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DD Book Club - Decalogue
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:33 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Decalogue Reply with quote

I figured I'd bounce back to Bendis since we're winding down his story and there isn't really anything else exciting going on to inspire a different choice. This is Decalogue, which is an interesting idea for a story, at the very least.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #71 - Decalouge Part 1: I Am Your God



Quote:
The wait is over! Exactly what happened during Daredevil’s year-long reign as the new Kingpin?

His historic cleaning of Hell’s Kitchen will finally be revealed in bloody detail.

Framed around the Ten Commandments, this epic story-arc is like nothing you’ve seen before!


By the way, I have no idea if the quote from the Ten Commandments is a subtitle or not, but I decided to go with it. This is also the first time I saw that solicit and it's shocking that they went with that, to say the least.

Due 8/31
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember when this was released, even though I didn't pick it up. It was a big deal, or at least it seemed to be. They redesigned the title, and the arc had this big title: "Decalogue." I knew that referred to the Ten Commandments, and, to be sure, there was the first commandment emblazoned on the cover.

But I thought this was going to be a gigantic ten-part story that would serve as Brian Michael Bendis' all-time Daredevil epic. I mean, it had to be, right? Why else call it "Decalogue"?

Still, I was taking a break from Daredevil. I wouldn't read it until a few years later when I borrowed the trade paperback from the library. And now I'm reading it again.

The idea of centering a story around a group of normal people talking about their impressions of a titular hero isn't a bad one. At first I didn't understand how anyone in the group knew how Matt had declared himself the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. That's not something normal law-abiding people should know about. So when it turned out someone in the group was there to see it happen, and remembered exactly what he said word for word, I suppose that explains things. I'm not sure we had to dedicate two pages to replaying the scene from #50, but why start being an economical storyteller now?

Where I think this issue really drags is when this woman talks about the guys who were setting up a drug deal with Bullet, and how they wanted to take over as the Kingpin. The scene is set in this drab living room, and her monologue is overlaid over these similar looking panels of her staring at Mikey J hiding guns under mattresses.

This woman, who is never given a name, tells us the story, and it feels like we're getting it second-hand, even though Alex Maleev is showing it to us with his art. Still, she tells us what they're talking about instead of letting us see them say these things themselves.

The more obvious problem is that the scene places her in danger. She has numerous guns pointed at her, but because this story is told in flashback we know she survives, so there's not a lot of impact to be found in this scene.

She tells the group how Daredevil beat up Bullet, and a kid thinks that's the coolest story he ever heard.

I think it's nice that she changed her life, but her story has some problems.

One, she's asked by someone else in the group if Daredevil is Matt Murdock, but she answers that she doesn't know because the light was weird, and it doesn't matter to her anyway. Fine. But then she says that Bullet and the guys were planning on going to Matt Murdock's house and kill him in the middle of the street. She says Matt Murdock's name, and then says, "They were going to kill my Daredevil. They were going to kill him for trying to help us." Why does she pretend to not know if Daredevil is Matt or not?

Secondly, she remembers word for word what Matt said when he beat up Wilson Fisk. He basically threatened everyone in the bar with destruction unless they changed their ways or left Hell's Kitchen. Yes, he said that the people of Hell's Kitchen were his people, but the people he was yelling at were of the criminal variety -- it was a bad guy bar after all. Yet, this woman, who just told everyone exactly what he said, talks about how Daredevil "told us we were safe." That's not how that read to me. I think he made everyone in that bar feel very unsafe. If you were in that bar, Daredevil considered you a bad person.

Now, it's possible that she looked at Daredevil as this saviour figure who came along at the right time in her life, but she didn't change her life until a week later. She talks about how her drug-dealing friends shouldn't have wanted to kill him for trying to "help us." She includes them in "us." It's all very confusing to me, because Matt's speech makes it very clear that he's there to clean out the scum, and people like them are the scum.

