The Difference Between Mayoral Action and Superhero Action in Daredevil 602

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“New York City’s uniformed protectors are under attack by the Hand.” It’s a straightforward premise, one with both obvious drama and an obvious solution: superheroes fight the ninjas. But as of Daredevil 601, Matt Murdock is more than just a superhero; he’s also the mayor of New York. Suddenly those simple solutions don’t seem quite as simple. Charles Soule, Mike Henderson, Matt Villa and Clayton Cowles’ Daredevil 602 illustrate the difference between the streamlined drama of the superhero and the complicated drama of the mayor. Continue reading

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Failure Defeated by Pure Action in Daredevil 601

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Daredevil is a punching bag. I know all superheroes suffer — conflict is the engine of story, and masked dudes with superpowers have to really be put through the ringer for a desensitized audience to feel anything. But Matt Murdock is a special case: his default state seems to be “just got beat up.” I mean, look at the cover to this issue. No one’s going to ask “oh no, is Matt gonna be okay?” Yeah, sure — he’ll be fine. He always bleeds from the face when he’s working on a plan. So part of what makes Daredevil 601 feel so unsettling is how smoothly everything goes for the Mayor Without Fear. Continue reading

Daredevil 600: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Desaulniers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Patrick: Where does power come from? I’ve been seriously grappling with this one since Trump was elected to the White House, but this question obviously extends waaaay beyond that fucking monster. Does power ultimately come from money? From social connections? From one’s willingness to sacrifice their friendships? From violence? From non-violence? As the battle between Wilson Fisk and Daredevil reaches a fever pitch, questions of where either of them gets their power are posed right alongside the question of where Daredevil 600 gets its power. This is a six-hundredth issue, after all — so what makes this one special? Continue reading

Kingpin Drowns Out Everything Else in Daredevil 599

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, the media has been a constant bombardment of scandals, missteps, and outrage. Every new sound bite is accused of being a “distraction” from something more important, but the truth is that almost every one of these stories is important (and horrifying) in their own way. Still, so many stories flying around at once can be absolutely overwhelming — nobody can get their bearings straight or agree on which scandals to tackle first. There’s just no way to focus in a world absolutely overwhelmed by Trumpian horrors, which is exactly what Matt Murdock is discovering in Daredevil 599, where newly-elected Mayor Fisk is just as divisive, dangerous, and all-encompassing a figure. Continue reading

Clashing Tones in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s hard to separate a character from the types of stories they inhabit. Indeed, it’s an idea that doesn’t even really make sense in most media, where characters tend to inhabit just the one story, but it kind of runs amok in comics, where there are countless forces pushing characters into other types of stories. There’s crossovers and cameos, which will pull the guest-starring character into the (potentially very different) tonal world of the home series. There’s cross-media franchises, which will accentuate the parts of the character that best suit the medium, whether it’s an action movie, a video-game, or a kids cartoon. And, perhaps more than anything, there’s the monthly grind of telling yet another story with this character, inspiring creators to think outside the box to find something new and exciting to show us. Those forces compound over the decades, such that a given character is less defined by the type of stories they inhabit than the range of stories they could inhabit. Such is the case with Spider-Man, who is so famously versatile to have teamed up with basically everyone in the Marvel Universe, has appeared in countless film and television iterations, and often stars in multiple comics series at once. Even so, there seem to be a few types of stories that Spider-Man isn’t quite suited for, as The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42 illustrates. Continue reading

Fisk Keeps His Enemies Closer in Daredevil 597

by Drew Baumgartner

Daredevil 597

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

What rock did these morally pure creatures crawl out from under and, more important, how do you go from innocent millipede to White House staffer without becoming soiled or disillusioned by the dirty realities of politics along the way?

Heather Havrilesky, “Will The West Wing go south?”

There are a lot of things to nitpick about The West Wing, between its heavy-handed Sorkin-isms and its penchant for too-saccharine resolutions, but the one criticism that I can’t stand is that it isn’t realistic enough. Of course it isn’t — it’s fiction. No, these aren’t how actual White House staffers would talk about issues, because how they actually talk would be totally impenetrable to the audience the show is actually made for. Tone-deaf critics would dismiss this as dumbing-down, but the alternative is a highly accurate but totally unwatchable bore. Policy wonks may lament that there’s no television truly tailored to their niche interests, but the rest of us want something, you know, entertaining. Moreover, we understand that in order to generate drama, characters in fiction may need to speak and act in ways that real people wouldn’t (hint: real people don’t only sit on one half of a dining room table or speak in iambic pentameter). Which means the hero sometimes has to be naive in their hopes and dreams — if they know they’re going to crash on the rocks, they might just call the whole adventure off, which doesn’t leave us with much of a story. Such is the case with Matt’s attempt to keep a watchful eye on Fisk. Continue reading

The Limits to Resistance Daredevil 596

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I took comfort in some of the facts of the matter. For starters, while he won the electoral college, he actually lost the popular vote by more than a million votes. This wasn’t some nation-wide referendum on misogyny and white supremacy, but a statistical loophole exploited by opportunists and trolls. Trump may be in office, but with a historically low approval rating, he is not representing the interests of the people he was elected to lead. But this is a cold fucking comfort. A man in power, even if a widely reviled one, still commands the resources and the authority to make some terrible stuff happen. Wilson Fisk, in his mayoral victory, is an obvious and easy stand-in for Trump, and while Daredevil may be confident that the people of New York City aren’t actually behind Fisk, there’s no denying that the office itself has power. Continue reading

Capturing the Tension of a Post-Trump America in Daredevil 595

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The Kingpin, a literal supervillain, has just been elected the Mayor of Marvel’s New York City. If you can read that sentence and not immediately see parallels to the United States’ current political climate, then you’re clearly far blinder than Matt Murdock. In Daredevil 595, Charles Soule and Stefano Landini tap into the confusion, shock, fear, and paranoia that have come to define the last year for so many of us.  Continue reading

It’s Hard to Take Peter Seriously in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 3

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The fact that Chip Zdarsky would be writing his own ongoing Spider-Man series intrigued me from the moment it was announced. Zdarsky’s sad-sack take on Spider-Man was one of the most consistently funny gags in Howard the Duck, but seemed difficult to translate into the star of a monthly title. Even now that we’re three issues into Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man I’m honestly still not 100% sure how it’s worked out. Zdarsky and Adam Kubert ace the series’ humor and have come up with some interesting plots, but their Peter Parker is almost too stupid to function. Continue reading

Prioritizing Responsibilities in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 2

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s always easy to score political points against the president by suggesting they’re spending too much time relaxing. Folks of every political persuasion have made this argument at some point or another, and it always sounds reasonable because the President obviously has more important things to be doing. With great power, as the saying goes, must also come great responsibility. But of course, even Presidents are people, and while we should certainly hold them to a high standard in terms of workload (that it’s a stressful job is part of the job description), expecting them to never take a vacation is inhumane. This is a point Peter Parker has always fluctuated on. He obviously respects the responsibilities that come with his powers, but he’d also like to be a human being with a fulfilling professional and personal life. Usually, that means he’s constantly running out on dates or jobs to save the day, but Chip Zdarksy and Adam Kubert find a decidedly different approach in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 2. Continue reading