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DD Book Club: Guardian Devil
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:40 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: Guardian Devil Reply with quote

Hello everyone. In response to Foggy's Pal's great suggestion, we've agreed to start a Daredevil Book Club. The idea is to read one issue a week and post your review. You can write a little or write a lot, but the hope is everyone writes something. Then we can spring off from it and start discussing everyone else's points. This thread is for Volume 2: Issues 1-8. Otherwise known as Guardian Devil written by none other than Kevin Smith.

First up: Guardian Devil Pt. 1 - And the Children Shall Lead:


Everyone read the issue and post your thoughts by Sunday October 5. I will start us off with my review in my next post.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Disclaimer: My review is deliberately overlong. Don't feel you have to do the same. I wanted to start with an introduction and give a little extra to talk about:


And here we go: Volume 2. After the morass of the 90s which resulted in record lows of comic book readership and near bankruptcy of Marvel, the comic industry emerged with a brand new approach. Rarther than spam out comics cheaply with the hopes that children would buy them with their spare change, comic books began to cater to a more specialized audience by offering a higher quality product (at least in terms of production, we'll have to see about story). While other big scores would follow with people like J. Michael Straczynski on Spider-Man, the first big steal was Kevin Smith.

As Joe Quesada put it in the intro to the fancy trade paperback version I have:
Quote:
When we were launching the first Marvel Knight books in 1998, Kevin was the coup he was the linchpin to the whole thing. And I don't mean that as a slight to anyone. I'm talking about the impact on us and the industry in general. I think Kevin's coming to comics was literally one of those seminal moments. Someday, if I'm able to look back at comics twenty or thirty years from now, I think the arrival of Kevin Smith is probably the single most important development in this particular era of comics, from the '90s to today.


Even though I made it decently far into Volume 1, it's clear just from the start of Volume 2 how much I'm still missing (and how much this is a direct continuation of what occurred before). There are references to plenty of stories that were quite recent in Karl Kesel and Joe Kelly. Even though Kevin Smith is a big shot, it's clear he's a fan who's fairly up to date. That being said (and I might comment on this later), but I'm not sure Matt's religious practice is quite as strong as Kevin Smith makes it. I think he sees some of himself in Daredevil, which is why he's played up that aspect. Still, it seems clear so far that faith and Catholicism are main themes of this story. In that sense, it's good to bring it to the forefront. Also, as set up, with Karen leaving acting as a triggering device, it's not so bad

Joe Quesada's art is a bit different, a bit on the cartoony side. On the other hand, there's some beautiful shots in it. Daredevil doing a backflip with the moon and birds is wonderful. I don't like how he draws Matt, though. Everything is beautifully colored. While the story is full of references that tie it to Volume 1, the quality of the imagery helps it stand out as something new and special. Although I will say Kevin Smith's word-heavy approach (not unusual for old school comics) sometimes makes it hard to see the art underneath.

As for the story itself, it's a promising start. The opening letter is a nice touch to quickly set the stage without having to explore that gap in time (it may be the first time lowercase letters appeared in a Marvel comic). The themes of faith and identity dominate the story. I mean, literally having a baby Jesus might be a bit too much on the nose. Of course, I'm sure there's more to come. I almost laughed out loud when she left him with the baby. Standard gangsters are the villains, which is fine because I'm sure there's more. I know very little about the details of this story, so I'm so far unspoiled when it comes to what happens, although I can certainly guess about who we're dealing with.
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Dragonbat
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Joined: 15 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's really hard to forget what this leads to and just judge this issue on its own merits, the way folks did when it first hit the stands/LCS. That being said...

The art really doesn't do it for me. It's not that it's cartoony; I like cartoony. It's just plain ugly.

That being said, Quesada does draw a very nice DD. It's his Murdock and everyone else not in costume that fall short. (Foggy isn't at all funny, but he's drawn like he's supposed to be comedy relief).

Story-wise, well, it's been said before and I'll say it here: Matt's telling Karen that she was going to hell for not being Catholic really bugged me. It's just not him. (And it looks like writers before and after, for the most part, agree.) However, his thoughts on missing Karen and not being able to use "her" bathroom, etc. do make me ache in a good way.

The rest of this issue is mostly setup and groundwork and it does its job well. Since I do know who's behind it, I'm sort of trying to see if there are any hints to "prove" it along the way or if this story was never meant to be a mystery to solve logically, but a "maybe you'll guess but you can't deduce" thing.

