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DD Book Club - The Left Hand Path

 
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Mike Murdock
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Joined: 08 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2021 11:02 am    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Left Hand Path Reply with quote

I have never been sure if I want to go do Shadowland given it's not really a great story. That being said, with Devil's Reign coming up as an event, I thought it made sense to try. Given that, we got one more story in Diggle's run building up to that event. It has an added bonus of having current DD artist Marco Checchetto.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #505 - The Left Hand Path, part 1

Quote:

The Man Without Fear visits the Land of The Rising Sun! As the new leader of The Hand, Matt Murdock seeks to unite its five continental regions behind his banner and lead the organization to a new future – but when all five “fingers” of The Hand form its mighty fist, you’ll be surprised at who gets hit first! Series writer Andy Diggle welcomes Marco Checchetto (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) for the Three-Part epic, THE LEFT HAND PATH!


Due 11/13
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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is general agreement amongst the users of this message board that Marco Checchetto rocks hard. His style is highly detailed without being static and photo-realistic. Still, this couldn't have been an easy assignment for his very first Daredevil issue. Andy Diggle and Antony Johnston's script is all talking heads. There is one flashback showing how Bakuto killed his leader, and that gives Checchetto an opportunity to draw some action, and the cliffhanger shows some magic and promises more action, but other than that it's all people standing (or sitting) around and talking. Checchetto does his damndest to make this interesting, depicting all these conversations from every possible angle, but there's only so much he can do.

Also, I don't think Matt is acting like Matt anymore. His opening conversation with White Tiger has him saying, "It falls to us to protect the city... it falls to me." That's just not who I think Matt is. I realize that Dark Reign presented the Marvel Universe with some very dire (and fascinating) situations, but Matt is not someone comfortable with taking the law into his own hands. He's a vigilante, yes, but he's one with faith in the justice system. Later on he's acting all badass speechifying in front of his Hand underlings saying, "I am your Shogun. It is your duty to obey me!" This isn't the Matt I know. This is a pose.

As has been the case with this "Matt leading the Hand" story, I look back on it and shudder. I realize everyone had him over a barrel, but him thinking this could work shows a shocking level of naivete on his part, and I don't think Matt is that naive. This was a bad idea.

Checchetto's debut as a Daredevil artist shows plenty of promise, but he wasn't really given an opportunity to shine here. I suppose Bakuto is an interesting foil for Matt though. I'm giving this a generous three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2021 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This story gives us a big peak into the inner-workings of the Hand. I'm sure there's a very good argument that this detail is bad - it destroys the mystery of menace of them. I think that's true to a degree, but I also think it's necessary for the conflict in this story. Daredevil as leader of the Hand is a tricky story to write. The main story has to be an internal psychological conflict, imo, but I do think there's benefits to having some restrictions on his ability to lead the Hand in an uncontested manner.

Obviously, of the leaders, Bakuto is the one who stands out with the most personality as a modern (western) leader who is different from the rest and rejects tradition. He also assassinated his previous master. I wonder if his flashy style does a disservice to the rest. It creates this impression that the rest of the Hand are a bunch of ineffective old fools decades or centuries past their time. In some ways, this might feel true to form from a reader's perspective (they really haven't been cool since Frank Miller wrote them), but it implies they were already crumbling during their initial appearance.

The art here is beautiful. I think the most impressive thing is that Matt Murdock looks badass just in normal clothes. He appears in costume towards the end, though, and that's handled wonderfully. I think the main thing is the art makes an issue that's mostly talking look good.

That being said, it is an issue that's mostly talking. It sets up some action next time, but nothing so far. Four Stars.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #506 - The Left Hand Path, part two

Quote:

LEFT HAND PATH continues as daredevil's adventure in Japan takes a deadly turn when he finds out one of his closest confidantes in the Hand may be serving another master.


Due 11/20
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I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is an improvement over the last issue. There is some action for Marco Checchetto to draw, and Matt does some of his most formidable fighting here. None of the Hand ninja seem to be able to stand up to him at all. An added bonus is that Bakuto is more than able to hold his own as a fighter too.

On the minus side, Bakuto's idiocy is more than tiresome. He holds so much animosity against Matt that he can not be swayed from his misconception that Matt is behind all of his misfortune. Matt saves his life, and Bakuto theorizes that Matt staged an attack so he could burst in and save the day. The stupidity is infuriating.

Now, there's a cliffhanger here, and I completely forgot about it. There are a few members of the Hand pulling strings behind the scenes, and one of them is someone who has been a compatriot of Matt's for some time now. The problem with this is we see Matt use his powers to try and find out who is behind this, and he came up with nothing. I suppose you could explain this away with Hand magic, but still....

