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DD Book Club - Hardcore
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:04 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Hardcore Reply with quote

After a bit of a break, we'll finish up the first superarc of Bendis's run.

Daredevil Vol. 2 # 46 - Hardcore pt. 1



Quote:

A classic Daredevil villain comes calling in this start of a new story arc. Can Daredevil take the heat?


Due 3/11
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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
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm actually surprised at how little there is about for me to complain in this issue.

The worst part of the comic is the page following the title and credits, which just shows Milla listening to a radio recap of "Lowlife." I don't think it's necessary to know the events of "Lowlife" to get something out of this issue. The conversation that follows between her and Lauren sounds like a conversation we've read before, and offers nothing new.

Matt Murdock is barely in this issue, and that's fine. Because....

Wilson Fisk is amazing in this issue. Bendis has got Fisk's tone down to exactly where it needs to be. He's menacing but intelligent. The scene in Bolivia is a masterpiece. Maleev perfectly captures the mood, and does a good job with the scene in Mary Walker's changeroom as well.

I have a couple of concerns. If Fisk has no money, and no stature, how did he get from Egypt (that's where Jabal Katrina is) to New York to murder Rosenthal, and then to Bolivia? I know he's Fisk and he's industrious. It's just that I would have liked to have seen how he did it. I think that would have been an interesting scene.

Also, if all you need to do to undo someone's hypnosis is give them a "shock to the system," one slap across the face seems a little simple. I would have liked something a little more surprising or creative.

That final page revealing Typhoid features what is probably my favourite panel from Maleev. I just love the grin on Typhoid's face as she tells Matt, "there's something I've been meaning to tell you for quite some time." That grin is so subtle. I'm guessing that Maleev had a model playing the part of Typhoid, and he managed to get a photograph of that smile. I don't know why I like it so much, but I do.

I habitually don't enjoy Bendis Daredevil issues, but I have to admit this is a very good start to "Hardcore," mostly due to the masterful depiction of Wilson Fisk. I give this issue a 4 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Full disclosure: This was probably the second Daredevil story I bought after The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller. This website recommended it, probably because it features so many different DD characters. I think, at the time, everything was just so new that it was cool no matter what. Then, after I started reading more Daredevil (particularly more Frank Miller), I re-read it and didn't think it was very good. Then I re-read it with the benefit of context (everything Bendis has done up to this point) and liked it again. So we'll see how I end up feeling this time.

This story feels decently paced. There's a lot of dialogue spread over a lot of pages, but there's also quite a few different story arcs being played out.

There's some nice advancement with Milla's story. It's nice to see someone genuinely approach this rationally. She likes Matt (and she likes Daredevil). Unlike every other person who dates a superhero, she knew what she was getting into and made the decision. The "I could get killed when around him" thing is true, but he also literally saved her life the first time they met as well. I think Bendis is doing a good job setting up a different kind of relationship than what we're used to.

There's some nice progression with the Kingpin. He's been lurking in the background, but now it's showing him active. First, he reawakens Typhoid Mary. I've always liked Typhoid Mary, even Bendis's version, which is very different, imo, from Nocenti's. The fact that Kingpin would just come in and violently attack her to bring her back is tragic, though, since she had a nice life. Next, he kills his Consigliere. Unlike some other events, this dialogue isn't entirely telling us we still don't know. We know Vanessa is still alive and in hiding, for starters. We know Fisk wants her dead because of what she did.

Even the scene between Matt and Foggy, while not really progressing the lawsuit plot, has some good humor and good camaraderie. Matt and Foggy need to be friends. It's more fun that way.

It leads up to a good cliffhanger. While it's not an action story, the story does a good job setting up Mary in the beginning and ending with an "oh crap" moment. I'll go with Four Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 # 47 - Hardcore pt. 2



Quote:
“HARDCOREî Part 2 (of 5)

TYPHOID MARY is back!


Due 3/18
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so I was genuinely surprised by what a good read that last issue was.

What a comedown.

This issue is an exhibit of some of Bendis' worst habits as a writer, along with some annoying things from Maleev as well.

We open on a drug deal two days ago. Bendis makes sure we know the names of characters like Heathcliff and Rodney, although I'm sure they will prove no importance to the story in the end. The transaction takes two pages. Then we go to the Cheyenne Diner where Rodney gives Jackson the drug money, because they're running low on MGH. It's here where I noticed that the quick back and forth banter, which is riveting when you're watching a movie, is simply annoying when you're reading a comic book.