I felt like the fight with Bullet was pretty standard. There was a lot of kicking and billy club hitting. I don't think Maleev stages fights too creatively. He doesn't draw from weird angles or have Daredevil do anything too spectacular. And as much time is spent on this woman's story and the fight, I don't think it amounts to much. This is this woman's story about how Daredevil has affected her life. With all due respect, so what? We don't know that much about her, and I haven't been given many reasons to care about her. In fact, we don't know any of the people in this group.

The issue ends with some guy saying he knows some dirty secrets about Matt. This is the 451st issue of Daredevil. I doubt this guy I've never seen before knows something about Matt that I don't already know, and if he does, it's probably garbage.

As I've said, the support group is a promising idea, but we have to be given a reason to connect with these people. Way too much of this issue is told from just one of these character's perspective, and as I've already discussed, there are aspects of her story that contradict themselves.

I feel like this issue would have been helped if we had shorter stories from more of the people, instead of this one woman yammering on and on. It's cool that she was inspired by Daredevil to change her life, but the story she told wasn't that remarkable to me.

This issue made no impact on me. I give it a two out of five.[/b]


Last edited by Dimetre on Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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macjr33
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Joined: 22 Nov 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the Bendis run. I probably like it even better than Miller's original run (Born Again is still my favorite story overall though). Maleev is also my favorite DD artist so just wanted to get that all out of the way...

As a lapsed Catholic myself, I have enjoyed the nods to religion when it used in Daredevil for the most part (Guardian Devil was a little much for me) and like the framing of this arc.

I too think that the concept of a support group for a superhero is an interesting premise as well, particularly for Daredevil. Reason being is that he, perhaps more so than any other hero in the Marvel Universe, is so ingrained with the people of his city. It's a part of him and he is one of them.

As for the story itself, I quite enjoyed it overall. I thought it was interesting that no one initially wanted to speak up and how each of the panels captured there expressions.

With the regards to the women's story, I wonder if Bendis was thinking about Karen at all when he was writing this, given that there are physical similarities and her breaking away from her downward spiral.

I love art overall, especially the action scenes which I thought were really well done. Loved the use of color with Daredevil being in red, the women in yellow and mostly everything else in black and white. Matt crashing though the window as a beautiful page.

My favorite part of the story is when Matt puts his hand on the gun and tells he to change he life and when she says I will, he says "I know". This to me helps show the compassion that Matt has for people.

4 stars for me

Dimetre wrote:
The idea of centering a story around a group of normal people talking about their impressions of a titular hero isn't a bad one. At first I didn't understand how anyone in the group knew how Matt had declared himself the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. That's not something normal law-abiding people should know about. So when it turned out someone in the group was there to see it happen, and remembered exactly what he said word for word, I suppose that explains things. I'm not sure we had to dedicate two pages to replaying the scene from #50, but why start being an economical storyteller now?


I thought it worked well because not only were you seeing it from the women's point of view, it also served as a good reminder given that it happened 21 issues previously.

Also, if you look during the flashback, she is reading an issue of Pulse magazine in which it appears that it has a picture of Matt's face with the words "Devil?", "Hero?", "Kingpin?". This could help to explain why people thought he was the Kingpin.

Dimetre wrote:
One, she's asked by someone else in the group if Daredevil is Matt Murdock, but she answers that she doesn't know because the light was weird, and it doesn't matter to her anyway. Fine. But then she says that Bullet and the guys were planning on going to Matt Murdock's house and kill him in the middle of the street. She says Matt Murdock's name, and then says, "They were going to kill my Daredevil. They were going to kill him for trying to help us." Why does she pretend to not know if Daredevil is Matt or not?


I interpreted this as part of her being high thinking that Matt Murdock is Daredevil, not that she is clean she isn't sure what she remembers; however, I could be wrong.

Dimetre wrote:
Secondly, she remembers word for word what Matt said when he beat up Wilson Fisk. He basically threatened everyone in the bar with destruction unless they changed their ways or left Hell's Kitchen. Yes, he said that the people of Hell's Kitchen were his people, but the people he was yelling at were of the criminal variety -- it was a bad guy bar after all. Yet, this woman, who just told everyone exactly what he said, talks about how Daredevil "told us we were safe." That's not how that read to me. I think he made everyone in that bar feel very unsafe. If you were in that bar, Daredevil considered you a bad person.

