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DD Book Club - Fall From Grace
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1180

PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:29 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Fall From Grace Reply with quote

Love this story or hate this story, Fall From Grace is certainly one of the more historically significant Daredevil stories. Of course, it was that way by design. To deal with flagging sales, Chichester decided to throw out much of Daredevil's life and give him a fresh, new start for the 90s. If you read the letters, people genuinely believed that Matt Murdock was being killed off and replaced by a new Daredevil with a new costume.

I also picked this story because Venom is coming out in a couple weeks. No 90s story could truly be complete without an arbitrary Venom guest appearance and this story certainly has that. All that being said, here is the Fall From Grace prologue by D.G. Chichester with pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Hector Collazo (among others), and colors by Christie "Max" Scheele (with some help as well). I'm reading from the trade paperback, which has additional pages inserted into the story.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #319 - Fall From Grace, Prologue: Temptation



Quote:
Dark forces are brewing in the streets of New York, and they're going to change Matt Murdock's life forever! An all-star cast of characters- Silver Sable, Ben Urich, The Hand, and more- all begin to converge, starting with a single question- who or what is the Snakeroot?


Due 9/22
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure if I ever read this issue before. I couldn't find it in my comics collection. I have the rest of the issues for "Fall from Grace," but not this one, so I read it on Marvel Unlimited. I honestly have no memory of anything that happened in this issue.

It certainly feels like an epic story is being set into motion. I have to give D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel credit for that.

The opening scene with the telepathic agent (F.B.I.? S.H.I.E.L.D.? The story is unclear.) is compelling. Twenty years after this snappy noir scene, Eddie is somehow affecting the homeless in gruesome ways. Daredevil begins looking into it. It's a good premise for a story.

McDaniel's art can sometimes be unclear. The first homeless man we see with the torch in the church looked so big, I thought he was Mr. Hyde. It took me a while to figure out that he wasn't. I can't be alone here. Mr. Hyde dressed like that for decades, and his hair is that colour. If McDaniel had drawn the homeless guy even a little bit differently, I wouldn't have made that error.

The scene in the Louisiana bayou probably makes some people cringe nowadays with the affected patois. I don't see anything like that in comics these days. I don't think Chichester was trying to be offensive at all, but the voodoo thing comes off as a cultural stereotype. I would expect a scene like this to be portrayed more sensitively today.

I don't know anything about Hellspawn. I don't know if he appeared in Daredevil before this, or if he appeared in another series. Hellspawn is obviously aware of Daredevil, and heads out after him. He's scary and seems powerful, so this is setting up a promising battle.

Chichester does quite a bit of looking back in this issue. He references his own "Last Rites" storyline, and spends a lot of time on Elektra: Assassin. John Garrett is occupying the body of President Ken Wind, and is keeping the remains of his own body in what looks like cryogenic suspension. It seems like his consciousness is returning to his own body. Why would that be? I guess we'll find out. I didn't feel like we needed so much space spent on Elektra: Assassin, but perhaps Marvel thought doing so would excite readers, who are only happy to lap up Miller references.

I thought it was neat the way Chichester suggested that the Hand infiltrated the Kennedy White House, and were involved with Saddam Hussein during Operation Desert Storm. (At least that's how I took it.) He doesn't overtly say so; he just suggests it.

I liked how Silver Sable and Crippler are getting involved in the Eddie plot. That should go a long way to adding tension.

Some good stories are being set up in this issue, but there are so many things being set up, that they can't really get very far beyond just being set up. This issue just puts a lot of chess pieces on the board and does little else. Marvel and Chichester seem to be relying on references to the Miller era to excite the fanbase, but if they didn't do that, all this issue would consist of are introductions to half a dozen different stories.

Honestly, I probably would have enjoyed something less ambitious, like the investigation into Eddie involving Silver Sable. Obviously that's going to be in the next issue, but it's going to have to share space with the five other stories, and I think it's a strong enough idea to stand on its own.

