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DD Book Club - The Micah Synn Saga
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happy New Year!

Daredevil Vol. 1 #210 - Survivor



Due 1/6
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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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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue is a pleasure to read. Micah Synn is a great villain. He is savage, cunning, and will make you pay for underestimating him. Crossbow is his gimmicky lacky, but helped Micah craft a truly dangerous trap for Daredevil.

My one problem is that it's now impossible to sympathize with Debbie Nelson. She has become completely unlikeable. She will now do anything she can to assist Micah. I'm not going to pretend like I understand the psychology of assault victims, but I could follow her journey up to the end of the previous installment. It seems that during her last make-out session with Micah, he took complete possession of her, not that anyone else knows about it. And because Matt doesn't know about it, I can't help but wonder what it is specifically that makes him and Becky dislike her so much.

But the best thing about this issue is that every major character is written to the peak of their intelligence. Micah notices Matt's scent on the scarf Glorianna just gave to him, so he takes it. The Kingpin has tired of having Micah get in his way, so he does something about it. Micah knows that Crossbow was originally trying to murder him, so he devises an ingenious plan to put Daredevil in Crossbow's line of fire. It was so smart that it came dangerously close to working. It's only Daredevil's wits that keep him alive. You can feel his life force escaping from him with every drop of blood. And now Micah knows Daredevil's secret identity.

If I may nitpick about one more thing, the scene where Glori gives Matt the scarf feels forced, a clumsy way to plant a plot point. I don't know why we need to see her give Matt the scarf, rather than him wear the scarf in the first place. Perhaps O'Neil wanted to show the progression of a budding romance? I don't think it was important enough to show that in this issue.

One more gripe: I don't understand why Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter and series editor Bob Budiansky decided to tell this story in non-consecutive issues. It's a bizarre publishing decision. This is a very strong and enjoyable story, and it has never been collected in trade, and now it's even unavailable in Marvel Unlimited! Perhaps they were under pressure to publish Harlan Ellison's story as soon as possible, since he's a hot name. It's just too bad that this excellent story was the casualty for their stupid decision.

I'm really enjoying looking back through these issues, and I think this issue is the strongest so far. I can't give it a perfect score, because of the awkward Glorianna scene, but I will give it a 4.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ I suspect the non-consecutive nature of it is more due to either Dennis O'Neil or the art team. Was O'Neil still an editor? He may have fallen behind schedule, which necessitated a reprint. This obviously doesn't apply to the Gael story, but it could apply to the recent quasi-two parter (which are actually pretty solid stories, imo). Whether intentional or not, the gap in time is actually useful. It helps sell that Micah is learning by giving him an adequate opportunity to learn.

I love this issue a lot. I think this is where the story goes from good to great. This issue begins with such a dynamic scene. The idea of Synn's followers hiding in coffins to stage an attack to take Crossbow hostage is imaginative. More importantly, it shows incredible coordination, requiring them to both know where Crossbow would be and the innerworkings of New York Department of Corrections. When the narration says that Crossbow shutters, we can feel it too.

Quite a bit of this issue is devoted to Daredevil's civilian identity. I like the development of Matt and Glori's relationship. It's both mutual and gradual, something I'm not sure they really effectively did before (maybe with Natasha, but certainly not with Heather or Karen). Obviously, it serves to give Matt a scarf, but I think it adds more to it than that. There's also some nice time of Matt at the office with Micah Synn. There's a lovely sense of powerlessness. Matt is basically surrounded by people taking a position against Daredevil while Micah steals the scarf Matt just got. I have to say, I love the restraining order. It's something that only someone with the inherent conflicts of Matt Murdock could be bothered by. Others might have a problem with a police guard or something like that, Matt is being stopped by nothing more than the law while he also breaks the law every day.

