to "Liberation".

This issue is a mixed bag. As divided as people's reactions to feminism are, I was fine with what was in this issue. The feminist elements are undeniable, and I don't always find feminism in Nocenti's Daredevil work. A friend of mine has said that only a woman could have created Typhoid Mary. I'm not a hundred percent sure I agree with him, but I think only a woman could have written this issue. The commentary on media depictions of female beauty are written with a sense of exhaustion. Nocenti describes Number Nine as "the perfect decoration." I don't think a man could have written something so biting, or would have chosen to.

Daredevil acts weird this issue, but I guess that's too be expected following his near death and his encounter with Mephisto. He still hasn't put himself completely together from that yet. But, from where I'm sitting, there is obviously something sinister behind Number Nine's sudden appearance, but he merely finds her amusing. That seems off. Brandy has to plead with him to stay and help, but he leaves to check out Skip's farm, and runs into Shotgun.

In what way are Shotgun and Ammo different? I'm seriously asking. Shotgun has to be one of the most generic Daredevil villains ever. There is nothing distinctive about him.

Another problem is that Shotgun's rounds are described as being enormously destructive, to the point that Skip says it's "overkill." Yet Romita Jr. draws this exploding rounds too small. They don't seem to cause Daredevil any difficulty. Daredevil describes them as "small bombs", yet they're not drawn that way. I would expect Romita Jr. to draw any bullet blasts that way.

Daredevil manages to stop Shotgun, and seems to have him at his mercy, but, without any explanation, lets him go. I had to check to see if I missed a page, but I didn't. At the bottom of the page Daredevil demands that Shotgun talk. I turn the page and Shotgun is walking away saying, "This ain't over." Why on earth would Daredevil let Shotgun walk away without dropping any intel? That is weak.

As for the Inhumans, I don't know much about them. They didn't seem to fit into this issue in any way, nor did I feel they added anything of value. I'm assuming they will play a larger role in the next issue, but I'm assuming they are going to hang around in this series for a while, or at least until Daredevil tears Ultron's head off. (I remember that.)

This issue had large problems, but there's also compelling stuff here. I give this issue a 2.5 out of five.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
She's frankly creepy chopping with a knife to give them all food.

That was creepy, which makes it strange that it didn't cause Daredevil any concern. I mean, she heales from her bullet wounds instantly, but he doesn't show even any curiosity in regards to from where she came. I know he's been through the wringer by this point in the series, but I would have liked to see some acknowledgement from him that something wasn't right.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing is, we can't even argue that Daredevil was acting out of ignorance since he talks about how she's programmed later (right before Shotgun attacks him). I think, at best, he kind of just decides that's not his problem anymore. I dunno.

Difference between Shotgun and Ammo? Ammo is a gang leader, Shotgun is a mercenary. Ammo is also skinnier. That's about it, although Shotgun is someone who symbolizes government excess in having the most toys (i.e., military hardware) whether it's needed or not.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are we doing the next issue?
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep. I usually post it on Sunday morning:

Daredevil Vol. 1 #273 - The Billion Dollar Ashtray



Quote:
Mysteries continue to unravel about Number Nine and her past. Shotgun ups the ante in his search for Skip's "genetically perfect woman." Can Daredevil save Number Nineā€¦from herself?


Due 10/14
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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


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this issue brings the Lone Stranger trade paperback to an awkward end. I'm assuming this story carries on into #274, since it seems to feature all of the same characters.

This issue suffers from the previous issue's nonsensical ending. It made absolutely no sense for Daredevil to allow Shotgun to get away last issue. But he's free, and he got back to Skip, who's got the CIA outfitting Shotgun with expensive military-grade tech. Two different characters in this story refer to just how expensive this gear is, which leads to this issue's title. Brandy takes the theme to it's logical conclusion -- "You know how many people that could have fed?"

I don't know Ann Nocenti. I don't know how strongly she subscribes to feminist doctrine. I don't know if she leans to the right or to the left politically. Many talented writers are able to write from a perspective they personally don't share. I think the most impressive thing about this issue is the way she's able to write Brandy's difficulty with Number Nine, who is basically a Stepford wife. Number Nine is designed to play to men's most base instincts, and that is abhorrent to Brandy, who yearns to be a strong independent woman who depends on no man. I think any human being, regardless of what you may think of modern feminism, can appreciate the nobility of another human's quest for strength and independence. Yet, no matter how noble I may find Brandy's quest (even if it's also misguided), Nocenti takes time to make Number Nine a sympathetic figure. As Number Nine nauseatingly fawns over and flatters Daredevil, Nocenti flashes back to her development in the tube, and has her cut herself to "drown out the pain in her mind."

It's weird that we're reading this issue so soon after the death of Hugh Hefner. There was something eerie about Number Nine referring to herself repeatedly as "poor bunny."

We're promised that the events with the Inhumans "are on a collision course" with Daredevil's life, but by the end of this issue that remains to be seen. I recently watched the first two episodes of the show. While it's not great, I don't think it's as bad as some reviewers describe.

Still, it's hard to imagine how Gorgon and Medusa's search for her lost child will tie-in with a Daredevil story. I know their paths cross in time for the "Acts of Vengeance" story featuring Ultron a couple issues from now, but I can't remember how.

Shotgun just doesn't seem to be a credible threat for Daredevil. Sure, Daredevil has to protect Brandy and Number Nine, who Shotgun can easily kill, and Daredevil has many less resources than Shotgun, but he takes him out with an oil slick. If those tires can withstand shattered glass, and are military-grade, shouldn't they be able to take on oil, varnish and glue?

