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DD Book Club - Holocaust in the Halls of Hydra!
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1180

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:14 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Holocaust in the Halls of Hydra! Reply with quote

I decided to shift gears and go with a new writer we haven't covered at all - Tony Isabella. He's credited with a lot of things that I'm a bit dubious of, such as the first to say that Matt is Catholic, but one thing he definitely did was spend a lot effort to develop the history of Hydra and SHIELD (which I think is no longer canon). He also tied Daredevil to these organizations well before D.G. Chichester would run with it for his Last Rites storyline. Given that he's between Steve Gerber and Marv Wolfman, he ends up a bit forgotten in the history of Daredevil. Either way, I thought this would be a fun little four-part story.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 120 - And a Hydra New Year!



Quote:
Matt Murdock quickly has to spring into action as Daredevil when a group of terrorists take to an airport fully strapped!


Due 4/7
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1010
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeez. I don't think the 70s were a good time for Marvel Comics, and Daredevil in particular.

I seem to remember at the end of the 60s Roy Thomas was trying his best to make Daredevil a less jokey character, and more the strong and silent type. That didn't last long. Writers like Gerry Conway and Steve Gerber brought back the quippy dialogue and the hijinks. I don't necessarily think that Daredevil has to always be written as noir, but I do think there should always be substance at the base of the story. However, this is 1975, and comics are still viewed as kid stuff, so what do you want?

What bothers me most about this issue is how incapable Black Widow is, and that holds true to the entire time she paired up with Daredevil in the 70s. She is constantly bested by her opponents, and would surely have died several times over if Matt or Ivan weren't with her. To her credit, Natasha at least realizes her partnership with Matt isn't the best thing for her, and that she is losing her identity. I think that shows strength of character.

What's most cringe-inducing for every present-day reader is Matt smacking Natasha's butt. The worst thing about it is that she had just opened up about her fears of losing her identity, which was a big move on her part. Instead of responding to her, Matt does some acrobatics and flips into his brownstone, completely switching the subject to the party Foggy and Debbie are throwing. As he smacks her butt, he tells Natasha to "move it" because he wants his date to be "the most gorgeous thing at the party." It's just a selfish attitude on Matt's part, but that type of male behaviour flew in the seventies. It doesn't anymore. At least it shouldn't.

It's understandable that Natasha is extremely resentful of Foggy at this point in the series, and I understand Foggy's desire to mend fences. While it's somewhat creepy that he uses mistletoe to break the ice, especially with his fiancee close by, I like that he apologizes.

A hundred and twenty issues in, Daredevil's strategy of shutting off the lights and plunging the room into darkness was massively overused, so I like that we have a villain on whom that doesn't work. I also like that he's more than a physical match to Matt. However, I have to agree with Daredevil that it was stupid of Fury to allow El Jaguar to get away.

Tony Isabella at the very least maintains the level of quality the title possessed at the time. At best he gives us a stronger foothold in reality than Gerber did, who took the title repeatedly to far out places. I would have liked Bob Brown's art more if it had more consistency from panel to panel, but he drew way better than I can. It couldn't have been easy to draw the character so soon after Gene Colan, who pretty much defined how the series should look.

While I'm aware that the seventies were what they were, there are scads of Daredevil issues I would rather show someone instead of this. It's kind of embarrassing, mostly because of the depiction of the Widow. I have to give it a low mark, so this one gets a two out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the way that Tony Isabella starts this issue. The narration and the gimmick of the counting add a bit of fun for a completely context-less fight. The issue isn't whether they'll make it out OK - that's a given, it's whether they'll knock out eleven terrorists along the way. Things get pretty serious when Natasha talks about how she's afraid she's becoming a sidekick. Luckily, Matt has the perfect solution to cheer her up, invite her to a party hosted by the guy who prosecuted her for murder and then slap her on the ass. That ... has not aged well (the slapping part, at least). Also, the mistletoe thing is terrible. I have to wonder if Matt is being deliberately self-destructive about his relationship. They seem to be moving towards separating them permanently either way, but Matt's being such a boar as well, which can't help things.