Quote:
Guy says he needs stuff to sell.

Not my department.

Guy said to tell you.

Not my department. You take care of you?

Yeah.

You get greedy?

Nah man.

You want a burger?

Not one'a yours.

The right actors and directors could really make that dialogue sing, but there are no actors and directors in this medium. This is a comic, and all dialogue like this does is crowd the panel with umpteen balloons. Better to be economical with the balloons and dedicate the dialogue to relevance and character. I've said it before, I don't think Bendis understands what the strengths and weaknesses of this medium are.

Jackson gives the money to Samuel. It takes him two pages to get from the diner to his apartment. Thankfully, Maleev gives us a grisly murder scene, although I thought that the woman looked like she was alive. Too bad for her, because Samuel runs out of the apartment shouting "Ohmygod" nine times.

He drops the envelope of drug money and some guy named Sano puts the tip of his sword down on it. Samuel tries to scare him by pointing out he works for the Owl. I don't know why that would work since the Owl was very publicly defeated by Daredevil, and taken into custody. Now, I just assumed that Sano was working for Fisk. We know for sure that Sano isn't working for the Owl, and the recap page tells us "Wilson Fisk is on a quest for revenge against those who ousted him from his once untouchable label of Kingpin OF CRIME." So if Sano is threatening Samuel with a sword, I think I was fair to assume that Sano is working for Fisk.

Then Typhoid Mary shows up singing some Mamas and the Papas. Sano points his finger at something off panel and says, "End it fast." The people who Maleev hires as his models are genuinely not that good at providing dynamic facial expressions. Either that, or he's not good at capturing them. There was nothing that immediately suggested that Sano's group was scared of Typhoid. Certainly, Sano's men were either not shooting at her, or she was telekinetically moving the bullets away from her. Anyway, she slaughters all of Sano's men.

So what this means is that Sano isn't working for Fisk. He is either leading or a member of some gang that is fighting over territory previously controlled by the Owl. Okay, he's not the leader, because Fisk shows up and orders Sano to tell his master to stay in Philadelphia. Then he tells Samuel to spread the word that he'll be at Josie's the next night.

We go to the previous day. Wait, that's wrong. The first page of this issue said "Two days ago, and this page says, "One day ago." So it's the night after what we just saw. Jeez, that's confusing.

Fisk is at Josie's. I can't stand this scene, because it's got Agent Driver acting all smug and cocky. Just like he has no fear of the Owl, even though he's been a thorn in Daredevil's side for three decades at this point, now he has no fear of Fisk. The Kingpin. He actually tells him, "You really are as arrogant a fat #$%@ as they say." He's that smug and cocky towards the man who nearly killed our hero with his bare hands. Are we supposed to be impressed by Driver? Are we supposed to think he's right? I don't know what Bendis is trying to accomplish with this Driver character. If the antagonists aren't worth fearing, why should I, the reader, be invested in this story?

The scene with Turk is pathetic. That of course, is by design. I know that Turk was always used by Miller as comic relief -- the butt of the joke. But it worked, because Daredevil was always the beneficiary of Turk's loss. Even Kevin Smith understood that! Here, Turk simply stumbles into Josie's brandishing a handgun, threatens to shoot Fisk without noticing any of the FBI agents, then they arrest Turk. That's it. I remember at the time people cheering on this message board because Turk was back. "It's awesome! It's so hilarious!" It was a single page, and the agents were the benificiaries of him being the butt of the joke, not our hero. The FBI agents aren't the protagonists of this story, at least I don't think they are. We haven't seen Matt in this issue so far, except on the cover which is just another piece of art Maleev had lying around.

Anyway, the scene in Josie's ends. We didn't see Samuel again. I'm assuming that the word Samuel put out allowed the agents to show up, so Fisk could give them that evidence against the Owl. But I have two problems with that. Why didn't Fisk anonymously send that evidence to the FBI? Secondly, why would the FBI agents show up? They have no case against the Kingpin right now. What's in it for them to go there? They can't arrest them for anything, and something bad could happen.

