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DD Book Club - Black Christmas

 
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Mike Murdock
Golden Age


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1716

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2022 9:02 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Black Christmas Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #241 - Black Christmas

Quote:

The Trickster leads DD on a merry Christmas chase, and Daredevil teaches the fatboys a lesson.


Due 12/31
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1345
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2022 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue has only been notable to me for one reason for the longest time: it's the only Daredevil issue penciled by Todd McFarlane. And he does a great job. His figures have the cleanliness and solidity of David Mazzuchelli's best work. There's none of the messiness I would later associate with McFarlane. This is a great early showcase for him.

Now that I've given this issue a fresh reading, I don't know what to think of it. I think the big problem, for me, in this issue is the Trixter. We don't know much about him at all, and he's so inadequately set up.

We first see the Trixter in a nun's outfit, and it seems he's simply out to profit. The next we see him, he's monologuing for a full page and suddenly he's obsessed with Daredevil, and the idea of "what makes one man a hero and another a fool". It's all so philosophical and his character is lacking a trigger incident to motivate him properly in the direction he's going. Yes, he's alone at Christmas, but that isn't enough for me, especially since McFarlane draws him with an ever-present smile. Is Christmas really that important to the Trixter? I have no way of knowing.

The next scene has him saying something chilling to the shopkeeper: "...and you know you should have killed yourself years ago." When I first read that line, I failed to associate that suicidal attitude to the Trixter himself. I simply thought he was firing a particularly cutting remark to the shopkeeper. Now that I've reread that panel, I can see the foreshadowing.

The Trixter lures Daredevil onto a highwire. McFarlane clearly had fun drawing the Trixter's robe and scarf. Writer Ann Nocenti layered this battle on top of a bunch of biblical and religious allusions. The highwire fight is probably the most engaging part of the book, simply because Matt can't figure out how to deal with the Trixter.

Nocenti uses the Fatboys to call into question Daredevil's responsibility for the people he inspires, regardless of whether they're a child or an adult. I can't help but be uncomfortable that Matt allows Freddie to jump his skateboard from one building rooftop to another. Freddie reappears in the issue's final panels asking Daredevil to show him more tricks -- while they're both standing at the top of the Chrysler Building.

It's the death of the Trixter that leaves me the most conflicted. I've dealt with suicidal people twice in my life. One friend I brought back from the brink of suicide. For a while we stayed friends, but now we haven't talked in years. Another friend I constantly see typing out suicidal thoughts on social media, and I try helping out with a positive thought when I can. I don't know if Daredevil's sense of befuddlement regarding how to help the Trixter hit a little too close to home. Or was it that at the last second the Trixter no longer wanted to die, and Matt failed to save him. This is all very dark subject matter, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this.

I haven't checked to see if Nocenti ever talked about this story, and what inspired it. I'm going to guess there were people in her life that were suicidal, and maybe this story was her way of working through her feelings. As a member of her audience who has encountered suicide second-hand numerous times, I don't think this story offers any help. I don't think it does anything more than retrigger the trauma of the incident. Matt doesn't have to win at the end of every story, but I think, in this instance, it was important for him to have a victory.

I realize that my objections come from a very personal place, so I'm not going to give this issue too bad a grade. McFarlane does a great job, while Nocenti's script is probably too jam-packed with what she admits to be "psycho-babble". Still, the conflict may be compelling for readers and the highwire act is very well-handled. I give it a three out of five.


Last edited by Dimetre on Wed Jan 04, 2023 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Murdock
Golden Age


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1716

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2022 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue starts very cynically, but amusingly so. The Fatboys are pretending to be Santa to get money, but Daredevil makes them give it to charity. Of course, the person they give it to is a fake nun running their own scam.

The antagonist is the Trixter, who definitely leaves a bit to be desired. There are some themes of identity and disguise wrapped up in him. There's also the running theme of superheroes and violence that's been in the book since she took over. But the premise is he's doing a tightrope act to attract Daredevil and Daredevil is trying to talk him down because he's got some kind of device that's causing chaos. They end up fighting, but everyone thinks Matt's overreacting. Ultimately, he ties himself to the Chrysler Building, gets struck by lightning, and then it snows.

It's a very confusing issue. There's a brief sideplot with Karen's friend, who ends up shooting up heroin based on what I can tell. It's a very dark issue, but not one that makes a ton of sense to me. Three and a Half Stars.
_________________
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!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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