Monday, May 29, 2017

DAREDEVIL #179

"SPIKED!"
Story & Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art & Colors: Klaus Janson
Letters: Joe Rosen | Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Ben Urich meets with an informant in a movie theater, but the informant is killed by Elektra, who warns Urich to back off of the Kingpin. Ben returns to the Daily Bugle and calls Matt Murdock. Soon Daredevil arrives and upon learning of Elektra’s involvement, he heads out to find her.

The next day, Ben meets with mayoral candidate Randolph Cherryh at the gym, and Cherryh’s men rough Ben up. Daredevil arrives and escorts him to safety, then listens in as Cherryh phones the Kingpin and sets up a meeting for the next day in Little Italy -- but DD is unable to attend due to a court date. Against the scarlet swashbuckler’s wishes, Ben spies on the meet, taking photos.

That night, Ben meets with another informant who directs him to a nearby building to find Cherryh’s mistress. But Daredevil shows up and, believing this a trap, goes in instead. As Ben watches, DD emerges from the building battling Elektra. She gets the better of him with the help of a bear trap* and knocks a brick wall down on him. Then, hearing Ben’s telltale cough nearby, she hurls a sai at him, stabbing him in the back.

* Yes, you read that right.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Cherryh observes that Ben is only around forty years old here. He's always seemed older to me; usually somewhere in his fifties.

Friday, May 26, 2017

PARKER: THE SCORE & PARKER: SLAYGROUND

Last week I spent most of my time talking a bit about the Parker character, but I paid little mind to Darwyn Cooke's artwork. This time I plan to correct that. But first, we'll have a quick rundown of the plots of both THE SCORE and SLAYGROUND.

THE SCORE is a tale of Parker and a dozen associates taking on a job to rob an entire small mining town in the middle of the night. And, much as I stated previously that I liked the prior Parker stories for their showcasing our anti-hero doing everything right and accomplishing his goals without a hitch, I also really like the fact that THE SCORE throws a major wrench into the operation in a twist I don't really want to reveal here, sending Parker and company into a panicked retreat before their operation can be successfully completed. Where the previous stories showed us a cool, capable Parker executing his plans flawlessly, this one gives us a Parker who must improvise in order to save his skin.

Both approaches suit the character very well, and it should be noted that even when everything is going wrong, the plan crumbing around him, Parker takes it all in stride and remains as calm as ever. I guess I should amend what I said last week (and elaborated upon this past Sunday): I like seeing ultra-competent characters do everything right, but I also like when said ultra-competents are forced to wing it and do so in as unruffled a fashion as possible. I think really, what I don't like are panicky characters who dig themselves into deeper holes when they find themselves in a tight spot. To quote one John "Hannibal" Smith, I suppose you might just say that I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, May 22, 2017

DAREDEVIL #178

"PAPER CHASE"
Story & Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art : Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein | Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor: Jim Shooter

The Plot: At her apartment, Elektra is attacked by agents of the Kingpin and, after defeating them, she finds a card offering her employment in his organization. The next day, a young man named Sheldon, who claims to have incriminating checks connecting mayoral candidate Randolph Cherryh to the Kingpin, visits Nelson & Murdock. When Kingpin’s men arrive to try and grab him, Matt Murdock changes to Daredevil and holds them off while Sheldon escapes.

Fearing Matt could be the victim of further harassment, Foggy hires Power Man and Iron Fist, Heroes For Hire, to protect him. They fight off the Kingpin’s goons that night, much to the irritation of Matt, who had intended to get a confession from the men on tape. The next evening, Matt ditches the heroes for hire, which sends them off to harass Cherryh. Daredevil overhears the candidate speaking to Sheldon on the phone, and an agreement is made to exchange the checks for cash during a parade the next day.

At the parade, Power Man and Iron Fist search for Matt but come into conflict with Daredevil. Meanwhile, Turk and Grotto, attempting to get back in with the Kingpin, try to kill Sheldon. Eventually Sheldon is caught by the heroes, but realizes he lost the checks among the tornado of ticker tape swirling above when he tried to elude Turk.

That night, Elektra arrives at the Kingpin’s office to discuss her potential employment.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

FICTIONAL PRIVILEGE AND COMPETENCE

Spider-Man is my all-time favorite superhero; possibly my all-time favorite fictional character. He's a guy driven by guilt to always do the right thing, no matter the personal cost. Peter Parker, in most of his iterations, is a kid or a young adult; a student, a freelance photographer; a guy with barely two nickels to rub together, ever trying to make ends meet. And I wouldn't want him any other way.

