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DD Book Club - From Stage Left, Enter: Electro

 
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2022 8:17 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - From Stage Left, Enter: Electro Reply with quote

Since it's finally on Marvel Unlimited, I thought it was a good time to get back on track by going to San Francisco for the Gerry Conway era.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #87 - From Stage Left, Enter: Electro

Quote:

DD and the Widow hit San Francisco! And nobody's minding the welcome wagon…all but Electro! A titanic turning-point issue for Natasha and Matt.


Due 5/7
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1322
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2022 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

May 1972: Matt Murdock and Natasha Romanova move to San Francisco, a city writer Gerry Conway had fallen in love with. At this point Daredevil was one of Marvel's lesser titles, so if a creative team wanted to enact a major change, those in editorial were likely to give it the thumbs up.

Artist Gene Colan has a lot of fun drawing Matt's new city. The two-thirds-page size drawing of Matt on the Golden Gate Bridge is gorgeous. Conway's passion for San Francisco is palpable. However, Colan's inability to draw Electro on-model is somewhat distracting. He draws the lightning bolts on the back of Electro's head, and the cover artist for this issue and #89 (Sal Buscema) has the bolts upfront, which is truer to model.

Secondly, for all Conway has to say about how much he loves Natasha and adores strong women, all he has her do is stand around with the authorities while Matt goes in and fights Electro. It's my big problem with her time as this series' co-star -- she didn't act like the co-star. She wasn't an equal in the relationship.

And after everything that goes on this issue, Electro gets away. Yes, Daredevil gives him a good fight, knocking him out of the lighthouse, but couldn't Widow have maybe strung him up so he couldn't escape?

There's other small problems. We're told at the bottom of one panel that this is the introduction of an important new character. The top panel on the next page reveals the name of that new character: Ironguts O'Hara. The next panel shows a rather ordinary guy in a trench coat berating Daredevil and Black Widow. Is this Ironguts? He doesn't seem like someone important.

It's a fine comic with good action, but the problems I outlined are definite weaknesses. I give it a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2022 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The vibe I get here is definitely one a fresh starts. Matt and Natasha are going to San Francisco to start over. We get treated to a large number of pages just focusing on the unique architecture and design that the new city brings. You definitely get a feel that this location is different.

In contrast to that, we get one of the earliest Daredevil villains - Electro, who is coincidentally fleeing to San Francisco to escape from Spider-Man. I like the new location/old villain thing we have going here to have familiar and new all at the same time.

Other nice touches include the addition of new characters (the mysterious Danny French and grumpy police chief Ironguts O'Hara), the amusing touch of emphasizing that Matt and Natasha are NOT sleeping in the same bed room (and Matt has to have a roommate), etc. My favorite is the use of blindness here. Matt uses Natasha as his eyes to see things his radar sense doesn't fully understand. It helps cement them more as partners.

The fight is meh. Electro apparently has a big inferiority complex. There's some back and forth, but Daredevil prevails.

Still, for the fresh new start and visuals, I really enjoyed this issue. Four Stars.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #88 - Call Him Killgrave

Quote:

Killgrave, the Purple Man, is back, and DD may never be the same again. That is, if he lives! Plus, Black Widow's secret past.


Due 5/14
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Wed May 11, 2022 7:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1322
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I'm reading this from Daredevil: Marvel Masterworks Volume 9, and I have questions about the colouring. Colour and art reconstruction in my collection is credited to Matthew Kelleher & Kellustration. The cover, by Gil Kane, has Killgrave's skin coloured purple, but the interior artwork by Gene Colan shows Killgrave with a distinctly Caucasian skin tone. It's a baffling choice. Why do something that would make your villain less distinct, especially when the cover does differently? Is the colouring on Unlimited the same?

My favourite part of this issue was Ivan's retelling of his first meeting with Little Natasha. It explains how he's so protective of her -- he's basically her adopted father. It helps to flesh out her character. I'm not sure if the folks at Marvel had all of her mythology mapped out at this time, with the Red Room programming and everything.

Otherwise, the Killgrave plot is somewhat confusing. Is the Purple Man holding back his power when dealing with his henchmen? Wouldn't he simply command them as pawns? They seem to ask him questions and have some command over their minds.

Also, Daredevil complains to Ivan that he blew it for the first time. Those of us in the know remember that he blew it first against the Matador in his fifth ever issue. Not a big deal, but I can't help but point it out.

It's a fine issue, but I find the colouring choice for Killgrave very jarring. I'm giving this a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


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Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2022 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
So I'm reading this from Daredevil: Marvel Masterworks Volume 9, and I have questions about the colouring. Colour and art reconstruction in my collection is credited to Matthew Kelleher & Kellustration. The cover, by Gil Kane, has Killgrave's skin coloured purple, but the interior artwork by Gene Colan shows Killgrave with a distinctly Caucasian skin tone. It's a baffling choice. Why do something that would make your villain less distinct, especially when the cover does differently? Is the colouring on Unlimited the same?


So Marvel Unlimited has it the same way, but they're likely borrowing from the Masterwork recoloring. The only other copy I have is the Essential version, which is in black and white so unhelpful. I suspect the coloring error is in the original because I know the Masterworks try to be as faithful as possible, but it's definitely an error. Looking ahead, it was fixed for next issue.

