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DD Book Club - Menace From the Moons of Saturn!
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:41 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Menace From the Moons of Saturn! Reply with quote

Sorry about the late start.

This is going to be a weird one and I mean that in many ways. First, this is a Steve Gerber story that is essentially known as the weird story that just went too far. I'm sure we'll get to it at the right point, but there's a debate of whether it's Daredevil at all. This is also weird because I'm including #104. I think the issue fits everything, but it's tied by B-plot and cliffhanger more than anything else. Since the issue isn't on Marvel Unlimited, I would encourage anyone who skipped week one to jump in with issue #105 next week.

In addition to picking an author we haven't done before, this story is being done in honor of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out next week. While I don't think the characters overlap, there's a certain cosmic level to it (and groovy zaniness) that feels appropriate.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 104 - Prey of the Hunter



Quote:
Kraven the Hunter’s been hired to stalk out and eliminate Daredevil. But who put out the hit? Black Widow may pay the ultimate price for her involvement with Ol’ Hornhead…but not if Matt Murdock can help it!


Due 5/6
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you ready for another exciting issue of Daredevil and Black Widow? I get that this was a more common thing back then (pair characters who aren't really supporting their own books), but, while Power Man and Iron Fist stuck, this one didn't. It may have been that I don't think they were successful in portraying them as co-stars in the story. That being said, they're a fun duo. After the last story, let's see how an earlier era compares.

The story opens with a quiet scene. It's not about the plot, it's just showing them at rest when they don't have to respond to a crisis. There's also a discussion with Matt's firm and mysterious law partner, Kerwin J. Brocerick. He's a reference to a real lawyer who I am drawing a blank on right now. It's been a little while since I got to do a legal commentary, so I'll just take a second. Broderick, for unknown reasons, wants Matt to plead his clients guilty - kids from a prior story who are insisting on their innocence. I'd have to doublecheck the exact year but I'm pretty sure it's not just Matt's legal code of ethics that should prevent him from doing that - it's a rule of Constitutional law. Still, Matt's been in San Francisco for awhile and it's good to see his Law Firm get a little more action, even if Broderick is a completely mysterious character.

I said above that it didn't feel like Natasha is a co-star. Having her get kidnapped off screen to be a damsel in distress is disappointing. It's used to set up Kraven, though. Also, snarky Tasha at the dinner party made me chuckle. It basically sets up a long fight scene. Daredevil matched him very well, which killed suspense for a bunch of it, particularly two versus one, but it certainly ended on a cliffhanger that would make me want to come back next month (or is it two months by this point?) to see if the book is becoming a Black Widow solo book.

Three and a Half Stars. Some good moments, but they never rose above generic. Still, knowing some idea of what's coming next makes me excited, even if I'm dreading it.
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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: Wed May 03, 2017 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read this yesterday, but my review doesn't seem to be posted. Let me do my best to recollect my thoughts.

First off, this is an interesting story to read following "Widow's Kiss." Obviously, some twenty years separate these two stories.

Secondly, I'm on record as not holding Matt's relationship with Karen Page on a pedestal, so you'd think I'd like his relationship with the Black Widow more, right?

My problem with the Widow's arrival in Daredevil's life is that it came while Gerry Conway was writing the book. After Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, Conway's stint was a definite step down in quality. But Conway is not the writer of this story. The late Steve Gerber is, so that ought to help, right?

Funnily enough, I'm reading this story out of the pages of Marvel Masterworks Volume 10. The forward is written by Jon B. Cooke and (sort of) references this very website, specifically Kuljit's 1997 interview with Gerber.
Quote:
When asked by manwithfear.com about the value of Natasha in the book, Gerber said, "If I recall, Black Widow also left during my run on the comic. And I have to say, in all honesty, I didn't miss her. I think Daredevil works better as a loner."

Now I'm a big fan of the Black Widow. I loved her series by Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto, and the one that just ended by Waid and Samnee was amazing! (Give her back her series, Marvel!) I love that she's such a big presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Give her her own movie!) So, looking at this story from a present day lens, it's stunning to see how writers like Conway and Gerber relegate Natasha to damsel in distress status, even after she starred in her own stories in Amazing Adventures. There is no way the Black Widow of today would need help in battle against Kraven the Hunter, let alone be unable to untie a knot and be trampled underfoot by rampaging elephants. The writers in Marvel's bullpen simply didn't know what to do with Natasha. Was it because she was a woman, or because she was Russian, or was it a combination of the two?

The other thing I didn't like about this issue is that we never see the kids whom Matt is defending. This issue tries to make it seem like Matt's legal career is in the balence, but it's the kids who have the most at stake. We never see them, and I don't think we ever get their names. We should always see the people for whom Matt fights.

The opening workout scene is a rather lazy way for Gerber and Don Heck to drop a whole ton of expository information. Gerber is much better known for quirkier titles like Howard the Duck and Man Thing, and it doesn't seem like he invested very much effort here. He's shameless with the mentions of Matt's blindness and lie detecting skills.

