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DD Book Club - The Second Secret/Sight Stealer

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:01 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Second Secret/Sight Stealer Reply with quote

I thought I would do something in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Since the first appearance of the Gael wasn't on Unlimited, I thought this two parter would be more fun. Plus, we get to do a little more with Denny O'Neil who really seemed to love writing about Irish stuff.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #216 - The Second Secret



Quote:
The Gael does something desperate to escape prison. Is Glorianna O 'Breen in trouble once again? And, who is the Old Woman of Beare? The IRA rises!


Seriously, how can you get more Irish than that?

Due 3/24
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like I said, I picked this story mostly just because it had something Irish going for it, but also because I like Denny O'Neil and thought it would make for a fun little story. This is the followup to the previous Gael story, which introduced Glorianna to Matt's life. That story was very involved in the politics of the NRA and Glori's past. If someone missed that story, I wonder how they would feel off the bat with this one.

Still, one of the moments that stuck out to me from the first time I read it was how the Gael escapes. It shows just how tough and ruthless he can be by actually injuring himself to go to a hospital. In many ways, it reminds me of Silence of the Lambs, even though this story actually predates the Hannibal Lector.

Anyway, Foggy is talking about how they haven't had a client in a month. I like his genuine regret over it, but I'm not sure Becky should be quite so forgiving of him given that she was the direct victim of his actions more than anyone else.

Matt and Glori had a little moment together. I have to wonder how well they fit. It seems that their relationship consists of fleeting moments and then passing each other in the night. Maybe it's just me, but I've always gotten the impression that Matt knew Glori was busy when he counter-invited her to the Jazz Club, but maybe that's just my suspicious mind. The important thing, though, is the Gael has escaped and he immediately goes into panic mode. He tracks down Crossbow on the off chance that he can provide useful information. I like that he recognizes that it's a bit of a stretch to think he'd be helpful and I like that Crossbow is committed to his dumb gimmick.

I don't know if the Gael could ever have caught on as a returning villain, but I really like him. O'Neil does a good job at making him absolutely terrifying in this issue, particularly the scene with the poison and the murder that follows. I like that, at the scene at the bar, they don't bother dancing around the fact that everyone is dead. Some writers make the mistake thinking a visual thing like that would bother Daredevil when it should be obvious that they're dead.

Mazzuchelli's art in this issue is fun. I know that basically goes without saying, but the graceful way he draws Daredevil is just a visual treat each time I see it.

There were a lot of nice moments in this issue, but it's a fairly "fluffy" issue overall. It's hard to figure out exactly what the goal of the issue was. If it's to explore more of Glori, it doesn't really do that at all (Although my recollection is more gets explored next issue). Gael is theoretically not overly threatening, but I give O'Neil credit for making him far more intimidating than he has any right to be. Three and a Half Stars.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to always enjoy collaborations between Denny O'Neil and David Mazzucchelli.

Mike Murdock did a good job of covering this issue, and I don't have too much more to add. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Denny O'Neil has some Irish heritage, and that may explain why he did such a good job with the dialect.

I think by this time O'Neil and Mazzucchelli really got to know each other's strengths and played up to them. It's always very special when a creative team clicks in a special way. Think of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, or Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. They just bring the best out of each other, and that makes their books legendary.

I think the scene that demonstrates that best for me is when Daredevil waits for Glorianna in her apartment. It's just various panels of Daredevil sitting in the dark, but Mazzucchelli keeps spinning the perspective, and O'Neil keeps punctuating the sequence with "Where is she?" They made two pages of Daredevil sitting worthwhile. We got a demonstration of his unique senses, we built up some tension with Glori's absence, and we got into Matt's headspace.

