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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 983

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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Mike Murdock
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 983

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
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 983

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
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 901
Location: Toronto

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
Child's Play


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 983

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.
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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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