What makes this issue memorable is Kraven. He's such an honourable man, but he's crazy, and that makes him a great antagonist for Matt. That's why it's surprising that the two of them never met before this. I may not completely believe that only someone Daredevil's hyper-senses could have the time to brace themselves for Kraven's onslaught -- you'd think Spidey's spider-sense would provide the same benefit, but Gerber writes Kraven and Daredevil operating at the peak of both their skills and intelligence. It's always a treat when both the protagonist and antagonist are challenging each other.

So despite my reservations about the depiction of the widow and the absence of Matt's clients, Kraven raises this story out of the muck. I give this issue a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2017 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the bad luck with you not posting the first time. I'm trying to remember if the kids were shown in an earlier issue. That being said, it's clear it's about Matt and not them, which is a bit odd.

With Natasha, I would certainly guess her being a woman was the big reason they didn't know what to do with her, yeah.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully, everyone has seen Guardians of the Galaxy or is going to see it soon. I'm hoping to see it this morning. So, continuing the sci fi theme, we have this issue. Incidentally, this is an issue I found in a comic store yesterday when I went for FCBD. I'm afraid if I read it, it'll crumble to dust, though.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 105 - Menace From the Moons of Saturn!



Due 5/13
_________________
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


Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. This is probably one of the crazier issues in Daredevil's history. It came out in November 1973. By this time Marvel should have been past the height of their psychedelic phase (and to me that probably was Jim Steranko's work on Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) This is a few years after that, but it's Steve Gerber. I haven't read his Howard the Duck or Man-Thing, but this is pretty nutty, so I'm guessing a story like this was more his speed.

At first, I thought it was very convenient that Natasha regained consciousness so quickly, and I was fully expecting her to rescue Daredevil. So I was genuinely surprised that she failed to do so. Sure, Matt survived, and I bought how he did so, but I don't expect to be surprised by comics from 1973. I tip my hat to Gerber. Kudos to you sir, and continue resting in peace.

I thought the internal monologue of Daredevil waking up and using his senses in the underground lair was extremely well done. However, I don't know how Matt can accurately judge a woman's physical beauty without talking to her, or touching her, especially if she has no heartbeat. The most I think he can judge from that distance is that she has a hot body, but not much else. Certainly no facial features.

I have no idea why Daredevil's response to Moondragon's assertion that San Franciso is under Thanos' control was, "You bet." I can't believe that after she generated so much power that he would be such a smart-ass. I know he's the "Man Without Fear," but he's not an idiot. If he hadn't had that moment of glibness, she wouldn't have reactivated Angar, Ramrod and the Dark Messiah.

It's been a while since I first read this issue, so I don't remember if Broderick has a secret passage to this underground lair, but it's somewhat shocking that someone as gifted as Moondragon would make so many errors in judgement, and they would be revealed to us so quickly in her first Daredevil appearance.

This issue is just a set up for what has got to be the most insane issue of Daredevil up to that point. The introduction to Moondragon takes up the bulk of this issue, and that's fine, but this issue is very weird, and is suddenly dominated with extra-terrestrial matters. Kraven, who was such a strong presence in the previous issue, is just sort of forgotten. I'm assuming it was Broderick who hired him to kill Daredevil, but that isn't formally revealed. It's just too strange for me that Broderick would have dealings with people from outer space. That's a very weird place to take this story.

Don Heck's work in this issue is inconsistent. There are some very good panels showing Kraven fighting the police, but there are others where he couldn't be bothered drawing backgrounds. The panel showing Broderick firing a laser is just flat-out weak. Heck's work is outshone by Jim Starlin's pages showing Moondragon's development on Titan.

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 on Friday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so it was fun to read a kooky issue like this. But it's weirder than my comfort level for Daredevil. I give this issue a two out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue starts where we left off. How can Daredevil be saved from being thrown off a cliff? Spoiler alert, he can't. For some reason, I really enjoyed the bystanders afraid to help save Daredevil. Maybe it's because of Steve Gerber's cynical hippie tendencies, but I'm reminded of Phil Och's Small Circle of Friends ("Maybe we should call the cops and try and stop the pain, but Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game."). Still, it's a good moment of heroism for Daredevil's cop friend, Paul Carson, (who I'm pretty sure he once slugged for no reason) and for Black Widow.

What follows is something delightfully nonsensical. It's amazing how decently cool concepts started with something genuinely terrible. When trying to read all of Thanos's early issues, I was shocked that she was originally called "Madame MacEvil." Glad they decided that was stupid. I think that name barely appears in the issue, while the story heavily retcons the character.