In the end, the theme of this issue is the adaptability of Micah Synn. He uses the law to lure in Daredevil, beats him pretty thoroughly, uses the law again to keep him away, and then figures out his secret. In one issue, he manages to cement his ability to be a tremendous threat. Five Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
I like the development of Matt and Glori's relationship. It's both mutual and gradual, something I'm not sure they really effectively did before (maybe with Natasha, but certainly not with Heather or Karen). Obviously, it serves to give Matt a scarf, but I think it adds more to it than that.

My problem with the Glori scene is that it doesn't feel organically included in the story. He was swinging around as Daredevil, and happens by Glorianna's apartment. He thinks to himself, "I really should be getting to the office, but the message on my answering machine sounded urgent --" When he gets to her apartment for the one page scene, there is nothing of any urgency. She gives him the scarf and plants a kiss on his lips.

I liked Glorianna. She seemed like she was a strong person and hey, photography is cool. But this scene just feels out of place in this issue, and a lot of it is the "urgent" line. Matt shouldn't mistake Glorianna's tone for urgent when it isn't, and that helps make it feel like a clumsy attempt to plant the scarf.

Having said that, obviously we both loved this issue!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a fair point. I suspect part of it was to create an excuse for him to stop by when they weren't actually dating yet. That being said, the urgency was so absent I forgot it was mentioned.
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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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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1009

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #211 - This Hungry God



Quote:
Still the greatest sightless super hero in all of comics! Fighting a menace he's never faced before - the likes of which he's likely never to meet again! And that's only the beginnig! If you think you've seen ol'hornhead in red-hot action - see this!


Due 1/13
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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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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 915
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm very much enjoying re-reading this story. I guess one of the benefits of this having not been collected is that it's been sitting in a longbox for so long instead if on a bookshelf waiting to be grabbed. I have forgotten so many details, so this really is a fresh experience.

Mazzucchelli's rendition of the Kingpin owes a lot to Frank Miller. This is made explicit when he lights his cigar, causing Milleresque shadows. This is to be expected, since Miller ended his initial run on Daredevil not too long before. I can't help but feel that this was a special time for Daredevil, just before "Born Again" would wreak havoc on his life.

I have to admit to being confused about the function of the character of the Vikah. We're introduced to him in this issue. He seems to be a creepy, wizened old man with an unchanging leer. Mazzucchelli treats us to several close-ups of his face. Dr. Piper tells us who he is.
Quote:
Well, it's rather difficult to explain. He's sort of a doctor, a minister, a magician and a wise man rolled into one.

The Vikah seems to be leading the Kingorge's human sacrifice ritual. But since he never utters a word, I'm unclear about what he can do. Is he selecting those to be sacrificed to Mow? I'm not so sure he is, since they seem to be connected to people who have angered Micah.

The Vikah also appears in the offices of the Revealer, the tabloid that printed an article about the Kingpin cheating on Vanessa with an actress. Fisk demanded that they print an equally slanderous piece about Micah, but before they do, the writer named Marco seems to see something scary. We're not sure what it was. Was it the Vikah? That seems unlikely, since we're introduced to him on the next page in a different location. But, perhaps it was him, since he seems to be able to get from one location to the next very quickly. On one page he's with Micah at the chief's penthouse, and before you know it he's at the office of the Revealer near Marco's dead body. Did he kill Marco? If he did, when did he do it? How come the guy who discovered Marco's body didn't see the Vikah? Or did he? I find the Vikah very confusing, and I'm not sure what he brings to the story. Couldn't this sacrifice to Mow have gone ahead without the Vikah?

Otherwise, this issue is fantastic. Daredevil is still affected by the blood loss he suffered in the previous issue. (Yes! This story is now being published in consecutive issues!) This makes him a vulnerable figure, but still highly capable and determined. There is a wonderful moment of calm before a fight when Matt uses his radar to break down a scene. We see the outlines of three men, Becky's chair, then the breeze from the open door and heat from a desk lamp. Then the fight kicks into high gear. That calm moment nicely serves to remind us how Matt breaks down a scene, and how acute an observer he is.

