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DD Book Club - Widow's Kiss

 
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Widow's Kiss Reply with quote

Let's go to the 90s for this story by Joe Kelly. Much of his Daredevil run is interconnected, leading to a showdown with Mr. Fear. This story is a bit more self-contained. It's not on Marvel Unlimited, but it is collected in Trade as Daredevil Epic Collection "Widow's Kiss." I also believe it's on Comixology.

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 368 - Widow's Kiss pt. 1



Quote:
Daredevil finds himself at the mercy of Omega Red! Only the villain has no mercy to give. Just as Omega Red is about to kill Daredevil, a third player enters the game; Black Widow saves Daredevil’s life with not a moment to spare. But whose side is Natasha on?


Due 4/15
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Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is only my second time reading this issue. I first read it last year (I think) when the Widow's Kiss trade came out.

The first thing I noticed was how easy it is to recognize Gene Colan's art. Daredevil was very fortunate to have him do such great work for such a long time, and it's fascinating to watch his art evolve throughout the decades.

The second thing I noticed is that Joe Kelly has picked up where Karl Kessel left off -- with a light-hearted take on Daredevil as opposed to the more gritty noir tone popularized by Frank Miller. I think a change of tone was a good idea at the time, since it had been dark for so long, and Chichester ended up handling it so ineptly. More recently, the darker tone that was offered in Volume 2 ended up leading to the reviled work of Andy Diggle, and I think the brighter work by Mark Waid was a necessary shift. Some might see this work by Joe Kelly as a return to Silver Age goofiness, especially with Colan on art. I don't agree, but I can see why some would think that.

I think Joe Kelly over-writes. There is soooo much text crowding the panels. Daredevil's monologue to the burglar on the bridge is way too wordy. The two pages featuring Rosalind, Matt and their client followed by the scene in Brighton Beach are a mess of word balloons and captions. I know that Joe Kelly is best known for his Deadpool work, and his wordiness would work better with that character, but when working with Daredevil, he should have reined it in more.

I think this is the only comic book I've ever read featuring Omega Red. Previously, I've only known the character from Marvel vs. Capcom. His tentacles remind me of Deathstalker, possibly because I recently finished reading Volume 11 of Daredevil's Marvel Masterworks collection. I've always liked Deathstalker, but Omega Red has added size and strength. I understand he's more of an X-Men villain, and Daredevil even felt out of his league against him. Still, Matt saved his client, and he didn't give up. His joke about Red Devil Airlines went on too long though. Again, what's good for Deadpool ain't necessarily good for Hornhead.

The best part of this issue was the appearance by Black Widow. I have no idea what happened to the Avengers in Onslaught, but she really injects some drama and grit into this story. I don't know if that was a tank of jet fuel on her back, but it's something flammable. I don't know how Daredevil blew it up with the audio guy's boompole. Colan made that very hard to figure out. I had to flip the pages back and forth a few times to figure that out, and I still don't have a clear idea how it happened. And if it did, wouldn't it have killed Natasha, which is something Matt would never want to do, especially now since he's pleading with her to spare Omega Red?

Kelly and Colan finish this issue with an effective cliffhanger. But it makes me wonder: Karen is waiting for Matt, but look back at the note he left for her. Isn't that better penmanship than you would expect from a blind man? Even with Matt's hypersenses, Matt's handwriting shouldn't look that normal. I know us readers have to be able to read it, but I didn't buy that note.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty good, even if it was wordy. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we agree with a lot of the same points. What happened in Onslaught is all the Avengers "died" (in reality, placed in a pocket universe by Franklin Richards).

I was going to pull open my Epic Collection version of this, but that book is pretty thick. Instead, I'll go with the floppy (I'm not sure if I ultimately want to keep both or give these away, but that's a discussion for another day). With the individual issue, I can see they had a sort of fold out page on the cover that describes the character's premise, gives quck bios of each character, and has a previously page. That's actually quite a bit more than they do these days.