Either way, we're interrupted by Hydra smashing through the window. It's a lovely three panel sequence as Foggy moves closer to Natasha and Hydra moves closer to the window. Have to say, I've never liked Hydra more than at that moment. I also like how the reveal of El Jaguar is handled. Matt senses him on his radar, but we're limited to what he knows. Then we turn the page to a full splash of the character who ... is an overdesigned Kraven ripoff with an H on his metal belt. I have to say, I like Hydra, but El Jaguar is not their greatest moment. The issue also feels like it ends too quickly. SHIELD shows up, which leads Jaguar to try and escape. I dislike that Matt lets him out of the need to pretend to not be blind, which is stupid. Then Nick Fury says, don't worry, we won't let him escape ... and, he's escaped. Still, it was a brisk, fun read, but not a lot of substance and quite a few dumb, probably sexist moments. The end is a fun "come back next time moment as well."

Since I've already overused ellipses, I'll give this issue ... Three and a Half Stars.
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macjr33
Flying Blind


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I have been building up my collection of individual issues, this happens to be one that I have a copy of.

Overall, I would give this issue a 3.

Some of things I really liked:

- Agree with Mike the opening panel is fun with them counting the number of villains they take out.
- I like a lot of the internal monologue that we get from Matt in this issue.
- I don't know much about Hydra, though I do like how they are presented.
- I enjoyed the art as well, particularly the panel where Hydra comes in as well as the panel where Matt goes from the roof into his brownstone.

What I don't like:
- The obvious and probably most infamous example of sexism in Daredevil comics with Matt slapping Natasha and his comments around it; however, what's interesting is that while Matt's internal dialog suggests he's concerned about Natasha his way of going about it is completely off base, inappropriate and hasn't aged well.
- Coupled with the above point, agree how they diminish Black Widow's fighting capability as well is not good.
- El Jaguar has also not aged well in my mind and I did not find him to be particularly compelling.

Dimetre wrote:
While I'm aware that the seventies were what they were, there are scads of Daredevil issues I would rather show someone instead of this. It's kind of embarrassing, mostly because of the depiction of the Widow. I have to give it a low mark, so this one gets a two out of five.


While I completely agree that there are dozens of other issues I would want to show someone, I try not to completely dismiss it either given the context of when it was written. There is quite a bit of literature, not just comics, that suffer from this problem.

Could they have depicted the relationship between Matt and Natasha better during this time? 1000%. However, there were some positives that came out of it. I believe (and please correct me if I am wrong) this was one of the first times a female hero co-starred with a male hero. The fact that Matt and Natasha lived together even though they were not married (though they had to use the silly excuse of them living on separate floors). Also, that it was Natasha realizing that she was playing second fiddle to Matt and she was the one that broke of the relationship because of it, in my mind, shows growth and strength of character on her part.

So while not certainly not perfect, and at times cringe-worthy, I do try to look at the positives as well. Not to mention this laid the foundation for what I find to be Matt's most compelling relationship in the book outside of Foggy.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey macjr33, glad you were able to post. I agree with much of what you're saying. At this stage, I do think they were trying to find a way to separate Matt and Natasha. The book had already gone back to being just Daredevil. I think the Black Widow's concerns about being second fiddle was a good way to take advantage of this.

I remember later (I believe it was Frank Miller's run), she says something about how she broke up with him because she was too international for him or something like that - that Matt is content with protecting New York City (or even Hell's Kitchen) while the Black Widow goes worldwide.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 121 - Foggy Nelson, Agent of SHIELD



Quote:
Nelson and Murdock are Attorneys at Law, but now Foggy Nelson is ... an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D?!


Due 4/14
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it turns out that Nick Fury wants Foggy Nelson for some fairly boring reasons. I would say that the District Attorney for the largest city in the country isn't an entirely far-fetched choice for a civilian board of directors, but the whole thing feels a very strange direction to go and also an odd reason for Hydra to get involved. I guess Congress's suggestions got leaked, which is why this whole thing got started?

The are they together or not drama of Matt and Natasha is getting a bit stale. That being said, I love the moment where Matt turns off the lights. Not exactly subtle what he had in mind Wink

Bob Brown's art doesn't really impress me. There's a panel involving trucks and a big shootout that should be epic, but looks really flat and toy-ish. It could also be Vince Colletta's inks, which are poor on a good day.

