Daredevil is four weeks away!

Note! The below post and its comment section may contain information that people avoiding any and all spoilers should probably stay away from.

Thursday saw exciting new Daredevil info hit Twitter and elsewhere, with a confirmed release date of October 19, and a new teaser trailer. The Daredevil account was very active, though mostly through Bible verses, which I assume sent an unusual number of visitors to Bible web sites. (We’ll look at of some of them for you below.)

Then, yesterday, came a very revealing Entertainment Weekly article with a couple of new set photos, and lots of information about where we’ll find our favorite characters when the season begins. I will discuss some of this below, so people wary of even the slightest spoilers should probably stop reading right here. (I guess your main takeaway will be to remember to tune in to Netflix on October 19.) One of these set photos, a variant of one of the others, and one not found in the EW article at all, can also be found at spoilertv.com.

The info in the EW article is really quite revealing. It seems that, while Matt and Foggy aren’t reunited right off the bat, we at least don’t have to wait until much of the season has passed for Matt to come back from the “dead.” There’s not mention of Karen though.

What doesn’t surprise me is that the events of The Defenders have taken a physical toll on Matt in ways that will be evident at the start of the season. We know he had a building drop on him so the idea that he’d snap back with no trouble at all would seem pretty implausible (I’m impressed by how frail they’ve actually made Charlie Cox look in the bar scene above). We also had that bit of foreshadowing in season two were Matt had his senses go on the fritz after a head injury. There’s a very well-known story from the Miller run which leads up to the in-story introduction of Stick that sees Daredevil dealing with the loss of his radar sense, which I suspect they may have borrowed some of the inspiration from.

That this seems to take Matt to a very dark place doesn’t surprise me either, as he is pretty much the textbook definition of someone who bases their self-worth on accomplishments (only). This may also be the reason he allows his friends and allies to go on believing he’s dead for some, as yet, unidentified amount of time. He’s probably convinced himself they’re better off without him. I really, really hope they do something interesting with this though. In fact, I will probably have to come back to this topic.

I’m really digging the fact that showrunner Erik Oleson seems to have been given pretty free reins. I love stories that remind me of classic Daredevil moments, but I don’t need faithful adaptations of entire storylines. After all, you want there to be surprises and brand new content to enjoy. Well, I guess I should end this with some Bible verses from the Daredevil Twitter account.

Job 12:22
“He reveals the deep things of darkness
  and brings utter darkness into the light.”

Job 30:26
“Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
  when I looked for light, then came darkness.”

Romans 2:8
“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow            evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

Deuteronomy 30:15
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”


Review: “Nelson v. Murdock” – Episode #10 of Marvel’s Daredevil

This episode review took much longer to get through than I had planned, I’m sorry about that! I’ve been pretty busy at work, but a big part of it is due to how I always feel like I have to brace myself whenever I watch this episode. As much as I love it – and I can totally relate to the many for whom this is their favorite – it’s also quite upsetting. For the review, I’ll try my very best to examine all the different angles, but I’ve had process it a bit more than I’ve had to for previous reviews. The remaining three episodes should be up before the end of the month though!

Recap

Matt, badly injured, wakes up in his apartment. When he tries to sit up, Foggy appears and cuts him off. Angry and hurt by what he’s found out about his best friend, Foggy tells Matt that Claire stiched him up, after Matt had prevented him from calling 911. The entire scene is incredibly tense, and before we cut to the intro, Foggy asks: “Are you even really blind?” I’d probably be asking that too.

Matt, badly injured, wakes up on his couch, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Next, we flash back to Matt and Foggy’s first meeting. Foggy is registering for his classes when Matt knocks on the door. They get introduced and we learn that Foggy recognizes Matt’s name and remembers hearing about what happened to him as a kid. Foggy clearly believes that, with Matt at his side, his prospects with the fairer sex will improve. Matt seems a little overwhelmed by Foggy’s direct approach, but is also grateful that Foggy doesn’t treat him differently than he would anyone else.

Back in Matt’s apartment in the present, the two talk about Matt’s powers, and how he kept them a secret all those years, from everyone. Foggy is mad that he told Claire, but Matt explains that he didn’t have a choice. Foggy then asks whether Matt shot the cops and blew up those buildings. Matt is visibly hurt by the question and starts crying, saying it was all Fisk. Karen then calls on Matt’s phone, and neither of them pick it up. When she next calls Foggy, Matt pleads with him not to tell her, and Foggy concocts a lie, saying Matt was in a car accident.

Fisk and Gao meet alone. Gao tells him the story about the snake who tried to bite an elephant, and was betrayed by its ambition. Fisk asks whether he is supposed to be the snake or the elephant in the story, and the conversation turns to Nobu. Fisk makes excuses for Nobu’s death by pointing out that he volunteered for the task. When the topic turns to the masked man, Fisk is forced to admit that he hasn’t found his body. Gao then wonders when Fisk’s ambition will turn to her. Fisk says she’s different from the others, in that she has his respect. Gao points out that Fisk used to be of a singular mind, but that he’s now pulled in two directions by the love in his life. Gao, now in English, says there is conflict within him, and she encourages him to choose sides, between savior and opressor. “Choose wisely or others shall choose for you.”

Fisk and Gao meet, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Ben is at his wife’s side at the hospital when she wakes up. They talk about his most recent story and their life together. After a long conversation, in the middle of a kiss, Doris’ mind seems to go blank and she is suddenly surprised to see him, which hits him hard. He is then called outside by the hospital administrator we know from earlier episodes. Ben gets negative news about the extension he had applied for and now has to explore other options for her care.

In Matt’s apartment, Foggy gets Matt’s gear out of the chest in the closet. When asked, Matt tells him that he ordered everything off the internet. Foggy then wonders about where Matt learned how to fight and Matt tells him about Stick. Foggy is understandably incredulous.

In another flashback scene, Matt and Foggy, are in their last semester of law school. They are walking along after a night of drinking. They joke about how Matt should study less, and Foggy study more. They talk about their future, and the Greek girl Matt dated briefly. When asked about whether or not he gets “the spins” when drinking alcohol, Matt comes very close to saying a little too much about his senses. They then talk about Matt’s first drink, his dad, and Foggy’s family coming to graduation. Foggy imagines a glorious future for them with big fancy offices, and they settle on the name “Nelson and Murdock.”

Ben is in his office, looking at folders about hospice care for his wife. Ellison offers him an editorial position for a different section of the newspaper, and mentions that it has better benefits. Ben says he’ll think about it. Next, Karen is entering the Nelson & Murdock offices, returning from a run to the county clerk’s office. She tries calling Foggy, recording a message saying it’s important, when Ben startles her by coming out of one of the side offices. He gives her his box of cards and newspaper clippings, and says that he’s taking time off to take care of his wife. Karen tells Ben about a nursing home she’s heard about upstate, and offers him to take a ride with her.

Owlsley chastises Fisk for Nobu being burned alive, as the two of them and Wesley get ready for an event. Fisk wants Owlsley to talk to Gao, to reassure her that everything is fine. Owlsley and Fisk then talk about Vanessa. Owlsley is quite up front about his concerns regarding the distractions in Fisk’s life.