When we do finally see Matt, there are two pages left in the comic book, and it's simply the same cliffhanger as the previous issue. THE EXACT SAME CLIFFHANGER! What writer does that? That means that this issue didn't move the story forward at all.

What did we gain by learning Rodney's name? Or Heathcliff's name? Or Jackson's? Or Sano's? The answer is... nothing.

One last gripe: Bendis seems to write Kingpin as if he's some lost member of the Corleone family. Even the previous issue, during the excellent Bolivia scene, Kingpin used the word "consigliere." This isn't The Godfather! He does not view his criminal empire like a family! It's a corporation, and he runs it dispassionately and efficiently.

After such a strong issue, this one really bothers me. I give it a 1 out of 5. It's stunningly incompetent.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clearly Bendis had watched The Wire before he wrote this opening scene. He's trying at least. Seven pages of the story are devoted to showing how bad things are for organized crime and why things were better with the Kingpin around. I think it works well bringing things full circle from Underboss when there was animosity instead.

It sets up Typhoid Mary coming in, which I think does work really well. It's well-plotted (with just the sound effect of the sword scraping, the shot of just her feet, the reveal, and the fight. I actually checked to see if it was Alex Maleev because I think it's a good action scene that makes Mary look badass (at least, this version of Mary). She's a little more on the unhinged side of things than Nocenti portrayed her, but, judged on its own merits, she works well. Plus, the Mamas and the Papas is a nice touch.

Knowing what's coming, I appreciate the scene between Fisk and Driver. It's got Bendis's usual flaws, but it's continuing the theme from earlier in the issue about how the city needs the Kingpin. Plus, it builds on the last arc too showing how much better and smarter Fisk is compared to Owlsley. I'm definitely sure anyone who wanted to know what happened after Mary encounters Matt are definitely cursing Bendis's flaws. But I liked this issue a lot, mostly because of Mary.

Four Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In honor of Iron Fist this week ... it's a story that features everyone except Danny Rand!

Daredevil Vol. 2 # 48 - Hardcore pt. 3



Quote:

It ís the worst thing that could happen, Typhoid Mary on the steps of Nelson & Murdock. A bloody fight to the finish guest starring Luke Cage & Jessica Jones. Plus, the return of the most dangerous, the most anticipated character in Daredevil history – and you do not see THIS one coming!


Due 3/25
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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 Mar 19, 2017 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the story moves forward this issue. That's progress, I guess.

The cliffhanger from the last TWO issues carries forward into a scene of utter chaos. Everything about this scene is chaotic. The artwork, the word bubbles, the captions... everything. Matt narrates the scene, and even his narration contains cries of pain. The overwhelming majority of the characters say either "Aghh" or "Aaaiieee!!" The entire thing isn't the easiest to follow, and I personally found it unpleasant.

On the second page Maleev gives us a panel which seems to show Milla running through a doorway, while something -- I don't know what -- goes "whump". I don't know where the doorway is leading, because subsequent pages show she didn't get anywhere.

I didn't know much about Jessica Jones the first time I read this issue. I knew she was the main character in Alias, but I didn't like Bendis, so I never picked that up. Here, I just find her dialogue stupid and annoying. "Heads up, skank woman!!" "Hate the crazy skanks... Hate crazy!! You hear me? I hate crazy!!" Combined with all of Mary's non-sequitors, and all of these incomplete and disjointed sentences make this scene a real chore to read.

In one panel Maleev draws Jessica's right arm catching fire. Again, I suspect Maleev works from pictures he's shot of models posing as the characters in the story. For this panel it looks like he took a generic close-up of a woman and just drew fire on her right arm. The facial expression doesn't look overly distressed, and the fire is placed in the foreground, so I didn't immediately draw the connection between the fire and her right arm. Two panels later and Jessica's right arm is no longer burning.

The last panel on that same page shows Matt smothering Milla with a coat. (Again, she didn't go anywhere.) Matt is right on top of her and yells loudly "Milla!" He is inches away from her face as he yells this. Even though Milla called for Matt two panels earlier and she is unhurt, she responds "What? I don't under-eee!!" I don't know what her problem is. Then Matt says internally, "Milla!" Yep, that's her name. I have no idea what Bendis was trying to accomplish in this panel.