This issue is definitely going for a light, jokey tone. When it calls back to DD cliches, it lampshades them (such as Matt pretending to trip). There's also the random conversation in the middle of the fight, undercutting the intensity, but also distracting from some of the silliness of this robot. Still, I don't think the humor hits. The moments I like best are with Black Widow and her possible reconcilliation with Foggy.

Two and a Half Stars, which is what I seem to recall giving to that Power Man and Iron Fist issue we did. Both are sort of similar in being silly and not necessarily in a good way. Maybe it's just how campy Hydra is, but something isn't clicking.
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually thought this issue was an improvement over the previous one.

Everything Mike says about the art is true, but Bob Brown's art was pretty good for the seventies, even if it pales in comparison to other artists of the time like Neal Adams, Dave Cockrum or Gil Kane. Brown's art in this issue actually reminded me of Mad Magazine a few times, especially the page featuring Foggy's stunned expression after Fury explains why S.H.I.E.L.D. wants him, followed immediately by that panel where Foggy, Deb and Daredevil are staring directly at the reader.

The colourist in this issue is Don Warfield, and for the life of me I don't know why he gave Deb red highlights. Did everyone else think that was Natasha until we were told that was Deb?

But as goofy as the art can be, and as misguided as that colour choice was, I don't really have much to complain about. The Dreadnaught is a truly formidable force, and I felt like Daredevil and the Widow were both giving it their all. I thought Foggy showed a lot of guts this issue. I liked Tony Isabella's description of how cold it was in New York, and the lengths the people were going to to keep warm.

But I think the highlight of the issue for me came right at the end, when Natasha realizes that a man for whom she carried so much resentment sacrificed himself to save her life. I have to hand it to Isabella -- that was very well handled. These two characters were going to stick around as part of Daredevil's supporting cast for a while, or at least make recurring appearances. The animosity between them had to be solved. Not only does this incident cause the Widow to have new found respect in the former district attorney, but it has the same effect on the reader.

I enjoyed this issue. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 122 - Hydra-And-Seek



Quote:
Daredevil, The Man Without Fear, finds himself soaring above the skies outmatched by none-other-than Blackwing of Hydra!


Due 4/21
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the saga continues. I found Barbi Kepke overused at the beginning. It felt like too much telling and not enough showing. It was a relief when her report finished.

The meeting between Daredevil and Fury was frustrating as well. Black Widow barges in dragging a Hydra agent behind her. He gave her Batman -- I mean -- Blackwing's card, and Daredevil immediately says he's too dangerous for her. Why? She's been beating up Hydra agents left and right for days. I felt Matt was a jerk in this scene. They fight and he leaves the meeting.

Then the issue immediately improves.

He quietly swings to a nearby rooftop, and punches a door out of frustration. A voice interrupts his tantrum. The Widow has silently followed him. I've never taken the Daredevil/Widow romance too seriously, but this is probably the most interesting romantic scene I've ever seen with this pair. They both know this relationship isn't working, but they both know what they feel for each other. I was surprised how compelling this was for me.

Daredevil's fight with Batman, er, Blackwing and the Widow's fight with El Jaguar were both good. In fact, this was a very good issue for the Widow. She showed strength of character and was a capable crimefighter. Yes, El Jaguar managed to hit her, but she managed to stop him.

Blackwing turned out to be a good match for Daredevil because of his command with the bats. I found it lame that the billy club is that fragile, but I guess Isabella needed a way for Daredevil to kill the giant bat. But I enjoyed how much of a problem Blackwing posed for Daredevil. I don't remember Blackwing from previous appearances in the Circus of Crime, so I don't know if previous writers and artists made such blatant references to Batman, but I think Isabella and Brown had some fun with it. In 1975 Batman hadn't hit the level of popularity he would go on to enjoy after Tim Burton's 1989 movie, but readers would still be able to make the connection.

The cliffhanger with the reveal of Silvermane didn't mean much to me. I recall Silvermane from the 90's animated Spider-Man show, but not much more. I feel like Isabella is drawing a lot from the larger Marvel universe for this arc, but not much from specifically Daredevil's continuity. I know the title wasn't one of Marvel's biggest hits at the time, but would a fan of Daredevil gotten much out of this reveal? I'm pretty sure Silvermane and Daredevil had never crossed paths before.

I found this issue pretty good, especially the rooftop scene between Daredevil and Black Widow. I give this one a 3.5 out of 5.
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