Back in Matt’s apartment, Foggy gets a call from Mahoney, who says that the junkie who killed Elena has been found dead, taking a dive off a building. Foggy confronts Matt about it, and Matt denies having anything to do with it, saying that he’s never killed anyone. Matt admits that he wanted to kill Fisk, though, after what happened with Elena, and that he got hurt after going to the warehouse with the intention of killing him.

Matt explaining to Foggy what made him put on a mask, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

We flash back to the more recent past: Matt and Foggy’s internship at Landman and Zack. Seated at a large conference table as part of a legal team, their firm is looking to bring a countersuit against a man who’s developed a serious disease through his work at a Roxxon-owned plant, claiming that he had breached his contract by presumably disclosing trade secrets. During the hearing, Matt discovers that the man is telling the truth. Later, when Foggy has learned that they have been offered positions at the firm after their internship, Matt instead wants out. Foggy reluctantly agrees that Landman and Zack may not be the place for them after all.

Back in the present, Foggy is at the window of Matt’s apartment while Matt is resting on his couch. Matt confronts him about wanting to say something, because he can always tell when Foggy is about to. Foggy replies “I really don’t” and we cut to Ben and Karen who are taking a ride in Ben’s car. They talk about Doris, and how Karen hadn’t realized how bad things were. They talk about hard times and secrets, and we get further indications that Karen is hiding some pretty heavy things from her past (some of which Ben probably doesn’t know about, even after his previous background check on her). When they pull up to the retirement home, Ben realizes right away that it’s out of his price range, but Karen insists they take a look around. She is clearly up to something.

Back with Matt and Foggy, Foggy is now yelling at Matt (seemed like there was something he wanted to say, after all). He wants to know how Matt went from just having heightened senses to doing what he does now. Matt tells the story about how he used to listen to the sirens as a kid, and only later learned how many sirens there were. Shortly after they left Landman and Zack, Matt heard the cries of a girl who was being molested by her father. Matt tells Foggy he caught up with him one night and attacked him. We the cut to the scene of Matt jumping him, and punching him over and over until his fists are covered in blood. Foggy then confronts Matt about all the years he must have kept training, suggesting that there is more to it, that Matt maybe can’t stop himself. Matt then flat out admits that he doesn’t want to stop.

Karen and Ben talk with Wilson Fisk's mother, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

At the retirement home, Karen suggests they talk to one of the people who live their. Clearly, she has someone special in mind, and they enter the room of a Mrs. M. Vistain. Karen prods her about her past, with Ben growing increasingly uncomfortable. When Karen asks about her former husbands, specifically the first one, Mrs. Vistain starts talking and we realize that this is Wilson Fisk’s mother. And, she’s admitting to some pretty horrible things.

Wilson Fisk, with Vanessa at his side, gives a speech at a fundraising event for Fisk’s charity. Next, there is mingling and Wesley, Vanessa and Owlsley talk about politics when people suddenly drop all around them, foaming at the mouth. It doesn’t take long before Vanessa collapses as well with Fisk rushing to her aid. Owlsley, who has yet to take a sip out of his glass, drops it to the floor.

In Matt’s apartment, Foggy is still furious with Matt, saying that he’s going to get himself killed, or find himself in prison; that he and Karen are now a part of this, and that they never had any say in the matter. After delivering some hard truths about their relationship, Foggy walks out the door leaving Matt sobbing on the couch.

Matt and Foggy have drinks and talk about the future, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

In a final flashback scene, we see Matt and Foggy in a bar. Judging by the cuts on Matt’s face, this takes place shortly after Matt’s first attack. Foggy has drawn a sign for their door on a bar napkin, hoping that Matt will be able to feel it. They speak jokingly about the commitments of going into business together and make a toast to their future. Finally, in the present, we see Foggy at the office, throwing the Nelson and Murdock sign into the garbage.

My thoughts

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, this is always a difficult episode for me to watch. On the one hand, I absolutely love that they decided to let Foggy in on Matt’s secret so early. In the timeline of this show, Matt’s vigilante activities go back just a few weeks. In the comic book universe, it took nearly 350 issues and thirty years before Foggy learned the truth, and he was far from the first person to do so. Considering how much this show is borrowing from the Bendis run – at least in tone and the overall look – it doesn’t surprise me though. Matt and Foggy are so much better together when Foggy knows about Matt’s abilities and secret life.

On the other hand, I have always been slightly uncomfortable with the level of pretense that goes into being Matt Murdock, and it’s one of those aspects of the character that I feel warrants a closer examination and explanation. My absolute favorite take on it, to date, is actually from the Waid/Samnee run where Matt explains to Foggy that he found it empowering to have a big secret like that. (See this page, from Daredevil #23, vol 3, and my post from last year “How Daredevil became Matt Murdock.”) There has to be more to it than Matt just finding it hard to explain, and I’m not sure this episode manages to deliver fully, even while covering a lot of ground.

Matt and Foggy first meet in law school, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Part of the problem is that much of the supposed explanations for everything Matt does is missing from this episode, which obviously takes place over the course of an entire day. There is always the risk of an episode like this one being weighed down by too much exposition, but I honestly would have wanted Matt to say something, “on camera,” about the ways in which his heightened senses don’t compensate and that he could never pretend to be sighted. Not only because so many people seem to not fully get this (in some interviews, Charlie Cox even appears to be in this group, though to his credit, he’s also said certain things that suggest otherwise), but because, to me, it’s basically the only thing that makes Matt’s charade forgivable.

Of course, the act of concealing his heightened senses, in and of itself, is only one part of the betrayal. The other is what it means when it comes to things like Foggy realizing that Matt has been able to tell every time he’s told a lie. It’s such a violation of your most private thoughts, even though Matt can’t really help knowing these things. Then there is, of course, the huge revelation of what Matt does as the “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.” Foggy is left not only wondering what Matt can do, but who he is and what he’s morally capable of. I really appreciate that Foggy argues his case like a lawyer here. They’re supposed to be going through the legal system, and what Matt is doing is so far outside of what they’re supposed to be about. You might question how Foggy would even suspect that Matt is guilty of everything he’s accused of – and Matt is clearly incredibly hurt by the question – but he’s now in the position of wondering whether anything he thought he knew about Matt Murdock is real.

The flashback sequences, though really wonderful, are also pretty hard for me to watch because I’m constantly reminded of Matt’s deceit. At the same time, they go a long way to smoothing things over for the viewer because while Matt is playing down his heightened senses – as he must, apparently – he’s probably sincere in every other respect. One way of thinking about it is that, to Matt, his “big lie” probably felt smaller around Foggy than it might have around other people, precisely because Foggy was always, from their very first meeting, willing to treat Matt’s blindness as nothing more than a minor physical trait with little bearing on his overall personality. So, when Foggy asks “Was anything ever real with us?” Matt probably genuinely feels that they were, at least in the ways that most mattered to him.

