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DD Book Club - Typhoid
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1137

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 4:05 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Typhoid Reply with quote

Iron Fist Season Two will feature the Netflix debut of Typhoid Mary. Given that, I wanted to touch on her original story. Overall, this is one of the most difficult stories to cover because it began in the middle of the Kelco lawsuit storyline and ended in the middle of the Inferno tie-in. That made me reluctant to cover it. However, with the Netflix show coming up, I didn't think there was a better time. The plan is to just do the first half of the Typhoid Mary Saga (three issues) since there's a break for the Punisher (which we already covered) as well as a fill-in. Hopefully the second half will appear soon.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #254 - Typhoid



Quote:
Kingpin makes an offer to Typhoid she can’t refuse after she bests Kingpin at his own game. Can Typhoid inspire love from any man? Even one with an iron will? Matt Murdock meets Mary.


Due 9/1
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have long considered Typhoid Mary to be Ann Nocenti's greatest creation. My favourite work of hers is her Typhoid mini-series with art by John van Fleet. This is Typhoid's first appearance, and you can see that she arrived fully-formed. Nocenti knows exactly who she is, how she works, what she likes and what she hates. She allows Nocenti to play with adult themes, gender roles, psychoses and our hero's major flaws.

Unfortunately, I think this issue is hampered by Nocenti's tendency to overwrite. Characters say everything they're thinking. There is no subtext. The suicidal jumper is the best example. Nobody in the real world talks the way he does. Nocenti just treats him as a vessel for her thematic musings about modern finance. Tyrone is a similar character. He comes off as unnaturally precocious, and it's weird that he doesn't get frustrated with Matt's treatment. Any other kid would, but Tyrone is so even-tempered that his flowery descriptions of the colours he sees and the comfort he finds in the darkness just don't feel real.

Even the Kingpin is prone to Nocenti's rambling, conceptual musings, but I was more able to accept it from him, because we've read long monologues from him before. I like his plan to take down Matt by destroying his relationship with Karen. I'm assuming this is taking place after Love and War, since that was the absolute end of the Kingpin's relationship with Vanessa. Or did that take place even before "Born Again"? Is Vanessa's departure a fresh wound for Wilson Fisk at this point?

I like how obsessed Matt is with teaching Tyrone what he knows. He's absolutely going too far. This was a good area of Matt's character for Nocenti to explore. His intentions are good, but he isn't recognizing how irrational he's being.

I very much liked how dirty Nocenti was able to get with Typhoid. She is a very sexual character. There was a lot of talk about "who's on top." I was amazed the reference to a "little thumper" made it into the book. She really skirts the edges of acceptability, and I found it enjoyable. The best parts of this issue are ones where Typhoid appears.

There were, however, areas where things didn't seem as well thought out, or seem like complete mistakes. The first was when Kingpin's butler says that Daredevil "seems to have disappeared." However, we just saw Daredevil prevent a suicide. Shouldn't people working for the Kingpin keep better tabs on Daredevil?

Another was when the Kingpin was watching that video about Typhoid Mary, and how she escaped the mental hospital and "turned up a year later as an extremely successful stage actress." That didn't seem realistic to me. Acting is a very public profession, so when she even started emerging in small roles, shouldn't the people looking for her have found her then, not when she she became "extremely successful"?

The last was when Typhoid Mary sent out the mental command to Matt to look at her. Obviously Kingpin told Typhoid that Matt was blind, so I think she should have told Matt to "notice" her. It's an annoying thing to me, especially since he turned his head towards her. I would have liked it better if he had adjusted his head or directed his ear towards her. But his eyes don't work, so why would he turn them her way. It's as if Nocenti forgot he was blind for a couple of panels.

I like where this story is going, and I think Typhoid is a fascinating villain, especially when Nocenti is writing her. It's too bad there is so much overwriting in places, and some clear mistakes. I give this issue a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a fan of this story, but it's so difficult to cover. I figured the smartest thing to do would be to break this into two parts, the Kelco story and the Typhoid Mary story.