Now, it's possible that she looked at Daredevil as this saviour figure who came along at the right time in her life, but she didn't change her life until a week later. She talks about how her drug-dealing friends shouldn't have wanted to kill him for trying to "help us." She includes them in "us." It's all very confusing to me, because Matt's speech makes it very clear that he's there to clean out the scum, and people like them are the scum.


I think to say that he "threatened them with destruction" is a bit much. As he told them, he wasn't killing the Kingpin he was sending him to jail and if those there couldn't clean up the act they needed to get out or they would be there right next to the Kingpin. Being the Catholic that he is, Matt believes that everyone can be redeemed.

Also, I don't have an issue with the fact that it took her a week to really realize the error of her ways, especially when it was even more up close and personal for her. As you could see she was already starting to realize that she needed to change before Matt came in as she got the gun. She implied that she was high a the bar and that probably was a constant for the week following.

Dimetre wrote:
I felt like the fight with Bullet was pretty standard. There was a lot of kicking and billy club hitting. I don't think Maleev stages fights too creatively. He doesn't draw from weird angles or have Daredevil do anything too spectacular. And as much time is spent on this woman's story and the fight, I don't think it amounts to much. This is this woman's story about how Daredevil has affected her life. With all due respect, so what? We don't know that much about her, and I haven't been given many reasons to care about her. In fact, we don't know any of the people in this group.


As I mentioned above, loved the fight scenes and there use of color and how everything flowed.

As for this women's story, I think the fact that we don't know her or anyone there is the point. Daredevil has always been the hero that looks out for the "little guy" and for his city. He's trying to make the lives of regular, everyday people a little bit better. That's one of the things I love most about him. You have the Avengers and such out saving the world and the universe, someone has to look after those nameless people.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The pace in this issue is glacial. The opening two pages feels like a near waste. I get that it's pacing to a degree, but so little really seems to happen. Then we spend time rehashing the King of Hell's Kitchen thing. I'm not sure why Bendis seems to keep wanting to relitigate it. The fact that he plays it up as a big controversy while simultaneously downplaying its significance is odd. Some times it just seems like Matt said words at the spur of the moment. Other times, it seems like it was supposed to be a lifechanging decision.

I liked the girl's story of how it changed her life, though. I like that it wasn't simple enough that being there changed her life. Instead, it had to do with another event she connected it to. I like Bullet as a villain. I don't think this issue had the most interesting version of the character, but Maleev draws him surprisingly well. But, while it starts interestingly, it's over all too quickly. The cliffhanger was also fairly uninteresting. It doesn't feel like they're going to reveal some deep dark secret. After all, we know the character so he pretty much couldn't. His identity was the biggest thing to reveal.

I don't think the idea of a support group is a bad idea. I like the idea of an almost Canterbury Tails style story where each issue focuses on a different character. But there needed to be more to this story, imo. They could have cut to the chase sooner with much less filler. Maybe spend the story showing her past. Show her life before. Show the defining events. Show what happened after. It's the real story in many ways, so beef it up a bit. Three Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #72 - Decalouge Part 2: Honor Your Mother and Your Father



Quote:
Exactly how much was Matt Murdock willing to sacrifice in his obsession to clean up Hell’s Kitchen?

And what does it have to do with a painful family legacy?

The next episode exploring Daredevil’s year-long reign as the new Kingpin, framed around The Ten Commandments.


Due 9/7
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I said before that there seems to be a bit of a Canterbury Tales style storytelling where the framing device helps set up each of these character's stories. What we didn't really get last time that we see a little more this time is the bald-headed guy seems really creepy. He seems to be goading the others. He didn't really have this role last issue - barely appearing until the end. I can't quite tell if it's actually playing the long game or if this issue just had him play for time when he got the red-haired guy to tell his story.