Matt and Foggy interning at Landman and Zack, as seen in episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

This episode, more than any other, also puts a spotlight on how there is more than one way to be a “good person.” Matt is both a scheming liar (there’s no denying it), and an idealist of the first order. Not only does he not hesitate to put himself in harm’s way to help others, he also feels very strongly that he can’t be in an environment that requires him to bargain with his conscience the way he did at Landman and Zack. Foggy, on the other hand, is more willing to let what is legal obscure what is moral (though he doesn’t have the benefit of a built-in lie detector). And he’s honest about wanting nice things. He doesn’t value money above all else, but worldly possessions are more important to him than they are to Matt. On the other hand, the emphasis here should be on the word “honest.” Foggy is genuine, he doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. He’s the kind of person Matt could probably read like an open book, even if he didn’t have heightened senses. Foggy is uncomplicated whereas Matt’s value system is so convoluted not even he knows how to navigate it.

One thing that this show has been masterful at is exploring the same themes from different angles. This is evident in how Matt’s life and motivations can be compared and contrasted with Fisk’s throughout the series. This episode is all about pretense and deception. We see Fisk and Gao forego Wesley’s company and speak directly with each other. As Gao points out, “the time for pretense is over.” At the same time, Karen doesn’t hesitate to use deception to trick Ben into going further down a road he was planning to get off. It is really a pretty heinous thing to do but, like Matt, she probably figures that her deception is serving a higher purpose. At the end of the day, this episode is as much about the lies we tell ourselves as it is about the lies we tell others.

Foggy takes one last look at the Nelson & Murdock sign, before throwing it in the garbage. From episode ten of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Senses watch

There’s quite a bit this episode, as Matt has to explain his powers to Foggy. As mentioned, much of the actual explaining presumably take place between scenes though, much to my dismay. Matt lists the various ways in which he just “knows things,” and I was okay with them the second time I saw the episode, even though the bit about how he could tell Foggy had eaten onions two days ago only actually makes sense to me because he knows Foggy well. People don’t all metabolize things the same way, after all, and it seems the quantity would also be a variable factor. But it’s a minor quibble.

I had more issues with his hearing the girl who was being molested “down the block.” There are ways I can imagine this that feel more or less okay, but Matt’s ability to hear things over very great distances – or worse, through several walls or floors – will always be my biggest sensory pet peeve, here as well as in the comic. There’s heightened senses, and there’s Superman. Or psychic abilities. They shouldn’t be the same thing, but that’s a personal preference that not everybody shares obviously.

Matt pointing out that he has to concentrate to hear who Foggy is talking to on the phone was interesting though. This is in line with the comics, in the sense that Matt has rarely (outside of maybe the Bendis run), been imagined as anything but human when it comes to simple things like allocating attention. Attention is a finite resource and is also a logical prerequisite for a person’s ability to concentrate. Concentrating on one thing pretty much presupposes that there are other things going on that you’re not concentrating on. Daredevil analyzing a scene has usually been about him mentally picking it apart in a mostly sequential fashion, not unlike what a normal person would do, just using other kinds of cues.

(Accessible) gadget watch

Well, we get another phone call, this time from Karen, announced for both Matt and Foggy to hear. And there’s more braille reading. Again, not exactly a gadget. I will say this though: Matt has already read more braille in this show than in every issue of Daredevil combined.

Easter egg watch

This episode has the Easter egg that had almost every die-hard Daredevil fan oohing, with the mention of the “Greek girl” Matt dated in college (and who apparently was in his Spanish class). This is obviously a reference to Elektra.

During their internship at Landman and Zack, Matt and Foggy work with a team of lawyers representing Marvel’s well-known evil corporation Roxxon.

At Fisk’s benefit gala, Owsley mentions senator a “van Lunt and his crackpot astrologer.” Aside from advising senator Cherryh on his senate campaign, van Lunt apparently owns the building they’re in. In the 616 universe, Cornelius van Lunt is better known under his Taurus identity, as one of the leaders of the Zodiac criminal empire.

Quotes

Foggy: “Come on! You got your peepers knocked out, saving that old dude.”
Matt: “They didn’t get knocked out.”
Foggy: “Good. ‘Cause that would be… a little freaky. No offense!”

Foggy: “Me and you, Marverick and Goose. No secrets.”
Matt: “Goose died. And, he was married.”

Foggy: “A blind, old man taught you the ancient ways of martial arts? Isn’t that the plot to Kung Fu?”

Foggy: “Murdock and Nelson, attorneys at law!”
Matt: “Nelson and Murdock. It sounds better.”
Foggy: “You think?”
Matt: “Yeah, trust me. I can’t see worth shit, but my hearing’s spectacular.”

Wesley: “You weren’t particularly fond of Nobu. You thought he was unsettling, as I recall.”
Owlsley: “I find you unsettling half the time. See me lighting a match?”

Matt: “Sometimes the law isn’t enough.”

Foggy: “With you as my partner, there’s no telling when I’m going to be able to afford a real meal again.”

Karen: “We all have things we hold onto for ourselves, that we don’t want anyone to know.”
Ben: “But there’s always someone who does, sooner or later.”

Matt: “Sounds like we’re getting married.”
Foggy: “This is way more important than a civil union. We’re going to be business partners! We’ll share everything with each other; our thoughts, our dreams, bills, crushing debt.”

Foggy: “Misspelling Hanukkah is a mistake, attempted murder is a little something else.”

Star player

Foggy Nelson, hands down. This is the episode where you’re really rooting for Foggy. We love Matt, flaws and all, but Foggy really has every right to be as angry as he is. For me, the thing that best defines Foggy as a character here is this exchange:

Foggy: “I wouldn’t have kept this from you Matt. Not from you.”
Matt: “You don’t know that, you don’t know that.”
Foggy: “Yeah. I do.”

I really believe that Foggy means this. Matt may be the idealist of the two of them, but Foggy is more genuine as a person in that what you see is what you get kind of way.

Review: “Into the Ring” – Episode #1 of Marvel’s Daredevil

After taking much too long to catch up with life outside of Daredevil (wouldn’t we all love to immerse ourselves in Daredevil full time), it’s time for my review of the first episode of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. The format I’m going with for these is first a recap covering all the scenes in this issue – part of the reason for doing this is to jog everybody’s memory in case we want to discuss the finer details in the comment section – followed by the actual review portion. After that, there are some other points I wanted to bring up as well that will probably be standard features of every post. Sound good to you guys? Let’s get to it!

Recap

The very first scene of the season goes straight to the origin and young Matt Murdock’s fateful accident. We see it first from Jack Murdock’s perspective as he rushes toward the accident scene up ahead. Moments later, Matt’s world goes black, and the rest, as they say, is history. Next, we jump ahead to the present day and Matt talking to a priest, Father Lantom, about his father and makes ominous mentions about what he’s about to do. This takes us to Matt’s first scene in action, interrupting a shady transaction of kidnapped women for hard cash, where he ends up taking out – among others – classic Daredevil thug Turk Barret. This all ends with the intro being played for the first time.