If the "star poll" were up, I'd be vacillating between 3 and 4 and wishing there was a 3 1/2 option. I'd probably come down on 4, just because I tend to be a person who will nitpick and rant about minutiae, but when pressed to actually grade without comments, I go soft.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Should I have added a poll? I guess if I did every issue individually I could have, but that seemed a bit a much. Out of four stars or five stars? I'll go four out of five. It's mostly setup, but I think the setup is well done.

I agree completely about your point about the art (good Daredevil, bad Matt). I also agree about Foggy (hadn't thought about that, but it's true). I like the scenery, it's just people that are bad. That being said, non-established characters are better just because there's nothing to compare it to. Not great, but it doesn't bother me as much (divorced chick and teen with baby aren't so bad).

The opening letter with Matt telling Karen she's going to hell is probably the thing that'll grate on most people. It bothered me too. Thankfully it's just in the letter so it's something we're told not shown. To me, that makes it easier to ignore.
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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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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nah, I don't think we need a poll. Just saying where I'd rate it if there were one. Cool
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Foggy's Pal
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, thanks Mike- great idea for the new thread Very Happy
I appreciate you jumping in- I've been swamped with sports supervision at school lately.
First thing I want to address is the "going to hell" problem. This issue is heavy with Catholicism, but for my experience as a Catholic, a modern Catholic, Smith's Catholicism seems to stem from his childhood experience in the 70s. No one I know is quick to judge others as going to Hell. That view doesn't permeate the church the way it did with Oder Catholics. There is also a good dose of Catholic guilt here. That too has subsided. (And I come from a very old school Catholic family)And, you can tell he is digging from his older experiences because he says, "forgive me Father," generally we now say "bless me Father." What I wrote certainly doesn't make the remark more palatable, but it may help put it in perspective. In addition, the heavy handed religious aspect lays the groundwork for Matt's confusion over the mystery surrounding the baby. I can only assume that's why Smith laid it on so heavy.
I'm generally with you on the art. I think Quesada's art looks great on Spider-Man, but it's far too cartoony and out of whack anatomically for a grounded character like Matt. I also prefer a more muted color pallet. While I don't prefer this style, it did serve the story.
What I really enjoy about the first issue is the religious mystery- very appropriate for a DD story. And I love the story title- great play on Guardian Angel. The key for me is that we have to believe in the back of our minds that this could be true even though we know there is a practical answer. Watching Matt and Foggy navigate the story is the fun part. What I love about Matt being Catholic is that there is supposed to be an expectation for the way he lives his life, but like us, he screws up; he's human. He's not the big blue Boy Scout. That's what I like best about him.
(Gotta stop for now, left my computer at work and I am not enjoying typing on an iPad.)
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone who was raised in a more or less Catholic family (with, more important, Catholic relatives), I agree somewhat, but also disagree. In my experience, it's always the mother making sure the kids go to mass and CCD every Sunday and the dads kind of just tag along. Matt's situation is different because he didn't have a Mom. I can't see his Dad being overly religious, but I will agree that he might have required his son to go every week because he had to play the role of both parents.

The only thing is that, while Catholic doctrine certainly teaches that you go to hell if you don't go to Mass, I don't know many Catholics who actually believe that, not to mention say it. To me, all those who do say it are 90 year old ladies. That's the part that bothered me. I see Matt as someone who believes it's proper to go to church and would raise any children he had by having them go, but I don't see him as someone who actually goes. Like you said, he's a flawed human and I think his religious practice is something that is flawed as well.

That being said, I do think him telling Karen that she'd go to hell could have been more playful joking rather than serious belief.
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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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Foggy's Pal
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points Mike. I really agree with the flawed religious practice point you made. It's showed especially through his moments of doubt- another reason he is so relate-able.
Regardless of how we see Matt and his religion, I do think it is necessary to set up the shocker at the end.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently reading this issue again, it's wordiness is stunning. When Matt leaves the confessional and stops the guys in the car, there is such an unusually high amount of text to read that you can easily forget why he is stopping these guys, until you finally get to the part where Gwyneth got away. (Although I don't know how a normal girl like her can evade someone like Matt.)

I didn't read this issue when it first came out. I had stopped buying comics for many years, but remembered loving Daredevil when I was young. I was thinking about trying my hand at screenwriting with a Daredevil story, and went to my local comic book shop to see what was going on with Daredevil these days. Volume 2 #7, a Smith/Quesada issue was the latest, so I picked it up. Quesada's art blew me away. It was cartoony, yet detailed, and very fluid.

