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DD Book Club One-Shot:DD #226 Warriors

 
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:05 am    Post subject: DD Book Club One-Shot:DD #226 Warriors Reply with quote

When we were talking about issues to have next, someone mentioned the Micah Synn saga. While it is sadly not on Marvel Unlimited, it did inspire me to pick something by Denny O'Neil that is. This issue is written by both Denny O'Neil and Frank Miller. The issue is included in both the Born Again TPB and the Loves Labor Lost quasi-Denny O'Neil one and is easy to think of as a sort of prequel to Born Again, but I also think (or at least hope) that it stands well on its own. So, without further adieu:

Daredevil #226 - Warriors


Due 6/21
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kentuckydevil
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YES THE GLADIATOR!

I still have my original issue..

going to have to go back and reread it now..


ky
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good pick! Looking forward to re-reading it.
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LightningandIce
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: DD Book Club One-Shot:DD #226 Warriors Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
The issue is included in both the Born Again TPB


My TPB doesn't have this one. Which printing includes it?
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The copyright page says second edition third printing. So, third?
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know how anyone can improve upon David Mazzuchelli's rendition of Daredevil. It's perfect. There are similarities to Colan, but Mazzuchelli is my favourite. Perhaps I feel that way because he was drawing Daredevil when I discovered the character, but I still think he was the best artist to ever draw him.

I also think Denny O'Neil is an unfairly overlooked writer in Daredevil's history. I know he's more deeply associated with Batman, but some of his Daredevil stories are my all-time favourites. I'm curious what involvement Miller had with this story. My guess is that Miller told O'Neil and Macchio his plans for Born Again, and suggested the seeds be sown in this issue for the break-up between Matt and Glorianna, along with the spark between her and Foggy.

The narration is in first-person when Daredevil is talking about himself. When the narration is about Betsy or Melvin, it's in third-person, and the boxes retain their yellow colour, which makes it somewhat confusing. Is it still Daredevil's narration? I suppose it doesn't really matter, and it's easy enough to overlook.

I found the page focussing on Betsy was especially strong. O'Neil doesn't treat her merely as a damsel in distress. She's a trained counsellor who is experienced in dealing with volatile people. She attempts to use her skills, and I liked that.

O'Neil did an especially good job escalating Daredevil's foul mood throughout this issue. That contrasts nicely with Foggy's chipper attitude. But man, is Matt ever cranky here. O'Neil's word choices really shine: "Moving with all the grace of your average cow." I loved that one.

The fight between Melvin and Matt was very well done. Matt seems to simply be putting in time during it, and shows zero respect for Melvin throughout. He's simply pissed off to be here. It's such a foul attitude he has in this issue.

Of all the characters in the Marvel Universe, Matt is among the most human, and the most prone to human error. I also find him to be among the most noble, and this issue is another illustration why. He comes to realize that he was wrong to treat Melvin the way he did, and sets about making amends. "I feel the fog lift from my brain for the first time since... The ugly feeling in my gut is shame. It's up to me to make things right."

From there we get some beautifully drawn action from Mazzuchelli. The three panels showing Melvin walk closer to Betsy while Daredevil eliminates the threats are fantastic.

This issue ends very suddenly, and that's a problem for me, but this is a very strong installment in O'Neil's run, the entirety of which I strongly recommend.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright here we go. I specifically chose my Love Labors Lost TPB version over by Born Again TPB version because this is supposed to be a Denny O'Neil issue, not a Frank Miller issue, although there's clearly influences of both (and I don't think anyone writes Melvin Potter like Miller). This TPB also reminded me that this issue followed a fairly depressing issue where Daredevil gets beat up by Vulture and Matt finds out the business is closing. None of that would compare to Born Again that followed. But I'm getting ahead of myself, the goal is to judge this issue on its own.

I love the opening. This is before they've switched from third person narrator to first person so thoughts are generally in thought balloons. Here, however, the narrator does a great job of capturing the confused mind of Melvin Potter. But it's clear it's not just confused, it's conflicted. He's deliberately trying to avoid thinking about the pain he's causing and the actions he's taking - which is a far cry from his old boistrous self.

