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DD Book Club - The Death of Mike Murdock
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1180

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:32 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Death of Mike Murdock Reply with quote

With all the talk of the Death of Daredevil, I thought it would be a good time to look at the time the original Daredevil died.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #39 - The Exterminator and the Super-Powered Unholy Three



Quote:
The Unholy Three have been released from prison, and they’ve had plenty of time to invent new evils! When a renewed crime spree hits the streets, Daredevil springs into action. Foggy worries about his reputation as a district attorney candidate when it comes to dating ex-con Debbie. But Foggy may not have to worry…especially if Debbie is eliminated!


Due 11/17
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 1968. The times were turbulent. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Riots broke out all across the United States. Into this fray landed this rather inconsequential issue of Daredevil, although there were probably a lot of people who wished they could have been zapped with the Exterminator's time displacement ray.

There really isn't much to say about the plot. Daredevil runs across the Unholy Three, who are probably the least exciting villains in his entire rogue's gallery. Seriously, I don't feel the three of them combined are a threat to him, let alone a single one of them. Daredevil quickly sets about making them look like the fools they are, but they toss him through a plate glass window, and somehow that allows them to get away, as the plot demands. During this kerfuffle, he hears them mention the Exterminator.

The mysterious Exterminator has invented a time displacement ray, and it is demonstrated across four and a half pages, which were a lot of pages at that time. Yes, a modern writer like Bendis would likely dedicate a half issue to this demo, but four and a half pages seems like a lot to a zippy Silver Age writer like Stan Lee. As for the weapon, I'm not sure what the Exterminator is planning to do with it exactly. The way they attack people and zap them with the rays, wouldn't they have accomplished the exact same thing with conventional guns? Guns scare people just as much as T-Rays. It seems that the Exterminator just wants people to fear his power. They'll fear him just the same whether the gun disintegrates people or leaves them in a bloody pulp on the floor. It just doesn't feel like the plot has been thought out too much.

I guess the highlight of this issue for me was Matt advising Foggy to date Debbie out in the open. He wasn't overly concerned with how Debbie's criminal past would reflect on the firm -- he just knew she made Foggy happy, and wanted what was best for him. I liked that.

Once Debbie gets hit with the ray, I'm not sure how Daredevil's powers allow him to detect her presence if she is displaced. At least she's blurred to him. As a lot of us know, the Exterminator eventually returns as the Deathstalker, and when he is displaced, Matt can't detect him. More recently someone like Muse has proven able to mess with Matt's senses in a different way, showing up like a vortex. I'm not sure if Muse involves something similar to the time displacement described in this fifty-year-old issue, but he's someone Matt can detect, even if he proves difficult to focus on.

The end of the issue teases that Matt is going to get zapped with the ray. It's interesting that we recently finished reviewing "Fall From Grace," which allowed Matt the opportunity to fake his own death. This fifty-year-old tale is going to show a similar occasion which allowed Matt (and Stan) to ditch a nutty triple-identity scheme that had gotten out of hand. Will this bear any similarity to what Charles Soule and Phil Noto have planned in two issues time?

I didn't find this issue remarkable in any way. Lee seems to be following a formulaic story structure, and Gene Colan is doing his typically vibrant work. George Tuska is credited with inks, and I found his lines overly thick and heavy. Overall, I think this issue is best described as workmanlike. Not great, but nothing too wrong with it. I give it 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 Nov 12, 2018 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cards on the table, I'm not expecting much from this story. I read it once before and found it to be pretty haphazzard. The Unholy Three are pretty generic and the Exterminator only has appeal to be for continuity reasons for what he becomes.

That being said, I like that this issue cuts right into the action. Gene Colan's splash page is simplistic but exciting and the three panel page that follows keeps the pace up. I like that Stan Lee has Matt use his hearing to figure things out rather than rely on the radar sense as a crutch. The fight is fine, although I'm disappointed at how easily Daredevil is defeated.

This is the early days of Foggy dating Debbie Harris (later Debbie Nelson). I like that she's a convicted felon and the story brings up the idea that people can change for the better. To me, that makes her an interesting character and fits in with the themes of Daredevil. Of course, she'll later start scheming to throw Matt under the bus for Foggy's career advancement and have an affair with Micah Synn, but we're ages from that. I suppose there's an argument that those who had to work hard from nothing have to work the hardest to keep that way. Plus, Foggy dating Debbie is an excuse to see Matt ask Karen out. It's good to see Matt more confident and assertive - especially given the era where Mike Murdock is the one who has exclusively filled that role. Mike is mentioned in this story, but never seen.

