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DD Book Club: Born Again
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:28 am    Post subject: DD Book Club: Born Again Reply with quote

It's time for Born Again. In comic books at the time, Frank Miller had been replaced by Denny O'Neil after a very successful run. Although he came back for one bizzare issue, this was big news because he came back for an extended period of time (first with Warriors an issue ago co-wrote with O'Neil). It's a clear story arc with a couple other issues at the end that could be seen as a separate arc, but is generally grouped together these days.

Quote:
The definitive Daredevil tale, by industry legends Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli! Karen Page, Matt Murdock’s former lover, has traded away the Man Without Fear’s secret identity for a drug fix. Now, Daredevil must find strength as the Kingpin of Crime wastes no time taking him down as low as a human can get.


Daredevil Vol. 1 # 227 - Apocalypse



Quote:
Karen Page sells Daredevil's secret identity for drugs. Then, Kingpin buys the name and proceeds to wreck Matt Murdock's life.


Due 11/14
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Dragonbat
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read this arc for the first time three years ago. And my initial reaction was, "now THIS is how you do a teardown!" Knightfall did it well. Devin Grayson's Nightwing arc (which has a lot more beats in common) did it worse. But this one blows them out of the water, hands-down on at least one score: Pacing.

The Bat-stories dragged out the lead-up over months; I think it was something close to a year before we get to the beaten-and-defeated nadir. Miller? I think we get two or three issues where we see that Matt's off his game and then we get this: one issue that lays out the board and lays nearly all the blows on Matt and on the reader in 24 tight pages. I suspect that most writers today would cover each 'punch' in a separate issue as part of a subplot (First issue: see DD fighting some street crime/Matt trying to find a new position/Oh, yeah... and Karen's in Mexico selling him out for a hit. Next issue: more standard DD-stuff, maybe show Matt a little more off his game/And Kingpin's just been handed the reveal. Third issue: We're up to the grand jury summons. And so on.)

Today, Born Again would run three volumes and likely have tie-ins with Avengers, X-Men, and Spidey (I know that there was one Spidey issue where Peter does find out what's going on, but I wouldn't say it adds anything to the reading/experience.)

If it does nothing else, #227 reminds us of how much story we can fit into very few pages.

The art really works for me. I love the way the Venetian blinds show Karen in a mix of dark and light; a good visual metaphor for the state she's in. Selling out Matt is a desperate act from someone who made a lot of wrong choices and sees no other way to get what she physically needs at this point. There is no way that it's a 'good' choice. But in her current state, I'm not sure I can call it an 'evil' one either.

Stray observation: Miller seems to like having his heroes in the buff. (DKR had that bit in the Bat-cave...)

I like the way he works in a few limits on Matt's abilities: I'm not sure how many writers before him would have picked up on that bit about embossed envelopes being easier to read than handwritten. Most just go by the 'he can read print with his fingertips' and leave it at that.

I like that Glori isn't deliberately kicking him when he's down, though there's a personal reason here. When I was in college, my boyfriend got busted for (if I remember/understood correctly) selling extra computer memory space to his classmates. I'd been seriously thinking about breaking up with him before that, but when he told me that there was going to be a hearing and that he might be facing expulsion, I didn't want to be one more thing going wrong in his life at that point and I stuck with him even though I'd been planning to end the relationship for reasons that had nothing to do with his current mess. It just made things harder down the road.

In other words, having her break up with him at the same time that his life is going to hell, but having it made plain that her breakup and his life going to hell aren't even tangentially connected is a good move and Glori doesn't come off looking like a heartless witch.

(I did wonder whether the break-in was something Kingpin did to threaten Matt's loved ones, but 1) there was no follow-up and 2) there was no indication that Kingpin intended to do anything to the more obvious target—Foggy at this stage. Maybe he had something to do with the dissolution of Nelson and Murdock; we can speculate. It's possible. But it's just as possible that Kingpin's plan to ruin Matt's life coincided with a pre-existing upheaval and just made things worse.)

Love the way even the city seems to be out to get him at this point.