A few pages later Luke Cage shows up and breaks Mary's hands and arms. At one point her sword breaks against Luke's chest, but it rips a hole in his t-shirt. He says "Tsk, maaan... it almost ain't worth having unbreakable skin." I don't get it. If he didn't have unbreakable skin, he would have died, so how is it not worth it? Is it because the shirt got torn? Luke, there is always a good sale on t-shirts somewhere. But again, another line that makes no sense. I really don't think Bendis put much effort into this issue's script. And another question: Luke keeps saying the word "dingy." Is it pronouced "dinjy" like a damp dark place, or is it "dingy" like a bell? Either one doesn't seem like a standard Luke Cage choice of word.

But what I always found really pathetic is that after Mary gets beaten nearly into submission by both Luke and Jessica, Luke passes her limp body over to Matt, saying "Murdock, finish this." Then, it takes two panels for Matt to jab her across the chin, and another panel to show her unconscious on the ground. (yay daredevil.) Very heroic. I'm very glad that I have chosen to follow the monthly adventures of a man who defeats villains only after his friends beat them within an inch of their lives. By the way, even though he was on fire, Matt's t-shirt looks great.

I still really hate Agent Driver. Did Matt open the door for him, or did Driver just walk in? Was the door unlocked? Does Foggy have a key to Matt's place, and let himself and Driver in? So many questions. But the big problem with this scene is Driver saying, "Typhoid Mary. She was there with [Fisk], all snugly buggly. Sickening really. On many levels." We just read the previous issue last week, and Mary wasn't at Josie's with Fisk. I know Bendis doesn't read anyone else's work, but I would have thought he had better knowledge of his own. At least in this issue Driver shows a bit of humility about having underestimated the Kingpin, but I still hate him.

I suppose some people may have found Milla's exploration of Matt's scars both sweet and erotic, and I guess the cliffhanger scene does its job, but everything preceding these two things was way more unpleasant than it needed to be. I give this issue a 2.


Last edited by Dimetre on Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:07 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take what I said about liking this different take on Typhoid. I thought this started genuinely annoying. The actual scene was fine. I liked the tension and confusion in the first half. Matt is trying whether to jump out and fight or to stick to his character. It's his worst nightmare when people he loves are in danger because of his secret identity. That being said (and those who are following Soule's work will know I felt the same way there), Typhoid Mary is a bad example because she's always known his identity. Still, I like that Jessica Jones and Luke Cage save the day. The groundwork of, well, grounding Matt so he can't be Daredevil paid off. That being said, it does go on way too long. It's ten pages, not counting the splash page of him meditating. That's a lot of real estate for this.

I like the smoke with the candles with Daredevil meditating. It almost gives a sense that he's still smoldering. The conversation with Milla emphasizes the important themes that he's worried about people being put in danger and his girlfriend's being killed by Bullseye. Meanwhile, Kingpin is having a conversation with someone who, to me, sounds like every other Bendis bad guy. Turns out, it's Bullseye! I hate the costume change. I'll talk about it next week, I think. The less said the better.

I say this a lot with Bendis. There are good moments in almost every episode. But they're just spaced a little too thinly apart filled with a whole lot of very little. In particular, I do like Milla a lot. Three and a Half Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 # 49 - Hardcore pt. 4



Quote:

You never thought it would happen…


Holy crap, what an awesome solicit! Wink

Due 4/1
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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 Mar 26, 2017 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue seems to be one prolonged scene, and that's pretty cool.

As usual, there are things in this issue that I feel are unnecessary. We don't need to be told for what I think is the third time that Typhoid's part in this plot is a distraction. But, otherwise, I felt that the panels and pages were used rather well. I didn't feel there was too much wasted space this time.

My big problem with this issue is Daredevil's interaction with Bullseye. Yes, it sucks that his appearance is mimicking Colin Farrell's from the movie, but I guess the people behind the comics felt they had to do that. I disagree, but that isn't my big problem. I don't like how Daredevil suddenly says he knows Bullseye's identity. We never saw him look into this. What does knowing that his name is Lester get us as the audience? Nothing. It only robs the character of some mystique. Also, the background that Bendis does give Bullseye is nothing special, except that something happened to him in high school. We're not told what it is, but whatever. The Marvel Handbook mentions Bullseye's background in baseball, but Bendis makes no mention of that. I just think it's cheap that Bendis had Daredevil find out all of these things off panel.

