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DD Book Club - Wake Up

 
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1674

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2022 8:03 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Wake Up Reply with quote

I've been avoiding this story because I don't think it's particularly easy to do in a weekly format but, since it was being read even less frequently than that originally, I suppose it's worth a try. It's also the only story of Volume Two that we've skipped aside from maybe a recap issue.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #16 - Wake Up Part One

Quote:
Leap frog has a son. He`s autistic. And interested in DD.


Due 4/2
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Wed Mar 30, 2022 7:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1674

PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The story opens with a fight that turns out to be a child's fantasy. As you read further into Bendis's work, it becomes clear that he enjoys doing a pastiche of classic superhero stories (even if, I would argue, he doesn't fully understand them). This works well because it's in a child's head so it feels like something out of a child's imagination. Then it transitions to reality and Ben Urich is questioning the kid asking why the other person is punching Daredevil.

While the story is about the kid, it's also about Ben Urich. This is immediately following Parts of a Hole where the Kingpin, now blinded, is on trial. Ben Urich, however, is afraid to cover it due to past memories. What follows is a series of events that pass the time. Each one is enjoyable in the moment but are hard to write about because they don't really seem to contribute to the big picture. We get Ben talking with Peter and learning that Peter is an orphan. We get Ben having a nightmare. And, finally, we get the big dramatic cliffhanger where the kid has drawn all of his fight scenes with Daredevil.

Like I said, I don't quite know what to make of this story. It's really hard to call it a story at all (which makes me J. Jonah Jameson, I guess). For at least this part, I'm inclined to be charitable and give it Four Stars, though.
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2022 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, here we are with Brian Michael Bendis' very first work for Marvel. I didn't know anything about the guy when I picked this issue up. I had only recently gotten back into comics, and I had greatly enjoyed David Mack's "Parts of a Hole". I think Mack is a genius, and I love his art. I was interested to see what he would bring to this arc from a purely visual point of view.

Mack's art is certainly impressive, and he lends the proceedings a nice psychological tone. Bendis' story, however, doesn't give us much to sink our teeth into. Matt doesn't even appear in person -- he's just a character in a child's story and shows up in Ben Urich's dream. It's sad to see the child in a catatonic state, but we are given no reason why Urich thinks the child has pertinent information about anything. It's just a hunch Urich has.

I realize Urich is a long-standing character in Daredevil. At the time this issue came out he had been a mainstay in the book for over twenty years. However, I felt that calling this a Daredevil story was pretty dishonest. It's a Ben Urich story.

As I came to find out, Bendis has no sense of page economy. He repeats the child's story over and over for three pages before we move on to his mother's tale of the Flintstones vitamins, which I don't seem to recall adding anything of value to the plot.

I find it funny that Mack used Leonardo DiCaprio as a template for Peter Parker. I remember he was rumoured to be up for the part at the time, and obviously Tobey Maguire ended up being cast. I think DiCaprio's career survived.

I like the scene with J. Jonah Jameson, even if it's a little long and repetitive. Historically, scenes with him and Urich usually go well, because Jameson has to treat him with a little more respect. Urich is a grown man with an unassailable news background. You can't write Jameson as an abusive asshole in scenes with Urich, and thankfully Bendis knows that. I like that Jameson admits that Urich's story isn't garbage, but I see Jameson's point that it's not news either.

Yet this is Bendis' entire story. What caused this unknown boy's catatonia? It may seem heartless, but I haven't been given enough reason to care properly about this. It's not a compelling enough question, especially because it involves Leapfrog, a villain which few people in 2001 knew or recalled.

Anyway, I wasn't overly impressed when I first read this, but I figured I'd see what the next issue gave me. Two decades later, I'm giving this a three out of five, mostly for Mack's art.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1674

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2022 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for the delay.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #17 - Wake Up Part Two

Due 4/9
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1674

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2022 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is part two. There's a lot of filler here that adds to the atmosphere but arguably just pads out the story and is definitely hard to write about. One early thing I noticed is that Ben Urich suggests that Matt was about Timmy's age when he was blinded. I'm trying to remember different ages presented. He feels slightly young. I always love different writers' takes on his origin so I pay attention to these sorts of things. It doesn't really have any effect on the story, though.