The Kelco story is an interesting one. Its parallels to Matt are obvious. A kid was blinded by toxic chemicals. But it's not a superhero origin story. It's just tragic. One of the big takeaways is, even if Matt wins, it doesn't fix the problem. Unfortunatley, the law doesn't help bring back Tyrone's eyes. This story is both a story of Matt the lawyer and Matt the man who was trained by Stick. In order to help save Tyrone, he's going to step into Stick's shoes, which isn't always the greatest idea. In fact, we see in a flashback that Stick literally had Matt standing on the edge of a cliff to have him learn to sense his surroundings. Matt is a complete dick to Tyrone. I think that's because he's afraid of failing him, but he doesn't seem to realize that he's failing him by the way he's acting.

The legal side of the Kelco story isn't really touched on much here. The biggest thing we get is Glori's musings on Matt vs. Foggy. Foggy seems to be taking the morally ambiguous (or, perhaps, morally indefensible) position of defending Kelco. Glori herself is torn since, while walking with Foggy, she took pictures that could destroy his case. She isn't sure the right thing to do is to show those pictures even though she thinks that Kelco should lose.

Onto Typhoid Mary. The issue opens with Typhoid as a street vigilante. It's easy to think of her as a Kingpin lacky and forget that her introduction was much more in the vein of the Punisher. I don't think Ann Nocenti's opening caption makes a ton of sense, but it is intriguiging and captivating. It definitely seems to play up the sensual but dangerous nature of the character. But it's more than that. She's a sexually aggressive character, not to entice the reader, but to make a point. When the guy she's with pushes back, it says it the best: "Back off! You treat me like you're the man and I'm some girl."

We get her original origin story (not the Joe Kelly retconned one). Not only does this explain her powers, it helps set the themes of the character - the dichotomy between Mary and Typhoid. It also explains how Matt could fail to tell them apart since they appear different to his senses. My biggest complaint in the issue is the Kingpin's internal monologues. Ann Nocenti is not known for subtlety, but she usually doesn't flat out state everything the way the Kingpin does. Still, I like that he's decided Matt's problem is he has love to turn to (I also like that he continues to grasp things in simple terms without fully dealing with the psyche of Matt Murdock and attacks it like a bull in a china shop). Still, since the Kingpin knows Matt's secret identity, he has to be motivated to attack something other than Matt himself if we are to believe this rivalry will continue.

Random thoughts:
1. Early on, Matt saves a guy from suicide. There's a page with three panels on the left and three panelless images of Daredevil on the right. I've read this story three or four times by now and I still can't figure out how I'm supposed to read that page. Should I read it right to left or the three panels first?
2. Speaking of that page, this is an issue worth reading in floppy. John Romita Jr. definitely follows in the path of Frank Miller in trying to consider the page as a whole. It's clear that that page and the page before are supposed to be read together with the empty white space with Daredevil in it bookending the two sides of the page. The Epic Collection, unfortunately, puts them on either side of a page turn.
3. Typhoid Mary meeting the Kingpin has some of the best moments. My favorite is when she says "sleep" and then comments that it usually only works on cows.
4. Is Typhoid controlling Mary? It doesn't seem like she would consciously hurt Matt but, for this story to work, she has to be following the Kingpin's plan.

I like this story a lot. To me, all the elements work well and come together for a cohesive whole. It's paced well and the ending is the perfect set up for what's to come. I have minor complaints about the Kingpin, but I'm giving this Five Stars.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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macjr33
Flying Blind


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2018 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I think that I am going to be the counterpoint to the rest of the board for this arc in the book club. I am not a fan of Nocenti's run at all and while I like his art on Miller's MWOF, I find Romita Jr's art during this run to range from bad to making the book almost unreadable later in the run. So I just want to be up front with that because I had that bias as I reread this issue.

I will start with the positives of this issue:

1) Typhoid Mary is an interesting villain and I was way too young to remember how other comics were written during this time; however, I imagine she was pretty unique for the time. I do like her introduction her and sets the tone nicely for the character.

