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DD Book Club: Daredevil Noir

 
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:49 am    Post subject: DD Book Club: Daredevil Noir Reply with quote

Daredevil Noir

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The latest addition to Marvel's red-hot Noir line offers a unique spin on the Man Without Fear! Prohibition-era

Hell's Kitchen is Kingpin territory, and until now, his only problem has been the masked vigilante known as Daredevil.

When gangster Orville Halloran arrives on the scene, fresh from a stretch in Sing Sing and eager to stretch his wings,

Hell's about to get hotter. For P.I. Foggy Nelson and his loyal assistant Matt Murdock, it all starts when a desperate

woman comes to their office with an irresistible story about her and Halloran. To Foggy, she's a client -- to Murdock,

she's enough to make Halloran Daredevil's next target. But Murdock is about to find out that half-truths are poison

truths, and that the Kitchen is full of history that will put him on a collision course with both the old Kingpin and the

man who wants to replace him.


This is a little altenative universe story for Daredevil, but it looks like it'll be fun.

First up:

Daredevil Noir Issue 1: Liar's Poker



Due 5/23
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoyed this first issue.

I remember when this series came out, someone in my local comic book shop accused it of rendundancy: "Daredevil already is noir." There is some validity to that statement, especially in 2009 when this issue was published. Many of the captions feel like they could have come from Miller. A lot of the panels feel like they follow the same style as Alex Maleev or Michael Lark. But writer Alexander Irvine and artist Tomm Coker are going for something different here.

The prohibition era immediately sets this apart from other Daredevil stories. The first two panels set the tone, depicting the aftermath of a brutal battle in a stairwell. Coker seems to have made some interesting choices. His Fisk resembles Humphrey Bogart to a degree, and his Foggy reminds me of Edward G. Robinson. Obviously those are two of the most enduring stars from the film noir's heyday. Their images help the reader imagine their voices, which is a nice touch.

I like that Matt isn't a lawyer in this story. As unjust as it is, there would obviously be some professional avenues closed to those with disabilities. He could, however, be the assistant to a private eye. Nice touch.

I'm not crazy about this costume. They claim it's influenced by vaudeville. I'm not sure I see it. The action sequences in the warehouse were also hard for me to follow from panel to panel. Did Matt cause that explosion, or did a stray bullet? Was it even an explosion or a gasoline splash, which would later prove flammable? As I said, hard to follow, which I've come to believe is a weakness of photo-realistic comic book art.

But this is an impressive project, full of very nice touches. You have to love the use of Ben-Ray dots to give it that retro feel. It's so weird that I've encountered absolutely nothing from this writer and this artist since.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Starting off, let me just say that I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I agree that Daredevil, at times, has noir elements (particularly Miller, but also Brubaker), but noir's also not all that easy to define.

Have to say, love the fakeout early on. The idea that blind Matt Murdock has no chance of becoming a lawyer is a surprising one, but fitting of the period. You get the impression even in the 1960s when Daredevil was written that prejudice against blind people was still fairly pervasive (the amount of times he's called crippled early on is surprising to a modern viewer). The fact that the audience is expecting him to be a lawyer and then has that ripped away fits this dark tone perfectly.

Making him a PI fits the tone. That alone could justify the change. Really, the scene with a woman smoking a cigarette talking about Orville Halloran just bleeds gumshoe like it's Nero Wolfe or something. The monologue thoughts are also well done.

As for the plot. It's good. It's more set up than anything. The gang war intriuge is pretty good. Kingpin remains a master tactition in any generation. Framing the story as a conversation between Murdock and him helps keep him in the focus even though you have no idea what he's doing. Otherwise, there's just Halloran's girl (I almost said "dame") and her mystery. But there's little else so far.