Image from the intro to Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Next, we get our first look at the Matt and Foggy dynamic when Foggy gets Matt out of the bed for their appointment with the real estate agent. On the way, Foggy checks in with a childhood “frenemy” who is also a cop, and bribes him. Matt does that thing Matt does around the real estate agent while Foggy rolls his eyes at the whole thing. Despite the place going for what Foggy considers to be “pre-incident” prices, the two decide to move in.

We make our first acquaintance with Karen Page in a shocking scene that sees her leaning over a dead body, covered in blood, with the murder weapon in her hand. Things do not look good for Karen. Fortunately, the bribe to the cop pays off, and while the two law partners are in the middle of unpacking, they get a head’s up on Karen’s situation, and go to see her in jail. This scene is bound to become a classic.

It’s at this point we get out first look at Wilson Fisk’s right hand man Wesley, though he’s not named at this point. Wesley has come to threaten a certain Mr. Farnum (see Easter eggs below) to coax him into doing killing Karen Page in her cell. Before that happens, though, we see Matt and Foggy discuss Karen’s case. After Karen skillfully overpowers her attacker and lives to tell about it, Matt and Foggy know something is fishy about the whole thing and secure Karen’s release. They bring her back to their office where Karen gives a statement. Although she doesn’t know who is trying to kill her, she does now why she’s been made a target.

To keep her safe, Matt arranges for her to sleep at his place where the two have a heart to heart. The only problem is that Karen is lying about the whereabouts of the file that got her in trouble to begin with and sneaks out in the middle of the night to retrieve a USB drive from her apartment. Matt follows and, in his “masked man” outfit, is able to catch the attacker sent for Karen. They go on to have a brutal, yet riveting, fight on the street below after they both fall through a window. Matt has a flashback to his childhood and finds the strength to keep fighting. The bad guy is subdued and dumped outside the office of New York Bulletin with the incriminating USB drive stuck to his chest.

Matt fights Karen's attacker, as seen in the first episode of Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

Next, we make our first real acquaintance with the bad guys of this show. Wilson Fisk is still laying low, but Wesley shows up (late) to a meeting between an international cast of characters that includes two scarred Russians, a silent (but certainly deadly) Japanese gentleman, and an enigmatic Chinese woman. Oh, and Leland Owlsley, the guy with an eye for the financial bottom line. Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy are having a much better time with Karen who has cooked what looks like lasagne for her two knights in shining armor.

The episode ends with Matt going a round against a punching bag at Fogwell’s gym while we catch a glimpse of the horrible fates which befell Mr. Farnum and Karen’s attacker Mr. Rance. Madam Gao is  seen running some kind of drug operation staffed by all blind people, while the Japanese are looking at plans of Hell’s Kitchen, and Turk is receiving a arms shipment. Finally, a young boy is kidnapped by the Russians, and we zoom up to Matt listening from  a roof top in the distance.

My thoughts

First off, that first scene is like a bowling ball to the stomach. It’s hard for me to imagine what you’d make of this scene if you weren’t at all familiar with the character, but for those of us who know exactly where things are headed, it’s intense. Seeing Matt’s accident – which has already happened at this point – from Jack’s point of view brings a sense of urgency to it as he runs toward his son. When we get to Matt’s perspective, we see the chemicals gradually eat away at his vision as he desperately looks up at his father. This is grueling to watch, but it’s a heck of a way to make sure everyone is paying attention.

Next, we get our first look at Charlie Cox as Matt in a scene that put all of my doubts to rest. The tears, the emotion in his voice, the whole bit. It works. And we also get a nice slice of backstory out of the way before cutting to the action and a human trafficking transaction that needs some timely interruption. I was surprised to see Turk, who in the comics is certainly not innocent but not quite as heartless as he is here, show absolutely no mercy for the women who are treated as nothing more than cattle. That sets the tone for this show right from the start. Fortunately, we get some levity right after the intro segment with a spot-on interaction between Matt and Foggy.

I can see why Elden Henson’s interpretation of Foggy has divided some fans. There are so many different takes on Foggy to choose from, depending on what chapter of comic book history you look at, and I’m sure everyone has a favorite. For me, he pretty much nails it. And, he also gets some alone time with Brett Mahoney, a police officer who serves as a way to get close to the more interesting cases. Foggy is, at heart, a really nice guy and that shows. But he’s also less of an idealist than Matt is, and I think this and other scenes in this episode do a fine job of showcasing the differences between them.

The scene that sees Karen’s first meeting with Matt and Foggy is bound to be a classic. The dialogue is witty without going over the top, and Deborah Ann Woll looks absolutely awful. And I mean that in the best way possible. Anyone who is sick of female characters in movies waking up with a perfectly made up face, is bound to love the look of her red and puffy eyes. Karen has had one insanely shitty day, and it shows. I know some have been critical of making a victim of the single prominent female character introduced thus far. While I can see their point, sort of, I think it’s important to remember that Karen was not targeted at random, but because she actually acted when she came across something that didn’t add up. Later, she successfully overcomes her attacker in jail, and then go back to her apartment knowing that she’s putting herself at risk. She is far from a classic damsel in distress.

An incredulous Karen Page is sizing up her lawyers Matt and Foggy, as seen in the first episode of Marvel's Daredevil

The scene where Matt takes Karen back to her apartment is breathtaking. The huge billboard outside Matt’s window doesn’t just explain why he was able to get such a large apartment in New York (yes, it’s big even by “post-incident” Hell’s Kitchen standards), but it also makes the scene visually interesting. I find Matt and Karen’s little heart to heart interesting, yet a little puzzling. Matt actually admitting that there are things he misses being able to see is rare – though not unheard of – in the comics. Which makes me wonder about his sincerity, although the mention of seeing the sky may actually be a nod to the opening page of The Man Without Fear #1 that sees young Matt Murdock stare up at the night sky.

What about the villains? Well, Wilson Fisk is nowhere to be seen, but his right-hand man is all kinds of awesome. I had a feeling just from seeing the trailer that Toby Leonard Moore would put in a star performance as Wesley, and it’s evident right from the start that he is a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the baddies make a very diverse and international crew, and I like that this gives us a sense of a wider stage beyond Hell’s Kitchen. Leland Owlsley’s business focus is also quite amusing and his musings do a nice job of tying this story to everything else that’s been going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All in all, a very strong opening that introduces us to most of the more prominent players. On a scale of one to ten, this is easily an 8.5.

Senses watch

There’s a clear connection between the sound effects and where objects land, which establishes how Matt can quickly find just what he needs. The scene with Karen provides the first heartbeat scene. Later he catches her lying. This is conveyed to the audience by using a sound effect that distorts the sound of her voice. In the knife fight scene, we hear the knife slicing through the air, and the (brilliant) clink of the chain against a metal staircase. The episode ends with a slice of classic Daredevil as Matt listens for trouble in his neighborhood. I will obviously return to the finer details of this in a later post.

(Accessible) gadget watch

Matt’s phone speaks Foggy’s name. Cool touch. Necessary, of course, but there’s too little of this stuff in the comics. Also, the recording equipment used to take Karen’s statement has braille labels on it.