2) Though we only see her briefly, though it will be seen in later issues, I do like that she gave Karen a strong voice.

Things I did not like:

1) Overall, I have issues with how Nocenti wrote Matt during her run and there is no greater example of this than the part with Tyrone. Outside of perhaps his "plan" to get rid of, ironically, Typhoid Mary in #297, there is probably not a series of pages I detest more in any of the Daredevil comics I have read. This is so out of character for him. Matt is not Stick, the whole idea that he would try to take the same approach with a child none the less is crazy to me. Matt cares about people and is kind, this could have been an opportunity to show there would have been other ways to do things besides the way Stick did things. I much preferred how the Netflix series demonstrated this in The Defenders series, when Matt talked to kid in the wheel chair, he didn't mince his words and he told the kid what he needed to hear, but he did it with compassion and empathy. During this issue and much of Nocenti's run, Matt is an unlikable jerk.

2) Nocenti's writing style and social commentary. As other have mentioned Nocenti is not subtle and to Dimetre states can overwrite her characters. As stated above, I didn't like how she wrote Matt and felt that the Kingpin seemed a bit off as as well though not as bad. I will say that I did like Typhoid Mary's dialogue for the most part. The other issue here is that while I certainly believe comics can be an amazing avenue to explore social/political themes (i.e. X-Men), Nocenti lays it on way to thick in my opinion, it feels really forced and doesn't fit the narrative.

3) Romita Jr's art. I am just not a fan of this art at all. I feel like there is not good detail and just looks sloppy. As the run progresses I feel it gets worse. The way he draws Matt may be my least favorite out of any of the major artists on Daredevil. I guess his Daredevil is ok. In fairness to Romita Jr., I think it has more to do with me just not liking the general style of art during this time period.

Because of the issues above it made it really hard for me to get into the broader story, the Kingpin's plan is an interesting one and as I mentioned at the beginning Typhoid Mary is an intriguing character.

I would give this issue 3 stars despite the major flaws I have with it on the strength of Typhoid Mary's introduction.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt's handling of Tyrone is the interesting debate and certainly one that has been controversial in the past. To me, it's not out of character because Matt is a very flawed character. The biggest example of that what Matt did to Heather Glenn.

However, I don't think it's quite accurate to say Matt is Stick here. Rather, Matt is thinking the only way he can help this kid is to be like Stick. You see it in the little moments with him hugging Tyrone that he can't bring himself to be completely like Stick. But he doesn't know any other way to train a blind person to "see" so he tries these harsh methods that might seem cruel.
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macjr33
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Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
Matt's handling of Tyrone is the interesting debate and certainly one that has been controversial in the past. To me, it's not out of character because Matt is a very flawed character. The biggest example of that what Matt did to Heather Glenn.

However, I don't think it's quite accurate to say Matt is Stick here. Rather, Matt is thinking the only way he can help this kid is to be like Stick. You see it in the little moments with him hugging Tyrone that he can't bring himself to be completely like Stick. But he doesn't know any other way to train a blind person to "see" so he tries these harsh methods that might seem cruel.


I think one of the reasons we all love Matt so much is due to the fact that he is a flawed and tragic character. He is rather unique in the comic world. However, with that said, there are still boundaries to his flaws. So I mentioned my top 2 least favorite Matt moments are #297 and this issue, third would be his treatment of Heather Glenn, both during and post-Miller. Though I can at least rationalize the Heather stuff, which I will attempt to in a moment.

To me Matt is flawed because he can be rather self-destructive, he often makes poor choices when it comes to women, he is walking contradiction in that he is a lawyer and vigilante and a Catholic who dresses up like the devil, he suffers from depression. As a result of these flaws he often hurt those closest to him. What separates Matt for me from say a Batman, is that he very much wants to be Matt Murdock and not just Daredevil so him trying to balance both lives creates challenges.

