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DD Book Club: Paper Chase

 
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 12:19 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: Paper Chase Reply with quote

I honor of Luke Cage on Netflix (very good, check it out), I'm going with Paper Chase featuring the Heroes for Hire. Apparently this issue is a crossover so next week will continue it in Power Man & Iron Fist #77. It's sadly not available (legally) online, so I apologize for those who won't be able to participate next week, but I think it'll be fun to see both sides of the story.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #178 - Paper Chase



Quote:
Foggy thinks Matt Murdock could use some bodyguards, so he enlists the help of the only people capable of doing the job: the Heroes For Hire. Featuring everyone's favorite tag-team supreme Iron Fist and Power Man!


Due 10/8
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that it's almost beyond debate that Frank Miller's Daredevil run is legendary. However, within that run, I think this issue seems to be viewed with less reverence than the others. Now, having studied it pretty closely, I can kind of see why.

This issue came out in January of 1982, and Miller's mastery of the medium was continuing to build. He had already introduced us to Elektra, and had redefined Daredevil, the Kingpin and Bullseye. I suspect that the editors at Marvel wanted to capitalize on the newfound attention Daredevil was getting, and use it to promote the fledgling Power Man and Iron Fist title (which I remember enjoying during the 80s).

The first three pages are Miller doing what Miller does best. Elektra staves off four men attacking her in her apartment. The action flows beautifully and fluidly from panel to panel. Few artists achieve this flow to the degree Miller did in his prime. And I love the close-up of Elektra's face in that lower right corner panel. Such an interesting and unconventional choice, and it works.

The next two pages with the issue title are an immediate shift in mood, and they serve as proof that Miller didn't only bring noir to Daredevil. He could go light-hearted as well, and often did. Daredevil's soliliquy here echoes many of those written by Stan Lee in the 60s.

The panel where Daredevil is falling in costume with his arms crossed, passing some shocked office workers as he thinks to himself, is one of my all-time favourites. It shows what is so unique about the character. If he could optically appreciate the risks he was taking, he would be taking them. But he can't and he does what no sighted person would ever dare. And it's no big deal to him.

Power Man and Iron Fist are supposed to be the co-stars here, but I don't think Miller does that good a job showcasing them. Sure, Luke Cage is strong and bullet-proof, but he doesn't have much to do, and even points that out by the issue's end. Iron Fist comes off like a generic kung fu master. You wouldn't think there is any difference between him and Shang-Chi, save for the colour of their skin. Danny doesn't even focus his chi in this issue. Miller plays them for comic relief. I can't imagine that this issue swayed anyone to start picking up Power Man and Iron Fist.

The elevator shaft moment doesn't really work for me. First of all, it's never explained why he felt the need to go to work as Daredevil at that very moment. Secondly, I don't think the billy club, used in the way it's used here, would slow Matt's fall that much at all. And what is he standing on as he pushes open the elevator doors on that lower floor? I just don't think that scene works. On the next page, we see Daredevil spying on Cherryh, but that looks like hours later, and he didn't beat Luke and Danny there anyway.

The parade scene is amusing enough, but there are some awkward things I never noticed before. Sheldon's sob story about his sister comes out of nowhere, and he even has a picture of her to show us. It's laid on a little thick. Also, Turk and Grotto were after Sheldon, but the second Daredevil catches up to Sheldon, Turk and Grotto vanish, never to be seen. They're not shown running away; they're just not there anymore.

The last two pages are Miller at his best again. The guards each have distinct voices from eachother, and Elektra is shown as this creeping shadow. The panel placement is used to full effect. Miller makes so much out of so little, to show how deadly and efficient Elektra is, and now she and Kingpin have finally met.

So this is Miller during the period where he was building his legendary status, so this is pretty damn great, but it's also sub-par Miller Daredevil. It's kind of shocking to read this and realize that Turk and Grotto just vanish, and neither Cage, Fist or Daredevil worry about them. Matt's urgency to escape Cage and Fist, to the point where he jumps into an elevator shaft, isn't followed immediately by him swinging away in costume. I have to dock points, but I still give this issue 3.5 out of 5.

Anyway, I'll do my best to find a way to read Power Man and Iron Fist #77, because I wasn't aware that there was even a companion to this issue.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, I like the cover. It's far more symbolic than other covers at the time, but it does a good job of evoking Matt's radar sense as well as hinting at without directly showing the Heroes for Hire. The white specs will later become even more obvious.