So I like where it's going, but it sells more on atmosphere than plot. Still, it's far above just a gimmick. Four Stars.
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Dragonbat
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Joined: 15 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I admit I have a soft spot for these types of... Elseworlds/AUs. The kind where the characters we recognize get switched into some other milieu and we look at how this changes them. So, put Matt in the 30s and he's still fundamentally him... but he's not a lawyer, even if he's still doing his bit legally to help put criminals away by day, and putting on a mask at night. It works. (Though I'm curious as to how Matt has his hypersenses in this world. Was he just born with them?)

Same thing with Fisk; he's still playing all the angles and manipulating things to his benefit.

I'm curious about the woman. She could be Elektra. She could be Lady Bulls-Eye. She could be someone with no Marvel-616 analog.

So far, this is intriguing. I'm eager to see how it plays out. 4 stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2015 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also wondered if she was supposed to be Elektra. The look has some similarities. Still, different name, different backstory. Could just be an original character (which is fine with me). Like I said above, it's very much a classic detective story with the girl in distress coming for help, but with a hidden agenda.
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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 May 24, 2015 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Noir Issue 2: Liar's Poker pt. 2



Due 5/30
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really enjoyed this issue.

The artwork is perfect. The dialogue is snappy. The atmosphere is ideal for a noir tale.

I really enjoyed how Eliza has totally captivated Matt in a very short amount of time. She's a perfect femme fatale. I like how we haven't been given a glimpse of the Bull's Eye killer yet.

If I have any quibbles, and I guess I do, it's how we, the readers, are supposed to just buy into the idea that the Bull's Eye Killer works for Halloran, just because Jimmy says he does. This isn't something we see Matt find out for himself. This is something Matt accepts as fact because a secondary character says it's fact. So we consequently have to as well. That's somewhat lazy.

I also found the caption about "no longer wanting to be in control" somewhat awkward. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, because, to me, it didn't look like Matt was in control. He was dodging bullets, but was disoriented by the gunfire. The oncoming train just added to the cacophony. I don't know why Alexander Irvine phrased that caption that way. He clearly isn't controlling the situation.

Other than that, everything else about this issue was fantastic. I'm not going to say, "If you love movies like The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity, you'll love this," because I think the first two issues feel a little more violent and bloody that those classic noirs. But I think this is very impressive so far.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, part two. I'm looking right off the bat for a bit more story, not just atmosphere. It starts off with a conversation between Murdock and Fisk. The dialogue is very Bendis (and the art Maleev). The Fisk/Murdock alliance is interesting, although I'm not sure it's earned. Why choose Fisk over Halloran (besides Halloran's girl asking for help)? He makes the decision even before he finds out the connection between Halloran and his dad.

I do like the exploration of the Bulls Eye Killer. He's a man who never misses, but is otherwise unexplained to start. You don't even know who he's working for, although people suspect Halloran. Certainly, he's probably not going to launch people with a giant crossbow.

I like the "Murdock doesn't do this, Murdock isn't a hero" moment. It weaves Matt's vulnerabilities with Eliza with his duality of personality. The street vigilante can get away with things and then distance himself from his other half.

Overall, it's a step down. There's a lot of forgiveness to an initial issue for setup. The second issue needs to drive the plot. I think the character stuff has moved a bit, but the plot certainly hasn't. I'll go Three and a Half Stars. But I do think things still have an opportunity to turn themselves around.

ETA: I agree the suspected loyalty of the Bulls Eye Killer isn't earned. The audience's suspicion is Kingpin anyway, so just stating "Oh, it must be Halloran" is met with skepticism. And, if it is Halloran, that it isn't a surprise. Overall, it just doesn't work.
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Kuljit Mithra
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DD Noir was one of my favourite mini-series. I know a lot of people didn't give it a try just because they felt that DD was already NOIR, so why make a title about it.