Easter egg watch

There are many obvious nods to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they have been mentioned by others elsewhere. Personally, I cooed with delight to realize that Mr. Farnum is a definite nod to Frank Farnum, the manager of the building that housed Nelson & Murdock’s first offices back when the title was still in its teens. Frank Farnum was also the supervillain (or let’s just make it “villain”) the Masked Marauder whose weapon of choice was a blinding ray. Daredevil sure ran into his fair share of villains whose shtick was to blind people. Go figure.

Quotes

Karen: “So how long have you been practicing law?”
Matt: “What time is it?”
Foggy: “It’s 12.22 am.”
Matt: “About seven hours.”

Wesley: “We don’t say his name”

Owlsley: “Heroes and their consequences are why we have our current opportunities.”

Star player

Matt’s intellect. Right from the very first episode, it’s clear that Matt relies as much on his intellect as on his enhanced abilities. I like this. A lot.

10 favorite things about Marvel’s Daredevil

Now that I’ve watched all the episodes again, and found a whole new level love for this show, it’s time to pick it apart and look at all the individual components that made it great. Of course, these are just my own opinions, and the list is far from exhaustive, but I hope we’ll get a good debate going. Some of these are characters, some are relationships, and others are themes or individual scenes. I list them here in no particular order, and will follow up with a “part 2” of this post tomorrow. Did you love the same things I’ve listed so far?

Obviously, this post will contain FULL SPOILERS for all thirteen episodes so don’t read further unless you’ve seen the whole season already!

The willingness to do an original story

Marvel’s Daredevil borrows heavily from Frank Miller’s The Man Without Fear, Miller’s earlier work – especially as it pertains to the Kingpin – and the Bendis/Maleev run. The show obviously draws inspiration from other runs as well, but the end result is, interestingly, something completely new.

This is exactly what I had hoped for. I wasn’t looking to see Born Again, or any other classic storyline, adapted for this show. I know how those stories end, I want new stories. And with comic book canon being as convoluted as it usually is, creating something original for the Marvel Cinematic Universe provides an opportunity clean up some of the mess. The end result ends up righting some oversights that have bothered me. More on that below.

Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil

I know that when Charlie Cox was first cast as Matt Murdock, some of us were perhaps a little skeptical of his brown (not red!) hair, relatively slight build, and boyish good looks. Since then, he didn’t dye his hair (good!), put on just the right amount of muscle, and managed to bring more gravitas to this role than I ever could have hoped for. More importantly, he nailed the character in all those little ways we didn’t even realize to expect.

He’s got the charm, the obsessive drive, the doubts, the demons, and all that heart. It didn’t take long to realize that he was Matt Murdock. I felt good about this casting choice from his very first scene, where he’s talking to a priest about his father and the tears start welling up in his eyes. With all the hurt you know he’s about to dole out, that scene sets up his humanity in a way that helps us root for him, even while worrying about the moral consequences of his decisions.

Charlie Cox also handles the many different physical challenges placed on him really well. This includes his scenes as the would-be Daredevil – though he did, of course, have a stunt double for many of the more advanced moves – as well as when he’s Matt Murdock, blind lawyer. Well done, sir. Well done.

Foggy finding out about Matt

The relationship between Matt and Foggy is genuine and spot-on from the very beginning of this show. However, when you as the viewer – or the reader, as the case may be with the comics – know about Matt’s secret and Foggy doesn’t, that also puts things in a different and rather uncomfortable light.

I felt it was a shame that it took Foggy three decades to learn Matt’s secret in the comics (it finally happened in in Daredevil #347, by J.M. DeMatteis and Ron Wagner, which came out in 1995). Foggy took this quite hard, just as he does in Marvel’s Daredevil. In the comics, it is not until Daredevil #353, the first issue of Karl Kesel’s run, that Matt and Foggy return to practicing law together and even have a conversation about Matt’s heightened senses.

In this show, Foggy learns about Matt’s secret nine episodes in, and as one would imagine, Foggy feels utterly betrayed by his best friend. Letting Foggy in on the secret did wonders for their relationship in the comics, so it’s no wonder that the creators want to move on to that chapter going into what will probably be a second season. As pleased as I am with this hurdle being crossed relatively early – and it’s appropriate that it’s Foggy, not Karen, who is the first of the two to learn the truth – this episode (#10) was one I felt could have been executed better.

Matt mixes in a little too much magic in his explanation of the senses, and says absolutely none of the things that would have been on the top of my list if I were Matt trying to defend myself, such as also make sure to list all the things I couldn’t do, despite the heightened senses, to really emphasize that “blind Matt” is a (necessary) half-truth more than an outright lie. I suppose we have to assume that entered into the conversation while we weren’t listening, because that also strikes me as something Foggy would have needed to hear. Still, that this revelation happened at all was important enough to put it on my list.

The diversity

There may be more languages spoken (or attempted, as in the case of Punjabi) in this series than in most anything I’ve seen on television, ever. It has always bothered me when, say, German is represented by people speaking English with a poor imitation of a German accent. Here, we have a multi-cultural cast of characters who speak their respective languages.

Even more impressively, even the characters with an English-speaking background also speak a second language. As someone who uses two languages daily (English being my second), I love to see this kind of diversity, and to see multilingualism presented almost as the norm, the way it is in most parts of the world.

Matt and Vanessa at the art gallery

My goodness, this was a fun scene with lots of tension. Even though he’s there on very serious business, Matt happily launches into full flirt mode while Vanessa seems to relish the “intimate” opportunity to describe her favorite paintings to a blind man. The painting she suggests is also one that would have been perfect for Matt to buy, which makes it all the more interesting and entertaining. This scene also marks the first meeting between Matt and Wilson Fisk and that also makes it stand out.

The origin story of Wilson Fisk

All of episode eight is outstanding, in my opinion. It’s visually stunning throughout, and very well-paced. What really stood out to me, though, were the scenes from Wilson Fisk’s childhood. My goodness, the actor who portrays young Wilson is amazing, as is the story leading up to his defining moment.

The flashback story also provides a really interesting reference back to the painting Fisk purchased from Vanessa in episode three. This is just one of those little details that make this show spectacular.

Decapitation by car door

This show is extremely violent and I can totally understand if people feel that it goes too far. Personally, I don’t particularly mind, and feel that some of the most violent scenes, while very uncomfortable to watch, fill a purpose in conveying to the viewers just how raw and unrestrained rage and pure evil can be.

In the fourth episode, Wilson Fisk kills a man by cracking his head open with the door to his car. As disgusted as I was by this scene, it was a great character moment for Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk. The fact that he’s doing all of it because he’d been embarrased in front of his date just makes the whole thing even more extreme.

Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley

Speaking of the bad guys, Toby Leonard Moore is hands down amazing as Fisk’s right-hand man, from his chilling first scene (in which he threatens a certain Mr Farnum, and thus serving up a perfectly cooked Easter egg for all of us hardcore Daredevil fans), down to his last. He has that perfect balance of charm and chill that you find in any civilized psychopath, and delivers some of the most memorable lines of the whole show.