I mentioned I could somewhat rationalize the treatment of Heather in that, during Miller's run, it was shown that Matt's life was starting to spiral a bit. He had his first true love come back into this life, now as a assassin, and she was subsequently murdered in gruesome fashion by his arch nemesis then die in his arms. I mean he dug up her remains to make sure she was dead. Miller established that Matt has some issues and once things start to wrong, they can go really wrong. This is no way makes his treatment of Heather right, just that I can see where it came from.

Miller took this a step further with Born Again and other writers borrowed this theme as well, particularly Bendis and Brubaker. I know some really hated that Matt had the affair with Dakota. While I certainly wish he hadn't it made sense given where is life was and everything that was happening to him. The guy was mess and in a moment of weakness looked for comfort from someone that wasn't scared of all that was going on around him.

Now I will admit, part of my issue could be that when I originally read Nocenti's run I had just finished Born Again and jumped into the Typhoid EC. So for me there was none of this build up of Matt's life being in shambles or starting to fall apart since I had just come from reading a story which ended with him perhaps being the happiest I had ever seen. Also, seeing how he almost had the Christ-like forgiveness of Karen and how he helped her recover from her addiction to then see the cruel treatment of Tyrone was very jarring for me. I just thought there were other ways to do it, kind of like what he did during Brubaker's run when he tried to help Milia by teaching her to mediate. Lastly, I didn't understand his obsession with making Tyrone "see" like he does, plenty of blind people function just fine without being able to "see" like Matt does. Though in fairness, I was not a fan of Miller's retcon that Matt just "learned" his powers vs. them being a by-product of the chemical waste.

Finally, I think the thing we can all agree on is that Matt gives us plenty to debate about! Very Happy
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #255 - Temptation



Quote:
Attorney Matt Murdock faces the most challenging case of his career, a lawsuit that will bring justice to a boy blinded by corporate pollution. But Daredevil has an even bigger case- Typhoid Mary, a villain as intriguing as she is insane.


Due 9/8
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening of this issue might be one of the most forced dream sequences in the history of comics. In fairness, the story acknowledges this fact, but it doesn't make it less forced. Still, it illustrates the point of this issue. If anyone has seen the movie "The Verdict" it very much explores similar themes of the law vs. justice. Given Matt's role as a vigilante, he also falls into that gap. He's sworn to uphold the law, but, often, he's faced with a situation where doing justice isn't the same thing (on the other hand, he doesn't fall into the trap of seeking vengeance, his goal is helping others). The fact that the Kingpin is behind Kelco just emphasizes this fact. The Kingpin is very much the perfect villain to challenge Matt's faith in the law.

I love how Nocenti writes the relationship between Matt and Karen. She's her own person but she's still supportive. Honestly, that makes the whole Typhoid Mary thing more painful. We want Matt to succeed. The fact that Matt is so distracted by Mary that he neglects Tyrone just emphasizes how wrong this is. My only complaint is maybe this is a bit fast. Granted, Typhoid has powers of suggestion. Is she using those powers while in the form of Mary? But this is barely into their second issue and they just met at the start of last issue.

This is the era of the free clinic and Ghost lawyering aka "the unauthorized practice of law" (in fairness, another story does address this issue, but it is a crime in itself). I like the actual lawyer involved, Dave. The cyclical fashion senses help because Romita draws him with a skinny tie, which fits a youthful energetic lawyer, but the idea that he's (terribly) playing Basketball helps humanize him (maybe it helps that I'm also a young(ish) lawyer who loves to play terrible Basketball). But, while Matt contributes a lot, I like that he's intelligent in his own right and there's no rivalry there. That being said, I'm dubious of the legal arguments, but the story keeps shifting the goal posts to make it hard to nail down.

The big highlight of the issue is Matt Murdock vs. Foggy Nelson. That being said, our gratification is delayed as Matt meets Typhoid once again. Interestingly, she's representing the opposite end of the spectrum, preaching "justice" without any respect for the law. I don't get the sense that she's serious about it, but I think the idea is more to provide temptation. Tempt Matt into embracing her way of thinking. I'm not positive, but I feel this might be the first time Matt is explicitly described as a Christian (I know there are a lot of claims prior and Sister Maggie certainly suggests that, but I don't remember a specific reference). Unfortunately, Nocenti is overwriting their first superhero fight with a lot of philosophy.

