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DD Book Club - The Devil in Cell Block D
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:31 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Devil in Cell Block D Reply with quote

After Bendis's run, it's time for the long-awaited Ed Brubaker run. We'll just tease it for now with the first arc, but I'm looking forward to hearing what people think.

Daredevil Vol. 2 - The Devil in Cell Block D Part One

Quote:
The critically-acclaimed, award-winning new creative team of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark make their explosive debut in a storyline that Daredevil fans will not be able to put down! For the past few years, Matt Murdock's life has been teetering on the edge of destruction. Now, pushed beyond the limit, Matt finds himself behind the eight ball with no clear way out, the people he calls friends slowly deserting him, and Hell's Kitchen slowly slipping out of control. The question is, when his back is against the wall, just how far will Daredevil go to get back what is his? Spinning out of the stunning finale of Bendis and Maleev's ground-breaking run, Brubaker and Lark pick up the billy club and run as hard and as fast as they can to leave their own mark on one of comics' most enduring legends. Long-time DD fans will not be disappointed! This extra-length first issue will have readers talking for years to come!


Due 12/22
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I think Ed Brubaker stands as my favourite ever comic book writer. With all due respect to Frank Miller and Alan Moore, who have inarguably wrote some of the greatest comics of all time, I don't think they have maintained their level of quality over the ensuing years. I realize that Brubaker hasn't been around as long, but I would put recent titles like Kill Or Be Killed and his latest issues of Criminal as some of his best work.

I first checked out Brubaker's work because he was announced to be taking over for Brian Michael Bendis as Daredevil's writer. I went to my local comic book store and found the first few issues of his Captain America run, which was pretty new at the time. I was blown away. After that I checked out Sleeper and some of his Catwoman run. I could not have been more thrilled with Marvel's choice. I was ready to see what Brubaker was going to do with my favourite character.

This issue was the first Daredevil issue I had picked up in years. I dropped the title after the completion of "Vision Quest" because I couldn't take any more of Bendis' work. So, cracking this issue open, I think the only way I could have known that Matt was in jail was through this website.

I don't think Brubaker's Daredevil work is as strong as his other work. Part of the reason is because he was forced to continue a story he didn't start.

Much of this issue is dialogue about Matt's situation. We are under the impression that everyone thinks Matt is Daredevil, but it hasn't been proven. Matt continues to deny that he is Daredevil. It's all kind of confusing since two issues earlier Matt gave himself up to the authorities wearing red tights and no mask.

It must have been daunting for Brubaker to take over the title under these circumstances, since the walls are closing in on Matt. Is his identity secret or public knowledge? Is he acting unethically, or even illegally? Brubaker does pose the question about what lines he and Foggy willing to cross to save each other, which is a valid question.

I was very happy to see Becky Blake make her return in this issue. I suspect she had been missing from the book since the 80s. Dakota North makes her first appearance in a Daredevil book in this issue. I had no idea who she was when this issue came out, but with the help of the world wide web I found out that she had a long Marvel history. I had no idea who the Black Tarantula was, although I had heard of a Spider-Man villain from the 70s called the Tarantula, but we had Carlos LaMuerto making his Daredevil debut here.

Brubaker does as good a job as I think he can in this issue, but I feel that he struggled to pick up the pieces Bendis left on the board and rearrange them in a way that made sense to what he wanted to do. Michael Lark, except for a few stunning large panels, crowds the pages with small panels filled with lots of dialogue balloons. This issue takes a while to get through, and it's packed with lots of scenes. Thankfully, it ends with a stunning cliffhanger that is guaranteed to bring you back next month.

I was amused by LaMuerto's comment to Matt about "...you better know which side you on..." This issue came out just as Marvel's big Civil War crossover event was kicking off.

I remember enjoying this issue. There was a lot of speculation as to who the imposter Daredevil was. I liked Lark's art, and I appreciated that it was less photo-realistic than Alex Maleev's, which meant that the action was more fluid. The only fight in this issue is brief, but Lark executes it beautifully. You can trace how one action leads to the next from panel to panel.

This issue accomplishes a lot, and I admire it for that. Brubaker and Lark had to establish to readers that they weren't Bendis and Maleev, and that this was their book now. They took the narrative that was left behind and they moved the gamepieces around in a way that suited them. Somehow they had room to end on a stunning cliffhanger.

Still, I can't help but look back and think how this was a less-than-ideal situation for Brubaker. I don't think, if the choice was his, that this is a story he would have chosen to tell.

Still, as Santa Claus once said, "It is what it is." Because of all that they were able to accomplish, I give this issue a four out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every interview has said that the choice to leave Matt in prison was Brubaker's. Bendis's plan was to resolve the plot and not have him in jail because he thought it would be unfair for a new writer, but Brubaker said he thought the ending would work better with Matt in jail.