Mazzucchelli's fight scenes are absolutely amazing in this issue. One of Micah's men throws a dagger at Matt, who knocks it out of the air with a swing of his billy club. Then, with the same arm he hurls the same club back at the guy's throat. It is so fluid!

Daredevil observes the car getting away with Becky, and he decides he can't catch up to them. I'm not sure that I buy that. A few cable swings from a few rooftops would have caught him up to the car, but I guess I know that O'Neil is building up to the climactic scene in Micah's penthouse, so get away they do.

Probably the most awesome panel in this issue is the one where Daredevil figures out that Micah knows his secret identity. You have to see it for yourself. It's a combination of red, black and underlighting. I can't find the image online, but take my word -- it's beautiful.

Daredevil manages to catch up to the car containing Vanessa Fisk, so there you go. But it's not long before he's stopped by police for violating the restraining order Micah has against him.

This brings me to another complaint against editor Bob Budiansky. I know, I'm surprised that I have made as many as I do. I would like to thank him for finally publishing this story in consecutive issues, but, jeez, he doesn't seem to be paying very close attention. Late in this issue Budiansky places a caption reminding readers of this restraining order, even though that same restraining order was brought up twice earlier in this issue. Budiansky just seems to be a sloppy editor.

The climactic scene in Micah's penthouse is thrilling, yet chaotic. Matt is overwhelmed and still weak from blood loss. He is reliant on Vanessa for help rescuing Becky, who escapes, but Vanessa appears to get killed. Daredevil manages to escape the scene by the skin of his teeth.

I liked the reveal that the actress The Revealer brought up turned out to be a Vanessa impersonator hired by the Kingpin. She was his own human sacrifice. She had lost faith in her dream to hit it big as an actress, and so she just started chasing dollars, which brought her to Fisk and, consequently, signed her death notice. Fisk calls her cynical, but Daredevil points out that she wasn't completely cynical, since she saved Becky. I think that was a good way to close the issue, but I probably would have trimmed back the number of panels dedicated to the actress' video.

This is another great installment in this story, which continues to be an absolute pleasure, but I have to lower my score due to my confusion over the Vikah. Still, a four out of five is nothing to sneeze at.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue has a very fun, brisk pace. Things almost seemed to fly by at a blur, but it might be the mood I'm in. The main plot is basically building the Kingpin/Daredevil alliance. They set it up from the beginning with Fisk's outrage at the paper implying adultery. It shows sincerity with what he cares about. They throw a curveball when she gets kidnapped, but the ending with the video brings things around. He shows himself doing something sincerely (trying to protect his wife) with the help of someone who knows what she's getting herself into who ends up dying because of this. He shows this video to Daredevil without any attempt at justifying himself and Matt sees it as sincere and agrees to work with the Kingpin. That being said, while it's easy to buy the narrative of the story, I think the subtext is there and there's reason to doubt the Kingpin. Ultimately, Matt is making an alliance with the devil.

Some stray thoughts: I'm very amused by the Vikah. It's such lazy linguistics - he's a Vicar, get it?!! But it's a nice little bit of world building combined with a very visually interesting character. I do think he killed Marcos (I'm not sure if it's necessarily supposed to be at the same point timeline-wise). That being said, I don't think we're supposed to overthink him.

Debbie may be at her worst in this issue (OK, worst so far, I know it'll get worse). I'm fine when things are ambiguous, but here, she's appalled at the paper saying bad things about Micah. Matt puts it perfectly by saying "someday I've got to beg for Foggy's forgiveness for being best man at his wedding." It's fitting for the story, but it treats Debbie just so oddly.

I love how Matt got around the restraining order. There's very much the sense that he can't go as Daredevil, but he certainly can go as the lawyer for Micah Synn. I wish there was more build up. though. There was basically a panel of Matt saying he needed to think, a cut away, and then Matt walking through the door. Not every moment has to be telegraphed, but I think they could have played it up more dramatically.

Four and a Half Stars. It didn't feel like as much happened this issue, but the ending was very strong and it makes me interested where this is going from here.
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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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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #212 - Lies



Quote:
Kingpin and DD begin their assault on Synn.


