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DD Book Club: Merry Christmas, Kingpin!

 
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Mike Murdock
Lowlife


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1402

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 12:55 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club: Merry Christmas, Kingpin! Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #253 - Merry Christmas, Kingpin!



Quote:
Daredevil and Kingpin spend Christmas in their own particular idioms.


A nice little palette cleanser before we go back to Bendis. Seems appropriate for Christmas Day.

Due 12/31
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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


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1156
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is another Nocenti story I've obviously read a very long time ago, yet can't remember at all. My copy is even autographed by John Romita Jr, but it's probably been fifteen years since I touched it.

I'm not sure how many times the Wild Boys showed up during the Nocenti years, but I'm not sure if they ever became fully fleshed out characters. They're just generic jerks who cause trouble for the sake of causing trouble. I was kind of surprised that Eightball was impressed by them, since you'd expect him to have some moral conscience if he's hanging around Daredevil all the time. Indeed, Eightball's character seems to be all over the place this issue, swinging from one mood to the next. I may have felt different had I read the preceding few issues to refamiliarize myself with Eightball. Has he had a problem with being pushed around, and that's why he is inspired by the Wild Boys' fearlessness? I don't know.

I liked Daredevil in this issue. He's very responsible, and knows that he can be a role model to the kids. He's not antagonistic towards Eightball when he acts up. He just lets him know he's there, paying attention to him.

Hell's Kitchen, while it's a troubled neighbourhood, also has a very warm community feel. The people in the clinic have all arrived there in their own unique and troubled ways.

I found it odd that Nocenti bothered to write in lines like, "I better pretend I have to touch this food to know it's there," and "Hey, how come you always know where my hand is at, Blindman?" We really don't need them, but perhaps that's a holdover from Stan Lee's philosophy that every comic book is someone's first. While I agree with him, these lines feel awkward.

As good as Matt was in this issue, the Kingpin felt off. He felt cartoonishly evil. I can easily imagine Gargamel or Montgomery Burns speaking his dialogue. He had his moments though. I liked this line: "That case is designed to show Murdock that there's no such thing as a justice system. We have to win." It shows us he's still obsessed with destroying Murdock. But when he started swinging the barbell at the fly, and talking about the meaningless of Christmas, he seemed to become undignified. Wilson Fisk is someone who always protects his dignity, so he seemed very off-character throughout this issue.

I enjoyed seeing Daredevil defeat the Wild Boys, and I thought Romita Jr. was particularly strong in this scene. The following pages featured more of Eightball's mood swings, but that scene he shared with Darla was undeniably heartwarming. That warmth continues in the next scene at the clinic, which is nicely contrasted with Kingpin's coldness to finish the issue.

I enjoyed this issue. You can feel the Christmas spirit, especially in the scenes at the clinic. Because this wasn't too long after Born Again, Matt is a particularly inspirational character, because he doesn't have a lot, but he's making the most of the little he does have, and he's spending his time looking after the most vulnerable in his community. I love that.

The only faults I found in this issue are some of the awkward lines telegraphing to the reader that Matt is an amazing blind man. Kingpin's characterization seems off to me, and Eightball veers wildly from mood to mood. But the issue is still good. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
Lowlife


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1402

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
This is another Nocenti story I've obviously read a very long time ago, yet can't remember at all. My copy is even autographed by John Romita Jr, but it's probably been fifteen years since I touched it.


Oh wow, that's very cool.

Quote:
I'm not sure how many times the Wild Boys showed up during the Nocenti years, but I'm not sure if they ever became fully fleshed out characters.


As far as I know, they appeared again in the big fight involving Typhoid Mary and that's it. I could be wrong, though.

My review tends to agree with you in many of the details:

I actually don't think I've read this story before. It's a somewhat weird story. Definitely fluff in many ways except for the ending. But I also think it works well as a character piece. It's basically two stories. There's Matt's story with the Fatboys and the Wildboys and there's Kingpin's story where he's angrily bitter about his plans not working out the right way.

There's something absurd about the Wildboys that kind of makes me like them. I can't say I really know why. Maybe I'm like Eightball in that way, but there's a dumb fun recklessness that works. Jet even has Gene Simmons's tongue. I do like all the little elements. I like the guy in the Santa costume saying that the Wildboys should be shot. I like that Eightball ends up being impressed by them. There's definitely a sense that the Fatboys live in pretty rough areas and end up not having the same role models as you'd like.

On the Kingpin plot, it's OK. It's definitely a bit much in the slapstick. I do like the idea of bringing up Matt as a thorn in his side. I've read Born Again, I've read the early Nocenti stuff, etc., but I don't think I read it all quite in order, so this is sort of bringing all this together just before the Typhoid Mary saga starts. Making him Scrooge lacks quite a bit of subtlety, though. I know it's not Nocenti's strength anyway, but it's pretty bad here.

Still, it's a very nice warm ending. It's Matt finding the good in people and, more importantly, bringing the good out of them. Overall, it's a pretty good Christmas story. Four Stars.
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Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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The Overlord
Paradiso


Joined: 22 Aug 2004
Posts: 1095

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, I think the Wildboys would be more compelling if they were a giant street gang that tried to lure kids into a criminal life style, rather then two random punks who cause random chaos, you think this is something the cops could handle, rather then DD needing to stop them. If it was a large gang they would be more of systematic problem, something DD couldn't just use his fists to deal with. Frankly I think the Wildboys would need a major revamp if they ever used again, they don't seem like a real threat at all, compared to the several other random street punks DD has dealt with over the years.

I don't have much to add that has not already been said.

The story with Eightball and DD showing him the true the spirit of Christmas was cute, but kinda cheesy. Its good to show DD trying to a positive impact on the youth of Hell's Kitchen and trying to prevent them from following bad role models. It was good showing Matt having a positive impact on Hell's Kitchen, through his legal clinic and giving presents to poor children of Hell's Kitchen, which shows him trying to be productive after losing everything in Born Again.

Kingpin being a grinch is a bit silly, I can imagine Kingpin not liking Christmas much, but you think Kingpin could be more pragmatic, believing that allowing his men and potential business associates to enjoy a holiday to improve their morale, Kingpin kinda screwed himself with this one, you think he would know you can catch more flies with honey then vinegar. I think some people say Kingpin is being out of character, but like most comic book villains, Fisk's personality can change from writer to writer, how evil and petty Fisk is vs. how pragmatic he is, really seems to depend on the writer. I think ideally Fisk should be very ruthless and have petty moments, but try to balance out his baser moments with pragmatic planning, so he is in conflict with himself. He should not 100% pragmatic, but he should not be totally ruled by instincts like someone like Owl is.

I will give this issue 3 stars.
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