No maybe that's spin, I don't know, but that's pretty much been the consistent story.
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Dimetre
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
Every interview has said that the choice to leave Matt in prison was Brubaker's. Bendis's plan was to resolve the plot and not have him in jail because he thought it would be unfair for a new writer, but Brubaker said he thought the ending would work better with Matt in jail.

No maybe that's spin, I don't know, but that's pretty much been the consistent story.

Well, he said so to our webmaster, which is good enough for me:
Quote:
What happened was, Brian told me he was leaving DD, and for a few weeks, I thought, do I want to write that book? Especially following such an amazing run? And so I kicked some ideas around, thinking, what could you do, to follow that, what would the next logical step be? And I decided, you could either undo the Identity problem and revert to the old status quo, or you could take what Brian did and run with it as far as you can -- and to me, that meant putting Matt behind bars. I called up Bendis and asked him what he thought, and he said something like -- I've been wanting to end my run with him in jail, but I figured that'd be too mean to whoever followed, but if that's where you want to take him, then why not start with him there? So, really, the only thing that changed for me was how quickly he got to prison. He was going to be put there at the end of my first arc, initially, but this was even better. I got to jump right into the deep end, and I loved that we actually had a hand-off with a cliff-hanger ending, in some ways. That's never done in comics these days.

http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/Brubaker
So, I'll have to adjust some of the way I look at this story. The prison setting isn't some jam that Bendis left Brubaker in. Would I have rather Bendis cleaned up his toys when he was done playing? Yes, but it seems Brubaker was very happy to get to his prison idea even quicker than he dreamed. I stand corrected.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #83 - The Devil in Cell Block D: Part Two

Quote:
The acclaimed new team of Brubaker and Lark ratchet the tension up a notch in their landmark second issue! The unthinkable has happened, and Matt Murdock is left stunned. As the strands of what's left of his life begin to fall to pieces, how will he react? This is Daredevil at his breaking point, and when he snaps, everyone in his way had better stand clear!


Due 12/29
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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: Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a heartbreaking opening. I'd imagine it was even worse if you didn't have the benefit of hindsight. Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark frame the opening page in a specific way. There's an establishing shot to show it's a cemetery, yes, but then there is a nine panel grid. Interestingly, the focus isn't on Ben Urich (the narrator) or the priest or even really Matt. Instead, it's on Matt's handcuffs. He's attending the funeral, but he's helpless. The next page turns to show him with armed Sheriffs guarding him. It's a terrible way to have to attend a funeral. BTW, I can see Ben Urich in the top, Luke, Jessica, and Danny on the right, Rosalind Sharpe on the bottom. But I can't tell who is on the left. It's a minor point but it's somebody they chose to focus on and I can't figure it out.

Rosalind's emotional outburst is definitely uncharacteristic. They highlight as much, but it still seems weird. Still, the death of Foggy is impactful and I think they're showing how it affects everyone to show just how much it has to be affecting Matt. The book in Bendis's time was dark. I think Bendis tried to argue Matt was having a mental breakdown. But it's nothing compared to Matt in prison with Foggy dead because of him. I do like Bendis's take on how he was raised by his dad - his dad didn't want him to fight, but the desire to fight still needs an outlet.

And then we see things get worse because the Feds put Matt in general population, which is something he apparently wants. Meanwhile, the mystery new Daredevil discovers that whoever set up Foggy's murder is now dead. The violence is spiraling out of control and it's hard to know what's up and what's down. Overall, it's a very good continuation of the first issue. Four 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
Parts of a Hole


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike Murdock wrote:
BTW, I can see Ben Urich in the top, Luke, Jessica, and Danny on the right, Rosalind Sharpe on the bottom. But I can't tell who is on the left. It's a minor point but it's somebody they chose to focus on and I can't figure it out.

Yeah, I can't tell who that is either. I think the woman in the scarf beside him is supposed to be a clue, but it's not helping me. It looks like it could be Cap, but his hair is too dark. Could it be Peter Parker? That would make the most sense.

I commented last issue that it felt like that Brubaker was trying to stuff too much into one opening issue. Now that I realize that he got to his prison story sooner than he initially planned, that makes total sense. This issue, by contrast, seems more reasonably paced. We get to hang out in a scene a little bit longer, and we get some much needed quiet moments.

I agree that the opening scene is heartbreaking. After last issue's cliffhanger, this scene seems to confirm the worst. It's awful that Matt has to not only attend the funeral of his best friend, but to attend it in this matter. Nobody is even allowed to talk to him.

I suppose Rosalind is acting out of character, but I was thankful that someone was at least acknowledging her existence. Since looking over some of her earlier appearances through this Book Club, I think she is a sadly under-utilized character, and I would welcome her return.