The opening scene with Elektra is very violent. Good action overall. The dude getting tossed off the building is what stands out. By contrast to Elektra, Daredevil starts out on top of the world. He's enjoying the smells and sounds of New York City and appreciating every moment. This book can be quite dark, but I appreciate that Frank Miller does add moments of fun and levity to his story as well. His drop down multiple stories to catch a flagpole is nonsensical, but it shows off his Daredevil spirit. Even the scene with the goons has a nice sense of levity and joy about it. I like that he doesn't fight them, his mere sight scares them off.

Luke Cage and Iron Fist very much are like a squabbling married couple as well. As anyone has seen my posts when a civil case refers to a prosecutor, I'll have to take the tangent to point out that it's wrong again, but I do like Hoggarth on the other side - he is a prominent legal figure in the comics universe and I don't think they've ever crossed before.

On the art side, I'm not a huge fan of the stupid tall buildings taking up a tiny panel on the left side. That seemed to last with Daredevil for awhile (I think Fall From Grace had them). To me, it causes my eye to jump down the page prematurely and possibly spoil something. Minor rant, but I don't think I'll have a better time to say it.

I do think the story sags in the middle. Matt trying to duck Rand and Cage didn't really hit as well as some of the other scenes. Likewise, the fight wasn't all the impressive or interesting. I'm not a fan of superhero fights due to misunderstandings, but this one was just rushed anyway and the tone robbed it of all impact.

I'm going Three and a Half Stars. It's not the lightness of the tone, it just sort of falls apart and feels kind of incomplete. I'm hoping the Heroes for Hire half helps give this one a more complete feel.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue is quite the oddity. The beginning and end sequences featuring Elektra gaining an audience with Kingpin advances Miller's ongoing plot with her but then there's this strange appearance by the Heroes for Hire duo thrust into the middle of it.

If this was an editorial attempt to try and bolster interest/appeal with Luke and Danny, then Miller didn't quite achieve that goal. His portrayal of them was decent, we see that they are good friends and working partners, having a good rapport and dialogue. But little is given on their current situation other than times are tight as they are forced into taking Foggy's job offer of protecting Matt. (Which, by the way, the scene with Foggy fretting over the last pizza slice was nice as was the final result).

Why is their boss/landlord a prosecutor for that matter? Matt ducking their protection was a bit of a stretch, especially the elevator scenes. Then comes the eventual hero meet-up and fight/misunderstanding. Given how the opening action sequence with Elektra dispatching the four assassins had such wonderful choreography to it, you would think a fight between DD and Iron Fist would be the same. Yet it felt rushed and forced when it should have been jaw-dropping.

The plot with Sheldon and the checks was okay though the end with Sheldon losing the checks amidst the ticker-tape of the parade was nice.

On the art front, using the left side panel as one whole panel depicting a building/location did grow stale after a point. In a way, it forces Miller to utilize the remaining panels/space to their utmost in order to advance the plot which he does well.

Overall, other than Elektra meeting Kingpin, this may be a forgettable moment from Miller's legendary run, strange as that may sound. Three stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darkdevil wrote:
Why is their boss/landlord a prosecutor for that matter?


He's technically not. I grumbled a little about it, but I'll add more thoughts. A common mistake (I believe Miller has done this before) is to confuse civil cases for criminal cases. Criminal cases involve the District Attorney's Office and a prosecutor prosecuting the case. This is a civil case where someone wanting to sue will hire a Plaintiff's lawyer to sue for them. It is emphatically not a prosecutor, but it can be any lawyer who gets retained to take the case.

In this case, that mayoral candidate hired Jeryn Hogarth (if you've seen Jessica Jones, he has been changed to Jerri Hogarth played by Carrie-Anne Moss). He is Danny Rand's lawyer and, best I can tell from this story, his landlord. Apparently the gag is that Hogarth wants them to get more business so they can pay rent, which is the only reason they took the case. But, when they do, they find out Hogarth is on the other side of the case anyway so he never would have wanted them to take it. Anyway, this will hopefully get cleared up more with the upcoming issue:

Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 1 # 77 - What's Black and White and Red All Over



Quote:
Story continued from Daredevil #178. A cry for help puts Power Man, Iron Fist, and the protector of Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil, in direct conflict with the lumbering bruiser Boris and the graceful femme fatal Ninotchka, and they give the heroes all they can handle.