Looking at his art these days, the impact is only slightly less. Some panels look a little hurried, and Quesada does have an odd way of drawing mouths. But the use of shadow, the texture of the water, and the layouts are all very impressive. For me, Quesada's art had a much larger impact than anything Smith wrote.

It's a good introduction to the world of Daredevil for newcomers. I'm certain that the many people who bought this issue were looking forward to the next one.
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Foggy's Pal
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that we have reached the 5th, seems like we should have a final word on the issue or a score out of 5, something like that to wrap the issue. Maybe a one sentence final review and score. What do you think?
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure: 4/5 - Good set up and an interesting premise, but I was bothered by some out of character moments.
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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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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like I said above, 3.5 stars. If I can't have fractions, round up to 4. I'll have less-kind things to say as we progress, but this issue on its own hits most of the marks it has to and does it very well.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel like I'm sharing a boat with Dragonbat. I'll rate this issue a 4.
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Foggy's Pal
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will go with a 3.5/5 because I like the wordiness, even if it is overkill at times, but although I like Quesada's art, I found it distracting. It's a little too cartoony for my taste on this book. For the most part, I did enjoy the set-up and the last page reveal.
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james castle
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I'm late to the party but I wanted to toss up my thoughts on issue #1 before we all move on. I read these issues when they first came out and was sort of taken in by the hype. I remember genuinely liking them except for...well...let's not spoil anything. I read them again when I started buying all the Daredevil hardcovers and hated it. For me, it'll be interesting to keep reading the thoughts of people who are reading it for the first time.

Anyway, here are some quick point: I agree about the wordiness. I find Smith's writing super contrived. The idea that Gwen would actually pray that "things don't get worse" and then reflect on the "irony" when he parents are beheaded is super tone deaf. Smith is obviously trying to be cool or clever instead of genuine. Similarly, I hate his Marvel character name dropping. It's usually jarring and out of left field. I also hate the Karen stuff. She left because she didn't think Matt could actually forgive her (undermining one of Born Again's greatest scenes/themes)? Also, all the "missing her" stuff is basic and childish.

That said, I have bashed Smith a lot before and I don't want to repeat myself so I thought that as we went through the issues I would track the actions of the villain as a way to explore the plot. I'm only reading one issue at a time at the rate we're supposed to so I'm not sure how funny this will end up being. Although, I suspect, very funny.

Okay, so, I present to you:

WHAT IS THE BAD GUY DOING AND WHAT DOES HE WANT? ISSUE 1.

1. Presumable blew up a maternity ward. On page 4 we see two dudes exit the maternity ward moments before it blows up. We're not sure who did this but it's pretty bad so we know that at least some bad guy did it.

2. Hire two rude dudes to kill Gwen's parents. During the chase beginning on page 5 Gwen describes waking up and seeing her mom beheaded over her father's dead body (which, in my opinion is needlessly disgusting and torture porny). Since she's running we can probably assume that those dudes killed her parent. We know those dudes work for the bad guy because:

3. The bad guy hired the two rude dudes to "eliminate" "the quarry". On page 14 we see a mystery bad guy (who I'm going to call The Putter for now because he has a putter) talking to the two rude dudes while "Mister Gabriel" looks on. The Putter chews out the rude dudes for not "eliminating our quarry". We're not sure if the quarry is Gwen or the baby or both. In any event, The Putter is so pissed the the quarry wasn't eliminated that he kills the two rude dudes. As a footnote we now know that The Putter wants either Gwen or the baby either dead or otherwise "eliminated".

4. Did not have anything to do with the apparently miraculous birth. On page 14 The Putter says "That the whelp was seeded without our knowledge is one thing", indicating that the baby was at least conceived and maybe born without The Putter's involvement.

5. Plans to intercede in a more direct way. On page 14 The Putter complains that Daredevil has been "introduced into the fray" too early and in such a way that he may have to intercede in a more direct way. Although there are later events in the issue that we may suppose are the intercession I'm going to leave speculation aside and only deal with things we know. At this point the nature or the intercession is unknown.

6. Plans to appeal to Daredevil's humanity. See page 14.

STRANGE DOINGS AND MYSTERIES SO FAR!

The Lord or an angel appears before Gwen and tells her to seek out Matt Murdock/Daredevil. She does so and tells Matt that the baby is the result of a virgin birth and that he has to protect the baby to save the world.

Foggy is weirdly in love with Lydia.
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Last edited by james castle on Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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