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DD Book Club: Genetrix/False Man
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1163
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it impressive when a writer can argue both sides of an issue convincingly. Nocenti comes commendably close in this issue. Until now, Skip has been portrayed as one of the biggest pieces of scum this planet has ever produced. Suddenly, in this issue, he faces off against Brandy and and pokes holes in her political argument while defending his own.

What holds this back from being a roaring success is the amount of time that has been devoted to portraying Skip as a monster. We, as readers, aren't open to receiving his arguments.

However, Nocenti continues using Brandy and Number Nine to explore the pros and cons of modern feminism. Romita Jr.'s two panels showing Number Nine's changing facial expression before she slaps Brandy were stellar.

I guess the most uncomfortable thing about this issue is Daredevil's place in it. He has no place in the feminist conflict, so he mumbles that he'll never understand women and tells Brandy and Number Nine to settle it amongst himself. He happily accepts Number Nine's fawning and sandwich-making. His only relevance seems to be in dispensing legal advice. Sure, he beats up Skip, but it would probably have been more rewarding to readers if Brandy had gotten the better of her father.

Daredevil also puts a stop to Skip and Brandy's political discussion in a ham-fisted way.
Quote:
Look, it seems to me that you're both very passionate and should respect each other's political passion, which is a rare thing to have these days, and learn from each other.

He may as well have said, "That's all the time we have."

I commend Nocenti for taking on such heady topics as feminism, political polarization, genetically-modified agriculture... but this story is bursting at the seams with all of these topics, and there doesn't seem to be enough space to adequately deal with them.

This issue takes an upturn for me, since we don't have to deal with Shotgun. I enjoyed the conflict between Brandy and Number Nine. I also enjoyed the Inhumans a bit more in this issue, since Brandy saw some shipments from Attilan. I also felt more sadness for Medusa, but I have no idea why Black Bolt is keeping her away from what I assume to his child -- unless I'm mistaken about that.

It's been a while since I read the next issue. I'm looking forward to it. I give this one a 3.5 out of 5.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1163
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
You can sort of see that with Brandy's dad. He's the one who thinks the masculine thing to do is to use force to resolve everything.

I think Nocenti did a very good job playing with the them of gender roles. While Brandy and Number Nine were fighting about what it means to be a woman, Skip was obsessing over what true manhood is, telling himself he only needs "his fists and his wits." It was a nice juxtaposition.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also like that he was like "my fists and my wits... oh, it wouldn't hurt to bring a gun, a gun is manly" (more or less).
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the delay, I was without internet this weekend. This is technically a new story, but I thought it was best to just keep going and finish it up.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #275 - False Man



Quote:
Dr. Doom constructs Ultron 13 and sends him after Dardevil during the Acts of Vengeance.


Due 10/28
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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: 1163
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this is the only "Acts of Vengeance" story I have read. I was under the misconception that the entire event involved Doctor Doom pairing up heroes against villains that they never fight. Wikipedia has informed me otherwise. My world is shattered.

I don't get Doom's reasoning from the first page.
Quote:
The Kingpin has been trying for years to destroy his nemesis, the Daredevil. Why does he always fail? Perhaps the Kingpin is a man who enjoys his enemies! Kingpin does not believe that where he fails, Doctor Doom will succeed! As always, it is a great man's ego that is his downfall! I will show the Kingpin that a mere robot will easily kill his precious Daredevil. It will be a true Act of Vengeance in many ways.

What does "vengeance" have to do with Doom's scheme? I can only imagine Nocenti's frustration when the order came from on high that she had to shoehorn in the event title somewhere in her story.

So Doctor Doom rebuilds Ultron. This thirteenth incarnation of the robot contains all of the programming from the previous twelve incarnations, and they're all at war with each other. Once we start reading Ultron's thoughts, it's clear that Nocenti has chosen to tackle some pretty heady themes. Ultron recognizes itself immediately to contain flaws, and it's obvious that Doom doesn't notice these flaws, causing Ultron to surmise that Doom himself is flawed.

Nocenti waxes philosophic like she never waxed before. We get Ultron monologues in this issue. Check out this one.
Quote:
Kill the Daredevil. Why? I don't hate him. None of one through thirteen hate him any more than the rest of humanity. Why must I commit this unnecessary act? Because of one circuit, somewhere in my brain, that orders the act? Swept by electronic fate. The futility of one man, trying to find himself in the windstorm of fate.