It’s a shame he won’t be seen in potential future seasons of Daredevil, but his spectacular death is almost worth that loss, and it also gives Deborah Ann Woll one of her best scenes as Karen Page. Moore is one actor whose further career I’ll be interested to follow.

All that Braille

I mentioned in an earlier post leading up to this show that I suspected they would finally do away with Matt’s ability to read print by touch, and I’m delighted that this appears to be the case. While there is one scene in episode nine showing Matt run his fingers over some constructions plans, I’m not going to read too much into that; depending on the printing process, even a perfectly normal person in the real world can determine whether a piece of paper is a written document, a map or a drawing; it doesn’t mean he can actually read the fine print, so to speak (nor do we learn definitively whether he can actually make sense of what he’s touching in this scene).

When Daredevil’s print-reading ability was introduced in the very first first issue of Daredevil, way back in 1964, the most common printing processes were different than today. In the modern days of offset printing, the textural basis for this ability makes less sense. More importantly, the original decision behind making this one of Daredevil’s powers likely also had a great deal to do with an excessive need to make Matt Murdock’s blindness as inconsequential as possible. We were supposed to buy into the fact that he could not only read print, but he could do so faster than any sighted person! And, that he preferred it to braille.

Given that this is now 2015, I’m happy to see that the MCU version of Matt appears to be a braille reader exclusively, and that this is a skill he seems to take some pride in. I really hope that the writers of any potential future seasons will stick with this decision. While it may be inconvenient, that’s just the kind of inconvenience that you’re going to have to deal with when the main character is blind and, despite his extraordinary senses, still has to live with at least some of the consequences of that fact. Given the current braille literacy crisis (google it!), and the positive correlation between good braille reading skills and academic success among the blind, increasing the public awareness of braille is a good thing in itself.

Jack Murdock

The flashback sequences in episodes one and two are perfect, and the decision to kick things off with Matt’s accident works much better than one might have guessed. The way things unfold, Jack (played by John Patrick Hayden) is actually the first person we see, which seems appropriate given his central role in the Daredevil mythos. So what if he died in the very first issue of the comic? Matt’s not altogether uncomplicated relationship with his father is of vital importance to everything from his career choice to his conflicted feelings about his own violent nature.

The depiction of the relationship between father and son was one of the strong points of the Daredevil (2003) movie, and it’s handled even better here. While serving alcohol to your nine-year-old son will not win you any father of the year awards, there is real love and devotion on display in these flashback scenes. And, despite the absolutely harrowing first scene, Jack appears to handle his son’s accident with a healthy no-nonsense dose of encouragement and continued high expectations for his future.

I also appreciate the restoration of Jack’s albeit imperfect nobility in this series, as compared to some of the takes on the character that have portrayed him as an enforcer for the mob. There is no indication of anything like that in Marvel’s Daredevil, and I’m grateful for that. The way Matt weeps at the memory of his father in that early confessional scene just makes me love these scenes even more. This is great stuff.

As mentioned, I will be back shortly with even more of the characters, moments and themes I particularly enjoyed, so stay tuned!

Countdown to Marvel’s Daredevil: The home stretch

We are so close now. I’m getting ready to go to bed, and when I wake up, Daredevil will start airing at 9.01am in my time zone (Central European Time). Yes, I realize that I live in the best time zone possible for taking the day off work and binge-watching Daredevil. The snacks have been purchased, and I know there’s enough coffee in the house to get me through the day.

I haven’t been able to post quite as religiously as I had intended to over the last few days. Part of the reason was some real world time constraints, but another part of it was the massive onslaught of news coming from everywhere that I didn’t feel the pressure to keep you guys entertained. Besides, just keeping my Facebook and Twitter accounts updated has been work enough. Suddenly, everyone is talking about Daredevil, and that’s definitely an odd feeling.

In case you’re wondering, I did cave and read all the reviews, and I don’t think it’s spoiled the experience for me. Most of them are, as you know, very positive. I learned something else, though: That infographic I made of all the casting information on IMDB is wildly inaccurate. Don’t blame me, though. Blame IMDB (or whoever at Marvel or Netflix who supplies the information). But that’s good. If you thought it had too much in terms of potential spoilers, consider that damage undone.

So with fewer than ten hours to go, I guess it’s time to start looking at what comes next and what the ground rules are going to be. I will watch all episodes right when they start airing, but I will also stay away from social media, and the Internet in general. When I’m back online, I’ll be sure to not spoil anything for anyone, posts will have clear warnings at the top, and also directions on what can and can’t go in the comments. I don’t yet know what kinds of posts I’ll be writing (by theme?, by episode?), as that depends entirely on what I think of the show, in all its aspects.

So, with that, I’m going to sign off. Below is one of my favorite clips from the last couple of days (there’s also the scene at the end of this interview). Enjoy, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Countdown to Marvel’s Daredevil: The unbridled excitement post

This is a site where I express opinions on all things Daredevil. (“I” in this case obviously being a massive fan of the character, or it would have been insane for me to pour three-four novels’ worth of words into this undertaking over the course of seven years.) Still, even while “opining,” I always at least try to approach things from the perspective of someone who takes the craft of writing seriously. I want to write things that aren’t just a version of “OMG, that was awesome!” or “Boo, this sucks!.”

All I can say after seeing the two additional two-minute trailers that were released yesterday, is “screw that.” Well, at least for this post. Because you know what? I FREAKING LOVED IT!!! See what I did there? I put a sentence in ALL CAPS. In bold! With more than one exclamation point!!! (Stan Lee would be proud.)

I’m throwing my pretentions of semi-serious comic book journalism to the wind, and willingly admitting that seeing these trailers yesterday (see below, if you haven’t seen them yet) has turned me into a 21-year-old fangirl who writes things like “squee!” on Tumblr. I can assure you, this is the first and last time you’re going to see me write “squee” (oops, I did it again), but it’s quite possibly the only word – is it even a real word? – that can do justice to my excitement right now.

So, welcome to a post I didn’t plan – in fact, I was too excited last night to finish the post I was working on – where I do nothing but gush. It may or may not be coherent. My apologies in advance for that.

Some things that finally convinced me I’m going to love this show

  • Action scenes even I can care about

    This may sound strange coming from a fan of Daredevil in particular and comic book superheroes in general, but I’ve always considered the action scenes to be the least interesting aspect of any book or movie in which these heroes appear. They are obviously an integral and completely necessary part of the genre. Without the action scenes, without Matt being Daredevil, there can be no Daredevil comic book. Clearly. However, relatively speaking, the scenes writers and artists spend on character building are just as necessary for making us even care about what happens to the hero. And, from the perspective of what I enjoy the most, character moments are going to be at the top of the list every time.

    With all of the trailers to date, though, I’m really genuinely getting a kick out of the actions scenes. I’ve even gotten over the somewhat silly look of the costume (the reasons for it’s silliness actually make it brilliant). I think part of it is how brutal they are. I’m not the type to get off on blood and gore, but part of the problem with how violence is often portrayed in movies and on television is how unrealistically inconsequential it tends to be. The violence in Marvel’s Daredevil clearly has consequences.