But this issue is about Matt, and how everything, especially Foggy's death, has affected his attitude. I felt it most in his dismissive tone towards Morgan. "My best friend was buried today. If you really want to send your men into this cell, knowing that... then please, go ahead." Those two sentences reveal how hard Matt has been rocked by the tragedy, and also how nothing seems to matter anymore.

I also like how Brubaker depicts J. Jonah Jameson as an abusive jerk who happens to have a valid point. I commented before how much I enjoyed the way Miller wrote that character in that one scene from "Born Again." Sometimes jerks are good at their jobs, and that's why they're successful. The Daily Bugle seems to be New York City's paper of record, and I'd like to think that Jameson is big reason why.

The last page has a hint about what's to come, and it also sets Ben Urich up for a shot at redemption.

This issue does a great job at looking at Matt at one of his lowest ever moments. I can't see a single bad thing in it. I also give it a 4.5 out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:

I suppose Rosalind is acting out of character, but I was thankful that someone was at least acknowledging her existence. Since looking over some of her earlier appearances through this Book Club, I think she is a sadly under-utilized character, and I would welcome her return.


I agree completely with this. Foggy's got other family that could have been depicted, but she's the most interesting and it was important for her to be there (it's also commented that she's acting out of character so it works better. It's good that even a seemingly heartless ice queen is upset).

One thing I like is Brubaker's interest in continuity. First he brought back Becky Blake, now he has Rosalind Sharpe. It's a nice touch overall.
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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 Dec 29, 2019 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #84 - The Devil in Cell Block D: Part Three

Quote:
We’ve all seen Daredevil pushed too far, seen what happens when he pushes back, and we know it always ends in tears. Now, with the death of Foggy Nelson plaguing his every waking moment, Matt, blaming himself, runs wild in Rykers, determined to find out who put his best friend at the end of a knife. This is Daredevil as you’ve never seen him before, unplugged from his own sense of right and wrong, alone in the cold walls of the system he’s spent his life defending, and the only thing on his mind is vengeance! From award-winning creators Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark.


Due 1/5
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I read two Brubaker comics today. The first was the latest issue of Criminal (number eleven), and the second was this issue of Daredevil, published over thirteen years ago. The Criminal issue focuses pretty much on one scene -- a heist, and the overwhelming majority of the issue is in one setting. By contrast, the Daredevil issue switches to a new scene every two to three pages. I have to admit, the Criminal issue is more engrossing. This issue of Daredevil has so much going on, it feels a bit overstuffed.

A lot of what is going on is very good, but I think we could have cut a scene or two and not missed them. The argument between Ben Urich and J. Jonah Jameson didn't bring anything of much value to the story. While much is made of Bullseye's entry into the prison, it doesn't really lead to anything. If those scenes had been cut, some of the really good scenes could have had more breathing room.

Matt's questioning of the guard that earlier locked him up in solitary made for a great scene. You could feel how pissed off Matt was, but he backed off once he got his information. His advice to get a new job felt sincere, like he admitted that the guy was in a dangerous position, but it's that guy's responsibility to get himself out of it.

Matt was much more violent when questioning Hammerhead, and that is understandable. However, this introduces something that became a bit of a trend in Brubaker's Daredevil -- the employment of torture methods. I can concede that Matt has been driven to the brink here; he's incarcerated, and he heard his best friend get murdered. The only other time I can probably imagine him in a more vulnerable position was when the Kingpin ruined his life in "Born Again" and when he was imprisoned in Latveria during Mark Waid's run. As we saw last issue, Matt's reached a point in his life where not much matters, so I can buy that he's not going to spend much effort ruminating on ethics here. Still, I don't have to like seeing Matt going all Jack Bauer, abandoning all standards for his behaviour. It's something we're going to see again.

I really liked the addition of Dakota North to Daredevil's cast. I like her interaction with Urich and Murphy, and she's a great source of new tough female energy.

I didn't get very much from the cliffhanger, but I don't get excited when I see the Punisher pop up. I do like it when Daredevil and Punisher are opposing forces, but here it looks like Frank is going to assist Matt, and I'm not usually that comfortable with those stories.

So while this issue is overstuffed in my opinion, it's overstuffed with both goodness and some unnecessary things. There is nothing bad here. I just think we could have benefitted with a snip snip here and a snip snip there, allowing for the good to have more space. I'm going to give this a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This story has been raising the stakes each issue. I think the revelation that Matt is the contributor to lawlessness and discord would be big enough as is. Instead, it's overshadowed by the newest arrival in the jail - Bullseye is on scene. The fact that he's completely immobilized just raises the tension that he'll be involved. He's practically Chekhov's gun.