A robot has a soliliquy about "trying to find himself in the windstorm of fate." Did you ever think you'd find that in a story ever?

It seems that Nocenti was excited to get Ultron and Number Nine together so that she could have a pair of characters who don't know who they are, where they came from, or why they're here. Number Nine is initially horrified by Ultron, who blasts her, but when she heals he is amazed by her healing ability and sees that she has no flaws. She becomes Fay Wray to his King Kong.

Daredevil does little more than brood in this issue. He once asks himself the question, "Why am I here...?" to keep Nocenti's theme united. He springs into action when he hears Number Nine's screams.

The Inhumans find out that their lead guiding them to Skip's farm was a dead end, so there's no legitimate reason for them to be there. Gorgon and Karnak are still no closer to finding Medusa's child. Oddly, Skip is being helpful to the Inhumans, even though he was depicted as the world's biggest creep up until now.

Once Daredevil springs into action, Nocenti gets very ambitious with her Ultron dialogue.
Quote:
How dare you, Doctor Doom! By creating me you mock man and defy the true creator!

Who? The Judeo-Christian God? Hank Pym? Stan Lee? Who?
Quote:
I must be destroyed. My creator must be destroyed for his original sin!

What "original sin"? The sin of creating Ultron? Or some previous Doom misdeed?

The following splash page of Ultron being attacked by Gorgon and Daredevil is confusing for a few reasons. First of all, Gorgon says, "Good hit Daredevil!" even though the page only shows Gorgon's impact. There was no previous panel showing Daredevil attacking Ultron. If this page shows Daredevil doing anything, it's him ducking behind Ultron's legs so Gorgon's hit topples him over. And it looks like Gorgon has normal feet! I think this attack could have been shown in a less confusing way. More panels could have been used. Instead, the end of the issue relies heavily on splash pages.

Ultron is a ridiculously high-powered foe for Daredevil, so I'm curious to read the follow-up, which I have read before, but not for a long time. But the weighty themes Nocenti has tacked on to this plot are handled in a confusing way. It's kind of confusing to see Skip being treated as something of an ally. The search of Medusa's kid is somewhat thrown away. There's some sloppiness at play here. I don't know if having a tie-in thrown at her kind of derailed Nocenti's plans, but I do respect her ambition. The execution is just sloppy. I give this issue a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Acts of Vengeance. I've read this issue before, I read the X-Men issue, I read the New Mutants issue. I even read the Fantastic Four issue, which is an awesome story about a proposed Superhero Registration Act. What it wasn't is a clear explanation on what this event was. However, I do know it involves heroes fighting other villains besides their own. In this case, Ultron fights Daredevil. My experience with Ultron is mostly from the movie, but I was actually able to read this issue in anticipation of it. Apparently, there have been twelve prior versions with one having a very distinct personality. I love that Dr. Doom has the brief moment of "did I get the right balance" before concluding "of course I did, I never fail." Ultron, on the other hand, immediarely concludes that his creator is flawed and decides not to obey him. Definitely an odd start.

The theme of this issue is definitely creation. Dr. Doom created this Ultron. A previous Ultron created Jacosta. Skip Ash created both Brandy Ash and Number 9. Daredevil is just moping about, which is a shame since he seemed to find his motivation and drive in the past few stories. Still, I love how Number 9, talking about her programming, immediately helps Matt pack his belongings. This act of pre-programmed selflessness gets him to stay. It's a nice little moment.

Honestly, I liked the scenes at the house much better than the Ultron scenes, which felt like they were trying to be too philosophical without doing much. I appreciate the idea of the contradictory voices, but the exploration of perfectation and blaspheming the creator didn't really land for me. The ending was also quite abrupt.

Three Stars. I like Nocenti's work, but she's also quite capable of having an issue fall completely flat.
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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 Oct 29, 2017 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #276 - The Hundred Heads of Ultron



Quote:
Daredevil tries to save Number Nine from Ultron who has decided to take her as his bride.


Due 11/4
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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 Oct 29, 2017 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to start off by saying I love the title of this issue. When I was trying to come up with the title for this thread, I thought about using it, but I thought it was too long. The story opens with a splash page of Ultron worshipping Number Nine. I can easily picture his lines being said by James Spader with their creepy lecherousness. Number Nine is having none of this, asking to be put down. JRJR sells the look of disgust on her face, although the hashes over her chin make it look like she has a beard. We turn the page and see a really cool double page spread of the heads of Ultron he's created.