Many of the legal aspects are kind of screwed up (I think someone writes a letter about it eventually). They do get the term Plaintiff right, they get the case caption right. Saying that Kelco is "guilty of crimes" is possibly objectionable, but should be read as hyperbole. The problem comes when Foggy starts talking about Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, which is something that happens in Criminal Cases. In Civil Cases, like this one, they only had to prove it more likely than not that Kelco did these acts. The timeline of the case is all screwed up. It seems both sides are taking their turns presenting evidence when it should be one side then the other. It would have been fine if the time captions didn't make this clear (better yet if they specifically noted that they were showing events out of order). Still, for television courtroom stuff, it works very well. There's a flow to it that good courtroom direct examination should have and I love the shots of the Kingpin stewing as the evidence builds. The moment with Foggy seeing Matt in the courtroom is surprisingly subtle for Nocenti as he falters in his closing argument. The issue ends on a cliffhanger on multiple fronts. Despite the seeming victory, the Kingpin will try to subvert the law. On top of that, Matt is worried of losing everything with Karen.

Re-reading this issue, I was surprised that there's a lot more thematic connection between the two stories than I expected. While I have complaints about the technical accuracy when it comes to the trial, I appreciate Nocenti really trying to give that part of Matt's life a go. The drama of Matt vs. Foggy, a boy blinded by chemicals, and the Kingpin behind it all really does work. I thought Typhoid was the weak point of this story compared to last week, but it was a solid first fight. The big thing for me was setting up how his abilities don't work against her. On the other hand, the scenes between Matt, Mary, and Tyrone with Karen's voicemail in the background works great. Overall, I thought the dialogue and metaphors may have been a bit more forced than last time, but it was still quite strong. Four and a Half Stars.
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Dimetre
Child's Play


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read these three issues a few times before, but it's been a while. I'm surprised by how much of a punch this issue still packs. I'm also reading from the original paper comic, and it's interesting that even though this is only Typhoid Mary's second appearance, Marvel was already very excited about her. They published a full-page ad showing Typhoid standing over Daredevil's body, with the words "She has to kill him... She loves him. Introducing Typhoid Mary, in a tragic story of love and death. On sale now from Marvel." I'm not sure if that ad was in all of that week's or month's titles, but it's testiment to how much the company believed in this new character.

I think the weakest part of this issue is the opening dream sequence. Yes, it shows how obsessed Matt continues to be about Tyrone, but it's so heavy handed. Matt's drowning in legal documents, and is tangled in red tape. Worse, he complains about how he can't see. But we know that he can't ever see. Why do we need red tape to cover his eyes so he can complain about how he can't see? I wouldn't bring this up if we didn't have that part in the previous issue where Mary mentally instructs Matt to "look" at her, causing him to turn his head towards her. To me, it seems like Nocenti sometimes forgets that Matt's eyes don't work. I'd like to be wrong about that.

When that dream sequence ends, everything picks up. We get a lovely domestic sequence between Matt and Karen. They're living in squalor, but they seem like the sweetest couple. She is so supportive, and she seems utterly fascinated by him, even though she's known him for years. You get the impression that this couple can withstand anything, and you wouldn't want to see anything get in the way of their love. Nocenti is doing a wonderful job setting us up for... something.

What follows is a great single page scene showing that the Kingpin is as brutally obsessed with Matt as he was during "Born Again." I think he is more true to character in this issue than the previous.

Then, the heartbreaking scene. Nocenti and Romita Jr. pull out all the stops here. Mary and Tyrone visit Matt at the apartment he shares with Karen. Tyrone walks a few steps away to explore the apartment, and Mary makes a move on Matt. He lets her get close. She moves in for a kiss. He puts his hand on her hip. She takes of his glasses. They kiss. He runs his hands through her hair. This shouldn't be happening, but it is.