The conversation between the guy who tips off the Exterminator about Foggy and Deborah and the Exterminator cracks me up. "Seeing eye secretary" and spineless non-entity" are both great lines. The Exterminator's technology is extremely convoluted, though. I don't think Stan Lee explains it clearly at all. It's not clear at first if it's time travel or what. Apparently, it sends them to another dimension for a period of time.

I think the art in this issue is good. There's also a few good lines in here. It was also very briskly paced. For a silver age comic, it felt like it ended very quickly and the plot certainly doesn't have much going for it. Three Stars.
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #40 - The Fallen Hero



Quote:
Daredevil goes to Limbo! The Unholy Three have been using their trans-dimensional T-ray to send innocents, and ‘enemies’, to an alternate dimension. Will DD be able to save Debbie Harris, and the rest of the victims, from a lifetime of purgatory? Enter the Organizer!


Due 11/24
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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
Posts: 1010
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2018 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, since I submitted my review of Daredevil #39, Stan Lee passed away. It's kind of comforting to be reviewing a Stan Lee story at this time, even if it's not his best. (Of his Daredevil work, I think #7, the one where DD faces off against the Sub-Mariner, is his best.)

I think Gene Colan's art is particularly strong this issue. Check out that panel on page four when Ape-Man and Bird-Man are forcing that bank guard to the vault at gunpoint. The shadows on the guard are awesome, along with the detail on the Bird's wings. Overall, this is a great showcase of what Colan could do at his peak.

There was really only one thing I didn't like about this issue: when Daredevil suddenly announced he was bushed. I know there were only 39 issues of Daredevil before this one, and I've read hundreds that were published after this story, but I just didn't buy that this fight would have tuckered him out this badly, to the point that he was a sitting duck for the T-Ray. Yes, I realize that the Ape-Man hit him pretty hard, but still. Daredevil got hit by the T-Ray, because the plot demanded it. I may have been able to buy into this more if the villains weren't the Unholy Three, who have proven no match for him before.

The best part of the comic for me was Foggy. I can't remember Lee writing him as such a capable professional before. He is able to come up with leads that Matt couldn't, all while managing his campaign for District Attorney and grieving the loss of a woman he loved. Lee is the same writer who put the rotund Foggy into a Daredevil outfit so he could convince Karen he was the superhero in #18, truly one of Foggy's most laughable moments. It was nice to see Lee treating Foggy more respectably here. One of the lines he gives him is, "At a time like this... how I envy a man with the strength -- and confidence of Daredevil! But even a man who's not a superhero can still be useful!" It's a nice moment, and it reminds me Fantastic Four #52 from two years prior, when the Black Panther would have surely defeated the FF were it not for the non-powered Wyatt Wingfoot for whose presence T-Challa had not accounted. I hope Foggy continues this journey into the next issue, of which I have little memory although I've read these stories years ago.

I think this an improvement from the previous issue. The stakes have been raised effectively. The Unholy Three are hard to take seriously as a threat, but they seem reckless with these rayguns, and Colan does a beautiful job with Daredevil's fluid acrobatics throughout this issue. I give this a four out of five.[/i]
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's also somewhat touching that the title of the issue we're reviewing this week is "The Fallen Hero." Isn't it funny how things sometimes work out?
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Dimetre that it's nice to be reviewing a Stan Lee issue right now. Stan Lee wrote a ton of stories. Some were better than others. Even though I don't think Daredevil was his strongest work, I think he's also written better Daredevil stories. Still, this story has its charms.

The opening of this issue is a classic Stan Lee opening with a quick synopsis of a nonsense sci-fi plot followed by "anyone who understands that mishmash can now get on with our tale." Comics later took themselves seriously in a way that Stan Lee did not, although I don't think he was ever making fun of the stakes in his stories.

The stakes in this story are still pretty high. Even though the Unholy Three are petty criminals, they're still very dangerous and Matt as Mike as Daredevil is trying to stop them and to rescue Deborah. The fight between them goes on entirely too long, but there are some nice moments of tension as Matt reaches for the gun or dodges out of the way of a shot. The big surprise is, a little over halfway, Matt gets shot!