Ultron continues to wax philosophical (or, as Daredevil put it, "something about perfection and absolutes and false men."). I think it's fair to say I understand it about as well as DD does. Ultron rips out the program making him want to kill Daredevil, seemingly making the whole even irrelevant. Ultron is definitely creepy here. On the other hand, Number Nine is growing as a character. She's seeing herself as more than an object to please others. That's a nice moment.

I've always remembered this as the issue Daredevil beat Ultron with a stick. At least, with the benefit of knowing that, I can see Ultron nearly rip his head and expose it earlier in frustration from his many voices. In fact, DD's billyclub penetrated his weakpoint almost the instant he did. So, while the whole thing comes off as absurd, it's not nearly as absurd as the premise Nocenti was saddled with.

Most of this was convoluted nonsense. I think the idea is we all have different voices pulling us in different directions and we have to make sense of it all. But the story is a mess all around. The only redeeming quality is that Number Nine grows significantly as a character and I don't entirely think it felt forced. Three Stars.
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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 Oct 29, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. I don't know what to make of this.

Obviously "Acts of Vengeance" was a decree that came from the top of Marvel's editorial pyramid. I think Ultron was inflicted on Ann Nocenti, who was already working on this story about Number Nine and the Inhumans. I think she tried to make the best of this Ultron addition with all her philosophic rambling, but I think it forced her to veer from what she had planned. I'd be curious to find out if I'm right, and if so, where she was planning to go.

This issue got off to a bad start for me right away. Why is there a hill of Ultron heads? Why does Ultron have to climb it with Number Nine in order to "solve the riddle of his own blasphemous existence?

It's been well over a decade since the previous time I read this. The hill was an image that stayed with me, but not in a good way. I remembered that Romita Jr. drew two tall panels, side-by-side, from the same perspective of Ultron carrying Number Nine up the hill, and I remembered how boring that was. What I forgot was turning a page and seeing two more identical panels! It's not like there is anything magical or threatening at the top of the hill, or even some big prize. It's just a hill of heads, and for some unclear reason Ultron has to climb it. Our heroes don't even seem concerned about stopping him from reaching the top. They just realize he must be stopped -- period. The hill is meaningless.

The Inhumans, again, don't add much. Gorgon may as well not be here. He creeps up on Ultron twice, and gets knocked away. Karnak meditates to find a weak spot, but comes up with obvious answers. He kicks Ultron in his open chest cavity, but by this time Ultron has been defeating himself.

That's the biggest problem in this issue. In the end, the heroes don't have that big of an impact on the story. Through self-exploration, Ultron was physically pulling himself apart. He made himself so vulnerable that Daredevil was able to sever his neck cables with a wooden branch. It isn't much of a victory, but I don't know about calling it hollow.

Another problem is that I don't buy that there was something good in this incarnation of Ultron. Daredevil tells Number Nine that he's crazy, and I agree. So Nocenti's ending with Number Nine promising herself that she'll figure out how to revive him seemed like an unnatural place to take the character. This should have been a terrifying episode for Number Nine, but instead she seems hell-bent on defending her captor. I know there are many instances of that in both fiction and real life, but it may have come through better spread over more issues.

This could have worked, but I don't think as a Daredevil story. If it was just a story of Ultron and Number Nine, it may have been worth telling. If Ultron's fascination with Number Nine caused him to physically start pulling himself apart, and it was Number Nine who had to decide to save or destroy him, that could have been interesting. This? Not so much.

I give this issue a two and a half out of five.

As for this entire saga, Nocenti explored some interesting themes. Skip was such a reprehensible villain, he was a lot of fun to hate. It was too bad he seemed to join the heroes once Ultron showed up. I don't want him with the heroes. The contrast between Brandy and Number Nine was interesting. I though Shotgun was a waste of time. He's never been a good villain. The Inhumans never really added anything to the story. Really, this has been a jumble of both good and bad, and I suspect it was supposed to go somewhere, but Nocenti got derailed by "Acts of Vengeance." I'll give this saga a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that's fair. I might give it a Three and a Half or Four overall, but I think Acts of Vengeance really derailed things either way.

Nocenti ultimately has the characters find Black Bolt's son and journey into hell to fight Mephisto. Honestly, as frustrating as this could be, that's when the story completely falls apart if my memory is correct.
_________________
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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