Now, I'm aware of the bogus political reasons that Bullseye took so long to reappear in Daredevil following "Guardian Devil." (Quesada's idiotic agreement with Kevin Smith) I can't get too upset with Bendis that he couldn't write a Bullseye-centric story as early as he wanted to, nor could any other writer. Based on the 'Nuff Said issue, it's clear that he planned to bring in Bullseye earlier, and that Maleev even planned to draw the classic costume. Maybe an earlier Bullseye story would have shown Matt finding out these things. Who knows?

However, this is yet another classic villain who has been called "pathetic" and "nothing" in the pages of Daredevil. I understand why Daredevil gets so furious with Bullseye in particular, but the rhetoric he spouts in this issue makes me very uncomfortable. I suspect this is Bendis' way of making Daredevil seem badass, but this isn't my Daredevil. My Daredevil doesn't tell people they should kill themselves. And when Daredevil shouts "I don't care!" -- that is to laugh. I know that it's Bullseye he's fighting, but Daredevil's behaviour this issue comes mightily close to reflecting a bully's, and I never want to see Daredevil act like that. I believe Daredevil holds himself to a higher standard, and maintains better self-control. I can believe he wanted to kill Bullseye, but I don't believe he would ever have carried it out. (Let's pretend Shadowland doesn't exist.) Observe that he leaves Bullseye in FBI custody this issue. It's hard to believe a single thing that Daredevil shouts in anger this issue.

Maleev's work is okay this issue, although the fight moves aren't very spectacular. The model he's using for Milla doesn't give him anything special facially with which to work for when she's calling the FBI. Truthfully, I think whoever he got to model for Typhoid was his best model. Her facial expressions were amazing. A lot of his other models look bored a lot of the time.

I like the last page. I think this is the third time Milla has thanked Matt for saving her, and without saying a word, you can tell that Matt is uncomfortable with that realization. It makes me wonder why he ended up marrying her, but whatever.

As uncomfortable as the Daredevil/Bullseye fight makes me, I have to admit that this issue does what it does quite well. The pacing is actually good. I give this a 3 out of 5.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening has a nice little sweet quiet moment. The colors look great with the blue sky. I like the little bits of humor when Bendis does it. This run has a reputation (deservedly so) for being very dark, but I like the beginning with Matt teasing Foggy and saying he can go out in the DD costume instead. It all comes to an end very quickly.

I've said before I hate this Bullseye outfit. I hate the lack of costume, I hate the leather jacket, and I hate the movie (OK, I'm indifferent to the movie at this point). I also think Maleev does a decent job with the action (I like the superhero landing when they both leave the apartment). It could have used a little more subtlety. Just Bullseye with the billy club would have been enough without having to sign it. This is very much evoking the idea of Bullseye killing all of Matt's girlfriends (which, in fairness, while he's killed an unusually high number, isn't all of them and one is currently alive). But it's definitely creating the idea that this could happen again. I don't know if there's been enough time to truly sell it (given Bendis's pacing), but maybe we have if we view it in real time.

I'm debating how I feel about the revelations of Bullseye's past. I certainly don't like giving him his real name. There was sort of a Dark Knight Joker vibe about him. On the other hand, I feel Mephisto referenced his mother being a prostitute in Guardian Devil, so I don't think that's a new revelation. While the fight started great, I thought it fell off the rails by the end. But I'm kind of torn. I know in the past, I've felt a certain catharsis with him just unloading on Bullseye, but there's something almost comically bad his Wolverine growls. Overall, I think this does a lot right, but I don't quite think it clicks perfectly.

Four Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 # 50 - Hardcore pt. 5



Quote:

Celebrate DD's 50th issue with the startling conclusion to Bendis & Maleev's latest epic, featuring guest artist cameos by John Romita Jr., Joe Quesada, Klaus Janson, Lee Weeks, John Romita Sr., David Mack & Gene Colan. Featuring a series-changing surprise ending.


Thanks to Kuljit Mithra for archiving all the solicits (something I just realized). Makes these posts much easier to make.

Due 4/8
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the issue to which Bendis was building ever since #26. Two years of build-up to this showdown between Daredevil and The Kingpin.

Predictably, I have the expected complaints of decompression. The three pages of carnage throughout the Greater New York area could have been compressed to smaller panels filling one page.