I interviewed writer Alex Irvine and artist Tomm Coker just after the first issue came out. There aren't any spoilers for the rest of the series, so check it out.

http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/IrvineCoker

They had some interesting views on some of things you guys have been talking about.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Noir Issue 3: Liar's Poker pt. 3



Due 6/6
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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: Sun May 31, 2015 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. My reaction to this issue is puzzling. Coker's art is still beautiful. Irvine's dialogue and captions are still top-notch. (I wouldn't compare him with Bendis -- he's far less verbose. He's closer to Miller; he does a lot with a little.)

But close to ninety per cent of this issue dealt with Matt searching for Halloran -- so much so that it was descending into comedy, coming at the expense of the noir atmosphere. The scene in the confessional was actually funny, and didn't belong here.

I'm still dealing with the reveal of the Bullseye killer. It's been years since I read these issues, and I'm finding that I forgot everything. This reveal probably makes sense, since someone can tell Matt a lie if they sincerely believe the lie to be true. I'm not sure this reveal is foolproof though.

I didn't enjoy this issue as much as the first two, although the creative team is top notch. They're telling this story incredibly well, but it's starting to look like the story isn't adding up to much.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Kuljit for the link to the interview. How is it with spoilers (i.e., should I wait until the end before I read it)?

Now for part three. Would have gotten it sooner, but I just came back from a long flight. I have to say, it starts off a bit confusing to me. Seems hard to follow. Eliza definitely seems to be an Elektra character, though. But I'm otherwise not sure what's going on. I guess Eliza's been taken. However, the art makes up for it with Eliza in the rain in every picture. The mood works at least.

The scenes of Daredevil trying to find Eliza are quite powerful in their violence. This is definitely someone on the edge. But I'm also not entirely sure the edge has been established effectively. He fancies this girl, that's about it. Given that, the twist at the end doesn't feel earned. Matt Murdock's lie detector being fooled worked well, though, since I at least had all the comics to fall back on for that to catch me by surprise.

Maybe I'm just tired, but the whole thing left me confused and confused doesn't make for a good result. I'll have to give it Three Stars.
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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 Jun 07, 2015 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Noir Issue 4: Liar's Poker pt. 4



Due 6/13
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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 Jun 07, 2015 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue, to me, sees this incredibly promising mini-series just peter out.

Don't get me wrong -- Coker's art remains fantastic, and Irvine still nails the noir dialogue, but the plot resolves itself in an unsatisfying way.

I think the revelation of the Bullseye Killer's identity was a let-down for me, and that battle takes up the opening third of this issue. So I was still dealing with that disappointment.

Matt's discussion with Foggy was well done enough, but that's all it was.

Then there was the closing dialogue with Fisk, that led up to that double-page spread that promises so much... but delivers zero.

It's a very weak ending.

The shame of this ending is that Irvine and Coker put a lot of their talent and capability on display. That's why I think this series could have stood to go beyond four issues. Marvel has given Irvine exactly four more issues worth of work since this (Iron Man: The Rapture) and Coker has never worked for Marvel again. (He has done two projects through Image.)

Oh well. The series started off so strongly, and captured the atmosphere and environment so perfectly, but ended up going nowhere with this non-ending.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are parts I like here. I like the analogies Matt uses about this feeling. They're about the humiliation he felt in shows as a blind man acting as a source of entertainment. That really helps hammer home the different time period and what that means for Matt Murdock not attorney at law. I also liked the fight scene under water, I thought it was well-executed.

On the other hand, I don't really buy that he loved Eliza. There just wasn't any setup at all for it. I can't even recall her appearing in every issue and I only really recall one meaningful scene together between the two.

I do like the reflection about what happened in the conversation between Matt and Foggy. It's a good downer note that would fit for a noir. In fact, if it had ended there, I probably would have thought it was the perfect ending. Instead, it has a bit of a tacked on scene at the end that made it more about Matt vs. Fisk (which makes sense), but didn't really feel earned. Too much was about Halloran vs. Murdock to flip it around.

Overall, it felt a little rushed and a little thing. There was a lot of potential here, but it probably could have used some more time to devote to these points.
Three Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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