Daredevil's visit to Delahanty's was equally special. Daredevil's remark that the guys at the bar were dead caught me by surprise, and filled the scene with menace in addition to the already present melancholy and despair. It's an expert touch. By now Denny O'Neil was a veteran in the industry, with decades of experience, and because of his tenure on Batman, he was specifically adept at noir adventure. Mazzucchelli, who was still a pretty fresh talent, seems leaps and bounds ahead of every other artist at the time in terms of establishing noir. Just the image of the veiled old woman is so mysterious. Nowadays a book like this would be helped in establishing a noir mood by having the gutters and tops and bottoms of pages be black, but not in 1985. The gutters were the colour of the pulpy newsprint, so you really have to hand it to O'Neil and Mazzucchelli for maintaining this atmosphere throughout this issue.

The Gael is a more menacing villain than I remembered, and I'm wondering if the reason we never saw him again is because no other writers wanted to deal with the politics of the Irish Republican Army.

I think this was a typically good read from a great team. I give it a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:

I think by this time O'Neil and Mazzucchelli really got to know each other's strengths and played up to them. It's always very special when a creative team clicks in a special way. Think of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, or Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, or Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. They just bring the best out of each other, and that makes their books legendary.


Interesting. Do you think O'Neil/Mazzucchelli is a better combo than Miller/Mazzucchelli?

Quote:
The Gael is a more menacing villain than I remembered, and I'm wondering if the reason we never saw him again is because no other writers wanted to deal with the politics of the Irish Republican Army.


I think that's quite fair.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
Interesting. Do you think O'Neil/Mazzucchelli is a better combo than Miller/Mazzucchelli

I don't think I can reasonably say that. Obviously Miller worked extremely well with Mazzucchelli. The second chapter of "Born Again" entitled "Pariah" has to be one of the best issues of Daredevil ever published. I have friends who repeatedly cite "Year One" as the best Batman story ever. But between "Born Again" and "Year One," that's a dozen issues at the most, right?

So, while I would admit that Miller's work with Mazzucchelli's is superior to O'Neil's, I don't think of Mazzucchelli as Miller's ideal collaborator, which is weird, I realize. Mazzucchelli is my favourite Daredevil artist, and I don't think anyone has topped what Miller accomplished as a writer on the title.

The reason I cited Klaus Janson as Miller's ideal collaborator is because of what Janson wrote in his forward to Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Volume 3.
Quote:
The final phase of what Frank and I became as a team started in Daredevil #179. I knew, even then, that book was the best work we had done together to date. Frank and I had finall found our collective artistic voice. We were two people working as one. We grabbed the opportunity and ran like hell without once looking back. I was impressed then. I am amazed now.

You'll recall that #179 is the issue where Elektra terrifies Ben Urich in the cinema, and later fights Daredevil while Urich narrates. It finishes with Daredevil's leg getting caught in a bear trap and Elektra impaling Ben with a sai.

I think what hits me in regards to that quote is how rare it is for artistic collaboraters to achieve the synergy that Miller and Janson did, and when it happens, it is to be celebrated. It also makes me think that, while I enjoyed a lot of this O'Neil/Mazzucchelli issue, their partnership, while great, shouldn't be placed on the same pedestal as the others I mentioned. O'Neil may have worked with Mazzucchelli even less than Miller did. I think O'Neil will forever be paired with Neal Adams in people's minds and hearts.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #217 - The Sight Stealer



Quote:
When all of New York is threatened with blindness, Daredevil must save the day. How does The Cossack hope to pull off his latest crime spree? Plus, Glori O'Breen may be telling half-truths, and Black Widow re-emerges in DD's life.


Due 3/31
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue opens with everybody but Glorianna and the cop being suddenly stricken blind. There was nothing at the end of the previous issue to prepare us for this, so it seems haphazardly tossed into the story.

I like Glorianna. She has a mind of her own. Even if the rest of the world sees the Irish Republican Army as a terrorist group, there may be some validity to the cause for which they fight. And as Glorianna says, "An' I wasn't helpin' 'em... not with the shootin' an' the bombin'. I don't have stomach for the likes of that." She's a believer in the cause, not the terrorism. She will do what she has to help "good people fightin' to free their home from oppression..."