I do think that having Foggy and Glori start getting involved so quickly is a bit much. It's done in a way that nobody is two-timing anybody, but that same pacing I was praising up there? I think for something like 'Matt's best friend and ex-girlfriend end up together', I would have liked to see a bit more time before they're cozying up before a roaring fire. And yes, I get that Glori is on the rebound and Foggy is trying to do the right thing. I'm still not fully comfortable with that scene happening at this stage.

Is it legal to turn off heat and power in NY in the winter without notice? (Or was it in the 80s anyway?)

That handshake and hug after the verdict probably would have brought tears to my eyes if I were watching a filmed version (depending on the background music!).

And then, the final punch. Wow. I think I need to catch my breath after this roller-coaster of an issue. Almost 30 years later, it still holds up almost perfectly.

4.5/5
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Born Again is an absolute masterpiece. Is that even up for argument in this day and age?

Frank Miller was at the peak of his powers in 1986. It's alarming that Born Again, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One were all published that year. Born Again is the best of the bunch, in my opinion, and not just because I love Daredevil.

I have read this so many times, but because this is Book Club, I'll read it again. Twist my arm.

Here are some things that leaped out at me this time.

The colours of the sky in the panels with Kingpin's yacht are beautiful. Christie Scheele gets full credit for that.

The thickening of Matt's mood is wonderfully handled. I like how the smiling secretary wishes Matt a nice day, and all you see is his clenched fist as he marches past her, and a word bubble saying, "Don't push it."

The break in at Glorianna's place may seem like it is connected to the Kingpin, but it may not be. It doesn't seem like Fisk to concern himself in Matt's romantic affairs. And it seems like Foggy is barely of notice to him until the trial. I realize that before this, he hired Elektra to kill Foggy, but our pal seems to have dropped off Fisk's radar since then. So why would he bother orchestrating Glorianna seeking comfort in his arms? It seems like a random break-in to me.

Also, I don't think Glorianna and Foggy planned for their feelings to get stirred up like this. Glorianna and Matt never seemed on solid footing, and had been on the outs for a few issues by this point. Foggy is someone on whom she could depend for council and companionship. It's not surprising that she thought of him first when she found her apartment in that state.

It seems weird to criticize something, but here goes.... When Ben Urich calls Matt, it's just weird that Matt doesn't trust him. Matt can't possibly think that Ben is behind his frozen assets and the charges of Manolis' charges. Matt acts crazy on the other end of the line. That behaviour seems to be an issue early.

Although I can accept Matt's monologue in the page immediately preceding the explosion. "Maybe I've been thinking about it all wrong. Looking for a single enemy to pin it all on. Maybe it's everybody. From Internal Revenue to Con Ed to Ma Bell to-- to Glori. I call Foggy at seven in the morning and Glori answers. Foggy. He's in on it too." But he immediately checks himself. "No. Foggy stood up for me. Fought for me. He-- but that could be part of the plan-- What am I thinking?"

In that moment Matt is thoroughly confused. He seems to be getting attacked on all sides, but the enemy is invisible, systematic and amorphous all at the same time. Kingpin had played it perfectly up until this moment, immediately before identifying himself with the explosion. You have to wonder if Kingpin was consciously signing it.
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The Overlord
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a classic issue, I have a few thoughts on it:

This is a great example of a villain who tears down a hero's life and as noted before if this story was written today it would way longer with far more guest stars. I do think this story was so successful that other writers have copied it, so much in fact that it seems like some psycho ruins DD's life every 5 years, to the point that it is becoming farcical. It also seems like other writers on other titles borrow this idea, with a writer trying to give Nightwing a Born again style story, but it didn't make much sense because Nightwing is friends with one of the richest men in the world. I think Born Again is a land mark issue, because it is one of the first stories in an American comic where a villain manages to destroy a hero's life, its too bad so many other writers have tried to copy it.


I find Kingpin's actions somewhat interesting, because the last time Miller wrote Kingpin and DD interacting, Kingpin seemed happy to let DD stay around and take down his rivals, with Fisk saying the city needs both of them. However Fisk seems happy to destroy Murdock now that he knows his secret. Which leads me to 2 very different conclusions, either Fisk still bares a grudge against DD for ruining his scheme to put a puppet mayor in charge of NYC or Fisk has difficulties balancing his pragmatic nature with his more base sadistic instincts and after finding out who DD was, he decided to indulge his baser instincts.

