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DD Book Club - Flying Blind

 
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1115

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:35 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Flying Blind Reply with quote

This is a story I've never read before, so I'm curious to see what it's like. As of right now, I know nothing about it. It's by Scott Lobdell who is most known for writing X-Books. As Daredevil Vol. 1 was winding down we had Joe Kelly write his Mr. Fear epic. This story follows that one.

As a general rule, I don't use captions on the cover to indicate the title of a story but I don't see any indication the story is called anything other than Flying Blind Part 1 and I thought I would give each one a bit more unique of a title.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #376 - Flying Blind Part 1: Stranger in a Strange Land



Quote:
Daredevil is all alone in a foreign country. With no recollection of his life as Matt Murdock, the Man Without Fear has no support and no ties to his true identity. An existential crisis at its finest. Plus, who is Laurent Levasseur?


Due 8/4
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Flying Blind" is regarded these days as a low-point in Daredevil's history. This story came towards the end of Volume 1, with this issue hitting the racks in June of 1998. The series' sales numbers were abysmal, and cancellation seemed imminent. If Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti hadn't struck the deal that allowed them to form the Marvel Knights imprint and relaunch Daredevil, it's likely that this would have been the character's last whimper into nothingness. But, even though "Flying Blind" attracted no one's attention, is the story really such a failure?

The cover does nothing for me. It plays towards the series' ninja history. The logo in the upper-left corner replaces Daredevil's classic face with some guy in a weird cowl, and that guy's face is the only one visible on the cover. It's as if he's the hero of the book. Something is off.

Cully Hamner's art isn't my cup of tea, but he's okay. He kind of reminds me of Scott McDaniel. He avoids minute details, but because of that his art flows very easily from panel to panel. Still, Hamner isn't the type of artist I associate with Daredevil, but he is the type I associate with the late 90s.

The first page is very compelling. A dark-haired man awakens in a hospital bed. Immediately he seems to possess Daredevil-ish traits. He can taste the antiseptic in the air, and the adhesive on his skin hurts him like "a spider's bite." But he not only has dark hair and doesn't look like Matt Murdock; he can see.

As the first pages fly by, we find out that we're in Paris, France. This guy has been mugged, and he's a painter named Laurent LeVasseur. He has war wounds, but he doesn't know how he got them. He instinctively leaps into the fray to stop a gunman from shooting up the hospital, even though he can't remember knowing how to fight. He is debilitated by a car's horn. There is some sort of fighting costume in his closet that he has never seen before.

Writer Scott Lobdell tries to hold back explanations for this mystery as long as he can. There is a page showing businessmen referring to Laurent's doctor, and how she could foil their "big score" if she pieces together all that she saw this week. Because we don't know how the mugging of Laurent went down, we are in the dark, but the man in the background has to be Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin is behind all this somehow.

About two-thirds of the way through the issue, Lobdell explains everything through the a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent's dialogue. The spy agency needed someone to go deep undercover to "protect extremely delicate international interests." I don't know if Matt volunteered, but this agent says that he, at any rate, came through. Matt's entire brain was reprogrammed with a completely separate identity. It's unclear whether Matt was totally aware of what he was getting into, but he's going to get his life back when this is all over. This agent is the only person on the planet who is aware that Matt is working undercover, but apparently this agent doesn't know to look both ways before crossing the street. A big truck blows a tire and smashes into him.

I would much rather the bulk of this explanation had been held back. The two pages with this agent explain pretty much everything, and rob the issue of a lot of intrigue. Perhaps Lobdell felt he had to reassure the reader that Matt Murdock was in the story, and perhaps there was pressure from on high to do so. Still, I think it would have helped the story greatly if the information spilled on these two pages was revealed more gradually throughout the arc.