Some of the other moments in this issue feel like pure stonewalling. Ben interviews the cop who deflects and gives no answers. Ben goes to Matt Murdock's office and there's a receptionist who is just a temp and can't give answers. IIRC, this is between Parts of a Hole and Playing to the Camera. The latter story actually introduces a new secretary (Angela Barbato). I guess she isn't technically a receptionist, but I thought she did both roles. Either way, since Bendis goes back in, she disappears and he's much more amused by the clueless temp receptionist who doesn't know where Matt Murdock is.

There's also an interview with school friends and a school teacher. They give a bit more of a picture of Timmy and how he was screwed up prior to whatever happened with Daredevil. The implication at the end is that Leapfrog was beating his son. Ben's musings about when Matt knows whether to follow the law or not seems to suggest that maybe he thinks Matt crossed the line and murdered Leapfrog for beating his son. I don't know for certain. It's all vague.

Re-reading this story, I'm starting to get a sense that Bendis is inspired by Daredevil #191 - Revolver. I can definitely see some parallels with a kid who lives in a fantasy world and Matt comparing him to himself and the one time his dad hit him. If so, the comparison falls fairly flat. That's a wonderful one-issue story that is perfectly paced. This is a bit of a meandering mess. Three Stars.
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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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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2022 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I'm going to say is that David Mack, to me, is a far more interesting artistic partner for Brian Michael Bendis than Alex Maleev. Mack's mixed media technique adds a lot more atmosphere and depth than Maleev's photoshop scratchiness. There isn't a lot going on in here plotwise, but Mack gives me a lot to look at and explore.

Mack draws Daredevil a lot in this issue, even though Matt doesn't appear at all in this story. That seems like an effort to dupe the comic buyer into thinking they actually got their money's worth.

There are tall columns of text accompanying splash pages of imagery that has nothing to do with the story. There is a splash page of Mack's drawing of Echo, a character I love, but Bendis' accompanying text has nothing to do with her. I'd be surprised if Bendis' script directed Mack to draw her. I'd be surprised if Bendis knew that her character even existed. There's another splash page of a man in a suit and tie, and I don't know if that's supposed to be Matt outside of costume or his father. Or someone else.

I actually liked that Mack used photos of Lauryn Hill as a teacher who took a special interest in Timmy. Unfortunately the only purpose her character served was to point out physical abuse Timmy suffered. Should that be that surprising to a veteran journalist like Ben Urich. I personally don't think so.

Again, it's sad to me that I'm not more drawn in to a story about a catatonic child. I don't think Bendis has laid down the groundwork to make me care to an adequate extent. I find Mack's art fascinating, but the story it's serving is very weak. And the book is called Daredevil, but he doesn't appear in the story. That's a big problem.

I give this a 2.5 out of 5. Only Mack is preventing it from getting a failing grade.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2022 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #18 - Wake Up Part Three

Due 4/16
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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 Apr 11, 2022 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More impressive artwork from David Mack. More extremely decompressed storytelling from Brian Michael Bendis.

Now that I know more about Bendis' style since the first time I read this, I have a quite a bit about which to type.

First, Urich suddenly calls J. Jonah Jameson abusive and fascist in this issue, and this doesn't match up to the their professional relationship up to this point. I think Jameson is tough with Urich, but he has always shown him respect.

Secondly, I'm not the only person bewildered with Bendis' choice to frame entire stories through a flashback. The story told through Timmy's drawings is the one we, the readers, actually care about. It's a battle between Daredevil and Leap Frog during which Timmy, long abused by his supervillain father, electrocutes him to death. Yet Bendis has spent the previous two issues clouding that incident in mystery. What happened to make this kid catatonic? The problem with that is this story hasn't featured Leap Frog before this, so we're not invested in his downfall, and Daredevil hasn't appeared in anything but Timmy's fantasies and Urich's dreams. What is gained by telling us this story as a flashback? If we actually told the story of Leap Frog's son reaching his breaking point and murdering his father, wouldn't that actually be a more engrossing story?

But this is such a Bendis trope. More than one YouTuber has griped about his choice to tell the story of Bruce Banner's death in Civil War 2 in flashback. Of course, there's the story of Matt and Milla's wedding, which we already covered in this Book Club when we looked at "King of Hell's Kitchen." You all know I don't like Bendis' writing. He's not without his gifts, but I don't feel he's come anywhere close to earning the acclaim he continues to get.

