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DD Book Club: Genetrix/False Man
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 980

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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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 900
Location: Toronto

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
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 980

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
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 980

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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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 980

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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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 900
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it impressive when a writer can argue both sides of an issue convincingly. Nocenti comes commendably close in this issue. Until now, Skip has been portrayed as one of the biggest pieces of scum this planet has ever produced. Suddenly, in this issue, he faces off against Brandy and and pokes holes in her political argument while defending his own.

What holds this back from being a roaring success is the amount of time that has been devoted to portraying Skip as a monster. We, as readers, aren't open to receiving his arguments.

However, Nocenti continues using Brandy and Number Nine to explore the pros and cons of modern feminism. Romita Jr.'s two panels showing Number Nine's changing facial expression before she slaps Brandy were stellar.

I guess the most uncomfortable thing about this issue is Daredevil's place in it. He has no place in the feminist conflict, so he mumbles that he'll never understand women and tells Brandy and Number Nine to settle it amongst himself. He happily accepts Number Nine's fawning and sandwich-making. His only relevance seems to be in dispensing legal advice. Sure, he beats up Skip, but it would probably have been more rewarding to readers if Brandy had gotten the better of her father.

Daredevil also puts a stop to Skip and Brandy's political discussion in a ham-fisted way.
Quote:
Look, it seems to me that you're both very passionate and should respect each other's political passion, which is a rare thing to have these days, and learn from each other.

He may as well have said, "That's all the time we have."

I commend Nocenti for taking on such heady topics as feminism, political polarization, genetically-modified agriculture... but this story is bursting at the seams with all of these topics, and there doesn't seem to be enough space to adequately deal with them.

This issue takes an upturn for me, since we don't have to deal with Shotgun. I enjoyed the conflict between Brandy and Number Nine. I also enjoyed the Inhumans a bit more in this issue, since Brandy saw some shipments from Attilan. I also felt more sadness for Medusa, but I have no idea why Black Bolt is keeping her away from what I assume to his child -- unless I'm mistaken about that.

It's been a while since I read the next issue. I'm looking forward to it. I give this one a 3.5 out of 5.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
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.

I think Nocenti did a very good job playing with the them of gender roles. While Brandy and Number Nine were fighting about what it means to be a woman, Skip was obsessing over what true manhood is, telling himself he only needs "his fists and his wits." It was a nice juxtaposition.
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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also like that he was like "my fists and my wits... oh, it wouldn't hurt to bring a gun, a gun is manly" (more or less).
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 980

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the delay, I was without internet this weekend. This is technically a new story, but I thought it was best to just keep going and finish it up.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #275 - False Man



Quote:
Dr. Doom constructs Ultron 13 and sends him after Dardevil during the Acts of Vengeance.


Due 10/28
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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!
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 900
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this is the only "Acts of Vengeance" story I have read. I was under the misconception that the entire event involved Doctor Doom pairing up heroes against villains that they never fight. Wikipedia has informed me otherwise. My world is shattered.

I don't get Doom's reasoning from the first page.
Quote:
The Kingpin has been trying for years to destroy his nemesis, the Daredevil. Why does he always fail? Perhaps the Kingpin is a man who enjoys his enemies! Kingpin does not believe that where he fails, Doctor Doom will succeed! As always, it is a great man's ego that is his downfall! I will show the Kingpin that a mere robot will easily kill his precious Daredevil. It will be a true Act of Vengeance in many ways.

What does "vengeance" have to do with Doom's scheme? I can only imagine Nocenti's frustration when the order came from on high that she had to shoehorn in the event title somewhere in her story.

So Doctor Doom rebuilds Ultron. This thirteenth incarnation of the robot contains all of the programming from the previous twelve incarnations, and they're all at war with each other. Once we start reading Ultron's thoughts, it's clear that Nocenti has chosen to tackle some pretty heady themes. Ultron recognizes itself immediately to contain flaws, and it's obvious that Doom doesn't notice these flaws, causing Ultron to surmise that Doom himself is flawed.

Nocenti waxes philosophic like she never waxed before. We get Ultron monologues in this issue. Check out this one.
Quote:
Kill the Daredevil. Why? I don't hate him. None of one through thirteen hate him any more than the rest of humanity. Why must I commit this unnecessary act? Because of one circuit, somewhere in my brain, that orders the act? Swept by electronic fate. The futility of one man, trying to find himself in the windstorm of fate.

A robot has a soliliquy about "trying to find himself in the windstorm of fate." Did you ever think you'd find that in a story ever?

It seems that Nocenti was excited to get Ultron and Number Nine together so that she could have a pair of characters who don't know who they are, where they came from, or why they're here. Number Nine is initially horrified by Ultron, who blasts her, but when she heals he is amazed by her healing ability and sees that she has no flaws. She becomes Fay Wray to his King Kong.

Daredevil does little more than brood in this issue. He once asks himself the question, "Why am I here...?" to keep Nocenti's theme united. He springs into action when he hears Number Nine's screams.

The Inhumans find out that their lead guiding them to Skip's farm was a dead end, so there's no legitimate reason for them to be there. Gorgon and Karnak are still no closer to finding Medusa's child. Oddly, Skip is being helpful to the Inhumans, even though he was depicted as the world's biggest creep up until now.

Once Daredevil springs into action, Nocenti gets very ambitious with her Ultron dialogue.
Quote:
How dare you, Doctor Doom! By creating me you mock man and defy the true creator!

Who? The Judeo-Christian God? Hank Pym? Stan Lee? Who?
Quote:
I must be destroyed. My creator must be destroyed for his original sin!

What "original sin"? The sin of creating Ultron? Or some previous Doom misdeed?

The following splash page of Ultron being attacked by Gorgon and Daredevil is confusing for a few reasons. First of all, Gorgon says, "Good hit Daredevil!" even though the page only shows Gorgon's impact. There was no previous panel showing Daredevil attacking Ultron. If this page shows Daredevil doing anything, it's him ducking behind Ultron's legs so Gorgon's hit topples him over. And it looks like Gorgon has normal feet! I think this attack could have been shown in a less confusing way. More panels could have been used. Instead, the end of the issue relies heavily on splash pages.

Ultron is a ridiculously high-powered foe for Daredevil, so I'm curious to read the follow-up, which I have read before, but not for a long time. But the weighty themes Nocenti has tacked on to this plot are handled in a confusing way. It's kind of confusing to see Skip being treated as something of an ally. The search of Medusa's kid is somewhat thrown away. There's some sloppiness at play here. I don't know if having a tie-in thrown at her kind of derailed Nocenti's plans, but I do respect her ambition. The execution is just sloppy. I give this issue a three out of five.
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