It was clever of Denny O'Neil to insert Glorianna into Daredevil's world, even if it was awfully soon after Foggy and Black Widow ended Matt's engagement to Heather. He draws the parallel between Glorianna's involvement with the IRA and Elektra's life as a bounty hunter. Glorianna brings more real-world conflict into Daredevil, and causes us to assess our feelings towards what she's doing.

I enjoyed Foggy's talk with Becky about his troubled marriage, especially the small panel in which David Mazzucchelli draws him all tiny and surrounded by white space. You can sense how lost he feels.

I didn't feel like this story needed the Cossack. It's not a bad idea to have a villain who can steal people's sight, but he doesn't make sense in a Daredevil comic. It's obvious how he'll be defeated. Wasn't this the same tactic as the Masked Marauder back in the day? I don't recall the Marauder causing blindness throughout an aircraft, so the Cossack was at least ruthless enough to try that.

I was puzzled by Daredevil's internal monologue in which he thinks:
Quote:
Radar... vengeance... death raining down, none of it makes any sense. No point in my stewing over it. I never accomplish anything by stewing, and anyway -- it's not my problem. The authorities can sweat the Cossack. Glorianna O'Breen.. she's my worry.

It seems out of character for Daredevil to think that a terrorist isn't his problem, especially after what the Cossack did to Natasha. While Glorianna and him have gotten very close by this point, I'm not sure he would have his priorities so messed up. There is validity to what he says about stewing, and he does end up figuring out the Cossack's next step by getting away from the puzzle. But still...

The Gael appears in a total of ten panels this issue, which is a real shame since he was so creepy in the previous one. He is blinded by the Cossack before he can kill Glorianna, and then Daredevil beats the Cossack rather easily, as if there was any doubt. The Cossack's blindness effect wears off, and that's the end of the story.

As I said earlier, I'm not sure why O'Neil added the Cossack. If the story had simply continued with the Gael being the main antagonist, it probably would have been better. There was a bunch of potential sqaundered here, but O'Neill/Mazzucchelli issues are always worth reading at the very least, so I give this one a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love this cover. It's probably one of my favorites. The graceful poses of Daredevil and Black Widow together are great. I also love the opening splash page where the people blinded look absolutely haunting. Mazucchelli is listed as "art" and I don't see an inker, so I suspect he inked himself. Either way, the inks look great.

A big theme this issue is the lack of trust of Glori and whether she's a terrorist or not. This is a bit of a false dichtomy. Even in her own account, she doesn't have the stomach for the bombs, which tells me that she knows they're doing something wrong. Either way, though, Matt's thought process, where he says he can't be with someone doing something like this, not after Elektra, shows his mindset. She's not really judged on her own merits, but in comparison to Elektra. I'd also note that Foggy's scene with Becky mirrors this. He's not willing to come back to Debbie since he doesn't trust her either. There's also a great humorous moment in an otherwise heavy issue as Foggy asks how Matt sneaks past him and he says "I do it with mirrors?"

Still, all of Matt's concerns with Glori do serve to drive the plot. His decision to find out if she's an IRA Provo is why he tracks down the Black Widow, which is how he discovers the Cossak's plot. Even then, he doesn't really seem to care that much about the plot but is focused on Glori, which leads him to the airport. We've seen these moments of selfishness before, but it really does seem selfish here, given the stakes. Then again, he's not the only hero in New York and he didn't have any other leads at first. When Natasha gets thrown out the window and Matt dives in and rescues her, it's very much shades of their initial encounter.

At the airport, the Gael is still genuinely creepy and makes my skin crawl. There's also some nice action. My only real complaint is things seem to wrap up way too quickly and came together too coincidentally. Maybe it has to do with juggling too much at once.

Random note: Did it seem there were excessive footnotes this issue? I think part of it is because they didn't have an opening caption (which might have undercut that splash page), but it felt like every panel had a couple sentences describing something.

Four Stars.
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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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