I like Maleev's art here. Every person feels very real and not at all idealized. The story of a man with a wife and kid who is trying to still win favor with his father in prison is a nice one. I think it gets slowed down by endless dialogue and a desire to tie it somewhat pointlessly to events of the past. I don't think I ever really needed to know who actually planted the bomb that blew up Matt Murdock's house in Born Again. That being said, it's very much part of Bendis's style to take these seemingly larger than life moments and add some more grounded realism into them. I'm not opposed to the idea that someone named Don was the one who did it.

The title of the issue is Honor Your Mother and Your Father. In that sense, the title is much more thematically clearer than last issue. Overall, I like the story. But I'm surprised the framing narrative didn't return at all in the end. It was pretty much just a story for this guy. I did want a bit more story than last time, though, and I think it delivered.

Four Stars. It's a character piece for a brand new character. Maybe it could have been tied a bit more into Matt Murdock's life, but it was an enjoyable story.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked this issue a whole lot better than the last one. It's strange. As I said, I know I've read "Decalogue" before, but I honestly didn't remember anything from this issue.

I think I liked this red-haired guy's story more than the woman from the last issue because we're being shown this guy's story, where the woman was telling us her story. We were in the visitor's room in the jail with them. We were in the back room at Josie's. We were outside the kid's room with him and his wife. We were watching it happen as opposed to having it told to us.

I suppose I agree with Mike about not needing to know who planted the bomb in "Born Again," but it didn't really bother me. The only thing about the story that actually bothered me was Gregor's language. He seemed, at first, to be a typical New Yorker, but then he said "How do you say..." and I suddenly clued in that he was an immigrant speaking broken English. That caused me to make an adjustment in the way I was reading all of this. I think Bendis could have just gotten rid of the broken English thing and had him speak clearly the entire time, and it would have made for a smoother reading experience.

I really enjoyed the red-haired guy's story. He turned out to be a great character. I totally get the quest to win a father's love and respect. It can be ongoing and never-ending. Bendis' slow pacing throughout this story actually worked to its advantage. I liked how out of his element the red-haired guy was at Josie's, but my favourite part was outside of the kid's room. What his wife told him was exactly what he needed to hear, and she said it to him out of love. And it was the truth. His father's a bad man and he'll never get his love. He has to stop trying to get it.

I was actually expecting the red-haired man's story to be bookended by a scene from the support group before the issue's end. I didn't mind, because I was highly annoyed by the scene at the beginning. I felt like the three panels showing the pink paper about the support group were two too many, along with the overload of close-ups of silent faces. That was four pages dedicated to the support group at the top of the issue, and that could have easily been handled in half of that, allowing us to get back to the support group at the end of this issue.

Another reason I hated the support group scene at the beginning was smug jerk talking about secrets. Bendis used this jerk as the cliffhanger to the last issue, and, just as I predicted, it ended up going nowhere. A cliffhanger, by nature, builds tension leading up to the next installment. If you do nothing with that built-up tension, the audience can't help but feel cheated. If, on top of that, you make us spend time with a smug piece of scum and pace that scene glacially, I, for one, will get super angry about how my time is being wasted.

It's a good thing, then, that the red-haired guy's story was done as well as it was.

I have to dock points for the support group scene, but I'm giving this issue a 3.5 out of 5.
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

macjr33 wrote:
So full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the Bendis run. I probably like it even better than Miller's original run (Born Again is still my favorite story overall though). Maleev is also my favorite DD artist so just wanted to get that all out of the way...

I don't know if I'm asking for too much, but I would love to find out more about your perspective on Miller and Bendis Daredevil comics. Perhaps I'm biased being an 80s kid, but to me Miller's Daredevil work is some of the best work in all of comics. We've looked at a lot of Miller as part of this book club, and I'm amazed at the joy his comics still bring me today. I'm assuming you're younger than me (I could be wrong) so maybe you're coming to these comics from a different perspective than me.

We've also covered a lot of Bendis' Daredevil work as part of this book club. (I don't know if we'll ever do "Wake Up.") I think people like me, Mike and james castle have brought up valid criticisms of his highly vaunted run. Yet I still hear critics I admire place Bendis' run on a pedestal, and raise it above Miller's.