This is a much brighter book than where we've been recently. The opening with Daredevil and a burglar is quite amusing. I would say the bright colors from Christie Scheele contribute heavily to that as well. It's also always wonderful to see Gene Colan drawing. I feel he even managed to update his style along the way. The panel with Omega Red's tentacle gripping DD is dynamic with cool close-ups of his face that aren't distracting.

The setup seems to be that Gatz needs legal help to defend against a corporate takeover from Russians. It's dialogue-heavy and the references are forced (I'm not quite sure if they're dated, I just don't think they'd have felt natural in any era). But it's a setup for a big dumb fight with Omega Red. DD manages to stall him when Black Widow shows up and it turns out she's gone full Frank Castle.

Much of this issue is ... fine, I guess? Certainly, the fight doesn't seem overly appealing and forcing a confrontation with such a big Wolverine villain seems like it's desperately trying for 90s coolness. However, the ending is interesting. It makes me want to know where it's going to go. At least, judging from a contemporary perspective, since I somehow doubt that Black Widow killed Daredevil in this issue.

Three and a Half Stars. I like the beginning and the end and I feel the art helped carry me through the middle, but I certainly didn't love the issue.
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 # 369 - Widow's Kiss pt. 2



Quote:
After Daredevil is shot by Black Widow, Karen Page struggles to nurse him back to health. Once the Man Without Fear regains his senses, he’s hot on Widow’s trail! But this manhunt isn’t without obstacle; enter Ursa Major, Soviet Russia's strangest science project!


Due 4/22
_________________
Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons


Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joe Kelly seems to have cut back on the word balloons and captions somewhat this issue, and that makes it a more pleasant read. Ariel Olivetti takes over from Gene Colan on pencils this time, and even though Olivetti is okay, I missed Colan.

The strength that Karen gained while being written by Ann Nocenti has been retained up to this point. She is in love with Matt, but refuses to take all his crap. I'm not sure if this is the first time she met the Black Widow, although there might have been an issue by Gerry Conway back in the sixties or seventies.

I like the way Kelly described Matt's injury -- particularly good was, "Feet spring off of aluminum, and the recoil sends fire up through my chest, waking me up a bit." I felt that as I read it. Daredevil really shouldn't be out there, but Matt can't lay back while Natasha's in trouble.

Before reading this, I had no prior knowledge of Ursa Major, Vanguard or Darkstar. I liked the icicles dripping from Davidov's word balloon when it became clear that Natasha just lied to him.

The morse code was a good idea, but I don't think Olivetti should have had Natasha using all of her fingers. I imagine the sound would have come through clearer to Matt if she just used one finger on each hand, otherwise I think the sound would be less clear. I thought it was good that even while she was filling in Matt on the true details of her mission, she is still scarred by the disappearance of the Avengers.

I'm not sure how many Marvel readers were aware of Darkstar in 1997, so I don't know how effective this cliffhanger would be. I'm guessing not very. Given that Volume 1 was coming to an end eleven issues later, the sales numbers must have been very low, but I thought this was an entertaining issue that packed in a lot of story with good character moments. If Colan did this issue, I may grade it higher, but as it is, it gets a 3.5 out of 5 from me.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Information you didn't want to know: This one I'm reading from the trade paperback because I just got caught in a rainstorm and I don't want to drip on and ruin a classic issue. Now is this a classic issue? Read on and find out?

I feel I could nitpick about the opening. I don't really like how Karen is handled (I also think nonchalant references to Daredevil reading a catalogue need heavy uses of scare quotes or else they're pretty poorly done). However, all that is made up for by the page turn. It's a nice slow five panel grid with a page turn of a near full-page splash and funny line. It's more of a Black Widow moment than Daredevil or Karen moment, but it's cool nonetheless. I do suppose Black Widow appearances set up conflicts with Matt's girlfriends, but I kind of just want the two of the to hit it off and Matt feels uncomfortable about it. However, given the choice to see if Natasha is in danger or not piss off his girlfriend, of course he's going after Black Widow.

