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DD Book Club - Guts

 
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1305

PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:45 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Guts Reply with quote

Last story seemed to leave everyone a bit cold. Let's go with something more fun this time.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #185 - Guts



Quote:

Foggy "Guts" Nelson begins an explosive investigation on Heather and Glenn Industries. But the trail leads straight to Kingpin! Daredevil's hyper-senses are damaged in an explosion, leaving Foggy and Turk in dire straits!


Due 8/17
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Dimetre
Paradiso


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of people may remember this as a funny issue, since Frank Miller wrote this issue from Foggy Nelson's perspective. It's definitely funny, but it's also blisteringly clever.

There's nothing too notable about the cover. We have Daredevil's body splayed out as if he's absorbing an explosion against a sea of blue. The Daredevil title is dissolving away. Clearly something will go wrong.

This issue employs a device similar to the one Miller used in #181. While Foggy narrates, we're shown images of which Foggy can't be aware. Unlike #181, this issue has a more light-hearted approach.

Foggy's narration is over-the-top noir. Miller lays it on so thick, and with so many references to food and Foggy's straight-edge lifestyle. However, when it comes down to it, Foggy truly displays incredible nerve here. It's true that he's unaware of Matt's assistance throughout this story, but still, he stares down Turk who is pointing a gun at him. He stands up to none other than Wilson Fisk! Yes, his Edward G. Robinson speech pattern is absurd, but Foggy gets the job done.

What I find somewhat weird is that the Kingpin doesn't recognize Foggy. He showed his picture to Elektra at the end of #180, so we know that Fisk knows his name, profession and face. Maybe this Guts persona was so far removed from Kingpin's impression of Franklin Nelson that it never occured to him.

I think this issue is the first time in Miller's partnership with Klaus Janson that the latter is credited with pencils. I'm sure that Miller was still doing the layouts, which is (or was) his greatest strength. Janson's pencils are rougher and scratchier than Miller's, whose I prefer, but Miller and Janson remain a legendary team. The shifting of angles from panel to panel, the use of shadow and light, the marrying of two scenes between the tops and bottoms of the pages. Few people knew (or knew) how to employ the medium of comics to its fullest potential like these two.

However, this isn't Miller and Janson's most consequential work. It's a great read, and it's very playful, but this pair have produced issues with much more weight. It's a fantastic showcase for Foggy, and it shows more of Matt's condescension to Heather in the wake of Elektra's murder. It also sets up the disturbing amplification of Matt's remaining senses that will mess with him for the next few issues. However, it isn't Miller and Janson's best. That's hardly an insult.

I give this a 4.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the delay posting. Also sorry I wrote such a long post. I didn't have time to write a shorter one.

This issue has a fun, playful opening. It's a great way to fill in new readers on who Matt is while also telling long-time readers that this story will be a little different. Having Foggy as a narrator can offer different perspectives and all that. It also is just fun because Miller is playing with the hard-boiled detective tropes for possibly the least hard-boiled character in Daredevil's universe. It's the standard girl walks in with a problem and the hero saves the day. The only difference is this story has the traditional "hero" of the genre in the form of Foggy Nelson but also has Daredevil in the background. The image of Foggy courageously diving into commissions and battling red tape like he's fighting gangsters is great. It's contrasted nicely with the panel to the right of Daredevil diving heroically off the side of a building.

That being said, I'll admit, knowledge of how this arc plays out is in my head right now so it's hard to read things the way I first read it. The idea of Matt standing in the doorway knowing everything that was just said has such playful irony about it. But, this read-through, it feels a bit more sinister. I think it has to do with Matt pressuring Heather into giving up the company and marrying him. There's just something uncomfortable about the whole thing. Foggy tells Heather to call the police, but she refuses to do so or call Matt because the company is what matters to her. We see Daredevil in the background. I'd like to think he's being altruistic and is going to help her save her company, but you can't quite be sure.

I have to comment on the art as well. This is pencilled, inked, and colored by Klaus Janson. Janson, however, is doing his best Frank Miller style. Someone pointed out once to me that Miller likes drawing people with large, almond-shaped eyes, and you can definitely see it with Heather. I'm not really aware of anything pencilled by Janson before his partnership with Miller so I don't know how much he's aping his style and how much was his style to begin with. I would argue it's a bit weaker than when Miller does the pencils, but it's a very minor difference over all. What's really noteworthy, though, are the layouts. My understanding is, at least at this point in his career, Miller was drawing thumbnail sketches with his scripts so I suspect he deserves much of the credit, but, either way, Miller and Janson are continuing the trend of fun and inventive layouts that demonstrate careful attention to everything. The first bulk of the issue follows a consistent layout with one tall panel on one side and a series of smaller panels on the other. I'm reading in trade, so it's hard to see where the ad breaks are, but it appears to be rotating depending on which side of the page it was originally on.

The standard layout they've been using stops with a page of Foggy fighting red tape. That page is far more stylized than the rest with a literal red tape at one point. Janson also makes good use of colors with an almost abstract take on Foggy at various commissions of just a door frame and a single color background that isn't at all supposed to be realistic. The page is basically the turning point in the issue where Foggy decides to go under cover.

I've commented before on the contrast between the narration and the story, but Foggy in the seedy underbelly is a great example. The narration portrays him as a hero, the panels as a gullible fool. But, either way, he's a lovable loser that you can't help but root for. As you would expect, Daredevil being in the background saves the day and Foggy's life. But the best part is Turk changing sides to work for him leading to the greatest Daredevil facepalm that I can recall.

