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DD Book Club: Child's Play
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:44 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: Child's Play Reply with quote

I called an audible here this time. I'm starting it a bit early to give people a little extra time to read it. But I thought it would be a nice change of pace. Plus, after Daredevil: Father, I felt like I needed something good.

Daredevil Vol. 1 Issue #183 - Child's Play



Quote:

Someones peddling Angel Dust to children in schools and reaping a string of profit and innocent deaths. Daredevil is thrown straight into this horrible world as a girl he saves from a falling building succumbs to the drugs effects. Vowing to find the people responsible he comes into conflict with the Punisher, who as he is trying to find the people who are responsible. But these two men have totally different views an ways on how to stop these men.

Who will win, the Man who obeys the law or the one who works around it exacting his own version of justice.


Had to steal that Comicvine overview to give a summary. Interestingly enough, this story was originally developed by Roger McKenzie, but the Comics Code refused to publish it. Instead, a fill-in writer had to come in, writing a story about the Mauler and McKenzie was essentially booted from the comic. Because of that, Frank Miller became writer. Eventually, he decided McKenzie was right that it was a good story and he got Marvel to fight to get it published. That link has a page that never made it to the new script.

The plan is to make this a two-part book club with 184 next week.

Due 3/28
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to do a classic story as a change of pace, but it was hard to know where to start because the story is much more ongoing. The previous issue had an awesome scene where Punisher escaped from prison. But this is a fairly self-contained two-parter (while that story was about the death of Elektra) so I thought I would give this a shot.

Powerful opening. It starts mysterious, with a little girl halucinating about snakes. Then things turn dark quickly as she jumps out the window. The scene of Daredevil running to the hospital, cursing that his enhanced senses knows she's dying is pretty dark. And in spite of everything, it's just PCP not something supernatural causing all this (although I will say the after school special about the drug might have been a bit much). I love the Punisher appearing in the middle of a fight. It shows the contrast between the two. Daredevil doesn't want to hurt them because they're just kids on PCP, while Punisher doesn't care. The second fight is even better, drawn in a way only Frank Miller could. The iconic shot of Punisher shooting Daredevil (with what turns out to be a tranq gun) works well.

The issue has one of my favorite lines: "Darkness doesn't descend on Hell's Kitchen. It spews up from shadowed doorways and back alleys and fire-gutted tenements as if bloated from a day's worth of pain and misery and suffering. Or perhaps hungry for more." The art that accompanies it of Daredevil all in shadow works well.

The theme of vigilantism vs. the law is always a prominent one in Daredevil, none more so than this story. It's the contrast between Daredevil and Punisher, but it's also about the soul of this boy. He's being told the law works, trust in the system, don't take it into your own hands and kill. Then he's being told to wait for trial, the law works and he'll be acquitted. And it seems to work. Daredevil tracks down witnesses that seem to suggest Hogman was the murderer. Therefore, Billy was acquitted. But what's this? Hogman says he's innocent and Matt believes him. Now he's going to defend him too.

I really like this issue (of course, otherwise I wouldn't have picked it). With the exception of the ending (add to the Matt Murdock is a dick file), it's very self-contained. I think it loses slightly because of the drug speech. But it sets up its themes very well and we'll see how things end up next week. Four and a Half Stars.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm looking forward to re-reading this issue!

It's strange that Marvel would give MacKenzie such a hard time about this story. Didn't DC do their classic story about Green Arrow's sidekick being an addict several years before?
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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miller definitely has a gift for language. The narration in the first few pages reads like poetry.

I'm not sure I like the clever disguise of civvies over full costume. But I do like the way he's going easy on the kids and his horror when he realizes Punisher isn't.

Matt taking on Billy's defense put a smile on my face. Who is the prosecution and what is her beef with Matt?

Love the fight with Punisher. Miller also has a gift for pacing and it shows here. The fight is exactly as many panels as it has to be to get the point across. No more, no less.

Another smile at page 19. Who says low-level thugs are dumb? (No, actually, what they say is 'no honor among thieves. And that one bears out.)

Minor critique on the art. We'll see this in Born Again, too, but although we KNOW Matt is blind, he's not drawn that way. Check out page 21, where we see his eyes behind his glasses. They're way too clear and focused.

Other than that, though, Miller and Janson do a very good job here.

I don't really care for Matt's bluntness in talking Heather out of trying to run her father's company. Even if he's right about her not having the skills (and I'm not sure if he is or isn't), the way he does it comes across as patronizing and condescending. The proposal would have been a lot sweeter had it not been "You don't need to take over your father's business to feel successful and accomplished. Just be my wife."