The other person whose head it goes into is that of Matt. Matt is clearly at a low place (or so we think, he'll probably come off as borderline happy after what happens next). His ex-girlfriend killed herself (kind of his fault), he is losing his law practice (kind of Foggy's fault, to be fair, but he is certainly blaming Foggy even for the fact that he's never there). When he hears the APB that Melvin Potter is on the loose, his first thought is Melvin is betraying him too - rather than that Melvin is someone who has his own issues and problems and might, believe it or not, actually need help. The next person on his list to blame is his dad. When Matt tries to clear out his office, he decides he's mad he ever studied and became a lawyer. Side note, they switched to first person narrator at this point. I wonder if they've done that before?

So that leads to the epic fight. And by epic, I mean really sad. Matt is tipped off to his location by a cry from help by Melvin. He shows up to kick his ass - not to stop him, but to enjoy fighting him. In a way, Matt is the Gladiator of old, he wants a good fight. He deliberately provokes him, lets himself get hit, etc. just so Melvin can get worked up and fight stronger. And it turns out that, no, his heart isn't in it. Matt is the bully who refuses to listen. After that, Matt comes to his senses and goes to rescue Betsy. He asks Melvin to join in. At first, you see a bit of Gladiator of old, but it goes away when he sees his girl. He walks over, unties her, and they embrace. She's proud of him for not fighting.

A lot of the themes of Daredevil are in this story. It's a story of shades of gray. It's a story about Matt's internal conflict. It's about his desire to follow his dad and to go against it. It's about how Matt turns to Daredevil as an outlet and how he is quick to judgment when his internal problems manifest themselves on the outside world. More importantly, this story is noteworthy in how it follows a traditional superhero format, but isn't really a superhero story. All the violence in this story is universally negative. Melvin Potter is the hero because he walks over and unties his girlfriend. Then it ends on an ambiguous note as they leave happy and Matt Murdock stays, hungry for more fighting, alone and his knuckles bleeding. It's a very bittersweet ending, masterfully done (unlike you, I think the suddenness is very deliberate to show how unsatisfying the resolution was for Matt the fighter).

I don't think I remembered how much I love this story. I think it's the third time I've read it (once after Born Again, once after the issue immediately prior, and now for the third time). I'm giving it Five 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: Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to double post, but I was wondering what people thought of the women of this issue. I just love Betsy's character. I really wish she appeared more often. She's a strong-willed character who is trying to get through an impossibly difficult situation with her education and work experience. They don't try to make her some expert because she's not, her experience is clinical, but they do a good job of having her keep her cool under pressure and rely on the fact that she deals with both sociopaths and battered women. Unfortunately, it's not a movie and sometimes this isn't enough. Just as she figures out where she is, she gets tape placed over her mouth again.

Glorianna, on the other hand, is just a walking Irish stereotype. When she has IRA connections, she's interesting, but here she's just the worried girlfriend. Really, it's the "Matt's never been the same since Elektra died" speech - later the "Matt's never been the same since Karen died" (or the odd "Karen and Elektra" one that seems to forget that Elektra is no longer dead). But that's a little unfair. When this speech was said to Milla, it had been done before. But I don't think it was with Glori. Still Foggy and Glori together do make a fun couple. Foggy spends half the time explaining American things, half the time defending Matt. Glori is understandably fed-up. It's kinda weird with Matt having a girlfriend who doesn't know his secret. I wonder if that says something about their relationship that he didn't trust her when he did trust Karen, Heather, and Milla (and Natasha, I suppose, but I'm not sure the details there).

ETA: Something I just realized.

One complaint Glori had was about Matt pretending to see for a day and then at the end revealing he was actually blind. I thought this was an oddly specific thing, but just assumed it was a manifestation of his depression. However, through unrelated reading, I realized this was Daredevil 223 - The Price which was a Secret Wars II crossover where the Beyonder restored his sight. I had skipped that issue because it wasn't in Loves Labor Lost and the (now defunct) Matt Murcok Chronicles didn't give it a high rating. That has to suck to make it seem like you were playing a cruel prank on your girlfriend while you were instead making an extremely noble sacrifice. Still, it shows something different with the Matt and Gloriana relationship. With Karen or Tasha, they know his secret. When he is faced with that loss at the end, they would be there to comfort him. With Glori, she assumes he was betraying her, which adds insult to injury. But it's his lack of trust in their relationship that feeds that concern.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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The Overlord
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
Alright here we go. I specifically chose my Love Labors Lost TPB version over by Born Again TPB version because this is supposed to be a Denny O'Neil issue, not a Frank Miller issue, although there's clearly influences of both (and I don't think anyone writes Melvin Potter like Miller). This TPB also reminded me that this issue followed a fairly depressing issue where Daredevil gets beat up by Vulture and Matt finds out the business is closing. None of that would compare to Born Again that followed. But I'm getting ahead of myself, the goal is to judge this issue on its own.