Bendis seems to have acted as the Fisk model this issue, and that's okay. I would have rather he wore a more traditional Fisk-style suit, especially since the other artists drew him in one. Maybe Bendis doesn't own a suit?

A few issues ago I complimented Bendis for the scene in which Fisk was in Bolivia. In that scene he seemed to really understand Fisk, and got his speech down completely. With this issue, I'm not feeling it. It's little things. Fisk, when talking about MGH, says, "It's off the street. It's stupid and it's gone." I always thought that a word like "stupid" was beneath Fisk. He would say "insipid" or "ridiculous." "Stupid" took me out of the scene.

The last panel on that same page shows a man looking afraid through a window. I have no idea who that man is, or where he is. There is nothing early on the page or in the issue suggesting anything about this man. When you turn the page, you see the man unconscious on the ground at Daredevil's feet. Still, you don't know who he is, or where he is. There is nothing to suggest he's working for the Kingpin. He could have just been a motorist minding his own business for all we know.

Instead of Agent Driver, Bendis gives us Ming in this issue as the voice of people not impressed by the antagonist. This will forever frustrate me about Bendis. What is accomplished by a character who makes the antagonist look less competent? Why not just have everyone completely terrified of Fisk, and leave Matt as the only character who isn't. Wouldn't that make Matt more special in our eyes? Ming becomes an even more pointless character after Matt smashes the car into the warehouse, because all of Fisk's underlings magically vanish.

The banter between Matt and Fisk was pretty good. I have some nitpicks -- for instance, if Fisk is going to bring up the funny way a Swedish tabloid worded Matt's outing, why not tell us? It's kind of ridiculous to fail to tell us. (Notice I didn't say "stupid.") But I was, for the most part, enjoying the banter until Matt said, "Now I think I'm just going to beat the $%#@ out of you!!" I can't think of a writer who has depicted Matt Murdock with less class than Brian Michael Bendis. Matt, I believe, is someone who holds himself to certain standards when it comes to his actions and his words. It's not the profanity that bothers me -- it's the idiocy of the sentence. It's something a drunk bully says outside of a bar at two in the morning, not Matt Murdock. Wolverine or the Punisher, probably, but not Matt Murdock.

Given the way Daredevil and the Kingpin's first fight went as depicted by Miller decades before, I have serious doubts as to whether Matt could ever beat Fisk in hand-to-hand combat. But Matt did wear Fisk down successfully in "Last Rites," so he's going into this fight as a Kingpin expert. What bothers me about this fight is that it looks like Matt gets out of the chokehold by boxing Fisk's ears. Then when he gets him on the ground he leaps on top of him and then, schoolyard bully style, punches him across the face within an inch of his life. Throughout Bendis and Maleev's run, I have found Matt's fighting style robbed of all the grace that first thrilled me when I discovered the character in the mid '80s. I feel agility and grace are integral traits for the character. If you don't feel that way, you don't get Daredevil. At least Maleev draws a nice kick to finish the fight.

The next scene is the most puzzling for me. I don't have a problem with Daredevil behind the wheel of a car. I think his radar and hypersenses may allow him to drive, and Stan Lee said he could do it way back when Daredevil first met the Stilt Man. And how else is he going to move an unconscious Kingpin? So if he had just dropped Kingpin's body off in the middle of Josie's and yelled at the crooks, that would have been cool. But there is absolutely no reason for him to unmask in front of everyone. The only reason for it, in my opinion, is that he is so pissed off and his pulse is racing that he has no self-control. That, to me, is not Matt Murdock. He thinks before he acts. Unmasking is such a supremely stupid (I think the word applies here) thing to do, and I just don't think the character has ever demonstrated that level of stupidity.

The panels by the guest artists were a real treat, although I really wish Maleev had dressed Fisk in a suit like the other artists did. My favourite panels were by Colan and John Romita Sr. Those two guys have a style that you can still recognize decades after their heyday. I normally love Weeks' Daredevil, but his panel looked rushed and I was orignially convinced that it was by Phil Winslade. Klaus Janson's was nice to see, even if his work lacks the details of the others. Joe Quesada's panel was surprisingly bad. I loved his art at the beginning of Volume 2, and this panel looked like a mess. I was similarly surprised at the unpleasantness of David Mack's panel. That's not the kind of work you expect from Mack. As for Michael Avon Oeming, I don't know why he got to do a panel, since he's never had any previous connection to Daredevil, other than he's a close colleague of Bendis. Instead it would have been nice to see something from Cary Nord or John Romita Jr. But no, why not give a panel to Brian's friend?