I'd have expected that sentiment in the 50s. Mayyyyyyyyybe the 60s, just because art sometimes imitates life at a somewhat slower pace. But in 1982? Not a good look.

Still, apart from that epilogue, this is a darned good story. 4.5 stars.

ETA: I wrote this without reading Mike Murdock's thoughts first. I notice that we saw eye to eye on the ending and the rating...
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have the benefit of hindsight in that ending. It goes from Matt destroying her role in the company so she'd marry him to Foggy and Black Widow sabotaging their wedding, to Heather Glenn committing suicide. Not a pretty picture.

Matt's "disguise" doesn't make a lot more sense. He'd be less recognizable as Daredevil if he took the mask off. On the other hand, it makes for a quick transition when he fights the Punisher. Plus, at night, I can almost buy that it would work.
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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I read those issues too. Thinking that, had I been reading them when they first hit the stands, I might have considered dropping the book over the way Matt (and to a lesser extent, Foggy and Natasha) behaved. But if I had, I would have missed Born Again and Bendis and...

Ah, hindsight...
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james castle
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even though breaking down good plats is a whole lot less fun then breaking down bad plots I'll try to break down this one just to get a sense of what a good plot looks like. SO:

Child's Play Part I (OR: Wow. Remember when a monthly comic had tonnes and tonnes of story in a single issue? I mean, look at all that plot!).

1. Matt attends a school to talk to a class when a student named Mary freaks out and jumps out the window and falls to the concrete below.

2. Matt changes into his costume (imagine that) and, after some discussion with Coach Donahue in which we find out the Mary is only 12, rushes her to the hospital. En route we get a little in context lesson about DD's powers.

3. Matt meets with the doctor and learns that Mary has died partially because she was taking Angel Dust (for all the kids out there just imagine Bath Salts but in the 80s). We learn that there's a current problem with kids taking Angel Dust and we get a bit of background on it (NEW PLOT - Daredevil Fights Angel Dust!).

4. Billy, Mary's brother, shows up and vows revenge on Hogman and his partner (NEW PLOT - Billy Wants Revenge!).

5. Matt puts on his costume and then ANOTHER costume on top of it to investigate this Hogman character. Basically he wants to catch Hogman and his partner before Billy does.

6. Meanwhile, Billy sneaks into his parents room and get his father's gun while his father watches tv and his mother nags his father!

[TIME OUT: Okay, I think this is a good time to note that we're on page 7. PAGE 7! In seven pages eight characters, not counting Matt, have been introduced: Mary, Billy, Coach Donahue, the concerned doctor, Hogman, the unnamed Slimey Partner, the unconcerned father and the unconcerned mother. Also, two major plots have now been set up. Matt is trying to stop whoever is pushing Angel Dust AND Matt is trying to do so before Billy does something stupid. All in seven pages!]

7. Some punks go to Hogman's hide out to buy Angel Dust. Hogman's not there so they buy it off Flapper (in aforementioned Slimey Partner). We learn that Flapper is skimming money off Hogman's dealing (NEW PLOT - Flapper Skimming off Hogman!).

8. The punks smoke the Angel Dust and decide to mug Matt in a costume in a hat!

9. Despite his amazing hat costume (which I actually love. honestly, the whole era of Matt walking around in a disguise over his costume is just great) the punks realize it's Daredevil. They attack anyway and Matt goes easy on them until he gets punched and knocked down. He's about to get hit with a bat when a punk falls over dead with a knife in his back because:

10. Punisher's here! Punisher attacks the punk and is about to kill them when Matt intervenes and saves them. Punisher realizes it's Daredevil and is like "hey man, nice to meet you" when....

11. BLAMMO, Flapper is walking by and is shot dead (END OF PLOT - Flapper is Skimming Off Hogman). (NEW PLOT - Who Killed Flapper?).

12. Matt goes to the roof to discover the shooter is...BILLY? Billy is on trial (NEW PLOT - Billy Charged With Murder) and Matt volunteers his services as a lawyer.

[TIME OUT: Okay, so let's all just appreciate that Flapper has a total live panel count of 2, a total dying panel count of 1 and a total dead panel count of 2. He's in 5 panels. PLUS, we go from meeting Flapper to Billy being on trial for the murder of Flapper in 5 pages. Five pages which also include the introduction of the punks, the Punisher the Judge and the mean prosecuting lady. Also there are two separate fights in those five pages! Man. Old comics. It's nuts.]

13. Matt goes to talk to Ben to get some info on the Punisher. We get a bit of background and the central theme is introduced (NEW PLOT - Daredevil vs. The Punisher - Means and Ends).