In addition to Luke Cage coming out, this issue feels particularly timely because the new Iron Fist teaser is out. Check it out, it looks pretty cool and we're now one step closer to Defenders. The issue itself is similar to what I did with Punisher when Daredevil Season 2 came out because it's not from Daredevil's book. Unfortunately, it's a bit harder of an issue to track down. I hope you're able to read it.

Due 10/15
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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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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hoo boy, I wasn't prepared for this.

Here's what I think happened: Denny O'Neil was editing both Daredevil and Power Man and Iron Fist in 1982. He thought a small crossover would be a good way to draw interest in both titles. Frank Miller was doing his thing with Kingpin planting a puppet candidate in the New York mayoral race, while Mary Jo Duffy had this... dance thing cooked up. I think O'Neil helped Miller and Duffy devise this connecting thread of Sheldon's sister to link the two stories. Unfortunately the link is very tenuous, and does not play that big a part in either story.

This issue takes place immediately after the events of Daredevil #178, but not too immediately. Nelson and Murdock have now taken on Sheldon as a client, where he was merely someone who was involved in the case involving their other client: The Daily Bugle. Nelson and Murdock have also replaced Jeryn Hogarth as the law firm representing Heroes for Hire. These changes are jarring since both issues came out in January 1982.

Daredevil isn't at his best here. First, he's beaten up by a ballerina named Ninotchka, who he should have sensed coming. I don't care how skilled she is, he's Daredevil. Unless you're Deathstalker, you shouldn't be able to sneak up on him. Also, I know she's bendy and stuff, but he beat up Bullseye a few months before this. Another thing: he trips her up with his billy club, and the next we see them, he still hasn't caught up with her.

By the time Daredevil is fighting Ninotchka, the connecting plot of Sheldon's sister has become the responsibility of Foggy Nelson. He's the only one concerned with Tammilu. Everyone else is busy trying to protect two lovers named Peter and Elyena from Boris and Ninotchka, who have been hired by the Soviet Union to prevent their wedding. Boris and Ninotchka seem like two people Luke and Danny can handle, and they do in the issue's climactic battle. Matt, in the end, is brought in to try and stop Peter from doing something incredibly stupid. In the end, it turns out Peter wasn't faithful to Elyena, and has been making his way through the ballerinas. Shouldn't that have been something Matt could sense, if he cared? (And why would he?)

But the worst is when we find out about the true nature of Tammilu's ailment. You won't believe a small crossover was tied together with this. When I read it, I had to shake my head. These three superheroes were drawn into this plot by this?

I enjoyed Kerry Gammil's art. He draws a good Daredevil, and even had an interesting take on the radar sense when he got to show it. As for Duffy's writing, it's not great. It's lame of Luke to be envious of Danny because a fifteen-year-old girl ran up to him. Later on, after she had already attacked him once, Peter watches Ninotchka staring at him, and thinks to himself, "That woman is always watching me -- as a cat watches a mouse! What is she planning? What is she going to do to me?" Buddy, you can probably draw some conclusions from past behaviour, and why are you calling her "that woman"? You know her name. Also, why did Elyana find him embracing Ninotchka? What was he doing? Why would he be in an embrace with a woman who violently attacked him earlier? And we're never told that it was a misunderstanding. If anything, the way this issue ends, we're led to believe that Peter is just this loose when it comes to ballerinas. It kind of defuses any romantic drama this story was packing earlier.

The action isn't bad. Iron Fist is pretty impressive fighting against Boris, although he doesn't bother to focus his chi. I guess the story didn't call for it. But it's not much of a story. I give this two out of five. (The two points are for Gammil.)

As for the two-parter, it doesn't hold together as one. The Daredevil issue works well within Miller's ongoing story about Cherryh's mayoral campaign. But the Tammilu link connects to very little, and the Power Man and Iron Fist issue isn't really worth checking out.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Normally, I usually do a stream of consciousness commenting on what happens. I'll try and do a bit more description of the plot because I know most people aren't able to follow along. I'm reading from Essential Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 2, which means it'll be in black and white.

