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Here Comes Daredevil! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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September 11th, 2009


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12:15 am - Here Comes Daredevil!
I know you don't remember this, but I once named Matt Murdock/Daredevil one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. Sadly, when most people think of Daredevil, they think of a critically panned Ben Affleck movie that I didn't think was that bad.

The précis: when Matt Murdock was a kid, he rushed in front of a truck to save an old man. For his trouble, he got hit in the face with a radioactive isotope that blinded him but superenhanced his other four senses, giving him a "radar" that allows him to "see" as well or better than a normal person. As the costumed superhero Daredevil, he defends Hell's Kitchen. As blind lawyer Matt Murdock, he takes down big corporations and sticks up for the little people. Also, he is a ninja.

I can't remember whether I read Frank Miller's classic Born Again storyline first or not, but I want to re-read it and also read Frank Miller's character-defining run on the series. As I said, I have fallen in love with the character. Why?

I started with the rebooted numbering of Volume 2, which began with Guardian Devil, a story by Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada. I remember really liking it years ago, but on a re-read, I think it's good for comics, but it's sort of a mediocre story overall.

The mediocrity is evident immediately once David Mack steps up to the plate with Parts of a Hole and really gets inside the heads of Matt Murdock, Kingpin, and his new character Echo, a deaf Native American woman named Maya Lopez who has the ability to replicate any movement she sees, be it piano playing or a specific fighting move. Mack really explores what it's like to live blind or deaf, delving even deeper later on in Echo - Vision Quest. His unique style lends itself to the introspective stories he tells.

For me, however, the character-defining run that hooked me on Daredevil was that of Brian Michael Bendis (of Powers fame) and Alex Maleev (of Batman: No Man's Land fame). They tell the story of Daredevil as crime fiction, focusing on the Kingpin and the gangster underworld. The art is gritty, lines not sharply defined, colors mostly in the grey and brown spectra. This is not a shiny happy colorful tale. Bendis is clearly fascinated by superheroes and what makes them tick. Why they do what they do and how the public perceives them.

So he decides to out Daredevil. And not sweep it under the rug a couple issues later as per comics tradition (and, hell, Daredevil tradition). The outing sticks, even though there's no proof, and Matt Murdock has to deny deny deny for fear of being disbarred and arrested and having half his cases overturned. Meanwhile, of course, there is more gangster action because this is a Bendis book.

I see some similarities between Daredevil and Batman. They're both very territorial costumed vigilantes who scare the crap out of criminals because they're prone to beating the crap out of them. But one major difference is that with Matt, Daredevil is the mask. There's no debate necessary because Matt Murdock is a person. He is a fully formed, complex character with a life of his own, who just happens to dress up as a devil at night and fight crime. And I love him for it because he is so very protective of Hell's Kitchen and its people. He feels responsible for them and their safety, and he's willing to go farther than most superheroes in the name of cleaning the streets. He also has a very complicated love life. His girlfriends all have a tendency to A) go crazy, B) try to kill him, C) die, or D) all of the above. They are all also terribly hot. And he has a thriving law practice with his partner and best friend Foggy Nelson.

With the exception of Kingpin and Bullseye, Daredevil doesn't have the greatest Rogues' Gallery (and Matt even comments on this), but for my money, Kingpin makes up for everything. I love Kingpin. Wilson Fisk is large, imposing, ruthless, cunning, brilliant, and dangerous. He's known Matt is Daredevil since Born Again (when he BLEW UP HIS HOUSE), but rather than out him himself, he keeps the information to himself just to fuck with him. He's one of the great Magnificent Bastards. And he's always hiring assassins! Oh, assassins.

The Bendis/Maleev run on Daredevil is some of the best superhero storytelling I've ever seen, and it makes the more traditional comics stories (like Smith's) look trivial in comparison. I highly recommend it (along with the David Mack stories). I had intended to stop reading at the end, hoping the story would come to some satisfying conclusion, and while it did come to a conclusion of sorts, it only made me want to read more! This is how invested I am in Matt Murdock's life: I drove over thirty blocks to the library to grab all they had of Brubaker's run and then ordered the rest off Amazon. I wish I had in any way been successful in writing a post about how much I love Daredevil and why you should too, but maybe you'll give him a chance based on my sheer enthusiasm alone.