The issue starts with a car chase between Black Widow and Danny French. Superheroes in cars feels a bit weird to me because I'm used to blind superheroes, but it's good to see Natasha getting some screen time. For Daredevil's early plot, we also give screentime to the police characters - Carson and O'Hara. One is the sour police commissioner who doesn't like superheroes. The other is the more reasonable and trusting one. They're cliches, but they're fun cliches. It's good to see a supporting cast develop. We also get a flashback to Black Widow's origin story and why Ivan is with her. I'm pretty sure every moment of this has been retconned by this point, but it's good to have here where World War II isn't quite a distant memory (it also feels oddly relevant with Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, just flipped).

The Danny French plot is basically in the background. The main story is the Killgrave story. I can't quite believe he's been entirely gone since issue #4. He definitely establishes himself as a true threat since he apparently has a criminal empire in San Francisco that no one knew about. Unfortunately, Gene Colan's tendency to rush things is on full display as Ivan's rescue is sudden and over just as suddenly. The story isn't done, but it definitely is an underwhelming ending to the issue.

Four Stars.
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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


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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue is called "Crisis," not to be confused with issue #151 of the same name that also features the Purple Man.

Daredevil #89 - Crisis

Quote:

Death in the wind-lashed sky! Electro and Killgrave gang up against the Man Without Fear! Plus, will the Widow accept Daredevil’s help when the chips are down?


Due 5/21
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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 May 17, 2022 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not much of a fan of Gerry Conway, but he has some very well-written passages in this issue, like this one from page 2:
Quote:
Radar-senses warning him of yet another burst of gunfire, the man called Daredevil spins -- he does what no sighted man would do, he movies like a stroke of lightning--

Or this one from page 15:
Quote:
With a jerk that snaps all his muscles taut, Daredevil feels the hovercraft lifting--

Or this one from page 17:
Quote:
His hand reaches out -- catching the ricocheting billy club as it arcs past-- his motions are quick, lithe-- his arm guided by senses beyond those given to normal men-- Tensing, he pitches forward, balancing himself at an angle to the hovercraft's wildly shifting plane--

These passages go to show that Conway had a good understanding of how our Man Without Fear works. I just don't think he was very good at putting Daredevil in stories of high quality.

The issue opens with Daredevil relentlessly pursuing Killgrave's henchmen, forcing their copter to plunge into San Francisco Bay. Then Natasha gets away from the creepy Danny French, and tells Matt (but not us or Ivan) what's really bothering her. Then Killgrave sends for Electro to team up with him against Daredevil, but after the climactic battle, that doesn't work out for the villains.

It seems to me that Black Widow and Daredevil are more pre-occupied with the Danny French plot, but Killgrave just won't go away, so they're forced to deal with him. Killgrave is a good villain, and he's actually purple in this issue, but it would help if he was the focus of our heroes.

Gene Colan's art is very good in this issue. Yes, he still draws Electro off-model, and he has that villain hiding out in a...sewer? A hole under a warehouse? And he keeps blasting away at Killgrave's henchman while accepting the invitation to join Killgrave, and the henchman seems no worse for wear. It's a bizarre four-panel scene. But Colan's scenes with Matt and Natasha are very romantic and sexy, and the action is beautifully depicted.

Conway's opening has Matt remembering how Killgrave left him at the bottom of the Hudson River, and how Black Widow rescued him. He remembers it as his failure. Towards the end of this issue he remarks...
Quote:
Funny. I started this day with a craving for vengeance-- to prove to myself that I'm still a man. Now that I've got it, though... it tastes pretty bad.

So, I bristled a bit at the idea that Daredevil equates scoring vengeance with "being a man." There are many ways of being a man, but I think it's more important to simply be a good person than to be "a man." I do appreciate, though, that Daredevil doesn't like the feeling of getting his vengeance. Conway got yet another thing right about Daredevil; he's about justice, not vengeance.

It's not a well-focused story, but it's remarkably well-crafted. I give this one a 3.5 out of 5.


Last edited by Dimetre on Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2022 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening narration does a good job providing the emotion of a grim and determined Daredevil. I like that the only dialogue is from the panicked goons he's stopping in the helicopter while DD remains silent. He makes quick work of them, but it's a good hero moment after the disappointing ending last week. It's followed up by the news broadcast with Killgrave. He really comes across as unpleasant, but I'm not sure the mind control stuff is played to its fullest. When he told the woman to not think, it seemed like that could have had more consequences. Either way, he figures out he can get a partner.

The side plot involves Natasha with Danny French. She cryptically mentions Project Four, he says something seemingly meaningless, and then she leaves. It doesn't add much. Apparently, she thought his meaningless sentence was threatening to reveal her role in the thing. I thought he was trying to kiss her so I don't know. Building the cast of characters, Matt reaches out to Larry Cranston about a potential new job opportunity. Then Matt and Natasha fight, then they make up. Everything seems to be moving at a fairly stop and go pace. Their story is interrupted by the main fight.

Here's the thing. I like the final fight. I like that they each fight a villain and they each get to be the hero. On the other hand, I don't like how quick everything was. Villains who were threats separately in each of the last two issues (with Killgrave winning handidly last issue) fall very quickly. I get that it's Matt and Natasha teaming up that makes the difference, but there wasn't much drama leading there.

Three and a Half Stars. I enjoyed the individual events quite a bit, but it never felt like a coherent whole and the supervillain team up felt like an afterthought. It seems to me like they could have used one more issue to pull together this story.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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