I realize that Miller's name has become tarnished because of his latter-day work, and I totally understand. Yet, I think his 80s Daredevil run, if assessed free from his controversial modern work, still holds up as some of the greatest this medium has ever produced.

I would like to understand. Do modern audiences love Bendis' slow pacing, and find 80s Miller too compressed? If you'd like to one day write a post expressing your views, I'll certainly read it.
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macjr33
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
I don't know if I'm asking for too much, but I would love to find out more about your perspective on Miller and Bendis Daredevil comics. Perhaps I'm biased being an 80s kid, but to me Miller's Daredevil work is some of the best work in all of comics. We've looked at a lot of Miller as part of this book club, and I'm amazed at the joy his comics still bring me today. I'm assuming you're younger than me (I could be wrong) so maybe you're coming to these comics from a different perspective than me.

We've also covered a lot of Bendis' Daredevil work as part of this book club. (I don't know if we'll ever do "Wake Up.") I think people like me, Mike and james castle have brought up valid criticisms of his highly vaunted run. Yet I still hear critics I admire place Bendis' run on a pedestal, and raise it above Miller's.


While I plan on getting to my review of this issue a little later this week, I thought I would take moment to answer some of your questions.

Yes, I am younger than you as I was born in 1986. I read some comics in the 90's primarily Spider-Man, Batman and the Flash and that didn't last for too long as I had a hard time following what was going on (i.e. the Clone Saga). So my overall knowledge and exposure to comics was limited.

While I have enjoyed the MCU movies, it wasn't until about 5 years ago that I got back into comics primarily because of the Netflix Daredevil series. I had never read Daredevil before and my only previous exposure was due to the movie (which I actually kind of liked even though I recognized it wasn't very good) and an episode of the Spider-Man cartoon from the 90's. The character fascinated me and when I read about how good the comics were I decided to jump back in.

I started with The Man Without Fear, then went into Miller's original run, Born Again, Nocenti's Typhoid Mary run, Guardian Devil, Yellow, Parts of a Hole, Bendis, Brubaker, Waid, Soule and then reading various minis and one shots as I've gotten my hands on them. So basically I tried to read things in order. I've since expanded to include other series such as Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Power Man & Iron Fist and the X-Men.

I would say that my top 3 favorite writers would be Bendis, Miller and Waid. And I would suggest that these 3 each brought a very unique take to the character. That is not to say that each didn't have some flaws; however, I am able to look past those flaws in a way that doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of the book as is it did with say Nocenti's run. And not to say that because I like Bendis' slow pacing a little bit more that inherently makes Miller's compressed style bad, they both can be great.

You mentioned that you found yourself enjoying re-reading the Miller run and the joy it brings you, I've felt the same with the Bendis run (and would likely feel the same with Miller and Waid).

I also think it is important that I point out how much I enjoyed the art in each of these runs with Maleev being my favorite. To me having a great artist is crucial to having a good run in a series and each of those three writers were blessed with great artists.


Dimetre wrote:
I realize that Miller's name has become tarnished because of his latter-day work, and I totally understand. Yet, I think his 80s Daredevil run, if assessed free from his controversial modern work, still holds up as some of the greatest this medium has ever produced.


While maybe not to the same degree, I would argue that trashing Bendis is very much in vogue as well. And while some of it is certainly warranted his work on Daredevil is fantastic along with other work such as Alias.

Dimetre wrote:
I would like to understand. Do modern audiences love Bendis' slow pacing, and find 80s Miller too compressed? If you'd like to one day write a post expressing your views, I'll certainly read it.


As I hope I was able to convey, it's not black and white for me. I enjoy both runs immensely and it's really like 1A and 1B for me (and depending on the day maybe even 1C with Waid).

With that said, I would be happy to take some time to put together a more well thought out post in defense of Bendis if you would find the perspective interesting.
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macjr33
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue continues the stories of the individuals that are meeting as part of the Daredevil "support group".