First off, the cover is a bit of a letdown. Paper Chase has such a cool, abstract cover. This is very straight-forward for the time. I can tell from Danny Rand being trampled that this is intended to be a funny issue. Other than that, it looks quite bizarre.

This issue picks up where the plot left off last time with the somewhat out of the blue revelation of a sick sister. Daredevil, Power Man, and Iron Fist continue their petty banter when a little Russian girl comes running to them asking for help. Luke and Danny fight a big Russian dude while Matt fights a Russian ballerina who kicks people? Turns out Boris and Natasha (I'm not going to bother looking up their names, you get the idea) are hired to make sure the Russian girl doesn't defect by marrying another person named Peter (who I thought was the guy with the sick sister last issue, but apparently that was Sheldon). I'm eight pages in and my head is already spinning. It's not exactly clear what case they're still working on as they wonder off, leaving Foggy to deal with the contract dispute and the new crisis with the Russian girl seemingly resolved (albeit uncomfortably). Random observations: Apparently Foggy used to tap dance. I don't know if this is ever addressed again, but I'm somehow OK with it. Foggy as comedic relief can be enjoyable as long as he isn't solely a joke character.

But the plot thickens when they reach out to the state department to find out pretty much what was pretty clear from the earlier context: Peter and the Russian girl are in love, Boris and Natasha are trying to keep them apart. Glad they got that cleared up, I wouldn't have figured it out from earlier when they basically said the same thing. But, after finding out, the Heroes for Hire agree to take the case (well, Danny does and Luke comes along grumbling).

After that, the story plods on slowly for a few more pages before the big ballerina show. Apparently, the big plan to disrupt the marriage is to have "Natasha" pretend to be with Peter so the girl (I should look up her name) doesn't want to go through with the wedding). It works except "Boris" gets jealous and tries to beat up Peter. Then everything breaks down with all the characters jumping into the middle of the ballet, while the audience assumes it's part of the performance for some reason because they've never seen a superhero in New York, I guess? Then a big fight ensues. I'll admit that I think the fight here works better than the fight between Daredevil and Iron Fist last issue. I suppose that's a plus. Then Peter decides to cause the entire scaffolding to fall on everyone to show that he can be a hero too by apparently killing everyone involved. Luckily, the heroes save the day and the Russian girl (Eleyna, apparently) decides Peter's a jackass and doesn't want to go through with it. Foggy uses his legal knowledge to get the show's director to agree to give the sick girl her job back when she's healthy and pay her bills. Then we find out the only injury she has a frickin' ingrown toenail. And with that, this story ends.

This summary was almost as painful to type as it was to read. This is a terrible, corny, stupid story with a few moments that brought a chuckle that were few and far between. It wasn't a total waste, though. Tonally, it's very similar to Paper Chase. Reading this helps show that Frank Miller did a solid job of capturing this tone for the crossover, which helps contextualize the story. But I certainly wouldn't recommend this to anyone and I agree it barely works as a two-parter. One Star.
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Darkdevil
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprisingly, this issue is available on Marvel Unlimited.

I can count on one hand the number of Power Man & Iron Fist books that I've read in my time and I highly doubt this issue did anything to remedy that.

I remember Mary Jo Duffy as a respected writer (her work around this same time on Marvel's Star Wars was top-notch) but this was largely a forgettable story. Danny and Luke's friendship was portrayed nicely but the plot of contending with cheating ballerina dancers and injured toe-nails seems hardly worthy of superheroes. Maybe if Boris and Natasha had superpowers or were part of some secret Soviet spy agency or program but again, this feels like a stretch.

Gemmill's art was quite good, the action scenes were decent (especially where Danny kicks Boris in the chin and Luke catches the lighting set). I liked his depiction of Matt's radar sense but overall Matt had little to do here and some of his actions seemed strange. I agree, Natasha shouldn't have been able to get the best of him when they first met backstage and the way DD 'warned' Danny & Luke that Boris was following them by throwing something (a rock?) from the rooftop at the duo, what??

This was a two-parter in the loosest sense. Miller handled his part better, working this team-up appearance as effectively as he could into his ongoing plots while this issue read more as being forced and not as focused. It doesn't encourage me to check out any more of this title and if this was a reader's first intro to DD, I'm not sure if this would inspire them to check out his title either.

Two stars for some of the action and the art.
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