This issue does deserve praise for how it quickly shows Matt's life being ruined. It gets to the meat of the story, the destruction of Matt's life is quick, yet devastating, especially the ending. This issue is set up for the bigger story, but the set up here is so much more effective here then in other stories with set up, because the set up has a pay off right away and this sets things up for a larger story.

I like that the cop who framed Matt for bribery was doing this not because he was corrupt to the point of total immorality, but because his son was sick and Kingpin had the money to buy him special treatments. It shows Kingpin can manipulate those with good intentions, as well using the truly corrupt for his purposes.

The art is amazing and I still think this story holds up. I give it 5 stars.
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RGdesigner
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I meant to participate in the last discussion of Redemption, but only posted about the first issue. I got busy and got behind a couple issues and was too lazy to come back and finish, but this is Born Again. I will find the time.

All of this is just opinion of course, but I wanna get this out of the way before I discuss the actually issue. Born Again is a masterpiece. Its the Holy Grail. There was no better Daredevil story before it and there has not been a better since. Bendis, Brubaker, Waid, O'Neil, Nocenti, on their best days couldn't write a story this good. This story is gospel as far as I'm concerned when it comes to Matt Murdock. I'd go so far to say that not only is it the best Daredevil story ever written, but its the best story Marvel has ever published. Just to clarify, I have not read every story Marvel has ever published Smile but I've read a whole lot since I started reading comics in 1992 and they all pale.

So now thats out of the way. Daredevil 227.

Lets start with the artwork. Mazzuchelli is one of the greatest and here we see him at his peak. The lighting on the very first page sets the stage and the tone for the story. Those final pages leading to Matt's home being destroyed are perfectly paced. His Kingpin is a titan, a malevolent force of nature. Every emotion is conveyed perfectly. Mazzuchelli and Miller show here why they are one of the best writer/artist collaborations ever in the industry.

Kingpin here becomes the true monster he remains to this day. Even in Miller's original run and the stories following Fisk still had a layer of silver age comic villain to him. Now he makes it personal. You can feel the twisted pleasure he takes in destroying Murdock in every panel. Foggy of course always has Matt's back even when he probably doesn't deserve it. On the first page Miller wastes no time showing how far Karen has fallen.

Miller's words in the 80s were just poetry.
"Matt Murdock is blind -- so he misses the prettiest morning of the year. All he gets is hissing pipes and an East Coast chill that goes straight for the bones."
"I must deny myself the exquisite pleasure of a killing stroke."
and of course that perfect finale, "It was a nice piece of work Kingpin….."

On that note, does anybody else now hear Charlie Cox in their head when reading Daredevil? I know I do. I didn't think I could love this story more, but re-reading it now after being immersed in the Netflix series I hear Charlie's voice in my head and its freaking amazing with Miller's dialogue. D'onofrio, Woll, Hensen are all there too.

Matt Murdock. From the first image of Matt in bed, you can tell this is already a man in turmoil. If you've ever read Elektra Lives Again, it is basically a prequel to Born Again. Miller shows in that story how Matt is already a man lost and unstable, unable to put aside his grief over Elektra, and hints of Karen's darker path. Some may think Matt's downfall and his quick distrust of his friends are rushed, but I believe in Miller's mind Matt was already on the edge. Kingpin didn't have to push that hard. Watching our hero be totally destroyed over the course of numerous weeks told in a single issue is heartbreaking. Early on as we see Matt role out of bed almost in a daze, lost with no purpose, he still has Daredevil.That gives him purpose, but even that purpose does him no good. As the weeks go by he lashes out at the world because he seemingly has no single enemy to confront. By the end of the issue of course he has nothing. His costume is torn and burned, everything he had is gone, and he is alone. He's not a lawyer anymore.