14. Matt goes back to the roof top to do some investigation. He realizes that someone fired a rifle shot from above Billy's position. BUT, he also realizes that that shot would be hard and there'd be no good reason to use that vantage point other than the shooter being unable to climb.

15. Daredevil sees the Punisher beating up a homeless man. Punisher is trying to get information on where Hogman is. Daredevil intercedes and they fight because of Means and Ends. Punisher tranks Daredevil, beats up the homeless guy and leaves.

16. Matt saves the homeless guy and gets Hogman's location. Matt confronts Hogman and takes him in.

17. The homeless dude testifies and says someone shot above Billy. Billy is acquitted (END OF PLOT - Billy Charged With Murder).

18. Hogman is arrested for the crime but his steady heartbeat tells Matt that he's innocent (NEW PLOT - Matt Defends Hogman).

19. Punisher finds out that Matt is defending Hogman and is not too happy about it.

20. Matt belittles and then proposes to Heather in an effort o shoehorn in some long arc business.

Phew.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great breakdown. I agree about the density of plots. If this were a modern comic, it certainly wouldn't have gone past Billy getting arrested in issue one. I actually had to doublecheck to see that there really was much more plot. A court plot, an investigation, the opening with PCP, Billy getting revenge, plus two whole fights with the Punisher.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love these two issues so much.

If anything threw me about #183, it's the lack of concern Billy and Mary's parents show. I guess we're supposed to conclude that they're crappy parents. They don't seem to realize that Mary isn't home. Didn't a cop or a doctor call them to let them know she died?

Other than that, this is Daredevil at its absolute finest. Miller and Janson were firing on all cylinders here. (This is only two issues after #181, which I deem the finest single issue of a comic ever.)

How can you help but love Daredevil here? He's the ultimate hero. The doctor asks him, "What are you going to do?" "Whatever I can," he replies. Ben Urich voices concern about Daredevil wanting to go up against the Punisher. Daredevil answers, "That's my job." This is a man with a clear sense of right and wrong, and elects to do right simply because he can.

The page and a bit that Miller and Janson spent showing Daredevil figuring out where the shot that killed Flapper came from was a highlight for me this time around. There was a simplicity to the art that I don't find very much these days. Any artist today depicting that scene would add a few bells and whistles.

I feel that I have to defend Matt a bit in that closing scene. He clearly is not in his right mind when it comes to romance, having just suffered probably the most traumatic loss of his adult life. I think it would be unfair to expect him to be in his right mind. I've always read this proposal of marriage as a sad look into a flaw in Matt's character. I look at it as a rather sloppy grasp at what looks like emotional stability. Of course it's wrong, but how much correct behaviour should we expect from someone in his circumstances?

Would I have done what Foggy and Natasha did by the end of Miller's first run? No. If I was Foggy, I would have watched this unfold, and like him I would have been worried sick. But, I think I wouldn't have stood in the way of the marriage. Matt's a big boy, and a smart one too, and he can handle the consequences when it inevitably falls apart. And it's not like Heather shouldn't know better too.

Anyway, I diverged from #183. James Castle is absolutely correct to point out how much plot Miller crammed into his issues. It makes me hate decompression all the more, although I think today's comics have improved on that front since Bendis' heyday.

By the way, a quick Google search shows that "Snowbirds Don't Fly" was published in Green Lantern/Green Arrow in 1971, a full eleven years before this story. That's when Green Arrow finds out that his ward, Speedy, is a junkie. Given how much ground that story broke, it makes you wonder why Marvel's editors were so obstinate when McKenzie originally proposed this story.
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james castle
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:

How can you help but love Daredevil here? He's the ultimate hero. The doctor asks him, "What are you going to do?" "Whatever I can," he replies. Ben Urich voices concern about Daredevil wanting to go up against the Punisher. Daredevil answers, "That's my job." This is a man with a clear sense of right and wrong, and elects to do right simply because he can.


Agreed. I also love how Daredevil used to fit in with the rest of the world. Like when he runs into the school yard everyone is like "oh Daredevil's here" and just talk to him. Same thing when he's talking to the doctor. The Doctor is talking to him like he's a cop or something. Daredevil is just a trusted part of the community.

Dimetre wrote:

Anyway, I diverged from #183. James Castle is absolutely correct to point out how much plot Miller crammed into his issues. It makes me hate decompression all the more, although I think today's comics have improved on that front since Bendis' heyday.


Unless Bendis is writing them. His X-Men comics are hilarious these days. He's writing two series and basically nothing happens in either of them.
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LightningandIce
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't been posting much here lately. I even skipped the whole MWF book club, despite being one of the people who suggested it. I apologize for that. This seems like a good point to get back into, though.

