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DD Book Club - The Mark of Hawkeye

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:24 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Mark of Hawkeye Reply with quote

This crossover with the Avengers is in honor of Avengers: Infinity War. I'm writing my little write up before I see the movie, so no spoilers, but the big question seems to be "Where is Hawkeye?" The answer? Daredevil #99.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #99 - The Mark of Hawkeye



Quote:
Daredevil and Black Widow are greeted by Hawkeye upon their return from battling the Dark Messiah. This time, Clint Barton won't leave San Francisco until Natasha agrees to rekindle their romance.


Due 5/5
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did Zack Morris and A.C. Slater ever fight over Kelly Kapowski like this? The fact that this issue made me think of Saved By The Bell isn't a sign of quality.

It's been a while since I picked up Marvel Masterworks Volume 10, which contains this comic. This issue came out in May 1973, and I'm guessing that in addition to Daredevil and Black Widow's characters getting more fleshed out, that of Clint Barton seems to received a lot of enrichment since as well.

This is just a painful premise for a story. Daredevil, Hawkeye and Black Widow are all supposed to be heroes, but we just have the two guys engaged in a macho contest, and Natasha is the only one talking any sense. Hawkeye is unquestionably the worst in this issue. He waited two hours and 38 minutes for Matt and Natasha to get home, and it never, in all that time, occurred to him there may be a better way to spend his time. He could have left a note saying how he felt, if he really felt he had to.

Mark Waid made a reference to this issue during his run. During their fight Hawkeye holds a phosphorous arrow in front of Daredevil's face, and Matt pretends it's blinding him, allowing Hawkeye to get away. It's an incredibly lame and unsatisfying way for Daredevil to lose a fight.

The art is kind of weird in this issue. Someone named Sam Kweskin is credited as "designer." According to his biography in the back of my Masterworks volume, he was very active in the 50s when Marvel was known as Atlas Comics. He's very good, but I didn't feel he maintained a singular style throughout the issue. Sometimes when I turned the page, it seemed like a different artist took over, most notably when Hawkeye was walking around in Downtown San Francisco.

But I think I have to attribute the overwhelming majority of this issue's failure to Steve Gerber. Two guys fighting over a girl is in no way a compelling idea for a superhero comic, even in 1973. Archie? Sure. Daredevil? No! And that is all this issue is. There is a B plot setting up Avengers #111, but I'm sure that was under the instructions of editor Roy Thomas by way of Steve Englehart.

I also have to dock Gerber further marks for describing the distance between San Francisco and New York as "a continent away." They're on the same continent. It was T'Challa who said it, and maybe he's not overly familiar with North American geography, but I think Wakanda is a continent away from New York. Forrest Gump probably ran from New York to San Francisco.

My favourite stories involve the participants within operating from the peak of their intellect. In this story both Daredevil and Hawkeye are behaving like idiots. I was by no means a fan of Saved By the Bell, and I'm not a fan of this. I guess I had blocked this from my memory after the first time I read this, because I was stunned by the dreck I encountered this time. I give this a one out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
The art is kind of weird in this issue. Someone named Sam Kweskin is credited as "designer." According to his biography in the back of my Masterworks volume, he was very active in the 50s when Marvel was known as Atlas Comics. He's very good, but I didn't feel he maintained a singular style throughout the issue. Sometimes when I turned the page, it seemed like a different artist took over, most notably when Hawkeye was walking around in Downtown San Francisco.


"Designer" would be someone who did layouts and very loose pencils. Someone else would be credited as "finisher" meaning they added the details and then inked it. Usually, when there's inconsistent artwork between pages, it's a sign that there were different inkers. However, here, it appears Syd Shores was the only inker. Overall, I'm not familiar with either of them. They both appear to be Golden Age artists for the most part.

My thoughts. I think I liked this issue much better than you did:

I love the two pages of splash pages to start. First we see Daredevil and company with their reaction to the person they're threatened with. The narration teases that they're coming face to face with ... and we turn the page to see it's Hawkeye. It's a very good misdirect. This is classic Hawkeye and classic Hawkeye is a dick. Some great little snappy remarks in this issue. The "beau or should I say bow," Hawkeye saying "my eyes are just as good as yours."