    What little we’ve seen of the action so far – even though there’s reason to suspect that the trailers are disproportionately heavy on the action – gives us a taste of really inventive and well-choreographed scenes that doesn’t shy away from the “otherness” of this particular character. Clearly a formidable fighter, you can still tell that Daredevil operates differently than you would expect from a sighted character without heightened senses. The sound effects help drive this home, and I’m sure glad I decided to upgrade my sound system for this show.

  • Foggy and Matt

    That scene where Foggy calls Matt up on the phone put to rest any doubts I might have had about their relationship (see my last post). It’s so incredibly spot on, and I can’t wait to get to hang out with these guys. I think we’re going to see some real magic happening there. This scene, and the next one with Karen, also lets us know that there will be moments of levity and humor in this show. I suspected as much, but with all the talk of this show being darker than dark, I was at least a little concerned that Matt was going to walk around with clenched teeth 95% of the time, despite the fact that they cast the very charming Charlie Cox in the role.

  • Foggy, Matt and Karen

    On that very same note, the scene where Matt and Foggy meet Karen is brilliant. Not only does Deborah Ann Woll put in a very believable performance as someone completely rattled and confused, but those few lines of dialogue are bound to be an instant classic

    “Who the hell are you guys?”
    “I’m Matt. He’s Foggy.”
    “So, how long have you been practicing law?”
    “About seven hours.”

    And the way both of them actually check their watches before that last line? Loved it!

  • Claire Temple

    While not an original character in the larger Marvel Universe, her role in this series is mostly new, aside from references to the Night Nurse. I’ve seen her described as the heart of the show, and it’s clear that that’s probably an apt description. Rosario Dawson is a fantastic action, and she’s so perfectly real in this role, you can just tell she’s going to be a real fan favorite. It’ll be interesting to see her take on the role as Matt’s (first?) confidante in this series.

You know, I could go on and on, but I actually have to go have Easter dinner with my family so I’m going to have to cut this post short here and head out the door. Are you guys as excited as I am? If so, what’s excited you the most so far?

Countdown to Marvel’s Daredevil: Foggy and Karen

If you guys are anything like me, you’re probably as excited to see the supporting cast of Daredevil get their chance to shine as you are to get to see Matt Murdock in action. I have written extensively about both of these characters before – links below – but for this post, I’d like to just sum up my hopes and expectations for how they will be handled in Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix.

Foggy Nelson

In the early days of Daredevil, the big question seemed to be what poor Foggy would do without Matt. These days, the question everyone should be asking is what Matt would do without Foggy. Just as Matt has evolved as a character, becoming at once more resilient and vulnerable, Foggy has changed with the times as well, and grown into the complex character he is today.

While Foggy has developed a sense of independence and confidence, particularly over the last decade, he still harbors aspects of all the different iterations on the character we have seen to date. He is brave in spite of himself, a serious professional with a sharp mind, and a charming character who, when used to that effect, can put both humor and heart into any scene. He also continues to be the mirror in which we are able to see Matt Murdock’s reflection more clearly, in good times as well as bad. In terms of supporting characters, it doesn’t get much better than Foggy Nelson. I am sure Matt Murdock would agree.

The quote above is from the conclusion to the chapter I wrote – The Life and Times of Foggy Nelson – for the Daredevil anthology The Devil is in Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of Foggy Nelson. Having said that, I like some takes on the character better than others. Foggy has usually tended to be likeable character, but has not always been treated with the respect that he deserves. For much of the character’s history, Foggy was written as Matt Murdock’s inferior sidekick.

While Foggy obviously cannot match Matt’s physical prowess, there is no reason he shouldn’t be treated as Matt’s equal as a lawyer. In recent years, writers have definitely come around on this point, and these days Foggy is written not only as a great lawyer, but as a crucial part of Matt’s support system.

From what I read in one of the reviews I only glanced at, it appears that Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson will not be the bumbling fool of yesteryear, but much closer to what we’ve come to expect from writers like Bendis and Brubaker. One thing I’m interested to find out, though, is how the creators and actors of the Netflix show will be able to create a genuine bond between the characters of Matt and Foggy while dealing with a configuration of characters and secret identities that we associate with a bygone era.

I’ve often pointed to Foggy’s finally learning about Matt’s secret, late in volume 1, as a pivotal moment for both characters. The Netlix series, however uses elements from early Dardevil, i.e. Matt setting up shop with Foggy and Karen – the latter being clueless (at least initially) about the fact that Matt is more than he appears – while obviously drawing inspiration from more recent runs, that of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev in particular.

The deception inherent in the ways Matt Murdock is forced to downplay his remaining heightened senses is something I have reason to return to in my next post, but for now I’m just pointing out that handling Matt and Foggy’s relationship in a way that does not make a fool of Foggy is one of those challenges that the “Dareflix” team is going to have to rise to, in order to do right by Foggy. I hope, and believe, they will succeed in this regard.

Karen Page

I’m really interested to see what the coming Daredevil show will do with Karen. There has already been plenty to suggest that Karen will not be the picture of pure innocence she was during Daredevil’s Silver Age era. I think it was actor Deborah Ann Woll herself who said of the character she’s playing: “Karen Page is trouble.”

The comic book version of Karen went on to have a pretty startling character arc, leaving Matt and Foggy in New York to become an actress in Los Angeles, and then on from there into considerably darker territory. She ended up performing in pornographic movies, got hooked on drugs, and then fell to an ultimate low-point when she betrayed her greatest love for a fix. Fortunately, that was not the end. Karen finally found redemption, got her life back together and reunited with Matt. Twice. When she died at the hands of Bullseye, a creative move still considered controversial, she at least died a hero’s death.

With that kind of background, there are so many elements for the show’s creators to choose from for the Karen we’re going to get to see less than a week from today. Karen appears to be in trouble right from the start, which is how she ends up meeting “proto-Daredevil” to begin with, and I think it may be right to assume that she will be attracting all kinds of trouble along the way. It seems clear that the creators behind Marvel’s Daredevil for Netflix are aiming for complexity and shades of gray in the telling of these characters’ stories, and Karen seems primed for that kind of approach. I’m really curious to see where that will take us.

In conclusion, I think the casting choices for both of these characters are spot on. Deborah Ann Woll has a girl next door kind of appeal that I think is just right for Karen, and Elden Henson has already been mentioned by some reviewers as an example of the show’s great casting. Bring it on!

Links to previous posts about Foggy and Karen

What do you guys think? As always, feel free to dive in and comment away!

Oops, he did it again!

Today was one of those days I could have used some sweet Daredevil: Road Warrior #3 happening on my iPad. Sadly, it looks like Marvel has pushed up the publication until tomorrow. Oh well, what are you going to do? How about another look at Matt Murdock being an absolute jerk!

You may recall my post from a couple of months ago, “He did what, now?!” which revolved around a scene from Daredevil #45, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, in which Matt beats an innocent man unconscious and steals his coat. It was all very heroic.