But at the same time, that's usually not a character I want to read about (or watch on TV, in the movies, etc.). I love characters like Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, and so on. They have millions -- or, nowadays, billions -- of dollars and they live in palatial estates. Moon Knight, in many of his incarnations, falls into this realm as well. I'd even add the Avengers and X-Men to this category, too. They're not all obscenely wealthy, but they're comfortable and they live in big mansions. The Avengers even have a loyal butler!


There was an era for Daredevil where Nelson & Murdock were considered the best attorneys in New York and operated out of one of the upper floors of a huge skyscraper. This has always been my favorite period for the character. Angel is one of my favorite X-Men because he's the richest among them. Oliver Queen is far more interesting to me when he's wealthy than when he lives in a tenement. I like Danny Rand better as the head of a company than as a hero for hire (and thanks to the recent NetFlix series, I suspect the former will be his default setting going forward).

Friday, May 19, 2017

PARKER: THE HUNTER & PARKER: THE OUTFIT

As I confessed the other day, I had never read a single thing by Darwyn Cooke prior to this year. Somehow the guy just sort of slipped under my radar for pretty much his entire career. I'd seen his artwork now and then, and I was aware of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER, but mostly he just looked like sort of a Bruce Timm clone to me.

Nonetheless, people seemed to love the guy's work. When he died unexpectedly last spring, I made a note that I would definitely check out something he'd done, with NEW FRONTIER at the top of the list. But instead, by way of the big Comixology IDW sale back in October, I wound up reading his PARKER graphic novels first.

Parker was created by the late Donald E. Westlake under the pen name of Richard Stark, as a sort of "anti-hero" in a series of pulp novels published over the course of forty years. In 2009, Cooke began a series of four adaptations of a handful of Perker's earliest stories. The first, THE HUNTER, follows career criminal Parker on a long, bloody trail toward revenge on a man who left him for dead and the return of some stolen monies he believes are rightfully his. Parker comes into conflict with "the Outfit", a nationwide crime syndicate, and by the story's end he's recovered his cash but made a very dangerous enemy of the Outfit.

Monday, May 15, 2017

DAREDEVIL #177

"WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD"
Story & Art : Frank Miller | Finished Art : Klaus Janson
Colors: Glynis Wein | Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Supervisor : Jim Shooter

The Plot: Over the course of a week, Matt Murdock is retrained in the use of his radar sense by Stick. Meanwhile, Ben Urich writes an exposé on mayoral candidate Randolph Cherryh’s connections to the mob, leading to Cherryh suing the Bugle, and publisher J. Jonah Jameson enlisting Nelson & Murdock to defend the paper. Eventually, Matt’s radar returns while the Kingpin makes plans to deal with Ben.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This is about the closest Miller’s DAREDEVIL gets to a “quiet issue”. The main plot is Matt battling his inner demons with Stick’s aid, but elsewhere, sub-plots abound.

As mentioned above, Jonah Jameson hires Nelson & Murdock — or, more specifically, Nelson, as Matt is out of the picture for the moment — to defend the Daily Bugle. Playing hardball (and reminding Jameson and readers once more that Nelson & Murdock are the best attorneys in the country), Foggy requires an up-front retainer in the amount necessary to rent and furnish a new office for the currently homeless firm.

With Matt occupied, Heather re-enters the New York night life with her friend Rico, last seen back when Roger McKenzie was still writing the series. She flirts with a number of men at a little soiree, but when Rico disparages Matt, Heather storms out of the party without him.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

THE UNBOXING - MAY 2017

Same tune, different singer. Or something. Last month I had one lone book, a CAPTAIN AMERICA EPIC COLLECTION from Marvel. May brings a repeat of that theme, with another single offering in the form of another Epic Collection -- only this time the character is Spider-Man, and the book is THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN EPIC COLLECTION: THE GOBLIN'S LAST STAND.


This volume ushers the web-slinger into the 1970s with Stan Lee's final few issues as series writer and the beginning of Gerry Conway's multi-year stint as his successor, accompanied by the likes of John Romita and Gil Kane on art -- and it includes, as the title indicates, the milestone deaths of the original Green Goblin and of Peter Parker's longtime girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.

But that's not all! Due out later this month is the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS volume 3 (and I'll speak a bit more about it in June's Unboxing). That book will include AMAZING #68 - 104, while this Epic Collection covers issues 105 - 123. That's more than fifty consecutive issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN reprinted by Marvel in a single month! What a time to be alive! It's almost as if they want to get a bunch of new collections out there in various formats to tie in with a big movie this summer...!

That's it for May, but next month will more than make up for the past couple smaller Unboxings with the afore-mentioned AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS 3 and one or two other neat surprises. See you then!