Due 1/20
_________________
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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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here we have another historic issue in this often-neglected story. First we got the David Mazzucchelli's first issue of Daredevil, and now we have the first issue of Editor Ralph Macchio, taking over for Bob Budiansky (of whom I've complained about suprisingly numerous times). Macchio, as many of us know, would preside over the publication of "Born Again," which many cite as Daredevil at its peak.

This issue starts off with a standard mislead, which would probably work better if the cover didn't show Matt and Fisk in obvious league with each other. Still, Mazzucchelli's action scenes are always fantastic.

Micah Synn is beginning to succumb to the temptations of modern western civilization -- specifically junk food and cigarettes. Dr. Horatio Piper is only now becoming aware of how dangerous the Kingorge are.

Debbie is a different issue. She is so in thrall of Micah that she gives Foggy an ultimatum -- either deny what Becky is going to tell the press, or the marriage is over. Foggy does what she says, throwing Becky and Matt completely for a loop, but she still tells Micah that she'll get a quickie divorce from Foggy so they can be together. Micah hits her, and who knows what her state of mind could be at that point.

Micah has abused Debbie repeatedly throughout this story, and I can't help but say that I find her reactions to each new abuse distressingly believable. I can't remember what she's like in the next issue, but we all know that she won't be married to Foggy much longer.

The press conference during which Becky opened up about the murder she witnessed reminded me, obviously, of what is currently going on with the #metoo movement. Matt has always had Becky's back throughout everything she's been through. This isn't the first time she's survived a violent attack, so it just makes what Foggy does all the worse.

At the very least, Foggy feels horrible about it, and Matt is furious. It's all Matt can think about, making him somewhat sloppy in his evidence gathering.

I feel I have to draw attention to a beautiful passage written by Denny O'Neil.
Quote:
Now, moving, he forgets. And glides through the city that is a part of his soul. Sense impressions -- tastes, smells, sounds, even presences. The changing of warm to cool. The play of breeze prickling his skin -- these give him everything he needs to know and fill him with a subtle joy. He is blind. But no sighted man was ever so aware. He is in his world.

That is simply fantastic writing, and among the best descriptions of how Daredevil operates that I can think of. It makes me miss the now-passe convention of "the omnipresent third-person narrator." Done properly, it can a lot. While Denny O'Neil is most often associated with Batman, I think passages like this prove that he understood our Man Without Fear like few others. It saddens me that more attention hasn't been paid to this era of O'Neil's career, as much as I love his Batman work. Of course, the above passages are accompanied by a classic Mazzucchelli image of Daredevil scouring the rooftops.

I enjoyed Daredevil's visit to the zoo. While I disapprove of Matt thinking to himself that the tiger "looks unhappy" about his knocking out of his fellow tiger, it's a small enough error that I choose to overlook it. Macchio should have probably caught it, since replacing "looks" with "seems" would have been a small enough correction, and we all know that's what Matt meant.

But I like how Foggy's betrayal is the undercurrent that runs throughout this issue. Matt simply can't stop thinking about it. I like how Matt stubbornly refuses to talk to Foggy, even though we all know that he needs to so he can stop obsessing about it. I like how O'Neil points out that what has happened has been worse for Becky than for Matt, but we can't deal with that for long, since this book is called Daredevil. Nothing in Foggy's explanation is an excuse for what he did, but it let's us into his character, and you can feel the sincerity of his apology, which he has been working hard to deliver.

While I think this is a fantastic issue, what I think would have made it better is if Foggy went to apologize to Becky first. I imagine Becky would have refused to talk to him, so that wouldn't have taken up too much space, but I think that would have been important to show, since Foggy's actions were more of a betrayal to Becky than Matt, even though Matt is a closer friend that Becky. If this issue has a weakness, it's the absence of that scene.

It's so sad that this story hasn't been collected, or even put on Unlimited. This is so enjoyable! I give this issue a 4.5 out of 5.
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