As others have said, if this issue had been done by a writer today it would be ten issues and not even one tenth as good. Miller was a master in his day. In 22 pages he and Mazzuchelli tell you everything you need to know about Matt Murdock. They make you love him. They make you root for him. They make you fear for him. Then they break him right before your eyes. Sadly this story shows just how lazy and pathetic the industry has become in modern times.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, from 1986. Feels like a lifetime ago....

#227 represents my first ever exposure to Miller's work on DD. I had been following DD for a bit, with O'Neill and the Micah Synn saga and you can't read DD for long without hearing mention of Miller's legend, even then. But back issues were scarce in my area so my opportunity to read any of his previous work was limited indeed.

Miller, Mazz, Scheele, Rosen, Macchio, this is a hall of fame list of creators. Miller's tone, pacing, dialogue, narration, everything is spot on. Pacing is especially important here, as Matt's life and confidence is being eroded. I guess that it may be on par with identity theft today, but seeing how efficiently and quickly Kingpin tears down the basic blocks of Matt's life is scary. Your bills, your money, false charges, swaying a variety of gov't agencies against you, turning trusted associates away from you, it's no wonder Matt felt under constant assault from all sides, culminating in his ultimate questioning of Foggy (even though Foggy had just helped him stay out of prison). Masterful characterization here.

Although, after all these years, until I read the other comments here, it never occurred to me that Kingpin may have been behind the break-in of Glori's apartment. I don't know why, I just always thought it was something transient to these events and that the kindling of her relationship to Foggy was just a side-effect.

Mazz, of course, is amazing here, aided supremely by Scheele's colors. From the darkness of the opening shots with Karen to the blood-red backgrounds of Kingpin aboard his yacht to the bleached-out whites of a wintery NYC, the book is a beauty to behold.

Mazz creates some classic imagery here but the amount of detail in some scenes is quite stunning. Check out the backgrounds of Matt's home as he walks from his bedroom to the front door. Notice the detail of the decor in the DA's office when Matt (Mawthew!) meets with him. But my favorite scene of the whole issue is the singular shot of DD in the wrecked interior of Josie's Bar, screaming in frustration over who will talk about Murdock, very powerful.

It's a shame though, you all are right, if done today, this story would probably be stretched out too much. If you look at it, a lot of time passes in this one issue. From six months as Kingpin checks the validity of the information to a number of weeks, perhaps a month or so as he dismantles Matt's life. Ample room for today's decompressed writers to stretch things out. But that would underwrite the impact of these forces against Matt. We see and feel the frustration and mounting aggravation as Matt loses control of his life for reasons that are completely unknown to him. Stretching that out would leave the impact underwhelmed so Miller, as usual, uses excellent pacing here.

Which leads to my only quibble with this issue (and if this has been addressed elsewhere, please let me know. My DD knowledge is far from complete). Kingpin falls for the obvious trap: believing that Matt, for some reason, is faking being blind. He says it outright which I find strange. If he checked out Matt's life, wouldn't he have found evidence of his accident?

A perfect ending, with a perfect classic quote. This was a great intro for Miller.

Being a fan of Marvel of the 80s, I like to note what else was going on within the line at that time. The big event then was Secret Wars II, which was having tie-ins with numerous other Marvel titles. Thankfully DD was one of the exceptions. We also saw the ending of Rom Spaceknight and the return of the original X-Men as X-Factor.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad everyone has posted. I'm going to post my thoughts and then hopefully do a quick follow up to respond to everyone else:

This is it, Born Again. The comic that took Daredevil to some dark places. In fairness, things were looking a little down right before-hand, with Denny O'Neil breaking up Foggy and Nelson's firm. But this gets much darker, much quicker. It starts with Karen Page. Now that I've read some of the silver age (and her later stuff after this) and know something of her besides a name, the opening is just heart-breaking to read. It isn't so much that she sells Matt Murdock, she does it for something so little and so fleeting. But, even in shorts, the menace of what the Kingpin will do with this information is foreboding.

Cut to Matt waking up. Things are sort of poor right now with the firm being gone, but he seems in good spirits. I love the little innocuous things that hold so much actual meaning - the bank not receiving mortgage payments, the IRS freezing his bank account. It's a slow build up as things go from bad to worse. Even things totally not the Kingpin's fault, like his relationship with Glorianna start falling apart. As everything else falls apart, his mental state declines too as Daredevil becomes reckless (confirming to the Kingpin that he is winning).