I do like that there are consequences to Matt getting shot. He's not going to shrug off that he's lost a lot of blood. There's a page right after Black Widow met the Russians with Daredevil that has some genuinely poor panel layout. It involves Matt using his senses to find her. The description of senses (and the pleasure he can get from a variety of senses) is cool. However, it's supposed to be read left to bottom and then right to bottom. The fact that the left panel is a single panel shows that. But the top right panel is basically enveloped by those quotes so it looks like it's supposed to be read second. Certainly, your eye doesn't follow down the page. I don't know why they don't move that panel to the right. However, I like that Daredevil's usual acrobatics result in his collapsing from re-injuring his wound.

I love Ursa Major. I think they should make it to the MCU (maybe for a Black Widow movie). There's a guy who can turn into a freakin' bear. I appreciate the way it reveals Black Widow's allegiances, but I wonder if it was worth holding it off one more issue.

This is very 90s to me. Black Widow gets to have the darkness and moral ambiguity, but it's a larger than life adventure with action and spies. It's also tied into a lot of other characters I have little knowledge of. I assume Darkstar is with Ursa Major and Vanguard? But it's fun from beginning to end. Four Stars.
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Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 1 #370 - Widow's Kiss Conclusion



Quote:
Held captive by the Russians, Daredevil and Black Widow set aside their differences and align themselves to escape! Once freed from their bonds, the heroes try to take down the Russian Mafia. Daredevil recruits two Soviet allies.


Due 4/29
_________________
Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

Not sure what to read next? Check out the Book Club for some ideas!

I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Thomas More - A Man for All Seasons


Last edited by Mike Murdock on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gene Colan returns on art duties this issue, and that's a mixed blessing. Some of his drawings are beautiful, yet elsewhere his efforts are spared. The cover is a great example. Daredevil is classically rendered as he fights Vanguard and Ursa Major, yet the Black Widow looks like she was added to the cover as an after-thought. It looks like Colan spent two minutes drawing her and not a second more.

The revelation in the previous issue that Natasha is working undercover to gain access to the underworld through Tskarov has robbed this issue of considerable drama. No longer do we have that much doubt of the Widow's true intentions. We have long known that the Widow is one of the greatest spies in the world, so we know that she isn't going to spill intel that easily. She undergoes a lot of torture, but never did I worry she would break. Kelly tries to stir up some drama with Matt's narration:
Quote:
Supposedly, she's acting... masterfully playing the role of the fallen hero... the corrupted Black Widow... If only she wasn't doing such a stellar job of it, I'd feel a lot more at ease...
Quote:
Still, I think Miss Double-O-Widow is in over her head on this one...

I guess Kelly tried to make me worry about the Widow, but wouldn't we all be surprised if these guys broke her?

The comic relief supplied by Foggy and Liz Allen was cute, but hurriedly rendered by Colan.

As for Matt himself, the pain caused by his gunshot wound fades and flares as the plot demands. There is a panel after Daredevil frees himself from his shackles where Colan completely forgets to draw his bandages. The only purpose the injury serves in this issue is to give away Matt's location to Ursa Major. After that Matt was kicking and flipping like his good ol' self without a care in the world. I was hoping he would keel over from pain and exhaustion so Natasha would have to make a choice, but it was as if Kelly forgot about the wound all together.

I suppose I worried that Natasha was going to kill the General at the end of the story, and I'm glad she made the choice she did. I did like Matt's thoughts as they kissed.
Quote:
The way both of our hearts skip a beat in unison, I think I'm in trouble... but that's a headache for tomorrow...
Even though there is always going to be that connection between Matt and Natasha, he ends up referring to her as his friend. I liked that.

A strong ending, but the adventure itself was nothing special. I give it a three out of 5.
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