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DD Book Club: The Man Without Fear
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 12:00 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: The Man Without Fear Reply with quote

And now for something a little different. Summer of 1993 was a big time for Daredevil. The main comic saw the debut of big changes for the character, as the epic Fall from Grace story began. In this story, Daredevil battles everything but the kitchen sink, Elektra returns, and he gets a new suit. While the story may be criticized for being full of 90s over-indulgence, there was no question it was intended to shake up the status quo. At the same time, another story came out (arguably stealing its thunder) that allowed readers to go back to a more familiar time. The Man Without Fear storyline is a look at Daredevil's origin story once more written by Daredevil's most famous writer. Originally planned as a movie script, this comic adaptation allowed Miller to retcon the story to his liking. That's why, technically, it's considered outside of the mainstream continuity. However, it has an undeniable influence on the regular title. Many of Miller's elements have been adopted by the comic. In addition, it appears the new Netflix series will draw heavily from it. Because of all this (and because it's a damn fine story), it should be a worthwhile read.

So, without further adeu:

The Man Without Fear Issue 1



If you have the graphic novel (like I do), end on page 27 with the Fixer pulling the trigger.

Due Jan. 10
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uh, so before we begin ... slight problem.

The version I have doesn't separate itself into specific issues. Does anyone have the original comics or knowledge of where one ends and the next begins?

ETA: Best I can tell, this is the correct order. I may be off by a page in some cases (without affecting the plot much) and I'm very uncertain about issue four's end. If anyone knows I'm wrong, let me know, otherwise, this is what we will go with:

Issue 1 - pp. 1-27 - Ends with Jack Murdock's Death
Issue 2 - pp. 28-59 - Ends with Elektra falling
Issue 3 - pp. 60-91 - Ends with full spread of the Kingpin
Issue 4 - pp. 92-118 - Ends with full spread of Matt running
Issue 5 - pp. 119-End - Ends with the end (duh)

I'll update the first post with the first one, since I'm confident of that one.
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LightningandIce
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think my trade is the same way, but fortunately I do own issues 2 and 4 of the original print. You seem pretty close, if not spot on.

-The first panel of #2 is Matt looking at his father in the morgue. Jack's feet are in the foreground while Matt an a doctor are in the background.

-The last panel of #2 is Matt's face on the left while a girl in a bikini is falling in different poses. There are three caption boxes that read "no--" "no--" and "to be continued..."

-The first panel of #4 is a full page shot of the Kingpin, followed by a flashback in all red. The first panel after the flashback is a shot of the city, with a big billboard that says "Maraschino Cherry."

-The last panel of #4 is Matt in his ninja gear crouched on the left side, with the silhouette of a building on the right. Captions read "make no sound," "concentrate," and "to be concluded..."

-Obviously #1, 3, and 5 would be everything before, between, and after the above.

Hope this helped!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! Alright, I'll start the reviews:

It's clear a lot of time and effort went into every panel in this story and the first shot shows it. It does a great job of setting the scene of a young boy in the summer of New York city. And much of the early story does a good job just living in this. I like the contrast of the Matt, who wants to be mischievous and the Matt who does what his father tells him to do. Matt fighting back after getting teased led to one of Frank Miller's biggest contributions (included in his last issue of his initial run). After getting pushed too far, he fights back like he thinks his dad would. This only makes his dad angry and leads to his dad hitting him. This scene (created to explain why Matt would choose to become a lawyer) is a bit clumsy no matter how it's told. But it looks beautiful nonetheless as the sun sets on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Matt's accident is iconic. It's over quickly and told in a way that assumes the audience is familiar with it. But the after effect is nice. As the chemicals affect him, his senses go in overdrive. The idea that sheets feel like sandpaper and painkillers have no effect is terrifying. It's in this context that Sister Maggie (just briefly here to retcon her existence) adds her trademarked calming influence. Speaking of retcons, Stick has a big role. I know a lot of people don't like the character, but I think he makes sense here. When I first read it, Matt splitting his arrow was a great, iconic moment. It shows he's truly ready. Plus, the scene of them jumping the rooftops is great.

There's a lot to like about this story. Arguably, it's trying to do too much. Daredevil's origin story is told in the original Stan Lee story without a lot of this extra baggage. Given this, it was probably necessary to go halfway. This story ends with Battlin' Jack's death and the next part will resolve what happens. Ending with Jack's death probably could have benefited more from making the story about Jack. Still, he does have his moments. Having Jack take the role of mob enforcer is a pretty big change to the character. But the dynamic is still the same, a man who has to compromise so his son won't have to. It's just that, after the initial bit, the story seems rooted firmly around Matt. Jack's role is to have actions done to him in order to effect Matt. But I can't complain. The end is his own as he stands up defiant. Comes off showing he has guts, redeeming his earlier cowardly behavior. There are clearly parallel threads that don't quite coalesce, but it's not the end of the story anyway - just the beginning. Overall, it's held together by a strong third person narrative (hey, look at that, a third person narrator, don't see that anymore) that keeps things cohesive. It comes off as a fable being told, keeping things moving with just enough space to let the art breath as well.