It feels my fear of this not being as good as before is misplaced. In some ways, I think it might be better now that I am more familiar with the character, the psyche of Matt Murdock, and, most importantly, Karen Page. I noticed some things I hadn't before. Fisk makes a point that he has to resist the pleasure of a killing stroke. In the end, he apparently is unable to do so, which allows Matt to realize who his enemy was. If I had to find something to complain about (I don't, but I will anyway for the sake of argument), I feel the narration is a bit odd. It's like it can't decide whether to be first person or third person. I realize the standard back then was third person, but it really needs to be true first. Still, that's a minor complaint. I'm going with Five Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love everyone else's reviews, some quick responses:

Dragonbat wrote:
I read this arc for the first time three years ago. And my initial reaction was, "now THIS is how you do a teardown!" Knightfall did it well. Devin Grayson's Nightwing arc (which has a lot more beats in common) did it worse. But this one blows them out of the water, hands-down on at least one score: Pacing.


I think this is an excellent point. I think there could be good story potential here. Certainly, Matt Murdock's legal battles seems like something that could be dragged out (Bendis would have made it a five-part story). Still, to Miller's credit, it wasn't the story he wanted to tell, so he didn't tell it. This is about setting up what's to come, even though it's really, really dramatic in and of itself.

Quote:
I like the way he works in a few limits on Matt's abilities: I'm not sure how many writers before him would have picked up on that bit about embossed envelopes being easier to read than handwritten. Most just go by the 'he can read print with his fingertips' and leave it at that.


I've seen some comments before, but I think Miller understood Daredevil's senses better than anyone (second might be Mark Waid). He really explored it in a way that others before hadn't drempt of.

Quote:
Maybe he had something to do with the dissolution of Nelson and Murdock; we can speculate. It's possible. But it's just as possible that Kingpin's plan to ruin Matt's life coincided with a pre-existing upheaval and just made things worse.)


I think it's a coincidence. As a bit of background, probably Denny O'Neil's most memorable storyline is the Micah Synn story. During that story, Foggy's wife Deborah had an affair with Micah. At his request, Debby convinced Foggy to lie and blame Daredevil for something (iirc, it's been awhile). Later, he retracted the lie, which hurt the firm's reputation. To make matters worse, Matt didn't respond to his girlfriend's cry for help and she committed suicide. Because of this, when the firm desperately needed business, he was traveling to Italy or some place else being Daredevil. This caused the firm to shut down due to financial difficulties. That being said, the six months later leaves open the possibility that the opening Kingpin scene predates some of the firm's collapse.

Dimetre wrote:

It seems weird to criticize something, but here goes.... When Ben Urich calls Matt, it's just weird that Matt doesn't trust him. Matt can't possibly think that Ben is behind his frozen assets and the charges of Manolis' charges. Matt acts crazy on the other end of the line. That behaviour seems to be an issue early.


I'd also add it seems a bit confusingly written. I wasn't even certain it was Matt Murdock responding. That being said, the paranoia already seems to be creeping in, what with the final scene. I could see him not wanting to talk to Ben either.

RGdesigner wrote:

Miller's words in the 80s were just poetry.
"Matt Murdock is blind -- so he misses the prettiest morning of the year. All he gets is hissing pipes and an East Coast chill that goes straight for the bones."


Yeah, I wish other Daredevil writers wrote as good as that. Hell, I wish Frank Miller wrote as good as that these days Wink

Darkdevil wrote:

Although, after all these years, until I read the other comments here, it never occurred to me that Kingpin may have been behind the break-in of Glori's apartment. I don't know why, I just always thought it was something transient to these events and that the kindling of her relationship to Foggy was just a side-effect.


I deliberately write my review before reading other posts so as to not be influenced. It honestly didn't even occur to me that he was connected in breaking up that relationship until right there when you said it. That being said, it seems a bit too much of a stretch to believe he could count on the chain of events where she would distrust Matt and end up with Foggy. I'm still going with a coincidence on that one, although this is an issue where we find out a lot of seeming coincidences just aren't that.

