Daredevil Message Board
The Board Without Fear!
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 


DD Book Club - A Life on the Line

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Daredevil Message Board Forum Index -> The comics
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1155

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:48 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - A Life on the Line Reply with quote

This week, Marvel has released Black Panther in theaters. If you haven't seen it yet, you really should. In honor of that, I'm doing a team up between Daredevil and Black Panther. There were actually quite a few to choose from. Black Panther was the first hero to know Daredevil's secret identity and were fairly close allies early on. I decided to go with this issue, which I think is their second team up, because it was available on Unlimited and seemed relatively uncomplicated as far as backstory went.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #69 - A Life on the Line



Quote:
The scarlet swashbuckler battles side by side with the Black Panther - as a teenager's life hangs precariously in the balance! It'll hit you where you live!


Due 2/24
_________________
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
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 993
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reading this from Marvel Masterworks Volume 7. Roy Thomas wrote the forward for that volume, and this is all he had to say about this issue.
Quote:
It was fun bringing the Black Panther in for guest shot in #69, too, in order to play "compare and contrast" with the two heroes' powers and modus operandi, and to do a "socially relevant" story.

I saw Black Panther a couple of nights ago. I highly recommend everyone go see it. It may not be my favourite superhero movie, but it's one of the better ones. I think T'Challa is an amazing character, and it was heartening to see so many African-Canadians (I live in Toronto) make an event out of this movie. Many got dressed up and they took turns getting photographed with the movie's cardboard display.

But, full disclosure: I never heard of the Black Panther until Marvel Knights relaunched the character around the turn of the millennium. T'Challa may predate the political party of the same name, but he's not a character Marvel ever pushed to become a star until the last couple of decades. I guess we have to give Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti props for seeing the character's potential and never giving up on him, even when the sales numbers were telling them they should.

But this issue is from October 1970. Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, while being white, seemed to have something of a handle on the unrest present in the black community at the time. The Vietnam War was still raging, and both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated only two and five years before respectively. Like Lonnie in this issue, it seems too easy to fall into a state of hopelessness in the projects, making it all too easy to rationalize joining a criminal gang. I use the present tense, because it seems to still be all too true today.

For those of us most familiar with the version of Black Panther as portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, his appearance in this issue is somewhat jarring. Here, he's the guardian of Harlem, not the regal King of the majestic land of Wakanda. Yes, he carries himself with dignity, and shows contempt for lowly criminals, but is that really that different from Daredevil? Is this the "compare and contrast" to which Thomas was referring? If you strip T'Challa of his monarchy, his fellow Wakandans and his vibranium technology (his suit seems to be a simple costume and nothing more), does he really do anything that Daredevil doesn't?

On top of all that, the name T'Challa isn't mentioned once in this issue. Instead, Black Panther reveals his secret identity to Daredevil as Luke Charles, schoolteacher. That threw me for a loop, even though I've obviously read this issue before. I guess this story hits me differently now that Black Panther is a pop-culture phenomenon.

What this says to me is that, at this point, Black Panther's character had yet to be defined. This issue comes two years before Don McGregor wrote the "Panther's Rage" story in Jungle Action -- to little fanfare at the time but from which the current movie borrows heavily. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby may have introduced T'Challa as an African King in Fantastic Four, but since then Thomas had him hanging around New York as an Avenger. How important could being an Avenger be to a monarch? What is he doing in New York?

Perhaps more notable than T'Challa -- excuse me -- Luke Charles' appearance in this issue, is that this is the first appearance of Turk. Yep, that's him. He kind of looks like Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch. It's kind of interesting to see that Daredevil isn't the first superhero to beat Turk up; Black Panther gets that honour. I'd also be curious to find out what future writers saw in Turk. What made them choose to use this rather unnoteworthy character as a punching bag, rather than creating a new one of their own? Nevertheless, I'm glad Turk survived, as he has brought a smile to my face during many intense adventures.

Having said all that, this story has a good message. I did feel despair when little Lonnie, who previously was a diligent and energetic student in Mr. Charles' class -- suddenly lost interest, and changed completely. When we find him with the Thunderbolts (the gang, not the super-villian collective), it seems like an all-too-familiar story.

Lonnie's injury adds a sense of urgency to the adventure, and his recovery makes for a heart-warming ending. I have to ask though -- would Billy really be prevented from telling Lonnie the truth about what was going on?

So the story has merit, however, as a "compare-and-contrast" it fails. There is simply not enough distinguishing Daredevil and Black Panther in this story. While the two characters would be further refined in the coming years, I don't think Thomas really knew what made these characters truly special yet, especially T'Challa. I give this issue a three out of five.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1155

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I selected this story before I saw the movie. Knowing how the movie ends, this feels like a fitting choice.

This issue opens with Daredevil breaking up some kind of vague criminal activity in Harlem. I don't think there's anyone less cool than Roy Thomas trying to write authentic street slang. Regardless, Daredevil beats up the crooks but one tries to break away and crashes. That one is a 15 year old kid. Just then, the Black Panther shows up and says that's why he's here. Overall, this set up feels a little artificial. To a significant degree, it feels like we're forced into the middle of the story just to get these characters together more quickly.

This was the time T'Challa was disguised as a school teacher by the name of Luke Charles. I know very little about this time. To my knowledge, he never had his own series that covered this. Still, the idea of T'Challa going undercover and helping those in need in other countries feels very fitting. Anyway, he reveals to Daredevil that he's Luke Charles and he knows that DD's Matt Murdock (fwiw, this is a somewhat false equivalency since Luke Charles is a fake identity he could always abandon. I had forgotten that Matt didn't know that T'Challa knew who he was during their first encounter).

Anyway, there's an organization called the Thunderbolts who might be loosely inspired by the Black Panther Party, might be a gang, it's a little unclear, have decided to attack the government because of the Vietnam War. Telling this story in flashback, to me, seems to steal it of some of its power. Also, I don't think Thomas handles racial equality stories particularly well - he has a tendency to create a lot of false equivalencies and to reval that ideological organizations aren't really about ideology. I also think the idea that the kid who was hurt has "lost the will to live" is contrived. The revelation at the end about his brother is somewhat contrived, but I think fits better overall. It was at least set up in the beginning.

I'm not sure how to feel about this story. I remembered liking it a lot when I first read it. Back then, I had the context of the stories around it, so I appreciated a grounded street-level story with the Black Panther guest starring. Since then, some of the subtext is a little clearer to me. As I said before, Roy Thomas does not do a good job with street slang and he had clear discomfort with the black power movement (it's worth noting that T'Challa is never referred to as the Black Panther in this story). On the other hand, I like when they team up. I love the parallels between the characters (such as their use of super senses and similar world views when it comes to helping the community). But I agree that the story seems to be more about comparing than contrasting.

I'm leaning Three Stars.
_________________
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
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Daredevil Message Board Forum Index -> The comics All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group