Nocenti makes it even more wrong in two ways.

1. The telephone rings. Matt doesn't pick it up, because Mary has already brought her body in close. It goes to the answering machine, Karen begins talking. As each panel shows Matt and Mary getting more and more inappropriate, it's interspersed with Karen's dialogue about how much she misses Matt, how sexy she thinks he is, how much faith she has in him, how much of his well-being she tries to look after and, as he clutches Mary's hair, Karen says the words, "I love you." This couldn't be more heartbreaking.

2. Tyrone is Matt's obsession. That has been made utterly clear. As Mary moves her body close to Matt's, our hero completely ignores the kid. Tyrone tries to talk to Matt, asking why he isn't answering, but all Matt can do is kiss Mary. They both completely ignore the kid with whom Matt is obsessed.

Nocenti and Romita Jr. masterfully paced and layed out that scene. We're supposed to be disturbed by it, and we, without question, are.

I'm not sure the strategy devised by Matt and David would work in reality. I'm not a legal expert like some on this board are, and I haven't yet read Mike's comments about this issue. (I will for sure.) I think judges must rule within the parameters of the law, and that's it. Matt and David are talking about morality, not law, and the legal system isn't created to consider morality.

I like how cold Karen is towards Foggy. For sure, Nocenti was the first writer to instill strength into Karen Page.

I didn't like how Matt was late for the court case. I suppose Mary may have affected the level to which he was obsessed with Tyrone, but we had that whole basketball court scene with David, so obviously he is still committed to the Kelco case. Why wouldn't he get to the courthouse on time?

The answer is because we need to have an encounter with Typhoid. Couldn't we have had the scene work this way: Matt leaves on time to get to the courthouse, but is stopped by Typhoid. Why couldn't we have had that?

I liked the Typhoid/Daredevil scene, but the dialogue was unnaturally philosophical. It's a very wordy way of trying to seduce him. She moves in close, trying to get him to kiss her, but he hates Typhoid. She seems happy that he doesn't realize that Typhoid and Mary are the same person. She plans to allow Mary to fall in love with Matt.

The legal argument between Matt and David seems to work well, and I like it a lot. It certainly scares Fisk to the point where he orders one of the jurors to be paid off. I just wish I believed that such an argument would be similarly powerful in real life.

I also enjoyed how conflicted Foggy was throughout this issue. If we could have fit in a scene with Glorianna, that would have been sweet, but this issue is chock-full of goodness.

I would have rather gone without the opening dream sequence, and I would have liked Matt to have left for the courthouse on time, but there is some stellar work here from Nocenti and Romita Jr. The pencils may be some of Romita Jr.'s best work on the main Daredevil book. I give this issue a 4 out of 5.
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macjr33
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some great summaries thus far for this issue. Will try not to rehash too much of what has already been said.

I mentioned it briefly in my previous post, one of the things that I liked most about Nocenti's run was that she finally gave Karen some depth and strength that really hadn't been seen before (or at least wasn't the result of her life hitting complete rock bottom in Born Again). I too like how she depicts Matt and Karen's relationship and the moment they share when Matt wakes up is quite nice. Also, agree with how Karen acted towards Foggy.

Typhoid Mary continues to be a new, intriguing and layered villain and this issue continues that.

Agree the dream sequence at the beginning fell flat as well as with some of Nocenti's dialogue being a bit off, especially during the encounter between Typhoid Mary and Daredevil.

I think that Dimetre makes a great point that we, as the reader, are supposed to be really disturbed by the panels with Matt, Mary and Tyrone in the apartment. It certainly made me feel that way. Honestly, I think that Matt cheating on Karen with Mary had a bigger impact on me than Matt's affair with Dakota even though it's implied that Mary has some low level mind control type abilities.

As I've said before not a fan of Romita Jr.'s art so that hurts this issue a bit.

Overall, I would give this issue a 3.5 out of 5.
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