Still, I like the premise. This is very much a stand-alone story which would have felt more at home in a series like Dark Nights than the main title. While the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent proved woefully incompetent, the other characters are strong. The flirtation between Claudia and Laurent was fun, and it was cool that the doctor managed to retain her dignity while engaging in the flirting. I enjoyed the way Paris was depicted, but I may be biased since it's one of my favourite cities on the planet. I'm also looking forward to seeing where Fisk fits into all this. I've read this before, but I've obviously forgotten a lot of it.

I enjoyed this issue. I have to drop the grade down because of the agent getting run over by the truck, along with the sudden reveal of information. I also didn't like the hamfisted way the term "man without fear" was shoved onto the second-last page. I'd like to think modern comics have adopted more subtlety over the last twenty years. Still, I appreciate this issue's inventive premise, and I think more readers should give this story a chance. It's in the Marvel Epic Collection entitled Widow's Kiss, which collects a lot of the Joe Kelly run as well. That's worth the buy for any Daredevil fan.

I give this issue 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 Jul 30, 2018 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ I wrote my review before reading yours. We are surprisingly in a lot of agreement on this.

The story starts with a stranger waking up after being mugged. I assume we're to guess this is Matt and it might very well be. He seems to have strong supersenses. The only weird thing is the lights being bright. There's a lot of ambiguity with how he's seeing overall. Matt's lost his memory and has had to react to his powers before, but I don't think brightness is something he's claimed. Infared might have been back when Doctor Doom was in his body, but it still feels a bit off. Still, the evidence suggests he is blind. He's also seemingly speaking French (they don't do the translation brackets, though). Matt does speak some French, although I don't know if it's very good French.

Honestly, I was digging the mystery. I wish they didn't reveal it until next issue. Apparently, it is Matt but he's undercover with SHIELD, which required getting fake memories. That being said, the agent getting killed (and making it clear no one else knows the full extent of what's going on) is a nice added story twist. That being said, he seems to die, we cut to another scene, and then they have a cliffhanger of him actually dying. Kind of cut the sting out.

The story has the Hand and the Kingpin. I wonder if it's a bit overcooked. I also feel like a fresh villain might not have been a bad idea all things considered, but I think it had been awhile since either showed up at this point. This issue has a "Man Without Fear" reference that made me cringe. The writing is overall good, but that was terrible.

Four Stars. I'm interested where this will go. It feels like a good change of pace. But I do wish we kept the mystery a bit longer.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1115

PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #377 - Flying Blind Part 2: All-Out Chaos in the Streets of France



Quote:
Undercover agent Laurent Levasseur does not know that in his real identity he is both blind lawyer Matt Murdock and the costumed adventurer known as Daredevil and wonders why he has a compulsion to roam the streets of France wearing tights and fighting bad guys; Foggy begins to look for the missing Matt; Kingpin sets his sights on Laurent.


Due 8/11
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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: 970
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I would have preferred if the mystery behind Laurent LaVasseur's heightened senses and amnesia had been kept mysterious, this story is what it is, and I have to accept that. With that in mind, this issue is pretty darn good.

First, Scott Lobdell seems well-schooled in how Daredevil works. His descriptions of what Laurent can detect with his senses are expertly done, although I don't know if Matt has ever used his sense of taste to tell the difference between wood and metal. Seriously, I don't think Matt's heightened sense of taste has ever saved the day. We really need a story in which Daredevil's tastebuds save the day.

I loved Cully Hamner's large panel showing Laurent and Claudia bouncing between buildings and off the top of a truck, then safely onto a sidewalk. Both Lobdell and Hamner deserve credit for the strong pacing and flow of this issue.

As we're reviewing this, Charles Soule's arc in which Daredevil and the Ordo Draconum fight the Hand -- along with the Beast of the Hand -- in New York just wrapped up. One of my problems with that story is that I never felt that the Hand were a threat to anyone. They seemed ridiculously easy to beat up. In this twenty-year-old story, the Hand seem just as ineffective -- at first. One ninja gets the drop on Laurent by hiding under the water in a fountain, and I bought it. Because of this, he fails to keep Claudia safe, and the story can progress. Lobdell did a nice job balancing how formidable Daredevil is with the unconventional measures his foes must resort to defeat him.