Keep the comments coming.
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Dayle88
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember the first time I read Born Again I felt the mental breakdown occurred very quickly because of things like the phone conversation and Matt not trusting Foggy as soon as something happened.

I looked up mental breakdowns and it turns out the effects can kick in instantly, it isn't always a gradual thing. Even if it does kick in instantly the type of symptoms can still change and evolve over time as well and once the source of pressure or stress that caused the breakdown in the first place is removed a person can snap back to normal. It's fascinating stuff and made sense of some seemingly quick turns in how Matt feels about people.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darkdevil wrote:
Being a fan of Marvel of the 80s, I like to note what else was going on within the line at that time. The big event then was Secret Wars II, which was having tie-ins with numerous other Marvel titles. Thankfully DD was one of the exceptions. We also saw the ending of Rom Spaceknight and the return of the original X-Men as X-Factor.

There was a Secret Wars II tie-in. It was Daredevil #223, by Denny O'Neil and David Mazzuchelli. It was the first issue of Daredevil I ever purchased, and it was great! If you can find it, do.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ I just bought that issue, although I haven't read it yet. When I first started collecting, I figured I'd have to be choosy because there's no way I could possibly own everything. Now that I own a significantly larger percentage, that thinking has disappeared. But it was reading the Beyonder in X-Men and New Mutants that inspired me to get the issue. I figure when, one day, I read Secret Wars II, that I'll get to the issue.

Anyway, next up:

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 228 - Purgatory



Quote:
Matt Murdock's life continues to unravel and he decides to confront the Kingpin directly.


Due 11/21
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
Darkdevil wrote:
Being a fan of Marvel of the 80s, I like to note what else was going on within the line at that time. The big event then was Secret Wars II, which was having tie-ins with numerous other Marvel titles. Thankfully DD was one of the exceptions. We also saw the ending of Rom Spaceknight and the return of the original X-Men as X-Factor.

There was a Secret Wars II tie-in. It was Daredevil #223, by Denny O'Neil and David Mazzuchelli. It was the first issue of Daredevil I ever purchased, and it was great! If you can find it, do.


Oh, yeah, I overlooked that, my apologies. I don't think I bought it back then though. I wasn't too keen on Secret Wars II and the explosion of tie-ins throughout the line didn't help matters much for me. So maybe I'll track it down now after all.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Purgatory"

It must have been more than a year since I last read "Born Again." The first few pages of Matt's monologue in the scuzzy hotel room hit me like never before, and it's probably due to my increased familiarity with depression (fortunately, for me, all second-hand). That view from the ceiling of Matt laying back down on that bed saying, "I'm tired" is just crushing, because that is an accurate portrayal of someone suffering from depression.

I, honestly, was worried when I started re-reading this issue today, because the previous issue ended with him figuring out that the Kingpin was behind it all. Yet this issue opens with him still suspecting everyone in the world. A rational person would know that he can at the very least still count on Foggy Nelson. But Matt has lost any sense of rationale at this point, and Miller and Mazzuchelli's portrayal of depression is absolutely harrowing.

This issue does everything perfectly. Reading this issue is one of the greatest pleasures a fan of sequential art can experience.

One of the things that stands out is how unique every character's voice is, especially the witness from the subway who reports back to Fisk. Where on earth did Miller get the idea for that overly laboured and uptight language? It's wonderful!

But I have always absolutely adored some of the descriptions for Fisk's joyful mood. I love how Mazzuchelli pairs those descriptions of Fisk simply standing at a window. "Matthew Murdock has become the light of his days." "He has disgraced, destroyed and murdered the only good man he has ever known. This is his triumph of the spirit." It's fantastic to have Miller's words display the glee Fisk feels when he's allowed to indulge his sadistic side, but contrasted with Mazzuchelli's images which show Fisk's strategic intellect and prudence.

There will never be a greater portrait of Wilson Fisk. There have been some good attempts in the decades since this issue. I love that issue by Ed Brubaker and David Aja which shows Fisk's life in Europe. But nobody understood Fisk more than Miller.