I suspect that splash page of Elektra bleeding out is out of position, and is supposed to occur closer to the panel where Urich cries out "NYAAG" from a nightmare. I think that's something editors Nanci Dakesian and Stuart Moore should have caught. Having now read Bendis' entire Daredevil run, I have never been impressed with Moore's work as an editor, but I do expect better from Dakesian. I suspect she was more hands-off at this point.

I'll finish by pointing out how pathetic it is that the appearance of the title character showing up in his own book serves as a cliffhanger.

The revelation that Urich himself had an abusive father is an interesting choice. I don't think that has ever been touched upon in the two decades that followed this story. I think that's something worth revisiting.

Bendis' pacing is way too slow, and his storytelling methods perplex me. I, however, love Mack's artwork. This may be overly charitable, but I give this a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2022 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I normally write as I go trying to comment on noteworthy things and then I'll usually edit it into a semi-coherent review. This is the first issue I can think of where literally nothing stood out. I liked the part where the drawings were edited into a comic book form. I thought the trial of the Kingpin was good for the limited part that was there. It's hard to call this the worst Daredevil story ever because it at least did nothing to offend me. But it might be the most pointless Daredevil story.

Two and a Half Stars. I also liked the art.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2022 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last one

Daredevil Vol. 2 #19 - Wake Up Part Four

Due 4/24
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2022 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, it's been at least two decades since I read this, and I didn't expect this issue to engage with me on an emotional level, but it did. Go figure. I guess the idea of my favourite superhero interacting with a small, troubled child that needs his help struck me in the heart. This is Daredevil's "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man."

Otherwise, apart from David Mack's awesome art, this doesn't tell us much we didn't already infer from Timmy's drawings. Did anyone who worked on this not think Timmy's drawings were clear? The only thing we didn't know is that Daredevil was knocked unconscious, and that Leap Frog's body was nowhere to be seen. This issue explains that at least.

The heart-warming interaction between Daredevil and Timmy makes this issue worthwhile. However, there is no excuse at all for why this story required four issues, and why the fight between Daredevil and Leap Frog should be told in flashback numerous times.

Oh, and I've always hated how Daredevil complains that he has the most pathetic rogue's gallery. Nobody in the Marvel Universe should have "rogue's gallery" in their vocabulary. That's our terminology, not theirs. That takes me right out of the story. And this is the first instance of Brian Michael Bendis belittling Daredevil's antagonists, a trend I would go on to hate.

I give this issue a 3.5 out of five, but the entirety of "Wake Up" gets a 2.5 out of five from me.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2022 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI, something important came up so my review will be a bit late and I'll be delaying the next story for a week. Sorry about that.
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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
King of Hell's Kitchen


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2022 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Better late than never, I guess.

Reading this final issue, one thing I was struck by that never occurred to me before is what feels like a clear Citizen Kane pastiche. In that movie (where the protagonist is a reporter), the main character never finds out what Rosebud is (it's just revealed to the audience). In this story, Daredevil isn't the break Ben was looking for. He lost consciousness during the key moment. Then the audience is told what happened. That being said, the final report almost seems to have a sense of what happened anyway so I'm frankly a little confused by everything (which feels common for this story).

The other thing I'm struck by, which annoyed the crap out of me, is Bendis's desire to degrade Daredevil's villains. This is his first story, but it would be a consistent theme throughout it. I get that Leapfrog is silly. I think David Mack does a great job of showing the little springs in his shoes in key moments in a subtle way that draws attention to it. But the main character dresses up in a costume as well. There's at least some acceptance of silliness that has to exist. More importantly, if Leap Frog is a camp character, it's jarring to make the guy under the suit such a grounded character. I don't think we needed to see a guy in a frog costume call his son a rat bastard.

That being said, the themes of the abusive dad ring strong and work well for a Daredevil comic especially. The final report by Ben is well-written, showing that Bendis's prose work can actually be decently strong. But there's so much here that just seems to fall short and disappoint (even if this is probably the strongest issue in the series).

Four Stars.
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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!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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