Is Moxy Cambridge Ox? He has to be. That's Ox's sweater, and he's as big as the Ox. I forgot he reformed. It's almost sad to read this, because the next time we would see him in the pages of Daredevil is when Ed Brubaker was writing, and he was clearly back to his criminal ways. It's sad when rehabilitation doesn't stick.

I've always wondered why different creative teams don't stick with Josie's being the criminal hangout. I realize that the police would eventually find a way to shut these establishments down, and the clientele would have to find a new place, but Frank Miller did such a great job of establishing Josie's in Daredevil's world. Here, Lobdell and Hamner have Foggy walk into someplace called Lucille to confront the lowlifes. I remember David Mack and Joe Quesada had Matt violentlly interrogate some thugs in a place called Ennis's. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev had Matt do the same in a place called Fleming's. I'd rather we stick with Josie's. Notice that the show uses Josie's, even though it doesn't seem to be a criminal hangout.

Stilt-Man appears in this issue, and for a while he's treated like a legitimate threat. His limbs land against the ground and walls with concussive force. He's knocking over cars. Then he's defeated in a sadly lame way. For some reason Stilt-Man failed to notice the Eiffel Tower, and smashed himself against it. That's just dumb. Between Agent Harlan not looking both ways across the street and Stilt-Man doing this, Lobdell seems to have a thing about characters doing themselves in through sheer negligence.

As for Laurent being able to see his reflection in the mirror, I don't know what to think. Perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D.'s reprogramming affected the connection between Matt's brain and his eyes? Or perhaps the intermingling of his hyper-senses make Laurent think he's seeing things with his eyes? It's somewhat unclear so far, but I think the reader is intended to feel confused and unsettled. Perhaps that's why a lot of fans didn't like "Flying Blind."

But Lobdell has done a nice job establishing Laurent's bewilderment about his circumstances, and has added tension by placing the Kingpin on top of it all. I'm looking forward to the next issue. I give this a four out of five, even if the way Stilt-Man lost was dumb.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first third of the issue is taken up with one long fight scene. I think it looked cool but didn't really drive the plot. The double page splash near the beginning is really nice. The darkness of the opening pages contrasts with the bright red of the radar sense. This might be a somewhat unique way of demonstrating it. Christie Scheele has been Daredevil's colorist forever at this point and does a nice job here.

There's a touching moment with Foggy and a man named Moxy Cambridge. I like the human aspect of Matt Murdock looking out for the little guy. It's easy to lose track of that and I'm glad Lobdell didn't. The senses of our protagonist continue to be a weird debate, which is why I didn't like that they revealed it's Matt last issue. Is it possible Stilt-Man is an overrated villain? He always seems to be the go-to nonsense character. That being said, having him run into the Eiffel Tower is a good sight gag.

Three and a Half Stars. From my perspective, I didn't think I learned much. From the character's perspective, it felt more like moving the pieces in place, but I'm not sure any of them learned much either. There were some good fight scenes, though.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #378 - Flying Blind Part 3: Under the Gun



Quote:
Foggy and SHIELD begin to realize what has happened to Matt Murdock and exactly how much trouble he is in; Matt as Laurent finds himself facing off against Kingpin's goons.


Due 8/18
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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
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, I have to apologize for not noticing that the artist in the previous issue wasn't Cully Hamner. Tom Morgan did such a good job aping Hamner's style that I didn't notice a change at all. It's kind of weird that Hamner didn't draw all four issues, or that Morgan didn't do all four. I assume the intention was to have a single artist for all four, but something came up.

As it turns out, our webmaster interviewed Hamner 18 years ago.
Quote:
Mithra: At first the Flying Blind arc was solicited as 4 issues, then changed to 3, then back to 4. Was there any reason for this? It was planned that you would do all the parts of the story, but in the end, Tom Morgan did the middle 2 issues. Was there a problem keeping up with the deadlines for you? I know in past interviews you've said your style of art takes longer to do.