Four and a Half Stars.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always been a fan of Romita Jr's work and in this series, he turns in some of his best work ever. So many now iconic images come from this work and the first issue has it's own fair share, from the large shot of Matt's face with separate bandages over his eyes to the gorgeous double-page spread of Stick and Matt dancing across rooftops in the early morning.

Matt's accident is covered briefly, but I think it's interesting to note the surroundings in those few panels, from the dress of the blind man in peril to the design of the background cars, the scenes convey a slight sense of the 60s, at least to me, which I think is a nice touch.

I'm not sure what all problems some fans may have with Stick, but I've always liked the character. His influence on Matt's life makes sense to me and here, we see his tough teaching in full force. (The bow scenes were fun). Romita's depiction of Stick, in the shadows observing Matt, displays his underlying danger and mystery.

Jack's fate is sealed the moment he complies with the Fixer, but it's interesting to see how Miller shows his influence and fears upon Matt. Jack's arguing with the corporate lawyers over Matt's accident was a nice albeit sad touch. Matt's resolve to study law after Jack hitting him may have been a bit contrived but it's an influence that makes sense and shows that even when Jack screws up, he's still pointing his son in the right direction. His murder at the hands of the Fixer was short and brutal, especially Romita's shot of the bloody pulp of Jack's face.

And yes, the cover to this issue, as well as for the remaining issues, may be a 90s gimmick, but I like them.

In short, after reading this issue, you know Miller and Romita have something really special in store for you the reader and for Matt Murdock. A terrific start.
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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think my favorite panel is the one where Matt and Stick are jumping rooftops. One of Miller's key strengths, IMO, is pacing and it shines here. Every panel counts. And if the voice-over narration does seem a little excessive, it still works.

A bit annoyed by the colorist making Matt blond, but this is a minor quibble. 4.5 stars from me.
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The Overlord
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do wonder if "Man Without Fear" really is in canon though, it contradicts the Silver Age Daredevil origin story somewhat and both Daredevil Yellow and Daredevil Season One seem to reinforce the Silver Age story events. It would take a little work to square that circle.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My understanding is it's explicitly not canon. But many of its elements have been incorporated anyway. Then again, retconning is common throughout comics. Sometimes they just decide they like something better. Yellow is another example of a retcon anyway.
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RGdesigner
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just my 2 cents.

The Man Without Fear is the second best Daredevil story ever written. The best being Born Again. Miller and Romita Jr are just on fire. This and the first couple of Sin City volumes were the last truly great things Miller wrote before going crazy.

Different writers always pick and choose which parts of each origin story they want to reference. So its almost as if both the original Stan Lee origin and the Miller origin are both canon and at the same time not canon unfortunately. Personally whenever the silver age origin is referenced I always think of it as a mistake that the editors didn't catch. How anyone, whether reader, writer, or editors could prefer the 1960s origin is beyond me. To make a food comparison, one of these stories is a burger from Krystal and the other is a perfectly seasoned filet mignon.
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The Overlord
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RGdesigner wrote:
Just my 2 cents.

The Man Without Fear is the second best Daredevil story ever written. The best being Born Again. Miller and Romita Jr are just on fire. This and the first couple of Sin City volumes were the last truly great things Miller wrote before going crazy.

Different writers always pick and choose which parts of each origin story they want to reference. So its almost as if both the original Stan Lee origin and the Miller origin are both canon and at the same time not canon unfortunately. Personally whenever the silver age origin is referenced I always think of it as a mistake that the editors didn't catch. How anyone, whether reader, writer, or editors could prefer the 1960s origin is beyond me. To make a food comparison, one of these stories is a burger from Krystal and the other is a perfectly seasoned filet mignon.


Well except this mini series was originally meant as Miller's version of script for a DD movie (which would be in its own continuity), so I don't think it was Miller intention to displace the Silver Age origin.