I love the opening. This is before they've switched from third person narrator to first person so thoughts are generally in thought balloons. Here, however, the narrator does a great job of capturing the confused mind of Melvin Potter. But it's clear it's not just confused, it's conflicted. He's deliberately trying to avoid thinking about the pain he's causing and the actions he's taking - which is a far cry from his old boistrous self.

The other person whose head it goes into is that of Matt. Matt is clearly at a low place (or so we think, he'll probably come off as borderline happy after what happens next). His ex-girlfriend killed herself (kind of his fault), he is losing his law practice (kind of Foggy's fault, to be fair, but he is certainly blaming Foggy even for the fact that he's never there). When he hears the APB that Melvin Potter is on the loose, his first thought is Melvin is betraying him too - rather than that Melvin is someone who has his own issues and problems and might, believe it or not, actually need help. The next person on his list to blame is his dad. When Matt tries to clear out his office, he decides he's mad he ever studied and became a lawyer. Side note, they switched to first person narrator at this point. I wonder if they've done that before?

So that leads to the epic fight. And by epic, I mean really sad. Matt is tipped off to his location by a cry from help by Melvin. He shows up to kick his ass - not to stop him, but to enjoy fighting him. In a way, Matt is the Gladiator of old, he wants a good fight. He deliberately provokes him, lets himself get hit, etc. just so Melvin can get worked up and fight stronger. And it turns out that, no, his heart isn't in it. Matt is the bully who refuses to listen. After that, Matt comes to his senses and goes to rescue Betsy. He asks Melvin to join in. At first, you see a bit of Gladiator of old, but it goes away when he sees his girl. He walks over, unties her, and they embrace. She's proud of him for not fighting.

A lot of the themes of Daredevil are in this story. It's a story of shades of gray. It's a story about Matt's internal conflict. It's about his desire to follow his dad and to go against it. It's about how Matt turns to Daredevil as an outlet and how he is quick to judgment when his internal problems manifest themselves on the outside world. More importantly, this story is noteworthy in how it follows a traditional superhero format, but isn't really a superhero story. All the violence in this story is universally negative. Melvin Potter is the hero because he walks over and unties his girlfriend. Then it ends on an ambiguous note as they leave happy and Matt Murdock stays, hungry for more fighting, alone and his knuckles bleeding. It's a very bittersweet ending, masterfully done (unlike you, I think the suddenness is very deliberate to show how unsatisfying the resolution was for Matt the fighter).

I don't think I remembered how much I love this story. I think it's the third time I've read it (once after Born Again, once after the issue immediately prior, and now for the third time). I'm giving it Five Stars.


I actually read this story when I got this trade from the library and I have to say this is easily one of the best stories in the trade.

They say a good story often needs a good villain and this trade proves that. There are some interesting stuff with Matt and his supporting cast, but lame villains like the Cossack, those swamp red necks and those Italian fascists who dressed up like rejects from a Renaissance fair, really brought down the quality of the main plot of these stories. This story and the story with the Vulture are the best stories of that trade, because they had stronger villains.

I noticed something about the Gladiator's character development into a reformed villain, I think Miller just retconned Gladiator into a being a psychotic, because before Miller, the Gladiator was just a thug and bully and there wasn't a lot of evidence that he was criminally insane. Miller essentially turned him into a different character, granted this a good turn for the character, but it seems like a retcon. I do like that Gladiator is changed from another thugish bad guy to an actually sympathetic villain, even if the path there wasn't really organic.

Also if Betsy is Melvin's therapist, isn't dating him a conflict of interest for her?

Also I think DD was being a jerk to Gladiator because he was upset at the recent deaths of both Elektra and Heather Glenn. So I can see why he was provoking Gladiator into a fight, with DD just wanting a big bad super villain to take his frustrations on. If DD was fighting one of his more psychopathic villains, the reader would have less of a problem with it.

