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DD Book Club - Killgrave, the Unbelievable Purple Man

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1155

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:09 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Killgrave, the Unbelievable Purple Man Reply with quote

On March 8, Jessica Jones came out. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a very subtle season, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. There's no real appropriate choice for this season, but I decided to go with something that at least fit season one. Hope you enjoy the first appearance of the Purple Man:

Daredevil Vol. 1 #4 - Killgrave, the Unbelievable Purple Man!



Quote:
What is the strange power of this incredible human? A power which none are able to resist ... none save Daredevil, the sensational blind swashbuckler.


Due 3/17
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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
Posts: 993
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

October 1964: The Rolling Stones make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Everyone was singing "Do Wah Diddy." James Bond was facing off against Goldfinger. And Killgrave, the Purple Man, was causing a ruckus for the very first time.

Even though this issue came out at the height of the Marvel 60s boom, it reads very much like a Golden Age tale. A lot of that has to do with Joe Orlando's art, which seems like a throwback to Bill Finger or Dick Sprang's art twenty years earlier. It's not bad art by any means, but it just doesn't contain the same zip as Steve Ditko's work or the power of Jack Kirby's work from the same period. I have to give Orlando kudos, though, for that awesome panel showing Daredevil's shadow cascading over the New York skyline. That was very dramatic.

I've read this story several times before, but what surprised me most this time were the three panels showing Matt zipping around the city. I think most of us are familiar with the time during Miller's run where Matt had to concentrate to hear a single cough amongst an entire city. These three panels are Stan Lee's equivalent, in a sense. He doesn't stay in one place, like Miller would have had him do.
Quote:
Heedless of the risks... ignoring the dangers... his every sense operating at peak efficiency... the dazzling Daredevil combs the city... listening for voices, heartbeats, any clue at all... for, once, having stood near the Purple Man, Daredevil's razor-sharp senses could identify his voice, his pulse rate, his footsteps, the odor of his hair tonic, from among millions of others! For to the sightless crusader, such things are as distinctive... as unfailing as a man's fingerprints! All that Daredevil requires is to be within approximately one city block of his quarry, and he will be able to reach his target unfailingly!

While it's very different from how Miller would later do it, I like the fact that Daredevil's ability to locate a single person within a huge metropolis was established early.

I've also said this before when we looked at Daredevil: Yellow, but it bears repeating: I like Lee's explanation as to how Daredevil is able to resist Killgrave's power.
Quote:
With his every sense razor sharp... his indomitable will shrugs off Killgrave's command...

The "razor-sharp" remark suggests to me that Matt's super-heightened senses provide him a foothold in reality so he can resist Killgrave when he's trying to exert his influence. I think this issue makes it very clear that it has nothing to do with Matt's inability to see the colour purple.

That's why the plastic sheet solution at the end just doesn't work for me. Earlier when Killgrave was trying to mess with Daredevil's head, Daredevil thought to himself, "I'm totally blind, and yet I feel it!!" Killgrave's power doesn't seem to have much at all to do with his purple hue, so covering it up with a plastic sheet wouldn't seem to prevent him from wielding his power. It suggest to me that neither Lee or Orlando really knew how Daredevil could defeat Killgrave. Also, these early issues saw Daredevil cramming so many devices into his very skinny billy club, to the point where it should start looking like a two-by-four.

There were also some bizarre narrative choices. On page 7, it makes no sense that Killgrave's request for the crowd to attack Daredevil would happen off-panel. Between pages 17 and 18 we teleport from an elevator to the roof, a place Daredevil seemed more-than-capable of preventing Killgrave of getting to.

But the worst -- the most horrible thing about this issue -- is Karen's last line. Stan, my man, even in 1964, this had to be questionable. As Matt walks down the hall away from them, Foggy remarks to Karen, "There goes one of the greatest guys in the world! It sure is a pity he's blind!" To which Karen replies:
Quote:
And yet, for some strange reason, I sometimes feel he sees more than any of us! I guess I'm just a silly female!

Fifty-four years later and that may still be the worst line in the history of Daredevil.

Killgrave was a fantastic idea for a villain, and I love how Daredevil is able to resist him. I just wonder how much better this story would have been with an artist more accustomed to Lee's Marvel method, like Ditko or Kirby. I have to dock points for the plastic sheet and Karen's last line, so I give it a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1155

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is old school, yellow-suit Daredevil. They're still trying to figure out exactly how to handle the character. I have to say, Stan Lee goes out of his way to say how off beat the story is. Unfortunately, when he does that, he usually means that it's going to suck. But, actually, I don't think the issue is half bad.

After the splash page, I like how it begins. The cocky civility of the Purple Man is captivating. He walks into a bank and asks for $100 bills. More importantly, he asks for just crisp ones if possible. Then he says don't over-fill it. That last step (plus the fact that he doesn't even bother to run or hide) shows just how confident he is. He knows he can always come back. As I said, this is an early issue. I like that they tried to give Matt a diverse array of legal cases. Once Killgrave is arrested, Matt is appointed to defend him. The legal case is a fun one. If one asks politely for something, it's not robbery. This actually pops up from time to time in the real world, they have held that notes, hiding your hands menacingly, etc. can constitute implied threats. Mind controll, oddly enough, doesn't seem to come up very often.

Obviously, one of the things I look out for in these early issues are little nuggets that get built upon later. For Killgrave, it's his rapey nature. Even here, Matt sensed that Killgrave's heart raced when he saw Karen. He then asked her to come with him just like any other prize that he wanted. I think it was Daredevil Yellow where Karen strips down a little bit on top of everything else, but with the comics code (or maybe just Stan's preference), Killgrave wants Karen to be his "secretary."

I think the biggest complaint I have is how in-control Matt is the entire time. They pay lip-service to Killgrave's power, but Matt never falters for one second. This just leads to a lot of scenes where he has to fight or dodge a bunch of people, most of whom are less skilled than he is. He also seems to figure out a plan and execute it with no difficulty. The only difficulty was in finding them, which leads to some cool moments but gets cut short pretty early. Even the tape recording was fairly easy. More importantly, the specially-treated tarp comes mostly out of nowhere (we see it earlier, but have no idea how or why it works or how Daredevil knows about it).

Four Stars. There are some cool moments here and some interesting concepts. Stan Lee keeps a brisk enough pace that it's fun throughout. But there are also a lot of shortcuts that prevent it from being a better story.
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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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