Honestly, the big debate and why I wanted to cover this story is "what makes a Daredevil story?" Can something purely sci-fi with aliens and magic, etc. be a Daredevil story? I think it's possible to punt. Even if it can be, I'm not sure I'd say this story is. It's about continuing an entirely different story that's abruptly shoe-horned in. In fact, it's Jim Starlin's story and Jim Starlin is guest penciling part of the story just for it (and Starlin does a wonderful job that stands out compared to Don Heck). It really makes me wonder why. It's such a huge change and they don't even call attention to it. Readers were just supposed to have been following along with Captain Marvel and Iron Man as if nothing had happened and know to pick this one up as well.

Like I said, the story is nonsensical. Daredevil talks with Moondragon. Moondragon thinks Daredevil works for Thanos, someone who has never encountered Daredevil before. It turns out that Kerwin J. Broderick, Matt's law partner, is the bad guy. Apparently, Kerwin J. Broderick is a stand-in for Melvin Belli in case anyone was wondering (I can't even fathom why that is either). It's also a very weird conclusion for what had started as a legal story with promise. Then tension builds to it's wacky conclusion.

Honestly, this is the kind of story you have to embrace the absurd. If you don't, it's awful. If you do, it's still not good. I like the rising tension at the end as each moment tops the last over and over again until the final third of a page reveal of the big bad on top of all the other terrifying bad guys. I also like the colors in Moondragon's place. Also, I can't not love Angar the Screamer. For the sheer acid trip that it is, I'm giving it Three and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This crazy story continues. I'm posting the night before because I'm a little uncertain about my internet tomorrow.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 106 - Life Be Not Proud



Due 5/20
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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


Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so this isn't Terrex, the herald of Galactus. Why does Marvel recycle names like this? It makes things confusing. It doesn't make sense for a herald of Galactus to be named Terrex, but for "he who is of the earth," it certainly does.

I turned two the month this issue came out. Comics were clearly a different animal back then. This may not be what I expect from a Daredevil comic today, or even ten or twenty years ago, but when I was a kid, I can imagine loving this story. There are so many threats piled on for Daredevil and the Widow to face. You have no idea how they're going to beat them (although it seems obvious that Moondragon is going to do most of the beating. She took down the Dark Messiah rather easily.) This is kid's stuff, or at least young adult stuff, and it's fun and engaging. However, it has its flaws.

Steve Gerber is a little sloppy with the details. On the third page Broderick says he manipulated both Matt Murdock and Jason Sloan, without them ever knowing. Yet two panels later Broderick complains that "Murdock wouldn't play the game." Which is it?

There's other little things. Daredevil should have been able to tell earlier that Moondragon was alive. Lucretia Jones ought to know why Daredevil and Kraven aren't around. The side story of Commissioner O'Hara finding out about his brother's death seems completely out of left field. It's such a serious matter that it seems kind of inappropriate to shoehorn it into the middle of a cosmic monster tale.

Otherwise, this is a lot of goofy fun, with some surprisingly well done horrific moments. Terrex draining the life out of that cop until he crumbles into a pile of dust is the stuff of nightmares. I almost think the Comics Code Authority would have had something to say about that, but I think that was great. I like how Daredevil saved Moondragon, and she gave him his sight back to do it. I'm pretty sure this was the first time he got his sight back, and I imagine Denny O'Neil was inspired by this story when he wrote "The Price" a dozen years later.

I probably would have waited an issue before taking Daredevil's sight away from him, but I have to give this issue high marks. It's goofy, yes, but that's the point. Four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

During free comic book day, I managed to buy a copy of Daredevil and the Black Widow # 106. It's a very fragile, beat up copy and I'm going to try and read it hopefully without it crumbling in my hands. Whoever had this comic as a kid thought it would be fun to write all over the faces with a pencil, so hooray for that. But I'd still say it's probably three bucks well spent.

This story is full of a ton of odd twists and turns. Things barely make sense from issue to issue. Last issue, Moondragon said she created the bad guys threatening Daredevil. However, by shooting her, Kerwin J. Broderick is able to take control of them. On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of an ordinary lawyer as a mustache-twirling villain. As a lawyer myself, it's nice to feel so powerful and important. I like that he is able to rule both the underworld (through his legal defense) and the political classes (through his prestige and reputation for integrity), although it's odd that he'd turn to such extreme means to get absolute power - particularly because it's not really clear how he can achieve his endgame with these methods.

Terrex is genuinely terrifying. Don Heck's art showing a police officer grow old and die was very effective. I like that his power can create both life and death. I particularly like Angar, all gung ho about joining in fails to notice as his girl has the life drained from her by merely passing by it.

Too much of this plot is taken up by Daredevil saving Moondragon. Frankly, I was bored by it. I do like the idea that restoring Matt's sight destroys his super senses. This is something speculated by Matt in the silver age. I don't recall if he ever had his sight restored in this body. I like the sacrifice of returning to blindness and that, in this version, it's getting to see Natasha that matters.

There are some good moments, but also a lot of dull moments - particularly with Moondragon's recovery. This felt very much like a filler transition setting up the finale. The ending itself is ridiculously abrupt. I'll go Three Stars.
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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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