But all the jokes and stuff just shows that this is two alpha males butting heads. I like that Natasha doesn't back down. Matt says "I assume I can trust you two" and she justifiably snaps at him. Even by the end, Matt seems to realize how stupid the whole thing was.

I really like the first half of this story. It probably helps that I'm a big classic Hawkeye fan (particularly when he was with the West Coast Avengers). The rest of the issue doesn't seem to add much, though, and just repeats the same thing and pads things out. Obviously, it's very a light story, but I'm going Three and a Half Stars. I'm a bit worried next time since it's going to be an Avengers story so I hope there's enough moments for Daredevil and Black Widow to shine.

For those interested and didn't remember it, Mark Waid had a retelling of this issue in his Daredevil run. The Other Murdock Papers does a good job discussing the differences between how this scene was initially presented and how it was presented when Waid handled it.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon B. Cooke's forward in Marvel Masterworks Volume 10 provides some answers about Kweskin.
Quote:
With Colan's departure as mainstay artist, Daredevil would be graced by a number of pencilers, including Don Heck, Rich Buckler, Syd Shores, Bob Brown, and interestingly, a credit not seen in a comic book published by Stan Lee's outfit since the 1950s: Sam Kweskin. Assisted by Shores, Kweskin penciled DD #99, and would pitch in to help ailing Bill Everett on Sub-Mariner during much of 1973, usually illustrating Gerber scripts. The name would vanish from comics as quickly as it had in 1953 when Kweskin initially disappeared after drawing about 25 stores for Atlas. About his '73 exodus, the artist told historian Ken Quattro, "Whether Roy Thomas or Stan or I decided it was not in the cards to continue [Sub-Mariner] after a few issues, I can't remember, since at the time I was also president of my own small ad/art agency and responsible to several employees."


Amusingly, yet hardly surprisingly, Kuljit Mithra's name appears a few times throughout Cooke's forward. He writes more about these two issues, but I don't think I should discuss what he typed until after we discuss Avengers #111.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2018 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have the Masterworks, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I said, this story crosses over with the Avengers with a story written by Steve Englehart, pencilled by Don Heck, and inked by Mike Esposito. I know this isn't a Daredevil story (and, technically, joins in an earlier story that certainly wasn't worth reading), but I thought it was good to expand outward in honor of Infinity War.

Avengers Vol. 1 #111 - With Two Beside Them



Quote:
Magneto is holding the X-Men and most of the Avengers captive. The Master of Magnetism reveals his plans to create a nuclear army of brainwashed mutants. Plus, the Black Widow becomes an official member of the Avengers team, when it’s up to her to save the day.


Due 5/12
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to keep telling myself that this is before Magneto was Scarlet Witch's father because the opening splash of this issue is quite creepy. Silver age Magneto is such a strange figure overall. Even leaving aside the fact that he doesnt have the backstory that will later define him, he comes off so much more like a Saturday morning cartoon villain than many of his peers. Although, they did find ways to make magnetism do clever, if absurd, things. And Magneto's short-lived mind-control powers probably take the cake.

The story is written by a different writer, but he picks the ball up exactly where Gerber left off - particularly with the relationship drama between Matt, Tasha, and Clint. The writer of this story is Steve Englehart. I'm somewhat amused that part of the reason this story exists is because he wanted to explain a continuity error involving Angel's costume in an Amazing Adventures story. To my knowledge, this is the first time he's written Daredevil. However, later, he would be tapped to be the main writer for the Daredevil book. However, due to a story Ann Nocenti had written, he ended up refusing the assignment and Nocenti took over fulltime. It's definitely weird how little things so profoundly shape the book.