The cliffhanger suggests Elektra's return, which must have excited everyone to no end, but ticked Frank Miller right off. After Man Without Fear he kept his word and never worked with Marvel again, not that we'd want him back at this point.

There are some good ideas in this issue, but as it stands now, they're not much more than ideas. If we're going to advance all these stories simultaneously, we can't help but get mired in the clusterf*** I remember "Fall from Grace" becoming. This issue alone isn't bad though, so I give it a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

D.G. Chichester clearly watched A Few Good Men before he started writing these the stories. "Here are the facts and they are indisputable." I really do love this intro. It's got such a dramatic, over the top style. I love the little bit of world building we see. I also love that it feels very New York. We're given a sense that these are real people in real places even as something nefarious and otherworldly is going on. There's a nice sense of intrigue with the idea that he dropped the object too soon and a hint that it might have been deliberate. It's a mystery but one that seems worth investing in.

There are several different plots. The first is the homeless man who claims Eddie is putting images inside his head. This ties us to the mystery above and draws Daredevil in. I also do like seeing Daredevil being a nice, kind human being to homeless people. I feel this is a side of him that's more often than not lost, particularly in this era.

Four pages after the first story, we get the Daredevil doppleganger from Infinity War back. I'll comment when he truly gets going. Right now, he feels tacked on. But I do think he's actually an interesting character. More importantly, Chichester is building on the work of two other writers - Ann Nocenti for the Haitian Hoodoo stuff and Jim Starlin for Hellspawn himself. I'm a sucker for fake accents from my time reading Claremont's X-Men, but I recognize there's a lot of problems with it.

Next we get the John Garrett story. For those who never read Elektra: Assassin, I'm curious to see how people took this story. For those who did, I'm still curious what they think. Chichester's attempting to capture the crazy, frantic stream of consciousness of that story. I remember I read this first and pretty much just went with it, but I'm wasn't going to pretend to understand it. It's very much out of nowhere here, but it is an interesting retcon. To my knowledge, it's the first attempt of bringing Eletkra: Assassin into the Marvel canon. This isn't easy to do given the way that story ends, but I think it wraps things up in a fairly straight-forward way that fits the craziness of that story.

We also have Strang (who I thought was Hydra) fighting with Jameson. At least we have some hints of the Eddie story in the story that the woman with Ben Urich wants to run. We also have the Hand and the introduction of Snakeroot. We learn that the thing left in the subway tunnel was called About Face. Then we add another character in the form of Silver Sable, but at least following the main story.

I've never liked Scott McDaniel's art. It can be visually interesting at time, but I feel like a penciler has to make it so we can tell what's going on and he often fails at that task. The page with Strang and Jameson talking about shutting down the press doesn't flow at all. I have no idea the order it's supposed to be read in. The page where the homeless man shows how he mutilated himself is undercut by the lack of clarity on what he did. There's a lot of random lines, but McDaniel always has lots of random lines.

The story originally ends at this point with another voice over that also hints at big things to come and an epilogue where a Hand member is killed by a sai. The graphic novel added some additional pages at the end to help those confused by John Garrett and explain the plot of Elektra: Assassin. That being said, it's kept at least a little ambiguous.

I'll go Four Stars. The biggest issue I have with this story is how disjointed it is, but there are some nice moments in this first issue that I actually do appreciate a lot. This is intended as a big story and I think it does a good job of selling that premise. I commented on the added pages here because they were tacked onto the end. I don't think I'll do that as I continue.

Dimetre wrote:

I don't know anything about Hellspawn. I don't know if he appeared in Daredevil before this, or if he appeared in another series. Hellspawn is obviously aware of Daredevil, and heads out after him. He's scary and seems powerful, so this is setting up a promising battle.


Hellspawn is from the Infinity War tie-ins. Essentially, the Magus created dopplegangers of various characters. If the doppelganger defeated the original, the copy would replace the original. He was noteworthy because he didn't really register on Matt's senses (on top of everything else, he apparently smelled like Matt and had the same heartbeat, iirc. He was also immune to his radar sense). Matt, however, defeated him. Unfortunately, one of the Haitian characters who was hunting Daredevil scooped up the doppelganger's blood and used it to resurrect him in this issue.