This is a pretty good story. I remember reading it for the first time a couple years ago and loving being surprised by how good of a follow up it was the whole Elektra saga. I'm reading this at the same time that I'm typing, so my post will be sort of a "live commentary."

The first thing I notice is a minor lack of continuity from the last issue. If you remember, #182 saw Matt having a nervous breakdown over the death of Elektra amid a snowstorm. In this issue, there is no mention of either of those things. I can buy that maybe it was just one of those freak fall or spring snowstorms that powders the ground and then melts, but man, did he get over Elektra quickly or what? You can probably chock this up to the original writing from McKenzie. Maybe Miller didn't want to change it much.

The opening description of the snakes is very potent and creepy. I find it coincidental that Matt just so happened to be in the same room at the same time. Did nobody notice that Daredevil came from inside the school, or that the guest speaker vanished in all the commotion? Also, not sure how I feel about Matt taking the girl to the hospital. I'm no EMT, but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed the move somebody with a major spinal injury. Even if the ambulance would have been slow, I'm sure poor Mary would have fared better with a stretcher than being jostled around by Matt carrying her.

The dialogue in the hospital reads like a PSA. The description on the following page, about darkness spewing up from the alleys and the gun being filled with death, is great. A little melodramatic, maybe, but it sets the mood well. And I agree about the kids' parents.

The rest of the issue is pretty great. I really like the detective work that Matt does. It adds some intrigue to the story. This is also apparently the first time DD and Punisher ever cross paths. I like when they clash. Punisher is always an interesting villain. Yes, he's technically an anti-hero, but with his morality and methods, I like him better as a foe to the heroes.

And speaking of Punisher, the fight scene was pretty good as well. I always like Miller's fights. They're cohesive; you can see how the characters move from one panel the next. Their actions make sense. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine when fights have no logical motion to them and are just random action-y poses.

Actually, WAS Miller the artist, or had Jansen taken over pencils at this point? I already book the book away and I'm too lazy to walk back over to my shelf.

So anyway, great issue. Looking forward to more.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil 184 - Good Guys Wear Red



Due 4/4
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, I love this issue.

This one features what I think are some of the most creative panel layouts in Miller's career. I've always remembered the page where Heather is signing contracts she doesn't understand, but I also love the way the two pages are layed out with Matt and Heather's phone call. But the topper has to be the page where Billy is walking with a gun to kill Hogman. The way that one building separates the scenes between Hogman and Billy's family is genius. So much happens on that one page.

That was Miller's strength at this stage in his career. With an economy of panels he could move plot and action forward at a rapid pace. He was one of the best at that, if not the very best. (I don't feel good referring to him in the past tense. Apparently he's very ill, but I'm doing so because his work has been a pale shadow of what it used to be for a very long time now. Best wishes for a full recovery.)

Klaus Janson was also brilliant in this issue, with some inspired use of colour. It doesn't make any sense for Matt to be coloured blue and Heather to be coloured red in that aforementioned phone call, but it really helps put the scene on edge. I don't know how Miller and Janson knew that that would work the way it did. It must be instinctual. It's similar to the page where Hogman kills Markie. Janson chose to bathe the characters in a yellow light. It's fantastic.

If one thing didn't sit quite right reading this issue this time around, it was Hogman's choice to inform Matt that he's "guilty as sin." There's no reason for Hogman to do that, other than to move the plot forward. But it does fulfill that purpose, and it leads to everyone's favourite part of the story -- that last showdown between Daredevil and the Punisher.

Punisher is such a good foil for Daredevil, because he puts his ideals into perspective. Daredevil stands for justice, not revenge, and he believes in the judicial system, even with all its faults. Punisher doesn't believe in much anymore, including any of the three branches of government, except that criminals are vermin and must be exterminated as such. One of the most definitive moments in Daredevil history for me comes when he pleads with Billy not to kill Hogman. "Don't do it, Billy! Don't throw your life away! We'll get him for killing Markie-- and poisoning Coach Donahue. I promise." Even after Hogman tricked him, and Matt unwittingly aided in a miscarriage of justice, and even after he was forced to shoot the Punisher, Matt still retains his ideals. That's the Matt Murdock I respect. He believes in his profession and its potential for good, and he takes it very seriously. (The latest issue by Waid and Samnee was such a failure partly because of its inability to portray this aspect of Matt's character.)