The issue has a surface level that's light-hearted. It also feels like a stand-alone story of Foggy getting caught up in more than he can handle and lucking his way into surviving. But I would also argue that Foggy deserves far more credit than that. Sure, he wouldn't have survived without Daredevil helping, but Foggy is the character we love and root for. He's the one risking his life. He's the one who rolls with the punches. He is genuinely able to bluff his way out of hairy situations to stay on his feet. I'm not sure it entirely makes sense (I feel like the Kingpin should know who Franklin Nelson is by this point, but that's besides the point). The interesting thing is that big things are happening in the background that, due to the narrative conventions, we can't yet be certain about. We don't know anything about the isotope that the Kingpin wanted or what happened with Daredevil. It just seems that he saved the day.

Five Stars. I know it's not the best of the best from Miller, but it's trying for a different story and I think it pulls it off perfectly.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #186 - Stilts



Quote:

Matt’s putting pressure on Heather to say “yes” to his marriage proposal, but how well does Murdock really know his maybe-bride-to-be? Daredevil struggles with his off-kilter radar sense, all while trying to blow the cover on Glenn Industries! Plus, is Turk the next Stilt-Man?


Due 8/24
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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!
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These two stories followed Child's Play and I think there was a deliberate attempt to make sure things weren't too dark after that dark story given the darkness that follows. The narration in the opening splash in this issue is great. There's a certain heroic quality to it that could be used to describe Superman, but it's also quintessential New York (especially the stereotype of New York of the era). It just sort of gives a sense that this story will be a bit more fun. Obviously, bringing in the Stilt-Man could suggest the same thing.

Full disclosure - I'm not a huge Stilt-Man fan. This has nothing to do with me thinking he's gimmicky or anything like that. In fact, my complaint is that he's the go-to "joke" villain. But, occasionally, there's also a need to redeem him and show he's not a joke. Either way, it feels like too much attention is devoted to this character at the expense of the rest of the rogue's gallery. I feel he only gets attention because Frank Miller gave him attention. That doesn't mean I dislike this issue, though. I also really like Janson's colors with the way the lighting reflects Stilt-Man. I think he looks great here.

The issue opens with Heather fighting with her company. There's so much sexism going on with the executives being condescending towards her. But I'm not sure Daredevil white knighting it is a significant improvement. Everyone is acting for her and no one is actually listening to her.

Matt's actually going a bit off the wall. The explosion last issue wasn't really telegraphed. Even this issue, it starts very subtlety. No one gives enough credit to the letterer, Joe Rosen, and I'm sure it's in the script, but the reveal of his hypersenses being even more hyper is well-handled, just slowly getting larger until it is just noise. But it's not just that. The fact is, his actions have the effect of destroying Heather's life and they lay the seeds that he's doing it deliberately to make her more dependent on him. This becomes crystal clear at the end. Matt seems completely altruistic - just trying to help Heather - but the fact that his prepared defense (including showing that she's an incompetent leader) is followed by her agreeing to marry him. The whole thing feels rotten.

This issue is an interesting one. Even though everything is played off as light-hearted, there's a hint of darkness under it all. Matt's senses going crazy pops up from time to time, but it's not debilitating. Heather's story could just be a run of the mill story, but the sinister elements of it creep in and work great. The weakest part to me is the whole Stilt-Man/Turk story, but I'm not sure it's trying to be anything other than a distraction. Klaus Janson's art - especially the colors - are great throughout. I'll go Four Stars. I could be convinced to go four and a half, though.
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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: 1099
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
The weakest part to me is the whole Stilt-Man/Turk story, but I'm not sure it's trying to be anything other than a distraction.

I think you're right. I think Miller and Janson's main aim in this story was to continue moving the pieces forward, but the way comics were in September 1982, we needed a villain of the month, and that brings in Stilt-Man.

I'm not sure that Stilt-Man was viewed as the joke he is today back in 1982. I don't think he's treated as a joke in this issue. Yes, Turk is treated as a joke, but that's nothing new for Miller. For sure, Wilbur Day isn't depicted as a criminal mastermind, and yes, he drops his glove, but he does get Glenn Industries to up their fee, and you get the sense that he does know how to operate his suit -- maybe he even knows how to update it.

What I do enjoy about the Turk/Stilt-Man story is how it moves us from scene to scene. Turk's trip to kidnap Lavender allows us to follow the case against Glenn Industries. Turk's visit to Kingpin shows us his preoccupation with Vanessa's condition. It serves a purpose, but it's simply a device to move all the plots forward.

I love the scene showing Foggy's words getting bigger and louder. Once again, Miller and Janson show their complete understanding of the potential of comics as a medium. They know what comics can do better than anything else.

The sexism and condescension towards Heather is startling by today's standards; perhaps it was alarming even back in 1982. I don't seek to make excuses for Matt's behaviour, but he has suffered a trauma. In the aftermath of Elektra's murder, something he can't adequately discuss with anybody, he is clearly grasping at anything to give him comfort. He thinks Heather is it. I think it's been made clear since #182 that even if he was once in love with her, his feelings have deteriorated into something less healthy since. I think Miller took a big chance in showing Matt in a less heroic and more flawed light after Elektra's demise. (Note to Bendis: this doesn't mean Matt is an "asshole.")

Yes, the Turk/Stilt-Man story is a confection, but it tastes good. Miller and Janson do a lot of things so right in this issue, so I'm going to give it a 4.5 out of 5.
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