I'm really looking forward to finding the moment I gave up on this story the first time. I remembered there was some thread here I was posting in where I gave a very unkind comment that I'll repeat at the appropriate time.
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julian Darius contributed an essay about "Fall from Grace" in The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil. He makes some interesting observations:

The cover for #319 clearly resembles Frank Miller's black and white artwork in Sin City. Many people accused McDaniel of outright copying Miller's style.

This issue sold out almost immediately. Marvel quickly produced a second printing with the whites and blacks of the cover inverted.

"Fall from Grace" was Marvel's first response to high-profile events in DC's books in the early 90s. When Superman's sales were in declining in 1992, DC killed off the hero, resulting in massive sales and publicity. Shortly afterward, Bane broke Batman's back, and that caused sales to skyrocket. Daredevil #319 came out in August of 1993, and proved to Marvel that these massive status-quo disrupting events could work, even if the title character has only one monthly book, causing fans to wait thirty days between chapters, unlike Supes and Bats who have multiple titles which would allow for two or three chapters per month.

Halfway through "Fall from Grace" Wolverine got the adamantium sucked out of his body in X-Men #25. By the end of "Fall from Grace," Captain America found out that the super-soldier serum was killing him. Over in DC, similar status quo shake-ups were happening in the pages of Green Lantern and The Flash. "Fall from Grace" only slightly pre-dates Spidey's notorious "Clone Saga." Nowadays, of course, these storylines are remembered with varying degrees of fondness.

I can regale you all with more tidbits from Darius' essay as we progress.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, please do.

I never heard of that book. I might have to buy it at some point.
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macjr33
Flying Blind


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have issue #319 and I don't have Marvel Unlimited; however, I do have the rest of the individual issues for Fall from Grace so I will be able to contribute going forward.

Dimetre wrote:


"Fall from Grace" was Marvel's first response to high-profile events in DC's books in the early 90s. When Superman's sales were in declining in 1992, DC killed off the hero, resulting in massive sales and publicity. Shortly afterward, Bane broke Batman's back, and that caused sales to skyrocket. Daredevil #319 came out in August of 1993, and proved to Marvel that these massive status-quo disrupting events could work, even if the title character has only one monthly book, causing fans to wait thirty days between chapters, unlike Supes and Bats who have multiple titles which would allow for two or three chapters per month.

Halfway through "Fall from Grace" Wolverine got the adamantium sucked out of his body in X-Men #25. By the end of "Fall from Grace," Captain America found out that the super-soldier serum was killing him. Over in DC, similar status quo shake-ups were happening in the pages of Green Lantern and The Flash. "Fall from Grace" only slightly pre-dates Spidey's notorious "Clone Saga." Nowadays, of course, these storylines are remembered with varying degrees of fondness.

I can regale you all with more tidbits from Darius' essay as we progress.


Thanks for the info from the book, I've heard about it and I too plan on getting it on some point. One of the the things I like learning about comics is the history of what was happening behind the scenes so I appreciate the insight on what Marvel was doing at the time. I actually remember reading the "Clone Saga" as a young kid and being so confused! Wink
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1180

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the delay, I got home at midnight last night:

Daredevil Vol. 1 #320 - Fall From Grace, Part One



Quote:
Daredevil's on the hunt for a mysterious man named Eddie, who's been sowing seeds of discord in the streets of New York. Unfortunately for him, Eddie's also the target of mercenaries led by Silver Sable! This is one showdown Matt Murdock won't be able to talk his way out of!


Due 9/29
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Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

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


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1010
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha. The inside front cover is an advertisement for The Meteor Man. Superhero movies have come a long way.

I think this issue is held back by a lack of clarity. There is a lack of clarity in both the writing and the art.

