Michael: After 20 issues Charles Soule and Ron Garney finally give us the backstory of how Daredevil’s secret identity once again became a secret. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I’m very impressed with how they pulled it off. If the controversial Spider-Man arc “One More Day” is how not to accomplish an identity retcon, then Daredevil’s “Purple” might be the complete opposite. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 17, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Our mission statement here at Retcon Punch has always been to foster thoughtful discussions about comic books, but there’s another idea that’s always factored heavily into our work as well: everyone’s unique perspective contributes heavily to their interpretation of any given book. It’s an idea that kept popping into my head as I read Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla’s Daredevil 17, because my feelings about this issue are heavily influenced by my feelings about Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s previous run with the character. I can only imagine that this story reads far differently to anyone without that attachment. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 18, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Act three: The climax occurs as well as the dénouement, a brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns. In other words, it is simply the resolution.
Wikipedia, Act (drama)
Drew: It might be reductive to call the final act of a story the most important, but it certainly defines what kind of story it is; is it a tragic or optimistic? Is it about how people and things change or about how they stay the same? Is it about satisfying resolutions for the characters, or satisfying resolutions for the plot? I’ve presented some obviously false dichotomies there, but the point is, the exact nature of a story, from its ultimate message to its storytelling sensibilities, can’t be defined until that final act. That puts a lot of pressure on the final act — a pressure that is doubly true in comics, where the final issue may make up a tiny fraction of the series’ run. Of course, it’s under pressure that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Daredevil has always had its highest moments, from moving Matt and company across the country to gracefully integrating into whatever crossovers Marvel cooked up to simply resolving the daring cliffhangers they came up with the month before. Daredevil 18, their final issue, is no different, which is exactly why it’s such a remarkable ending. Continue reading
Patrick: One of the base assumptions that I usually have to check when discussing a work of genre fiction is the assumption that the villain acts as an analogue to the creative forces behind the story. Heroes — be they superheroes or brave knights or swashbuckling adventurers — seldom get to trade in particularly complex or nuanced ideas. But villains! Villains get to have a much more human relationship to morality, often holding conflicting ideas in their heads. What’s more is that both the villains and the creators have the same job: make the hero suffer. This relationship gets even trickier when the characters are on-loan from elsewhere, as is so often the case with comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have made their mark on Daredevil, but the character does not belong to them in the strictest sense. Issue 16 sees the creators trying to reconcile their relationship to the titular hero, and in so doing, welcome a host of villains into their drama. Continue reading
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
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
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