Miller really did define Matt Murdock's character more than any writer before him or after him (including Stan Lee), and it was mostly through moments like this, along with this issue's last scene. "We're only human, Billy," Matt tells the young boy. "We can be weak. We can be evil. The only way to stop us from killing each other is to make rules. Laws. And stick to them. They don't always work. But mostly they do. And they're all we've got." Add in that scene where Daredevil pulls Bullseye out of the path of an oncoming train from earlier in Miller's run, along with his speech to Lieutenant Manolis immediately afterward, and Miller depicted one of the most noble superheroes of all. That's something I don't think some subsequent writers quite understood.


Last edited by Dimetre on Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good review. For what it's worth, I seriously considered going with Devils as an issue instead. The scene where Daredevil rescues Bullseye is one of my favorite moments ever (and drawn in a cool way too).

My review:

I just want to start by saying that the title is one of my favorites. It's just the opposite of what you usually expect, but it fits Daredevil so well. On one side, you have Daredevil (and Elektra), on the other, the Punisher (and Bullseye, fyi). The issue starts off by making Hogman as unlikeable as possible. He's a slob who chews with his mouth open. In a very subtle moment, he confuses Clarence Darrow (one of the greatest lawyers ever) with Charlie Darrow (the guy who invented Monopoly). Although I think anyone who claims it's a good game is a Shyster, but I digress. However, Murdock is emphasizing a good point. You don't have to like your client to want him to get a fair trial. His tactics are very Perry Mason (which I don't think works in the real world, but I've never tried).

The Heather storyline continues a bit. I actually liked this storyline overall (the company aspect hinted at the end more than the relationship aspect). I don't think they were a particularly interesting couple and the phone call scenes (fresh from a marriage proposal) show why. They're just in their own little worlds.

The coach on drugs scenes continue the after school special, but the art style with the smoke coming from his mouth just looks cool. Who cares if it makes any sense, you immediately get the point?

Of course, Hogman decides to solve his trial himself. Then, when the charges are nolle prossed, acts twice as slimy as before. The whole theme of the story is the idea of whether you trust the system. It's why the Punisher is in the issue. He doesn't trust the system and prefers to take things into his own hands. Billy seems to be following down that path and Daredevil is trying to stop him. The thing is, Daredevil gets close to that path as well (even if he never fully commits). In the end, there's a promise that Daredevil was right, but it's hard to say for sure. Although he's being charged, it doesn't mean he'll not get away again. Certainly, Billy doesn't entirely buy it. Daredevil argues that we're a society of rules and that's important, but it's hard not to feel more sympathetic towards the Punisher's position. In the end, Punisher missed Daredevil on purpose because he felt they had the same cause, while Daredevil, in fighting for the system, not intentionally shot the Punisher (and also defended a murderer (albeit mistakenly)). In true Miller fashion, the story tells a complete story, but raises more questions than answers. But there's a subtlety. A modern writer would prefer to see a hero cross a line and leave it at that. But Miller (at this time) knew that the hero needs ideals. It's what makes him the hero.

I'll give it Five Stars, with the Clarence Darrow reference giving it the boost.
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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scrolling past the other reviews, I'm jotting down my thoughts as I read. Pardon any disjointedness.

Like the opening fight scene.

I'm glad to see Heather showing a bit of spine, both toward Spindle and toward Matt's proposal. I know how this ends, but at least she's fighting back against the condescension. Though that 'Good girl, good girl,' makes me cringe.

I like Matt's ploy to weed out the real killer... I've seen variations of it before in other properties, but that's okay. I've seen fistfights too. It's all in the execution and this is well-executed.

So, Matt can hear the phone before it starts to ring... huh.

And my heart goes out to Heather again on this one. I don't blame Matt here; it's more unfortunate timing contributing to a really bad outcome down the road, but I can't really call putting her on hold a 'jerk' move, so much as something to regret in hindsight.

Another gorgeous fight scene. And I like the glimpse into his thought processes and how he deduces what's going on.

Hogman is a real piece of work, isn't he? I want to believe DD beat him up anyway, off-panel. Just maybe with slightly less force than usual. And in one panel, we get to see exactly why Matt is so furious. Not just winning a case he wouldn't have taken if he knew the truth (or would have gone for a plea bargain/etc had he decided to step up and take the case anyway), but the effect on Billy.

FINALLY! The parents at least show some concern and awareness. Very little, very late, but it's there.

And may I just say that I love the composition on that page?

Nice bit, Punisher telling Bobby to go home rather than stay and watch.

And love that confrontation between DD and Punisher. So much going down in so few words and panels.

A heart-stopping moment when Billy got the gun. And I like that Billy isn't entirely convinced that the legal system works. He's not totally unconvinced, but it would be unrealistic for him to react otherwise.

Hmmm... so Heather's uncovered something ominous. Nice tie-in.

4.5 stars from me.
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