As was previously mentioned this story definitely has a more deliberate tie back to the title of the the issue. And I would say that this story is a great one and I could totally understand and empathize with Archie as a character. His issues with his father are developed really well here and the scene where he watches his son sleep is a powerful one.

Personally, I liked the call back to Born Again with Archie's father being the one who blew up Matt's house. It may be a small thing and perhaps not even needed; however, to me, it helps to add layers to Daredevil's history and makes things feel more connected. One of things that I enjoyed about Bendis' overall arc is that while it is very focused in Hell's Kitchen, you can see the connections Matt has to others.

While I it may appear that the issue ends abruptly, I actually think it closed things nicely as there was attention drawn to the stitches on Archie's arm. One could assume that it was due to a fight with Daredevil; however, we actually see that it due to the aftermath of the explosion at Josie's bar. I think that Bendis was able to deliver a pretty nice, if albeit short, character arc for Archie's character. For those that can be frustrated by Bendi's slow pacing, he handled this issue in a rather compressed way (at least for him).

Lastly, Maleev's art here continues to be stellar. He is really able to breath life into this characters that he has drawn.

Four Stars for me!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #73 - Decalouge Part 3: Thou Shall Not Lie



Quote:
A new costumed foe takes to the streets of Hell's Kitchen. Who is he and what will his effect on Daredevil's new status quo be?

Did someone say "new super-villian?" Oh, yes.

From the writer of New Avengers, it’s the very, very dark side of the Marvel Universe.


Due 9/14
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue takes the story in a very weird direction. Not sure if it's a good kind of weird, but it certainly wasn't what I expected based on last issue. Hell, given how grounded things have been, I'm not sure I expected it based on Bendis. But it still fits the story for the most part because there's the sort of intersecting lives and how Daredevil is affected by them. Daredevil as both the hero and Daredevil as the man who caused a loved one to go to jail are present in this story. I just wonder if, by bringing in a supernatural demon child, it creates a distraction from this exploration of how people's lives are affected by Daredevil. Also, despite the one woman's understandable grief, it's never presented ambiguously. You see the fire coming from his eyes even at that moment. I suppose it could be MGH? Even that debate is very short since there's the reveal with the drawing.

The colors for the second flashback is gorgeous. It's a good use of color in a story. It's also very silent, which adds to the atmosphere. It especially works when Daredevil saves the guy's life. You see the guy get kicked and fall. Then you see his life saved. There's no internal monologue where Daredevil defends his actions. It's just something he does and something this woman sees. Maleev's facial expression on the creepy guy is also well done. You just know something is shady the way it keeps cutting back to him with that very slight smirk.

I feel this story has to be judged both on its own merits and in the story as a whole. On its merits, I think that one flashback sequence saves it and makes it quite good. Overall, it's hard to judge the change in direction. It feels like Bendis didn't want to stick to his guns, probably because he didn't trust that it would lead to a good result. The original concept could have been completely groundbreaking but wasn't reaching that goal. I think, as weird as this is, it's a safer comic book story decision. The safety of it is disappointing but it might give more momentum to the plot, which is a good thing. Four Stars.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1120
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

macjr33 wrote:
With that said, I would be happy to take some time to put together a more well thought out post in defense of Bendis if you would find the perspective interesting.

I would indeed find that interesting. Thank you.

This was my favourite line from this issue, spoken by the priest:
Quote:
This isn't the direction I wanted to go with this group.

After enjoying Archie's story from the last issue, I was getting on board with the idea of "Decalogue": Let's take a look at some of the citizens of Hell's Kitchen whose lives are highly effected by Daredevil. While I didn't get very much at all from the story of the lady in the first issue, Archie's story in the second was very well done. A third well-told story in this issue would have done me fine.

I don't understand why Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev decided to change course. This isn't the direction I wanted to go with this comic.

As I stated before, I had borrowed the trade paperback of "Decalogue" from the library years ago, and this demon baby is what I remember from it. I don't remember the point of its existence, or any significance it holds to a larger narrative.