But I still like this issue and I think it was an important mile stone in establishing the more modern Gladiator. It does make Gladiator's fall back into crime due Bont's and Mr. Fear's manipulations more tragic (Bendis seemed to borrowing a lot from this story, when wrote that story where Alexander Bont kidnapped Gladiator's previously unmentioned daughter to force him to fight DD.) Mr. Fear using mind control chemicals to permanently drive Melvin Potter insane, pretty established Mr. Fear as a really loathsome villain, but also put Gladiator in limbo, he has been in a mental asylum since that event.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
One complaint Glori had was about Matt pretending to see for a day and then at the end revealing he was actually blind. I thought this was an oddly specific thing, but just assumed it was a manifestation of his depression. However, through unrelated reading, I realized this was Daredevil 223 - The Price which was a Secret Wars II crossover where the Beyonder restored his sight. I had skipped that issue because it wasn't in Loves Labor Lost and the (now defunct) Matt Murcok Chronicles didn't give it a high rating. That has to suck to make it seem like you were playing a cruel prank on your girlfriend while you were instead making an extremely noble sacrifice. Still, it shows something different with the Matt and Gloriana relationship. With Karen or Tasha, they know his secret. When he is faced with that loss at the end, they would be there to comfort him. With Glori, she assumes he was betraying her, which adds insult to injury. But it's his lack of trust in their relationship that feeds that concern.

I don't know why Daredevil #223 would be poorly rated. I know that most things connected with Secret Wars II haven't stood up over time, but I still think this is a strong story. It was also the first issue of Daredevil I ever purchased, so there's an admitted element of sentimentality.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

O'Neill remains a top favorite DD writer for me, it was during his run (Micah Synn) that I really started to follow the character. While more closely associated with Batman, O'Neill's style of writing and characterization is a great fit for DD's world. Being sandwiched somewhat between Miller's iconic runs though means that his work is sadly often overlooked, which is why I wish Marvel would get off their butts and reprint more of his DD work (since we're living in the Golden Age of Reprints after all).

O'Neill's inner dialogue for Matt throughout this issue was masterful. His rising anger, frustration, aggravation, it slowly but surely builds and boils over. And in the space of three panels, via the flashback with Stick, O'Neill highlights a central tenet of Matt's character. Obey his father, listen to Stick, the influence of the women in his life, he's afraid to become the person he's capable of being.

Again, since this was around the same time as my intro to the character, I'll always have a strong fondness for Glori. Yes, certain aspects of her are fairly stereotypical, but I view her as a strong female character, one who came into Matt's life through trauma via her conflict with the Gael and who tried honestly to be a part of Matt's life. Her frustrations voiced here seem genuine and her conversation with Foggy throughout this issue was heartfelt and wonderfully executed, another masterful job done by O'Neill. (My only quibble is Foggy's line at the diner when he takes hold of Glori's hand, saying, "I like little girls". Sounds very odd, even today).

I also like the nod to Foggy's tormentor Brad from Columbia, surely another subtle influence from Miller in this story.

With Melvin, his narration boxes were great too, I especially liked the one-page scene of his showering in the run-down room. Clearly, this part of his former life can upend his reformation, as he works to keep some semblance of sanity in order to save Betsy. In her own right, I too love how O'Neill shows Betsy, not as a mere damsel in distress, but as a capable woman whose able to use her training and experience in the best way she can under those circumstances in order to try and save herself, but perhaps more importantly, to save Melvin.

Mazz is one of my favorite all-time DD artists as well. While the praise he earned with his collaboration with Miller is rightly deserved, I love his work alongside O'Neill just as much. The fight scenes enacted here are graceful and brutal. Matt's toying with Melvin is cold and harsh. ("There are four ways I can take him out.....I use the pillar.") But in the end, it's Matt's comment over what is the difference between how the bullies treated him as a kid and how he just treated Melvin during this fight that really sends the message home. This whole issue is nothing but brilliant characterizations.

I will note though, the ending is rather abrupt. Usually there is some kind of "Up Next!" box at the tail end of these issues, but not here. In fact, the way this is collected in the Love Labours Lost TPB (which is what I re-read this issue from), it goes straight into 'The Badlands' short story by Miller, which makes it seem like this story may have been a back-up in #226. I just find it jarring, that's all.
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