I love Mazzuchelli's art in this issue. There are so many wonderful panels. I love how expressive Matt's chin is. That panel where he approaches Fisk's tower, and it's reflected in his shades is a stand-out.

I love how, as the issue builds in intensity, we frantically dash between scenes. We're at the Bugle. Now we're in Mexico with Karen. Now we're with Matt as he approaches the tower.

Only one thing puzzled me in this masterpiece: Who is the "little creep" that Foggy is afraid will "analyze" him again were he to call the hotline?

I usually call Daredevil #181 the greatest single issue of a comic book ever, but this is likely just as brilliant. Frank Miller, without a doubt, was one of the greatest ever to grace the medium. Maybe I'll find the next issue just as great.
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RGdesigner
Playing to the Camera


Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Posts: 121
Location: Tennessee

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil 228. Purgatory.
Perfection continues. In this issue Frank Miller sums up Matt Murdock with one simple line: "Never give up – Never."

Matt Murdock has been broken. Kingpin has destroyed almost everything in his life and driven him mad. He keeps fighting no matter what, even if reckless and confused by his broken mental state, Murdock doesn't quit. He lashes out at everything and everyone, even his friends and the innocent. He knows it was Fisk and wants to make him pay. Driven by his desire for revenge, bordering on complete insanity, he makes his way to his mortal enemy and completely and utterly gets his ass handed to him and is left for dead in the river. Fisk of course makes his mistake this time by not killing Matt personally when he has the chance, too late realizing that Matt possesses "a hideous force of will" that won't allow him to die trapped in a cab underwater. That closeup shot of Matt's eyes says it all.

Frank Miller sets the standard with this story, for better or worse, for Matt Murdock in the modern age. Always holding on to the ragged edge of his sanity by his fingernails, he won't quit or back down and God help you if you get in his way. He's always one step from going full psycho and becoming what he hates, but his will is too strong and won't be broken completely by anyone.

Mazzuchelli's panels and Miller's words are magnificently paced. The subway fight being retold to Fisk by his underling is masterful, brutal, and twisted hilarious. Matt's slow decent into insanity in the seedy hotel room that he got for under ten dollars is tragic and heartbreaking. The tension they build as Matt draws closer to Fisk intertwined with Karen's decent toward her own rock bottom. Wilson Fisk continues to be a titan, shrugging off his nose being shattered and blood pouring from his face, the glee he takes in pummeling Matt is palpable.

Speaking of Kingpin's underling who was trailing Matt, he was definitely an inspiration for Wesley in the Netflix series. Obviously they toned it down from Miller's over-the-top dialogue, but that complex and eloquent way of speaking was right there in Wesley's words.

This story also really solidifies how important Ben Urich is to Daredevil's world. Nobody could write him like Miller.
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Dragonbat
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Joined: 15 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Typing without reading what's already been posted).

Once again, the pacing amazes me. The closest thing I can compare it to would be when I saw Schindler's List in the theater with a friend who later went into film (and won an Oscar 2 years ago for Best Documentary Short). We knew going in that it was going to be over three hours running time. When it was over, before we actually got down to discussing the movie, the first thing he said to me was "Three hours and fifteen minutes... and it just went by like..."

And I looked at him and said, "What would you cut?"

And he said, "nothing".

That pretty much sums up Purgatory. I can't think of a single panel that doesn't move the story forward.

Seeing Foggy and Glori sitting and worrying about Matt and feeling helpless and scared really resonates. I've been in that situation with a friend and Miller conveys the emotional impact to being on the sidelines when someone you care about is foundering and you don't quite know how to help but you don't want to call the authorities... It all feels very real.

Matt's mental state... I love the body language depicted in the art. We know the guy's hurting; we'd know it even without the word balloons or Kingpin's reaction to his flunkey's report.

And those two phone calls... especially the second one. FANTASTIC.

There were a few times I closed my eyes in sympathy rereading that fight scene.

And while I'm personally in favor of the way Matt's eyes are depicted more often these days (clouded irises), I have to acknowledge that giving him more normal-looking eyes makes for both a better cover and a positively chilling panel at the bottom of page 21.

Five stars from me on this one.
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