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DD Book Club - Devil May Care

 
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2020 10:08 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - Devil May Care Reply with quote

I think if I were to put this story in continuity, it likely should be just before the last story arc. It's an annual, but I figured it was worth covering because it'll factor into the events going forward.

Side note, with this issue, is it possible we've used up every single devil-related pun available?

Daredevil Annual Vol. 2 #1 - Devil May Care

Quote:
Daredevil's having a tough week. A flu bug has rendered his radar power useless, a Yakuza gang is trying to reclaim their power in Hell's Kitchen, and there's a murder to be solved. Now, he has to deal with a visitor from his time in prison–Carlos LaMuerto, a.k.a. the Black Tarantula. Carlos has been released, and he's looking to Matt Murdock for some help in setting up a new life on the outside. Will Murdock and LaMuerto end up as allies, or foes? Will Black Tarantula really go straight, or will his inner demons lure him back to his crime-lord past?


Due 12/12
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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 Fri Dec 11, 2020 8:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2020 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Annuals, by and large, tend to leave me cold. There are more pages, sure, but they seem to be full of haphazardly put together stories, and topped off with odds and ends about which nobody could possibly care. I remember, when this came out in 2007, being left kind of unaffected by this annual. Having given it a fresh read, it's better than I remember.

I don't know how the writing process worked. Ed Brubaker has a story credit, with Ande Parks writing the script. I don't know how much work Brubaker put into it. Did he just hand Parks a one-page treatment? And why this story? Did Editor Warren Simons and Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada want to turn Black Tarantula into a larger character? I can imagine Quesada wanting to give more exposure to a Latino character. Perhaps he pushed Brubaker to include Carlos in his Daredevil run, but the writer couldn't figure where to fit him in. Thus, this annual.

What hit me when I read this today is how hard Carlos LaMuerto is working to go straight, and how nobody but Matt is helping him. Even his parole officer is infuriatingly crooked. (Jeez, I hope there are no parole officers like that in reality.) Even Dakota has a short fuse when it comes to Carlos, and takes a condescending tone with him.

That's the interesting thing about redemption stories. In our own lives if we were asked to partner up with someone who did time for murder, what would our attitude be? Someone like Matt has seen it all because he's a street-level superhero, and he can read heart rates, so he has the temperament to give someone like Carlos a chance. Dakota North has seen many things herself with her private eye work, but can't get past Carlos' rap sheet. Carlos seemed to detect some anti-Latino prejudice on Dakota's part, but I honestly think it was more about his record. I don't know how cool I would be working with Carlos. I would probably do my work as assigned, but if Carlos was trying to strike up a friendship with me, I would probably put up a wall. And that's an unfortunate thing to realize, because this story shows how important it is to give people like him the opportunity to go straight.

The other powerful thing about this story was the relationship between Carlos and Little Loco. This was a monster Carlos created, and this monster has murdered. Carlos is responsible for him, and the way he meets that responsibility is slaughtering Little Loco and his gang. The larger page count allows for some great work showing the poverty and desperation of Carlos' old neighbourhood, and the story's end sets up Black Tarantula to become an avenging angel for this place.

Parks' script is filled with great character moments for Carlos. I liked the page where Carlos has the internal monologue about the psychologist who told him how prisoners falsely romanticize the outside world, and she told him that it "isn't that different... you just have more choices." I also liked how Carlos chastised Matt for insisting on leaving a huge amount of stolen cash for the police to handle, and how looking down on a chaotic and lawless street asks him, "What the hell are we doing here?"

Which sets up Carlos to be a Punisher clone, working as a contrast to Matt's strong moral code, but I see Carlos as somewhat different from Frank Castle. Frank is fueled almost completely by revenge, where Carlos is motivated by tremendous regret over his past criminal dealings. Carlos also has no naivete when it comes to the alleged purity of law enforcement. He is trying to redeem himself and make his neighbourhood better, but he can't trust the police to be part of that process. He's an interesting character, and it's unfortunate not much of substance has been done with him in the thirteen years since this annual.

All this typing makes it clear that Carlos is, without question, the main character of this story. This annual may have been titled Daredevil, but that's a lie. When I originally read this, the enormous amount of panel time given over to Carlos at Matt's expense likely bothered me, as well as Matt easily getting knocked out by Black Tarantula at the story's end. Still, if I look at this story for what it is, it's a great introduction to a redemptive character with enormous (unrealized) potential.

A small thing that would have made this a smoother read for me would have been greater distinction between Matt and Carlos' first-person narration captions. The only thing differentiating them is that Matt's make use of lower-case letters. If colorist June Chung and letterer Chris Eliopoulos had done more to make the boxes different, it would have been less confusing. Otherwise, I enjoyed Leandro Fernandez' art, and I thought Parks had some great character moments in the script.

I give this a 4.5 out of five. A surprisingly powerful read.
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1565

PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The opening of this issue starts very sad. But it's sad in a good way. Daredevil is sick. You don't normally see illness as a plot point (compared to how often people get sick in the real world), but it would make sense that it messes him up. What's interesting is it doesn't really do too much thematically. It's really just a plot point and not the focus of the story.

The Black Tarantula plot feels like the more important reason for this issue. Carlos is released on parole, but has a corrupt parole officer. You can see someone trying to go straight but having every possible obstacle placed in his path. The only thing going good for him is he reached out to Matt.

But Carlos certainly isn't a saint and this story doesn't shy away from his past. He ruined the life of Luis and turned him into a vicious gang member. He's also still struggling on the outside and turning to violence quickly. In the end, we see that he's not returning to the supervillain route, but he also can't work it as just Matt's associate following Matt's rules.

Four Stars. It's not a hugely important story to the narrative right now, but it's good to see Black Tarantula get the focus. He'll definitely return so it's important he get some more attention. It also was a pretty good character work for him and made him the highlight. Chronologically, it actually felt like it worked well right here in the story, so I'm glad we covered it.
_________________
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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