Hamner: I did have a real problem keeping up, because the project was already behind schedule when I was brought aboard (although I didn't know it yet). Combine that with the fact that I wasn't that enamored of the story to begin with, and you get something that wasn't a whole lot of fun to draw. Now, before anybody gets upset, I don't mean any disrespect towards Scott. He's a good writer, and I've enjoyed a lot of his work, but I felt this particular story was not one of his good ones. I could go on for an hour about what didn't make sense to me about this story, but it's a moot point now. So, I won't.
Also, in the middle of the job, I got a new editor. Jaye was gone (this was in the midst of all the layoffs at Marvel), and Tim Tuohy came aboard. I liked Tim immediately, and we got along real well, but he'll be the first to tell you that the "musical artists" bit on that arc was not my fault. I had to wait for plots quite a bit, as they were being written and rewritten. We all did what we could, but it just wasn't enough.

I guess I don't know much about art, because I never would have guessed Hamner's art takes longer to do. It doesn't look that detailed, so I would have thought he'd be able to stick to a monthly schedule. You can find the interview here: http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/Hamner

Anyway, this issue didn't grab me to the degree that the first two did. The first scene with Foggy and Agent Senyaka regurgitates a lot of what we, the reader, already know. Later on, Senyaka tells us that Agent Harlan took it upon himself to send Daredevil in deep undercover because his own brother was murdered, and that the Kingpin is going to bid on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s list of undercover operatives. I think that was the only new information I got this issue.

Laurent's fight with a villain called Le Concierge is on the cover, meaning Marvel thought that was a selling feature. This villain is stupid for a few reasons. First, Le Concierge is a stupid name for a villain. Are you at all threatened by the people who work behind counters at hotels? Secondly, why didn't they just have Daredevil fight Batroc? Batroc is French, and Le Concierge already looks like him and fights like him. Lastly, we didn't even see Le Concierge beat Laurent up, but he captures him and takes him to the Kingpin's lair, and it seems like Laurent is unconscious. Did Laurent impale himself on Le Concierge's blade to save a woman we never met before? We'll just have to assume, and that's lame. One last thing, there is a large panel of Le Concierge taking up the bottom half of a page getting ready to kick Laurent in the face, and the way his leg is bending could not make me more uncomfortable. I know unrealistic body movement was all the rage in 90s comics, but this was pretty bad.

There were neat moments in this issue, but they were pretty isolated. I liked when Laurent activated Stilt-Man's hydraulic legs to get away. I liked when Synapse laughed at Claudia's burn on the Kingpin, and how he ended up getting clobbered for it.

But this issue feels like a waste. It doesn't feel like anything important happened. This is an obvious set-up for the final issue, and it was important to have Laurent make it to the Kingpin's lair unconscious, and they couldn't even do that right. And really, why not use Batroc?

One last nitpick: Foggy went to Columbia University, not NYU.

One more time: Why not Batroc?!?

I give this a two out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foggy nearly walks off the side of a Helicarrier and then yells are the person who saves his life for babysitting him. Someone want to explain that to me?

Daredevil's scenes are mostly fight scenes. It feels all the scenes seem to come down to "timing this perfectly." However, each time he succeeds, it's fun. I liked the Stilt-Man one, particularly since it can add to the confusion by causing them to debate whether or not Stilt-Man is the one responsible for the sudden kick.

This issue revealed a lot of the mystery, which was probably necessary at this stage. The plot is pretty standard - pretty much just the plot of the first Mission Impossible movie, but it's a flexible plot - particularly when the Kingpin is involved. Other than that, it felt like a lot of playing for time.

I thought the ending had some good cliffhangers for next time. They left us with the idea that Matt's faking his unconsciousness only to reveal that he really is beaten down. We immediately followed that up with the burning question - can Matt see? And, if so, how?

Three and a Half Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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