I really liked it when Daredevil jumped on to Shotgun's hood to take him on hand-to-hand. He seemed to get the better of that fight, and even tried to save Shotgun from the crash. That seemed to be Daredevil reverting to the best parts of his character: impetuousness and preservation of life.

Still, it makes no sense for Shotgun to have been able to go back and get this gear. This attack from Shotgun should never have happened, even if it was pretty good action.

I'm hoping we're going to go on to #274, because this story doesn't seem finished, even if Lone Stranger suggests it is. It seems to be available on Marvel Unlimited.

I give #273 a three out of five. It's not bad, but it's nothing special either.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:

It's weird that we're reading this issue so soon after the death of Hugh Hefner. There was something eerie about Number Nine referring to herself repeatedly as "poor bunny."


I completely missed that. Good catch.

Quote:
I'm hoping we're going to go on to #274, because this story doesn't seem finished, even if Lone Stranger suggests it is. It seems to be available on Marvel Unlimited.


The plan absolutely is to continue. We're going to go through Acts of Vengeance and #276. We'll stop after that even if it is a bit of a cliffhanger because it's a little much.

I think this Trade suffers from it's completely illogical ending. The new Epic Collection is at least better. It starts the same place we did with 271 and continues through 282. I wish it started with either 268 or even earlier with 266 (Beer with a Devil). I tend to view this whole thing as the "Lone Stranger" story arc, but there's a clear part one (Daredevil wandering), part two (the Brandy Ash/Number Nine stuff), and part three (Mephisto in hell).

ETA: I completely forgot my review:

Over the years reading comics, you begin to pick up a few things about layout design that are interesting. One was that, as the years went on, Jack Kirby began to have a formula that was his signature - a splash page followed by a double splash page. He used it very effectively to show the epic scale of his stories. Interestingly enough, Romita Jr. has the same layout with a splash page of Shotgun's head followed by a double splash of him holding a big gun. It doesn't quite have the same epic sense of scale, but it does hide exactly what he's doing until the page turn. The point is to show the obsession with military hardware and overkill and a big gun that takes up at least half of the spread is effective with that.

The Inhuman stuff still feels like a combination of setup for later and Nocenti just trying to find an excuse to keep writing her characters. There's an attempt to thematically tie it with "breaking your programing," but it's superficial at best and doesn't really work.

Number Nine is an interesting character. I would love for her to come back. She's got her outward manifestation of happiness, but a clear inward pain. Her healing ability works for her physical wounds, not her mental ones. In fact, it's compounding it since she's constantly resorting to self-harm. I also love how much Brandy can't stand the character. She's so used to rejecting society's expectations of femininity that it's impossible to tolerate someone who is a walking stereotype of that ideal. It's both an exploration of Brandy's ideals of feminism (feminism is, in part, about being able to choose even this path if you want) and just some much needed comic relief.

I did like the fight at the end. There was something nice about how they could overcome all the resources of the military with some homemade responses. It feels a bit Saturday morning cartoon, but it led to some cool little moments.

Overall, I'm going Three and a Half Stars. I thought each story got a bit weaker. I'm hoping it finishes strong next issue before Ultron appears.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #274 - Bombs and Lemonade



Quote:
Brandy and Daredevil have it out with Brandy's dad. The Inhumans arrive on earth looking for Black Bolt's son.


Due 10/21
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luckily for me, my copy of Daredevil Epic Collection: Heart of Darkness arrived just in time for this issue. That being said, I'm still going to use my individual issue instead.

The story starts with the tensions between Brandy and Number Nine boiling over. One of the things that works is that some of the insults on both sides have truth to them. Number Nine was obviously programmed to a degree, but also genuinely believes what she's saying (and, it seems, believed it even before she became what she is now). In the whole thing, Daredevil is oddly passive, but, honestly, that's probably appropriate. This isn't his fight to resolve - it's their fight. You can sort of see that with Brandy's dad. He's the one who thinks the masculine thing to do is to use force to resolve everything. Daredevil did the right thing and let them fix it and that worked out for the best. The explanation of the issue title was definitely one of the bigger laughs in the issue.

Apparently, Brandy's dad is also involved with something related to Attilan (something I had completely forgotten), specifically with the genetic experimentation. This brings the two plots together in an unexpected way. On Attilan, I like the use of color here. The city is basically white outlines. Medusa is read hair. Black Bolt is more or less shadow. The whole thing is thematically much stronger as well, with Medusa essentially being subservient to her husband out of her duty despite his actions. He doesn't play much of a role (and, obviously, isn't going to speak to defend himself), but he definitely comes off as very unsympathetic even if it's the Genetic Council and Inhuman society that's the big cause of it.

On Earth, a similar thing is happening. Brandy's dad confronts them and Daredevil starts hitting him. When he does, Brandy leaps to his defense. After everything we've been through and all that we've done to establish Brandy as a strong, independent character, the fact that she instantly reverts to her programing is tragic. The debate that follows raises some interesting points on all sides. I don't think it makes Skip Ash more sympathetic, but it has a tendency at least to put everyone on the same level.

Overall, there are some good moments. Obviously, the actual story ends with a whimper not a bang as this is something that is too complicated for an easy resolution. But I do think it raises some interesting points that are definitely food for thought. The Inhumans side plot came climactically together and still feels a bit shoehorned. On the other hand, I also thought Nocenti did a good job of keeping it thematically connected throughout this issue when I think a different writer might have just kept it as an unrelated B-plot setting up for later.

Four Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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