Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Daredevil 14, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Spencer: One advantage visual mediums such as comics, movies and television have over other mediums is the ability to tell two stories at the exact same time. One of my favorite examples comes from Season Four of Mad Men, where Don’s secretary, Miss Blankenship, dies in the office as the partners are having a meeting with a very important client. As the camera focuses on the clients and we hear only their dialogue, in the background the rest of the staff tries to remove Blankenship’s corpse from the office without the clients noticing. It’s a brilliant bit of dark humor, but I’m always impressed by how well the show tells that second story in the background without a single line of dialogue, even as the audience’s attention is divided. Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson manage to pull off similar feats multiple times in a single issue with Daredevil 14 — it’s absolutely dazzling — but also get a lot of mileage out of the stories playing out behind the scenes that nobody notices. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 13, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…or candy!
George Oscar Bluth, Arrested Development
Drew: While I understand the distinction magicians make between “trick” and “illusion” — the former is about the techniques a magician uses, the latter is about the effect those collected techniques have on the audience — I think we’re perfectly justified in calling them “tricks.” The “illusion” — that a rabbit appears out of thin air, that a lady survives being sawed in half, that a card jumps to the top of the deck — dares us to believe that “magic is real,” but the actual techniques used to pull it off tend to be much more clever, if simpler, explanations. For me, an understanding of those tricks leaves me much more impressed about the illusion — knowing just how subtly they palmed the coin, or how convincing their false shuffle allows me to appreciate the actual craft that goes into what they’re doing. Indeed, any “magic” in the illusion lies in the skills of the magician, making knowing the trick more magical for me. Which I suppose is my way of asking forgiveness in focusing on the “tricks” of Daredevil 13, which pulls off an illusion so compelling, it’s hard to deny its magic. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Daredevil 12, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Spencer: In my mind, I always equate action with fight scenes. Call it a remnant of my high school obsession with Dragonball Z, or even my growing up on Adam West’s Batman series (which featured a gigantic fight scene as the centerpiece of each episode), but I often forget that there are other, equally thrilling definitions of action. Fortunately, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee aren’t as forgetful as I am; Daredevil 12 is filled with action of all sorts, be it high-flying stunts or heart-pounding car chases, and there couldn’t possibly be a better artistic team than Samnee and colorist Matthew Wilson to bring that action to life. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ryan are discussing Daredevil 11, originally released December 24th, 2014.
Forget the self and you will fear nothing…
Carlos Castaneda, The Active Side of Infinity
Drew: What would you say defines who you are? Without getting too specific, I think most people would agree that their identity can be loosely described by their tastes, values, sense of humor, intelligence, and interactions with others — that is to say, their everyday state of being. Someone is considered kind or funny or smart because they are kind or funny or smart most of the time. Fictional characters, on the other hand, aren’t defined by their everyday state of being; instead, their mettle is tested through conflict — some kind of extraordinary circumstance that demonstrates who they really are. Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been all about defining Matt by putting him through the wringer, largely by testing his fears — fear of losing his sanity, fear of losing his friend, fear of losing his secrets — but issue 11 test the very notion of fear itself, as Matt is forced to confront his own ego. Continue reading →
Today, Greg and Taylor are discussing Daredevil 10, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Greg: Like many folks who work in a creative field, I battle with depression. Now I know that this is a site that critiques comic books, not the critics’ psyches, so I won’t go into agonizing detail, but I will tell you that there are times when you feel like you’re drowning among loved ones, I’m currently feeling a lot better, and that feeling better is something you work on daily. I’ll also tell you the only reason I’m being this forward is because Daredevil 10 touches on depression in such a refreshingly accurate and harrowing way, that I can’t help but feel disappointed when it ultimately devolves into a hastily tidy wrap-up. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 9, originally released October 15th, 2014.
Patrick: Have you ever watched a video of a baby eating a lemon for the first time? There are hundreds of these videos up on YouTube, and while it always strikes me as a little mean-spirited, it’s fascinating to see the purity of these babies’ reaction to the sourness of the lemon. There aren’t any videos of adults eating lemons, because: who cares? Adults have filters and modesty and the knowledge that they can make that sour taste stop. The baby, meanwhile, just has to stew in this unpleasant, unfamiliar experience. The same is true of emotions — adults have enough perspective to realize that their emotions are temporary or irrational or perhaps just resultant from a changeable attitude, but children are largely at the mercy of their emotions. Basically, adults can will themselves to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as far as a child knows, the tunnel is all there is. The Marvel villain the Purple Man is a scary presence, with his ability to impose his will on others, but the Purple Children introduced last issue are something much more terrifying: the entire slate of childhood emotion projected outward. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 7, originally released August 20th, 2014.
Drew: Last month, in our discussion of Daredevil 6, I was struck by the darker, distinctly Miller-esque tone of that issue, wondering “is it a sign of respect to that era of Daredevil history, or an assertion that a return to that style would only bring pain?” I don’t know what would compel me to apply such a simple binary to this series, but true to form, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez manage to deliver an answer that is somehow both and neither option. Waid’s run has been all about pulling that darkness into the light (with a twist), and this issue distills that theme into a charming bite-sized little adventure. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Daredevil 36, originally released February 19, 2014.
Patrick: I haven’t been reading Marvel comics all that long — in fact, just as the New 52 got me into reading Batman and the gang, Marvel Now got me into reading Spider-Man and the gang. My constant-comic-discovering-buddy Drew pointed out something profound very early on: Marvel is much more interested in reconciling the superheroes with the secret identities than DC is. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t tension between Clark Kent and Superman or that there aren’t similarities between Barry Allen and The Flash, but Marvel heroes tend to lead two rich, full lives that grind against each other constantly. Such is the case with Matt Murdock — the guy even has a history of aggressively asserting that he’s not Daredevil. The finale to Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s phenomenal run (for now) sees Matt Murdock and Daredevil united as a single set of priorities, values, loves, vulnerabilities and friends. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Fearless Defenders 7, originally released July 31st, 2013.
Drew: Death is hard to relate to. By it’s very nature, nobody alive has ever experienced it, and people are bad at relating to things that aren’t walking, talking people (which is why we anthropomorphize everything from pets to brave little toasters). It’s no wonder, then, that comics are so notoriously bad at dealing with death — or at least treating dead as dead. Everyone from Superman to Captain America has cheated death, and while we’re often told that it’s “against the rules” to come back from the dead, characters that actually stay dead seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. These days, the death of a character is simply the starting point for the saga of the inevitable return of that character. Fearless Defenders 7 leans heavily into those expectations, but ultimately subverts them, compressing the “saga” into a single issue, and forcing some actual consequences for Annabelle’s death (and resurrection). Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Fearless Defenders 6, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Patrick: Hey guys: GENDER IN COMICS! If there’s one thing we get whipped into a frenzy about on a fairly regular basis over here at Retcon Punch, it’s the portrayal of women in superhero comics. And with good cause: not only is there a decades-long tradition of turning female characters into disposable subjects of the leers and catcalls of male readers, but the inequity between male and female characters continues to this day. When DC relaunched it’s line two years ago, the editors found a home for 4 different past male-Robins, but couldn’t be bothered to include Stephanie Brown in their ranks. Why? The same can be said about Earth’s Green Lanterns: Guy, John, Kyle and Hal were all zipping around the universe, but whither Jade? And even a series like Fearless Defenders, which in 6 issues has only featured one named male character, seems to be plagued with gender problems: occasionally-cheesecakey art; a hysterical, flakey lead; and now the ubiquitous woman in a refrigerator. But it is possible that we put too much responsibility on these all-women series to be paragons of gender equality? Continue reading →