Scott McDaniel's reluctance to draw detail makes a lot of the action difficult to follow. He seems to only draw outlines of characters, choosing to wash out their features in a lighting effect. But the way he captures action is a problem too. The battle between Daredevil and Silver Sable switches angles so many times so quickly that it was hard to figure out where each character was from panel to panel.

But D.G. Chichester's writing was problematic too. After laying the foundation for several different stories in the previous issue, and giving us more background for Eddie Passim noirish mission from 1963, we are launched into a showdown between Daredevil and the Crippler. I don't remember these two running into each other last issue. We knew that the Crippler was working with Silver Sable in the Eddie investigation, so it was inevitable that they would cross paths with Daredevil. Wouldn't you have liked to see that happen? I think that would have been preferable. I would have liked to see the Crippler sneak up on him, and maybe fail to take him by surprise. I can't help but feel ripped off by joining the scene mid-fight.

What's good about this issue is that it's definitely more focused on the Eddie story involving Daredevil, Silver Sable and the Crippler. The other stories -- the one with Garrett, the one with the Hand and the one with the Bugle -- move forward an inch. I liked the scene with Matt and Karen. At this point they're broken up but are doing their best to remain friends. What would have helped the issue is if the scene that followed didn't involve Matt, because it seemed we were going to get a tender moment between him and Karen, then we turn the page and he's dressed as Daredevil and questioning someone about Eddie. Couldn't we have gotten the one-page scene with Urich and Sara or the two-pager with the Chaste between those two Matt scenes?

There seems to be a pervading sense of sloppiness to this issue. The first page of the Crippler/Daredevil fight says two decades have passed since Eddie's mission, when simple arithmetic shows that it's three. But I think it's the lack of detail in McDaniel's art that's really holding back my enjoyment of this story. It's just too hard to follow. Less detail doesn't have to result in lack of clarity. It's about making the right choices about what details to show, and from what angles to draw a scene.

I liked that Sara found out that Matt is Daredevil, but it made no sense that Urich would have had an encoded version of his story in the Bugle database. I'd think he'd have left that in his own personal vault, and nowhere else. I like that his identity has been found out, but I'd prefer it if it could have happened without Ben being uncharacteristically careless.

I liked the conflict between Silver Sable and Daredevil, but McDaniel and Chichester really limited my enjoyment of this issue overall. I give it a 2.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The issue starts with a recap of the About Face history. In it, there's some very clever wordplay related to the different train lines. I think the recap is so good that you kind of wonder if you needed the whole first issue. Still, every issue could be somebody's first and I think the issue gets people up to speed on Eddie's story.

The fight with the Crippler just feels 90s. I know very little about the Wild Pack, but this feels just like "cool new thing." Unfortunately, I found Scott McDaniel's layout here incomprehensible. I think there might be some shades of Elektra: Assassin, but he's no Bill Sienkiewicz. I sort of understand that a fight happened, Daredevil won, and his costume was all torn up. I couldn't follow much else. It's also disappointing that the big moment that destroys his costume is with the Crippler of all people. I do like that it is a slow build. The discussion of the different materials and all that demonstrate that Matt's taking it seriously.

On the Snakeroot plot. I get the point of Erynis and the symbolism there. A lot of times, it feels weirdly both too forced and too easy. One panel is about as clear a Death of Elektra panel as you can imagine. I have to say the Snakeroot characters may be the ugliest characters in the history of comics. I liked his Silver Sable fight. I kind of lost interest by the end. The Bugle plot seemed like a waste last issue and suddenly takes on a much sharper point.

This is a very clunky issue. There are moments I like, but it was a huge step down. Three Stars.
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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: Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #321 - Fall From Grace, Part Two: Transgression



Quote:

At last, Daredevil comes face-to-face with Eddie, and the truth about the mysterious man's past is revealed! But first, Daredevil will have his hands full with an eerily familiar creature known only as Hellspawn! Meanwhile, the mysterious Snakeroot finally makes its move!


If you have the physical comic, do yourself a favor and try out the glow in the dark gimmick.

Due 10/6
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Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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