The demon baby is a large part of why I don't think this issue works, but it's not the whole story.

Bendis begins the issue by having us spend a good amount of time meeting Jennifer Norton. That's fine. She seems warm and open. She's compelling. The only problem is that she's telling us about her husband. She's telling us. Bendis and Maleev aren't showing us her husband, which they have the means of doing, because they work in the field of comics. They're having a character tell us about him, which isn't as effective a storytelling choice.

We could have gotten to know Jennifer's husband better had Maleev drawn panels of their life together, instead of plopping down static images of Jennifer talking in the church basement. Instead, this whole issue floats by without us having felt like we got to know her husband in any way. Jennifer's husband is barely a presence at all in this issue, and he's a super-villain.

Mike Murdock was good enough to remind us of the solicit for this issue:
Quote:
A new costumed foe takes to the streets of Hell's Kitchen. Who is he and what will his effect on Daredevil's new status quo be?

Did someone say "new super-villian?" Oh, yes.

If I took solicits seriously, I would have felt ripped off. We don't know why he's able to project energy from his eyes. We don't know how he hopped up to the roof of a building, especially since he obviously can't fly. He's just a generic powered presence Bendis and Maleev threw in to this issue's requisite fight. I doubt this guy ever appeared in a comic again.

Now, this issue picked up a bit when it turned out this guy's last victim was in the room, stunned that this guy's wife happened to be there. That was a good conflict, but Bendis dragged it out way longer than it needed to. I often find that Bendis keeps chaos and yelling going long after I had gotten the point.

But this is a big problem I have with the demon baby.

Jennifer is telling us that the reason why her husband was doing bad things is due to the influence of the demon baby. I don't think that fits into what I've come to expect from Daredevil comics, let alone Bendis Daredevil comics, in any way. Yes, Ann Nocenti and Kevin Smith have brought Mephisto in here and there, but I thought Bendis' run was winning acclaim because of how "real" it was and how "street" it was. On top of that, not only do we not get to know this issue's super-villain, it turns out he's not even in control of his actions.

Is this demon baby responsible for every bad guy in Hell's Kitchen's choice to be a bad guy? Did the demon baby make the Fixer start fixing boxing matches back in Daredevil #1?

I can't even begin to comprehend the storytelling choice at work in this issue. It is a violent and uncomfortable lurch for the reader. I don't think this is where any reader wanted the story to go.

I can't give this comic a passing grade. Two out of five from me.
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macjr33
Flying Blind


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 74
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great posts thus far!

I remember reading this for the first time when I was reading it through the trade and being quite surprised by the change of direction. Similar to Mike, I am not sure if that is good or not as it does seem to play safe in a weird way; however, I certainly didn’t expect it. Additionally, not sure if this was Bendis’ original plan or if he decided to change the direction of the story.

I have found each character presented in the group to have a compelling story and I feel that it continues with Jennifer's story.

I still think that introducing the demon baby does not detract too much from focusing on the lives of the people that are affected by Daredevil, more that it adds an unexpected wrinkle to the narrative.

Maleev’s art continues to be stellar in this issue, and similar to the 1st issue in this arc, the use of color is really beautiful and makes the artwork that much more enjoyable.

While one of the things I’ve always loved about Daredevil is the “realism” of it relative to other comics in the Marvel Universe, I also enjoy when stories go in a direction I didn’t expect. While the execution may not be perfect, it certainly wasn’t something I expected and yet still continued to forward the story that had already been established.

Four stars for me.

Dimetre wrote:
Jennifer is telling us that the reason why her husband was doing bad things is due to the influence of the demon baby. I don't think that fits into what I've come to expect from Daredevil comics, let alone Bendis Daredevil comics, in any way. Yes, Ann Nocenti and Kevin Smith have brought Mephisto in here and there, but I thought Bendis' run was winning acclaim because of how "real" it was and how "street" it was. On top of that, not only do we not get to know this issue's super-villain, it turns out he's not even in control of his actions.