In conclusion, this is the issue in which Matt declares himself the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. What, you ask, does that title entail? Well, this is what Matt says.

Quote:
I am here to say: if you people so badly need some sort of Kingpin, someone to lord over you-- Well, from now on... it's me. I am not protecting this city any more. I am running it!! And I say: the people of Hell's Kitchen are my people. This is my territory now-- And I say: GET OUT OR CHANGE.


How is Matt going to do this without doing what he already does in Hell's Kitchen? Are these just empty words? At the time, I didn't care. After this issue, David Mack returned to the title with what was originally conceived as an Echo mini-series, but ended up taking up four issues of Daredevil. I bought those issues, and they would have been better as an Echo title. But I was done with Bendis. The next issue of Daredevil I would buy was Volume 2 #82 -- Ed Brubaker's first issue on the title.

It's amusing to me, though, that there is still this confusion about what it meant, exactly, for Matt to call himself Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen, and it's fourteen years later.

Anyway, I enjoyed Matt's banter with Fisk, and I enjoyed the guest panels. I guess I'll give this issue a 2.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I would do something a little unusual and give my thoughts on this issue from when I've read it before. When I first read Hardcore, I had just started reading comics and I thought it was interesting. The Bendis/Maleev combo stood out (and, to a degree, continues to stand out) as presenting a very different feel from other books. Also, not knowing much about Daredevil, this had Kingpin, Typhoid Mary, and Bullseye all in one story volume. But I didn't really have much context and thought it was alright. As time went by and I read other books, my appreciation began to fade. After all, the entire story is the Kingpin shows up, does a bunch of flashy stuff, and is then defeated. The second time I read the story, it was with the benefit of having read everything that came before. Then I understood that the Kingpin showing up was a build up from a long time back and the ending of the issue was both an expression of the stress and rage built in Matt and a commentary on both the idea of Matt's identity in the open and on how to end the cyclical nature of the criminal underworld. In that second reading, I appreciated it much more than the first. Now it's time for read number three. Let's see how I feel:

The issue starts with the Kingpin cleaning house. There's very much a Godfather feel to it. I'm not paying money for the issue (OK, I bought the trade a long time ago, I guess) so I'm not going to feel cheated on pages. I do think the large widescreen panels creates a now slow pacing that gives a good punch with that final "do I have your attention?"

What follows I like much less. I hate the "I just ordered the rape and murder of your wife" thing. It feels over the top and out of character. Maybe a bitter Fisk after Vanessa killed their son changed him, but he was more subtle and would appear more respectful even if he was just as ruthless. I'm not the one to point out Maleev's facial expressions, but Ming's husband seems surprisingly nonplussed about that news. On top of that, there's supposed to be a cool intercutting of Daredevil taking out Kingpin's men and ramming a car through them. It's in such cramped panels with next to no detail that it's barely possible to tell what's happening much less get excited about it.

The payoff of the issue is the big fight. As a longtime reader of Daredevil, the stories always go the same. Kingpin tries to manipulate Daredevil, Matt cuts to the chance to fight him directly, and Matt gets his ass handed to him. That's why I liked Last Rites, where Matt takes Fisk down with Fisk's own methods. This story flips it on his head by having Matt come off victorious when he cuts to the chase. The various artists used is undeniably cool from an anniversary issue perspective - I mean it's Gene Colan, John Romita Sr., Klaus Janson, etc. But it's also very distracting.

I really don't like that the fight ends up being that simple. That Daredevil's just had enough and overcomes it through sheer force of will. That being said, it is what the story needs. And it's not like this story just started. It's been building for two years real time. It's time to end it.

I do think it does a good job with the story it wants to tell. But I don't know if it pays off the amount of stuff that came before. Also, while I can intellectually appreciate why the story went the way it did, it can't help but be disappointed by the fight. And, if I'm disappointed by that, I'm just left with the opening scene. I think I'm going Three and a Half Stars.
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