Trapping Matt gives us time to focus on Foggy and Karen. And by Foggy and Karen, I mean Foggy because Karen doesn't do much of anything. It's a brief two and a half pages, but he got to do something useful, advance the exposition, and lays some groundwork for Foggy running for DA. Now he's campaigning under a pretty unique crimewave that might inspire a change of leadership regardless of the candidate. I was glad they referenced Foggy's DA campaign in the show because it's an important part of the character. Over all, it was a lot of good moments for Foggy in a very brief period of time.

The ending was pretty sudden. Everyone returned, but Matt is trapped by himself. It doesn't make a ton of sense that he was hit by a stronger blast and is by himself, but the idea of Daredevil trapped in a limbo world alone makes for a compelling image. The only thing that might have been better is if Steve Ditko was drawing it.

Three Stars. This felt like a transition issue in a lot of ways. I think it would have benefited from a shorter fight scene and maybe more time on Foggy.
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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


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #41 - The Death of Mike Murdock



Quote:
Trapped in his own hell, Daredevil's hope for escape looks bleak. But fear is where DD thrives, and this predicament is no exception! Foggy runs afoul of the wrong super villain. Who is the Exterminator? Karen and Matt talk about Daredevil’s final demise.


Due 12/1
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Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

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!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Mike Murdock
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1180

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Stan Lee put himself in an interesting bind to start the issue. The time trap that DD is in is visually unique but not necessarily visually interesting. Because of that, the dialogue has to do a lot of work to sell the drama. The opening feels a bit repetitive because of that with a lot of the lines repeated more than once, but I was still amused by the very first paragraph.

This issue gives the supporting cast a much more active role. Foggy, in particular, ends up taking the initiative early on. There's an inconsistency with Foggy thinking Debbie is dead last issue and now trying to investigate what happened to her here. It leads him to quickly get captured, but he's not a passive victim in all this.

Early on we get Karen thinking about her past and committing to her feelings about Matt. While, in some ways, this is a bit of a return to an earlier status quo, it's a necessary shift from the love triangle between Matt and himself. It's nice to see that Karen likes Matt for who he is as opposed to because of his other personalities (such as being Daredevil or Mike Murdock).

My biggest complaint is how Matt got back. It frankly doesn't make a ton of sense. The story acknowledges as much, but it's more of an apology for not thinking of a solution. The rest of the issue is a bit downhill. I like the interaction between "Mike" and Karen, but I wasn't a huge fan of the fight sequence. The solution to the Mike Murdock problem was also a bit sudden and easy, although I'm sure a lot of people were just happy to see him gone regardless.

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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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue felt a lot like a final installment of one of those old action movie serials in cinema's golden age. It has all the elements. The kooky sci-fi device, the hammy villain, the lovelorn starlet....

I suspect that this story was done for the main purpose of getting rid of the triple identity, which must have been unmanageable after a while. To Stan Lee and Gene Colan's credit, the story doesn't really telegraph that purpose at all.

What this issue does especially well were the panels showing Daredevil just a microsecond out of sync with his surroundings. The vibrancy of Matt's red costume, club and cable really pop against the stark outline that dominate the rest of those panels.

I also liked that Foggy continued to show the fortitude he displayed last issue. At least it started out that way.

We didn't get to see him tell the press that he knew the identity of the Exterminator. The Unholy Three just started coming after him. While Foggy showed how inspired he is by Daredevil's derring-do, he was no match for them.

Also, as much as I enjoyed those panels, it was very hard to believe the way Daredevil came back into our time. Yes, he has extremely heightened senses, but the idea of physically lunging through an opening in time is kind of preposterous. Then, he fires his billy-club cable into our time and latches on to a car's fender, which pulls him into our time. I don't buy it -- but whatever. Time travel doesn't exist. It never has, and it likely never will. It's fictional, so I suppose anything goes, including, maybe, this.

The ending seems somewhat rushed, reminding me again of one of those B-grade movie serials. It honestly isn't that great of a story. Colan shines brighter in this issue than Lee does. Everyone looks fantastic this issue, even the Unholy Three. I just would like to know why Colan didn't ever colour in Karen Page's lips. There was a great big close-up on her, and I couldn't avoid remarking how her lips are the same colour as the rest of her face. It's kind of an odd choice. In a way it works, but wouldn't it work better if her lips were a deeper pink or a full-out red?

Because it's such a kooky issue, it's hard for me to grade it as high as I would for one I would take more seriously. I give this a three out of five.
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