This time around, we’re going to watch him do the same thing to his very best friend. Yes, Matt is that much of an asshole. And it wasn’t even an emergency. He just needed to “get away.” Below, I give you this scene from Daredevil #75, by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan, in which Matt hits Foggy over the head while they’re on a fact-finding mission in the made up South American country of Delvadia.

Matt beats Foggy unconscious with a blow to the head, from Daredevil #75 by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan

Foggy eventually comes to, and is helped by a young local boy whose lines are written in the kind of deliberately broken English that you just can’t get away with these days. Matt, meanwhile, goes on to berate himself over this little incident in the following issue (by the same creators). Not because of the brain damage his friend may or may not have sustained, but because he actually feels guilty about it. Oh Matt, you should count yourself lucky that I still like you and will continue to chronicle your adventures…

”You’re even sorry that you had to knock out Foggy… Sorry, regardless of the need for you to get away from him and change to Daredevil.”

Daredevil berates himself for feeling guilty about hitting Foggy, from Daredevil #76 by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan

Speaking of liking Matt Murdock, despite his shortcomings, I suggest you read new Daredevil editor (former assistant editor) Ellie Pyle’s recent tweet, seen below, and write to Marvel to tell them what Daredevil has meant to you! I intend to myself.

I will see you back here shortly, as soon as Daredevil: Road Warrior #3 finally comes out!

The Other Murdock Papers Podcast #5

Foggy does his angry face, from Daredevil #18 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Okay! Here’s my fifth podcast, which clocks in at about 38 minutes. The “colorist scandal” I mention briefly in this episode refers to an incident that well-known color artist Jordie Bellaire talks about on her Tumblr. Also, I should mention to my more sensitive listeners that I do a very unfortunate – though very brief – Gollum impersonation (yes, the LOTR character) that might disturb sensitive listerners. It sure disturbed the hell out of me. Pardon my French.

Things discussed in this post are Foggy (at length), Kirsten, Milla, and some of my thoughts on developing a greater appreciation for comic book art over the years. There’s also brief mention of Matt’s hair. Because… Well, do we really need a reason to talk about Matt’s hair?

Direct download

You can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, though it may take a few hours for new episodes to appear.

Daredevil #22 revisited

I knew as soon as I was done writing my review of Daredevil #22 that I would have to go back and write about it some more. I don’t like to give away the ending of an issue so I had to leave out Foggy’s shocking reveal (if you still haven’t read the issue, stop reading now!) from the review despite the fact that it felt like something I/we/”Daredevil fandom” really needed to talk about. There were other things as well that I wanted to give some extra attention to that I didn’t feel were within the scope of a review.

First things first though. Specifically, this:

Foggy reveals to Matt the he might have cancer, Daredevil #22 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Wow. This is about as real-world as it can get. Of course, many real medical conditions present a problem when dealt with against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe for the simple reason that the readers know that geniuses and inventions (and magic!) exist in that world that should make many ailments a thing of the past. On the other hand, I think this is something you have to overlook in order to be able to enjoy stories that are more down to Earth. This is especially true of a title like Daredevil where the main character’s impairment goes unfixed while some of his fellow heroes are sporting spare parts that are better than the real thing (I’m looking at you, Misty Knight).

My guess is that Foggy’s cancer will not be treated by Doctor Strange, nor is it likely to be some kind of illusion or spell (remember when Karen Page had AIDS?), for the simple reason that I think Mark Waid is a much better writer than that. I am also quite certain that Foggy will not actually die. Maybe I should be more worried than I am and might end up having to eat my words in a few months time, but I just can’t see that happening. Not because characters don’t die in comics all the time (and those without superpowers even tend to stay dead), but because it has happened so often around Matt Murdock that it would seem cliché to do it again. There’s also the fact that because so many characters close to Matt have died over the years, there’s really only Foggy left. Daredevil doesn’t have a large supporting cast. Excluding other superheroes and acquaintances who have come and gone over the years, Foggy Nelson is the supporting cast. What I expect out of this development, though, is some character growth and exploration for both of these guys.

Before moving on the next topic, I wanted to talk a little bit about how this development probably struck many of us as coming out of left field. I went back to Daredevil #10.1 and flipped through it and all subsequent issues to see if there were any clues I might have missed. I can’t really say that I found any, except for a potentially significant cough in Daredevil #10.1 (though that may have been bone dust…) and something Foggy says in Daredevil #16:

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take care of you and myself and a law firm… you need to leave.”

Aside from that, I don’t think there’s been much to indicate that anything would be wrong with Foggy. Except, of course, his extreme anger in dealing with Matt and his problems. The fact that we now know that Foggy has had his own fears to deal with does let Waid off the hook for Foggy’s strange behavior lately.

Another thing that many people have pointed out is how great the Matt and Foggy scene leading up to this reveal is. Mark Waid presents us with a very sound and compelling reason for why Matt would have hidden his abilities for all those years before he even put on the Daredevil costume. This explanation pretty much boils down to his need for the empowerment that having a secret could provide at a time when he struggled with how others perceived him. This makes a ton of sense to me, and I really appreciate that Mark Waid is so in tune with this character that he is able to explore all of Daredevil’s behaviors and motivations and give them meaning.

This brings us to the beginning of the book and the revolutionary move to showcase Matt having a, let’s call it a blind moment. I mentioned in my review that I very much enjoyed and appreciated this decision on Waid’s part. And, the fact that Chris Samnee seemingly put a lot of effort and research into those first couple of beautiful pages is icing on the cake. What I’m also excited to see is how many other people, in their own reviews or message board comments, also seemed to appreciate this scene. While I’m guilty of more or less lobbying for this kind of treatment of the character for years, it’s nice to see it so well-received by readers who may not even have thought about Matt Murdock in this light before.

Matt tells us how he handles money, Daredevil #22 by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

I really think that doing what Waid and the rest of the team are doing here, including realigning Matt’s print-reading abilities to match current technologies (as has been discussed here), actually strengthens the character and makes him more interesting to new readers. I did a survey of sorts a few years ago where I asked people who don’t read Daredevil what exactly didn’t appeal to them about the character. As many as five out of fifty respondents gave some version of “you can’t even tell he’s blind.” The same number of people (though these two groups may have partially overlapped) answered that Daredevil’s powers were insufficiently explained or explored. While this may not seem like a huge proportion (nor was my survey all that scientific), I do think that the people who appreciate an exploration of the intricacies of Matt’s world – its strengths and weaknesses – far outnumber the people will argue quite forcefully that Daredevil is absolutely not disabled, and resent any effort to examine blindness-related issues. If you doubt the existence of the latter group, let me assure you that I’ve done message board battle with their members on at least two occasions. 😉

Speaking of this first scene, I did want to take a closer look at the topic of smartphones and cool apps for the blind, but I think that might be best served by a separate post. Now, how do you guys feel about that last page reveal in particular? Many have commented on my initial review (thank you!), but feel free to discuss it in further detail, spoilers and all, right here!