If I'm going to be dedicated to one superhero, it might as well be Daredevil, the Man Without Fear.
Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Current Music: The Chemical Brothers - Rize Up

(12 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:sabra_n
Date:September 11th, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)
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So...did the Quesada comic smell of brimstone? I'm kind wondering if he was a bastion of satanic evil even then.

Now Bendis I could read all day, overly "talky" characters and all. I haven't read his whole Daredevil run, but what I have I've loved.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
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So...did the Quesada comic smell of brimstone? I'm kind wondering if he was a bastion of satanic evil even then.
Heh. I generally like his art.

Now Bendis I could read all day, overly "talky" characters and all. I haven't read his whole Daredevil run, but what I have I've loved.
I hadn't read the whole thing until recently. Four trades and change were completely new to me. Very interesting stuff. How far have you read?
[User Picture]
From:kibarika
Date:September 11th, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC)
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Good for you! It's nice to have a comic book character to champion. It's rougher when it's somebody who's been a bit battered by film. (The Daredevil movie could've been worse for sure. It could've been X3. Or Elektra, which I loved in spite of it being horrid. But it also could've been loads better.)

Spidey and Kitty Pryde are my two.

I remember being so excited because on Marvel Superhero Island one of the buildings has a sign that says "Matt Murdock, Attorney at Law." And knowing somebody planning the park bothered with that little detail really made me happy.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
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Yay! I love Spidey too, but, like Batman, he's too hard to follow since he's so popular. With Matt, I just have the one title and I'm set. It's one long story of pain and angst!

The movie wasn't terrible, but I checked Wikipedia to refresh my memory and got annoyed that they modified the origin story. He just accidentally gets sprayed with toxic waste? No! MATT SAVES AN OLD MAN'S LIFE. THAT IS WHAT HE DOES. BECAUSE HE IS MATT.
[User Picture]
From:equustel
Date:September 11th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
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THIS.

I had a like/hate relationship with the movie for a long time. Now my opinion has settled around "the Director's Cut is decent but I would've cast EVERYONE differently." Seriously, that was the biggest issue for me - the casting. It's not like Ben Affleck didn't try his damndest, he just doesn't have Matt's necessary intensity. It's not like Jennifer Garner is a sucky actress, she's just the furthest thing from EXOTIC GREEK WARRIOR WOMAN I can imagine. And Kingpin? Yeah, no comment.

Anyway, totes agree on the convenience of Daredevil only having one running title. That's what I love - I don't have to juggle multiple storylines or hunt around for the good stuff, I can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
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And Kingpin? Yeah, no comment.
Heh. I don't really mind that Kingpin is black (but for the Villain Is Black issue) since Michael Clarke Duncan is pretty awesome, but I don't really remember his performance now. I can't think of who I would cast as Kingpin.

Colin Farrell was a pretty great Bullseye, if I recall. Even if he was randomly Irish.
[User Picture]
From:debetesse
Date:September 11th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
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Nice use of cross-canon icon.

I approve.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 11th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Thank you.
From:sainfoin_fields
Date:September 12th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
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Cow! I just saw a Daredevil paperback at my local used bookstore! It's from 1993! I thought of you!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 12th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
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Aw! I am your favorite/only Daredevil fan!
[User Picture]
From:queenrikki_hp
Date:September 12th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
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I love Daredevil bunches, especially the Bendis/Maleev run (which makes me think of Alias which I also love). Normally, I like...brighter heroes but Daredevil really appeals to me and it's a character I really wanted to follow (though I stopped reading when Ed Brubaker took over). I like the way Bendis writes the character and he wrote one of my favourite moments in a book ever (during the time he was outed and the cops were interviewing him). I love that you like the character.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 12th, 2009 06:57 am (UTC)
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especially the Bendis/Maleev run (which makes me think of Alias which I also love)
I am reading Alias right now! Re-reading.

Normally, I like...brighter heroes but Daredevil really appeals to me and it's a character I really wanted to follow (though I stopped reading when Ed Brubaker took over).
I hear Brubaker's run is pretty good, so I'm excited.

I like the way Bendis writes the character and he wrote one of my favourite moments in a book ever (during the time he was outed and the cops were interviewing him).
Oh, which moment? I love how cool he is under pressure.

I love that you like the character.
I'm glad that you love him too!

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