I also think Elektra and Kingpin are somewhat different here, then they are in the main DD book. Again the different characterization makes sense, because it is supposed to be a different film continuity. I'm not going to talk about Kingpin until we get the issue, ditto with Elektra, but they do seem like alternate continuity versions of those characters. I will discuss those characters as the reviews continue.
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RGdesigner
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand that it was originally a script for a movie, but that doesn't change the fact that way too much of this story has been integrated and referenced into the ongoing Daredevil series since it was published. It may be Marvel's official stance that this isn't canon, but really Marvel's "official" stance most of the time seems to be kinda what I said, picking and choosing what continuity to ignore or acknowledge at any given time. And thats not just for Daredevil. Different times and different people in charge make all the difference.
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Kuljit Mithra
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a time, it wasn't canon, but then JM DeMatteis used elements from the story in his arc, and then also Joe Kelly in the DD/Deadpool Annual. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it here.
Different writers have a different stance on what Matt's age was when he was blinded. That was one of my many pains when I worked on the Daredevil encyclopedia. Smile I prefer to think Matt was older, because who took care of him once Jack died?
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admiralpetty
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for this story's status as canon, I'd say its about half cannon, depending on who is currently writing. For instance, original continuity has Matt getting hit in the face with a radioactive canister(or whatever you call it), with no real implication of toxic goo getting on his face. Whereas in this story it is presented differently as radioactive goop. Also in the current Daredevil run, Waid has shows it as toxic goop as well.

I think Miller meant it as a different continuity from the main one originally. After all, he retells the original DD origin in his first run on DD(and as we'll see as we get further into the series, it also differs from his original origin for Elektra). But as writers are want to do, they tweak and retcon things to their liking(how many times has Iron Man's past been tweaked now?). Another interesting point is that in the first issue of Kevin Smith's run on DD, kicking of the Marvel Knights era, the recap page shows images from Man Without Fear when explaining DD's origin.

Conversely, Marvel recently released all of their Marvel Season One graphic novels. In these they present a slightly updated retelling of the various character's origins. In their DD volume it clearly follows the original continuity, suggesting that Marvel's Editorial staff may still consider that version true canon(the fact that the graphic novel is incredibly lame notwithstanding).

Either way, I don't let little nitpicks about canon get in the way of enjoying this excellent DD story.

As for the first issue of this run, I love it. I have to say that I have gotten burnt out on most of Romita Jr's work in later years, but this story to me at least, is the best work of his career and it perfectly fits the mood Miller is going for with the script.

Miller's writing is excellent in this issue(as it has always been on DD). I love how he fleshes out Matt's back story. The additional details, like Jack working as an enforcer, really add even more emotional depth to what was already an excellent and tragic origin. My one minor criticism is the portrayal of why Matt decides to become a lawyer, just seems a little odd, but the scene of his father hitting him is very powerful and effective nonetheless.

Overall I'd give this issue a 4.75 out of 5
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The Overlord
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RGdesigner wrote:
I understand that it was originally a script for a movie, but that doesn't change the fact that way too much of this story has been integrated and referenced into the ongoing Daredevil series since it was published. It may be Marvel's official stance that this isn't canon, but really Marvel's "official" stance most of the time seems to be kinda what I said, picking and choosing what continuity to ignore or acknowledge at any given time. And thats not just for Daredevil. Different times and different people in charge make all the difference.


Fair enough, I do feel that Kingpin and Elektra are somewhat different here then in the main DD series, Elektra has mental issues that never seem to be addressed and Kingpin crosses a major line that he never crossed in the main title. I don't want to get too much into that, before Kingpin shows up, but I would rather that part of the story remain non canon.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuljit Mithra wrote:
For a time, it wasn't canon, but then JM DeMatteis used elements from the story in his arc, and then also Joe Kelly in the DD/Deadpool Annual. If you haven't read it, I won't spoil it here.


For what it's worth, I think you can pick and choose which parts are canon and which aren't. There have been some moments that haven't been integrated and might never will. I'll wait until we get to the right point, but there is one change next issue that finally picked one stupid oversight Stan Lee had with the original back story. However, it's only been partially followed since.

Quote:
Different writers have a different stance on what Matt's age was when he was blinded. That was one of my many pains when I worked on the Daredevil encyclopedia. Smile I prefer to think Matt was older, because who took care of him once Jack died?


My personal view is he was relatively young when he was blinded (i.e., Middle School) but roughly at the age of High School (or just graduated) when Jack died. I like the idea that part of what is driving Jack to work for the Fixer is not just that he needs to pay the bills, he needs to pay extraordinary bills. If Matt is supposed to become somebody important that doesn't fight like his dad (i.e., learn things from books), those books would have to be in braille. It gives an extra motivation for him to start working for the Fixer.

As far as Matt's age, there is a very good analyis of this. It also covers a lot of these issues being discussed regarding changes to the origin story. Interestingly, the Man without Fear script says that Matt was 16 when he was blinded (but JRJr drew him closer to 10 for some reason). It also shows a Bendis/Maleev issue where Matt looks to be about six when his father dies (I would just say it's a dramatization and not put much stock in it).

I apologize for doubleposting, but I do want to focus specifically on a couple issues and this post is a bit crowded.
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