I know that you aren't the biggest fan of Bendis and I am, so we may just have to agree to disagree; however, while I agree that Daredevil is at his best when it has "realism" to it, it can still have some occasional moments that are more common in traditional superhero comic (I also loved Waid's run). I don't think the demon baby is A) that jarring or breaks too much from the "real" world that Bendis created, as he also introduced MGH or B) too out of line with what has been in Daredevil from Miller onward. And it goes beyond just the appearances from Mephisto that you highlighted.

One could argue the Hand and their mythical components take away from the hard boiled crime noir Miller looked to create. Miller also had the Avengers drop in during Born Again, almost as as a reminder, that while there is this "street universe" in the Marvel Universe, it still exists with the Avengers and other larger than life heroes. Matt still interacts and partners with superpowered heroes like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Nocenti didn't just have Mephisto, she also had Matt interact with the Inhumans and fight Ultron.

Again, not trying to convince you that this arc was good or that Bendis' run was good, just trying to be fair with the critiques.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1120
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

macjr33 wrote:
I know that you aren't the biggest fan of Bendis and I am, so we may just have to agree to disagree; however, while I agree that Daredevil is at his best when it has "realism" to it, it can still have some occasional moments that are more common in traditional superhero comic (I also loved Waid's run). I don't think the demon baby is A) that jarring or breaks too much from the "real" world that Bendis created, as he also introduced MGH or B) too out of line with what has been in Daredevil from Miller onward. And it goes beyond just the appearances from Mephisto that you highlighted.

One could argue the Hand and their mythical components take away from the hard boiled crime noir Miller looked to create. Miller also had the Avengers drop in during Born Again, almost as as a reminder, that while there is this "street universe" in the Marvel Universe, it still exists with the Avengers and other larger than life heroes. Matt still interacts and partners with superpowered heroes like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Nocenti didn't just have Mephisto, she also had Matt interact with the Inhumans and fight Ultron.

Again, not trying to convince you that this arc was good or that Bendis' run was good, just trying to be fair with the critiques.

I feel that one of the ways Bendis' run differs from every other creator's run in Daredevil history is that it seems to work very hard to disguise itself as "not a super-hero comic." Indeed, Bendis and Maleev both arrived on this title fresh out of the indie comic scene. "Underboss" was pretty much a gangster story, with Daredevil having no impact on the plot whatsoever. Your example of Mutant Growth Hormone was introduced as a street drug and turned out to be nothing more than skin shavings off of the Owl. (How that would give Alexander Bont or this latest guy super powers is beyond me.) "Trial of the Century" was a court battle, with barely any superheroics. "Out" was about someone trying to escape a media circus. My point is, in Bendis' Daredevil run, superheroics seem practically incidental. I can't say that about any other run in the title's history. He and Maleev took pains to make this Daredevil book more grounded in the real world than ever before.

That's why I found this demon baby to be so jarring. The first two issues of "Decalogue" were centred on civilians, and we witnessed events from their point of view. To suddenly invoke the occult in the third issue of the story -- yes, it was not expected. To me, that doesn't make it good. It didn't match the tone or the feel of the story Bendis and Maleev had set up.

Because other creative teams in Daredevil's history set up a different tone, it was easier for me to accept other-worldly elements like Mephisto, or the Beast of the Hand, or the Spot. I adored the first few dozen issues of Waid's run, because he and his artists set up a world where we could explore Matt's character, but in a colourful world where so many different things could happen. We could have Foggy battle cancer, but we could also have Dr. Doom insert tiny robots into Daredevil's bloodstream. By contrast, I feel Bendis and Maleev, by limiting the superheroics, narrowed my expectations of what I could expect in their book. Yes, Mr. Hyde showed up, but he seemed to be nothing more than a big strong guy Spidey and Daredevil could take out with a car and a mailbox. Yes, that's realistic, but historically super-hero comics have won fans by defying realistic expectations.

The demon baby may have been easier for me to accept in someone else's run, where I more readily felt other-worldly things could happen. You feel differently, and that's cool. I just feel that if this demon baby didn't work for me, it may have not worked for somebody else for a similar reason.
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