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DD Book Club - Burn

 
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Mike Murdock
Golden Age


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1716

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2023 10:44 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - Burn Reply with quote

Skipping a few weeks we already covered as we round out the early Nocenti years.

Daredevil Vol. 1 #245 - Burn

Quote:

DD and the Black Panther clash over how to deal with a former subject of Wakanda who continually makes wrong decisions in his New York life.


Due 1/21
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
Golden Age


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1716

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2023 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I had better timing, I might have tried to connect this issue to the Black Panther movie. But we did a Namor and Black Panther issue instead, which probably works better.

The beginning of this issue is very fun. The cover makes clear that Black Panther will be in the issue and, right away, we see a connection with a man named Wheeler. There's nothing exceptional about him except that he has Wakanda on his jacket. We're treated to his inner thoughts and recognize that he had a past of doing more, but has pretty much given up all of that to associate with bookies and gangsters. Now he has a wife and kid and owes a lot of people a lot of money. Another person who owes money is being attacked and Wheeler does nothing (despite, apparently, having the ability). Instead, Daredevil is there to save the day. I love the "I'll be your legs" line. It just demonstrates his selfless compassion in a way that a lot of writers forget. I really do love Nocenti's take on the character, especially in her early run. He's far more stoic than Spider-Man. He has no problem being physical (and often has to be more brutal since he lacks the strength or special abilities to end fights cleaner). But he isn't relishing in pain. Ultimately, his goal is to help people.

We get a better sense of what Wheeler's deal was. He worked in Wakanda for T'Challa as security. He had a suit of advanced technology. He wants to sell the suit, but can't bring himself to do it. They live in abject poverty with no food. At this point, his son calls T'Challa and he shows up to Wheeler. He is theoretically fixing his problems, spending his money freely, but Wheeler just takes it as an embarassment. I also really like Nocenti's take on T'Challa - both in personality and dialogue.

Unfortunately, it prompts Wheeler to take the suit to commit a bank robbery. Daredevil, of course, intervenes, and then the Black Panther does so as well. The fight is good, but very quick, but that's not the point of the story. Instead, there's a philosophical difference between Matt Murdock and T'Challa. T'Challa is colder and more autonomous. He respects Wheeler's choice as long as it doesn't hurt others, but he's coldly firm at keeping that boundary. Matt believes in Wheeler's redemption and still wants to help. Ultimately, he saves Wheeler and even T'Challa helps make things right. It's not a fairy tale ending, he still has to face trial for his actions, but he is able to head down the right path and reconcile with his family.

Ultimately, I think this is a surprisingly strong story that's easily forgotten due to how stand-alone it is. But I think the dialogue is stronger than average for Nocenti and the themes, while clearly present, are more subtle than normally presented. It works as a character piece for this character. Four and a Half Stars.
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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!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1345
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2023 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had never read this issue before. I'm surprised by how good this is. It's probably one of writer Ann Nocenti's stronger Daredevil issues.

Like her "Rotgut" two-parter, the focus of Nocenti's story isn't Daredevil -- it's the antagonist. Wheeler is a gambling addict, and Nocenti does an excellent job fleshing out this character and showing the constant deterioration of his mental state. She goes on to show the ramifications on his family.

Wheeler is married to T'Challa's cousin, and that brings Black Panther into this story. Daredevil and T'Challa have teamed up numerous times, and by this point in the 80s I didn't know anyone who cared about Black Panther. I don't even know if he had a series in the 80s. However, I don't think I have ever read a story that showed the difference between these two characters in such stark contrast. As noble as both characters are, they come from very different parts of the world, giving them wildly differing perspectives about honour and redemption.

This issue was penciled by Chuck Patton, best known for his run on Justice League. I was so impressed by his work in this issue, and I'm sad he didn't do any more Daredevil work. I guess he liked working for DC a lot more, or had grown so disenchanted with comics that he jumped ship into the field of animation not long after completing this issue. He's found some success in that field, winning a pair of Emmys.

This is such a perfectly contained one-shot story. Daredevil fights and wins Wheeler's opportunity for redemption, and he does indeed redeem himself. It's such a small but satisfying ending, with Wheeler's wife opening herself back up to him.

It's sad that this gem of an issue isn't better remembered. It's so well done, both by Nocenti and Patton. I can't really find fault with it. I guess I'm going to give it a 4.5 out of 5 -- not a perfect score, because I suppose it's not essential reading, but I had to hold myself back from giving it a perfect score.
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