But I don't want to overshadow how far Matt has gone. Even though he's a vigilante, respect for the law or at least his secret identity have always felt important. Now all he seems to care about is vaguely plausible deniability. But it's earned. Foggy's death is a big deal and not something that should be done lightly, but it's used effectively since it hits right when Matt is at his most vulnerable. But it also helps prove just how not vulnerable he is. Matt Murdock without rules (even rules that he would impose as Daredevil) can be downright scary. It's kind of sad when he plays dumb with the Warden because the Warden is just a good man trying to do his job and Matt is ruining it for him in his quest for vengeance without a care.

The outside investigation is fun. Dakota North is a good addition to the book and Ben Urich and her make a good team. She brings detective skills, he brings oldtime knowledge. The only thing I don't really get is why they're pushing so hard to find out who the other Daredevil is. But it's a good mystery for us to find out, so it's worth following along.

Four and a Half Stars. Like I said, I'm enjoying how this is ramping up. It's hard to judge it as just a piece of the whole, though.
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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 Jan 05, 2020 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #85 - The Devil in Cell Block D: Part Four

Quote:
Award-winning creators Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark's debut story "THE DEVIL IN CELL BLOCK D" hits a turning point! With all the prison gangs against him, Matt Murdock turns to unlikely allies in his quest for the truth. And as Kingpin returns to Gen-Pop, Ryker's Island teeters on the edge of an explosion, and Matt can either give it a push, or remember the man he used to be. Meanwhile, Ben Urich and Dakota North hunt whoever is running around Hell's Kitchen pretending to be Daredevil!


Due 1/12
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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: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt Murdock in prison defending his name against charges is an interesting concept that could have played well. But Matt Murdock in trapped in prison with Wilson Fisk dealing with Foggy's death and the pressures of prison is an absolutely fascinating one. The tension, to me, is whether prison will change him.

Given this, the timing of Frank Castle arriving makes perfect sense. He wasn't changed by being incarcerated, but he has the mindset that Matt could be pushed to. We're left to wonder if he's cracking when Frank assaults an inmate. Although Matt stops the fight, he doesn't ran out Castle.

Matt and Fisk's confrontation is fun. It raises the stakes in this story but also makes it clear that the real story is outside the walls. We're left with a situation where Matt could die in prison without ever solving the mystery he needs to solve.

The Ben and Dakota plot doesn't really advance much and it's probably the biggest weak point.

Four and a Half Stars. It's a good continuation and the tension continues to build, but there's not significant advancement in a lot of ways.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carlos introduces the central theme of this issue when he talks about how prison changes a man, which calls into question whether Matt is aware of how much he's changed. Frank questions Matt's sense of morality too this issue. This theme gives this issue a cohesive grounding in a way the previous issue didn't, and it makes this issue a lot better.

Even though Matt stops Frank from killing a fellow inmate, Matt's refusal to squeal on Frank is supposed to make you feel like prison may have changed him. The problem with that is I think Matt may not fully trust the power structure within Rykers, and he may not be ratting out Frank for that reason. There may be many reasons for Matt to stay quiet. It doesn't mean he's being corrupted by prison.

I have no idea who the guys Alton Lennox's secretary sent after Dakota are, but they get too many panels. It feels like a waste of a page, when everything could have been conveyed better and tighter in a single row of panels.

But this issue is about Matt questioning whether Rykers is corrupting him, and all of that is great. Carlos plants the doubt. Turk delivers Fisk's request. Carlos slips Matt the shiv. And the meeting is fantastic. Matt and Wilson are amazing foes, and part of the reason why is because they know exactly who each other is. Fisk knows the greatness of which Matt is capable, and Matt knows the enormity of which Wilson is capable. It's a form of mutual respect, and they talk to each other with that in mind. That meeting snaps Matt back to who he really is. When he calls Becky, we, along with everyone inside the story know that Matt is back, and it feels great.

There was a lot of Ben Urich and J. Jonah Jameson in this issue, and it doesn't really seem to go anywhere, but I still enjoyed it, partly because I very much enjoy J. Jonah under Brubaker's pen. He brings up valid points. I have a journalism degree, so I understand if these scenes amuse me more than they would amuse anyone else.

My least favourite thing about this issue is probably Tommy Lee Edwards' cover. It's completely generic Daredevil art that has nothing to do with the story inside, and it feels like something random that he turned into Marvel to satisfy a tight deadline.

I'm giving this issue a four out of five.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #86 - The Devil in Cell Block D: Part Five

Quote:
The opposing forces in Rykers finally explode, in an all-out war. It's the riot in Rykers, and Matt Murdock will find himself caught between his enemies and a hard place. Will this violent take-over prevent Matt from finding the answers he seeks about Foggy's murder, and about who's been manipulating him from the outside? And what the hell is Punisher doing here? Part 5 (of 6).


Due 1/19
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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