Still, it's interesting to see how he handles the scarlet swashbuckler in this issue. I like that he genuinely puts thought into the fact that he's blind and doesn't just treat him like any other sighted character. Aside from that, I'm not sure what else he does. He discovered Magneto's plan, although that was kind of forced. He had a nice acrobatic moment with T'Challa, but it ended all too quickly. He also felt the vibrations coming from below his feet. But, for the most part, his addition feels very slim considering the big set up about a need for a team up. Really, it felt like the Vision could have saved the day from the beginning. The pacing felt very off, with a very cramped final page that had to wrap everything up. On the Daredevil/Black Widow front, they suddenly break up, but Tasha's words and thoughts don't agree on what Matt should have done. But, it's still a dramatic moment because the Black Widow joins the Avengers for a single issue before leaving them and returning to Daredevil Wink

As a Daredevil issue, this isn't very good. As an Avengers issue, it's probably not much better. When you have a crossover like this, I feel more has to be done to justify a character's presence. Three Stars.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2018 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good to know that Magneto wasn't yet established as Wanda and Pietro's father. That way I can overlook the opening page.

I thought this was a major improvement on Daredevil #99. Daredevil and Black Widow are holding their own amongst the Avengers, and even Hawkeye's brief appearance isn't as pathetic as he was in that last issue.

I think Englehart was one of the better comic writers of the 70s. He manages to juggle a ton of characters, and each one is true to who we know them to be. The premise may be goofy, but Englehart has clearly put some thought into not only how Magneto could control minds, but how the Vision could occupy a person's body without destroying them. I admire that he makes the attempt to explain how it would work. That's one of the things I enjoyed the most about Marvel comics when I was young -- that everything had one foot in the world of science.

I'm not sure how lethal Cyclops' opti-blasts are. I really thought he killed that politician. He also blasted Thor, but maybe the winged helmet saved him, or the fact Thor is a god saved him.

I like the ending. Sure, that last page rushes to the finish, but I thought it was presumptuous of Matt to answer for both himself and Natasha, even if his own reasons for refusing the offer to join the Avengers makes sense for him. But I like that Natasha speaks up for herself and takes the offer, and realizes she needs some time away from Matt.

Which brings me to the rest of what Jon B. Cooke has to say about this story in the forward of Marvel Masterworks Volume 10.
Quote:
Now, back in those halcyon days, kiddos, while freelancers often worked at home, being based in the New York tri-state area was requisite for most contributors and they usually hand-delivered assignments into the Bullpen. And some, like Gerber, would work office jobs in the House of Ideas, where friendships would be nurtured and collaborations conceived. The first of those efforts came with Daredevil #99 and Avengers #111 where Gerber linked up with Steve Englehart for a crossover pitting DD, the Avengers and the X-Men against Magneto.

Apart from a potential sales bump, the crossover served another purpose: DD #99 begins to reveal the scribe's dislike for the title's co-star. The Black Widow, Gerber felt, worked contrary to the titular hero's strength. "One of the keys to understanding the Daredevil character," the writer explained to Kuljit Mithra, "is that he's one man alone, in darkness. Mitigate the totality of that darkness and the character becomes much less interesting. Natasha was a mitigating factor. However much I may have liked looking at her, she just didn't belong in Daredevil." In fact, with the help of Englehart, Natasha Romanoff outright quits the partnership at the conclusion of Avengers #111.

However, the book still features the names of both heroes in the title for some time after, and Natasha appears in every single issue throughout the remainder of Marvel Masterworks Volume 10. I'm not sure the Daredevil comics Gerber wrote in the 70s match what he told Kuljit in 1997.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this issue of the Avengers. I appreciate that, unlike the Daredevil issue that preceded this, no one acted like an idiot. Would I have liked it more if T'Challa spoke with the regal nobility he currently does? For sure. Would I have liked it if Daredevil and Cyclops' fight was given a few more panels? Of course. But Magneto posed a very big challenge, and every hero assembled here did their utmost to mount an opposition. It's a good yarn. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this issue doesn't write out Black Widow. I could definitely see the idea that Gerber didn't like using her, although, to my knowledge, the series kept the title throughout his run.

Cyclops's blasts are concussive force. They knock you back but aren't inherently lethal (although, just like a punch, they can theoretically be lethal).
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