Again, an improvement over the last issue. I give this a 3.5 out of 5.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2021 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue picks up where the last left off with a fight against the Hand. It specifically starts with Bakuto's hallucination. Aside from the color, the design of Daredevil there looks a lot like his eventual Shadowland appearance. Bakuto is a jerk, but Matt saves him anyway. He is definitely tiresome and continues to grow even more annoying (conceptually, I like him because he makes things different, though). There's a lot of intrigue and mystery but nothing else substantive. After that, there's more talk. It drives the plot along, but it also feels surprisingly little is added. I think the next noteworthy moment is at the end with the twist that Angela is still corrupted. I remembered thinking that it was a shame at the time and I still do. But it makes for a nice twist in the story.

Four Stars.
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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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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2021 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last story before Shadowland. I'm going to do a different story next, but if people want to do that story, let me know if you want to cover the Daredevil issues only or the main story as well.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #507 - The Left Hand Path, part three

Quote:

LEFT HAND PATH concludes as the enemy faced by Daredevil in Japan is revealed as a precursor to the much larger threat awaiting him back in New York. Shadowland is coming...And it will change Matt Murdock forever!


Due 11/27
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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!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2021 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daredevil Vol. 2 #507 - The Left Hand Path, part three

Quote:

LEFT HAND PATH concludes as the enemy faced by Daredevil in Japan is revealed as a precursor to the much larger threat awaiting him back in New York. Shadowland is coming...And it will change Matt Murdock forever!


Due 11/27
_________________
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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Dimetre
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2021 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue shows the Hand pulling shenanigans behind Matt, which allows us to see signs of his remaining morality. The Hand has total control of White Tiger it seems, and we see her kill a number of people, including Bakuto. By the end of this issue, it looks as though she and the rest of the Hand ninja have succeeded in manipulating him, and the cliffhanger is this faction of the Hand revealing themselves to be the Snakeroot, who I don't think we've seen since "Fall From Grace" or "Tree of Destiny." It hasn't been that long since the Book Club has read those, and I can't remember what the Snakeroot are about, and in what way they differ from the Hand. I can't imagine the Marvel readership in 2010 would have gotten much out of this cliffhanger.

This issue is fine. Marco Checchetto's art is superb as usual. He has more action to draw than in previous issues. It was comforting to see Matt plead with one of the ninja to simply tell him who's behind the revolt than lose his life. Andy Diggle does a good job writing Angela's argument for not dwelling over who's behind Bakuto's murder. She's pretty rational for someone possessed by the Hand.

Still, it sucks to see Matt continue to be so naive about leading the Hand. It's my major hang-up with Diggle's entire run.

I give this a three out of five.
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue is a visual treat. It's mostly action scenes and Andy Diggle lets the art breathe. The only complaint is the snow effect can actually obscure things a bit too much. Still, everything is beautiful.

The second half is a bit more of a drag. It's basically everything reaching its inevitable conclusion. The unfortunate thing is the story can't stand on its own two feet, it's a set up for Shadowland. The moral conflict Matt should be facing about whether to let Bakuto's suspicious death stand is resolved far too quickly. Then we have the reveal at the end that the bad guys aren't just part of an evil secret organization, they're part of an eviler secreter subset of that organization. For the twist ending, it doesn't really feel like a twist. I think part of that might have to be that Snakeroot hasn't been seen since Fall From Grace, but it just isn't that exciting of a twist.

Three and a Half Stars. The art is the best part.
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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!
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Mike Murdock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2021 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dimetre wrote:
It hasn't been that long since the Book Club has read those, and I can't remember what the Snakeroot are about, and in what way they differ from the Hand. I can't imagine the Marvel readership in 2010 would have gotten much out of this cliffhanger.


I remember Christine from The Other Murdock Papers commented on this in her review of this issue

Quote:
We also learn that these leaders are members of the Snakeroot. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. Even a die hard Daredevil fan like myself had to dig through the mental archives for a minute before it came to me: Fall From Grace, early 90’s. I’m actually a fan of writers digging up obscure things from the past (though the Snakeroot clan is clearly an established, if somewhat vague, part of The Hand’s continuity) and there’s plenty of opportunity for the writers to add to the mythos and flesh out the details. However, there’s something a little anti-climactic about learning that the leadership of an evil ninja order like the Hand is just as evil as you’d expect.


However, it did lead to a fan post that had a great history of Snakeroot that's full of interesting insight.
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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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Dimetre
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for doing this digging Mike Murdock!
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