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DD Book Club - The Name of the Game

 
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1698

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2022 4:35 pm    Post subject: DD Book Club - The Name of the Game Reply with quote

The new Black Panther movie is coming out featuring Namor. I think the clear choice is this annual that has both the Black Panther and the Sub-Mariner.

Daredevil Vol. 1 Annual #4 The Name of the Game is ... Death

Quote:
Guest-starring Black Panther and the Sub-Mariner! After a serious beat down at the hands of Namor, DD forms an (uneasy) alliance with the King of Atlantis and the King of Wakanda to save a boy from a ransom plot.


Due 11/12
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Mike Murdock
King of Hell's Kitchen


Joined: 08 Sep 2014
Posts: 1698

PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2022 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had forgotten this issue was scripted by Chris Claremont. At this point, he was a bullpen writer who did a lot of fill-ins, so it makes sense, but it'll be nice to see if it adds some excitement to this Marv Wolfman plot to raise the quality above a typical annual. I haven't seen the Black Panther movie yet, so I can't comment on it, but I did read a bunch of Sub-Mariner stuff recently and there's a Defenders story where there's a clash between T'Challa and Namor.

The story is an early one with Heather Glenn (who was in Daredevil for a surprisingly long time). There's a lot of references to events that I don't really recall but, luckily, they don't seem all that relevant. The story at first seems to be a Black Panther story. He's with a rich inventor whose kid gets kidnapped. Then Daredevil shows up and is told the Sub-Mariner destroyed a police car. Everything is kind of confusing at this point (to the point I thought I missed a page). It leads to a fairly drawn out fight between Daredevil and Namor. I'm all for a superhero fight, but the fight is frankly way too one-sided to be exciting.

The story gets even more complicated very quickly as Black Panther tries to rescue the kidnapped kid, gets kidnapped himself, and Matt Murdock gets a call to help facilitate the ransom. Of course, a blind lawyer can't be a threat, but, surprise, Daredevil will be going instead! The story should be relatively straight-forward in that regard, but, instead, T'Challa escapes and meets Daredevil half way. Then they team up.

Namor is a bit of a frustration this issue. He mostly wonders around, overreacts, causes someone a near death experience, and then backs down and rescues them. There's two small confrontations and then, for the third, he decides to listen to reason and fly away.

They confront the bad guy and he gets caught in an explosion, which paradoxically gives him mind control powers and a random costume. He makes Daredevil and Black Panther fight, which is fun but, at this point, I feel a bit sick of it. The fight ends confusingly, just like everything else.

Three and a Half Stars. This is a fever dream of a story. It's so complicated and nothing that happens in it makes sense. That being said, it had a weird fun with it.
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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
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Dimetre
Underboss


Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 1334
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2022 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So this annual has a Marv Wolfman plot scripted by Chris Claremont, who was on his way to becoming synonymous with the best of the X-Men. I don't know how much story Wolfman plotted, or how much story Claremont had to fill in. George Tuska, by this time a comics veteran, supplies the pencils for this issue, and I think he did a good job. His art had a Kirby-esque energy and majesty.

The problem with this issue is that story elements are introduced that don't lead anywhere. We have a wealthy industrialist named Robert Mallory who seems to have a friendship with T'Challa. Mallory has a son who is quickly kidnapped, and the kidnappers, headed by a guy named Bernard, are demanding a ransom. The gang gets the better of T'Challa (which seems hard to believe, and that happens off panel) and a message is sent to Matt to deliver the ransom. Daredevil goes to Foggy (who is District Attorney at this point), who gives him a briefcase of fake marked bills, and Daredevil swings off to T'Challa's rescue.

But that's not all. Mallory's invention threatens the oceans, and the Sub-Mariner ain't thrilled with that at all. Namor has a righteous beef with Mallory's machine, and Matt has some sound advice for him, but of course instead of talking it over like grown-ups, they bash each other before either of them can collect their heads. It's your standard Marvel superhero meeting.

I was turning five when this annual came out, and I probably would have loved this fight. Hell, I probably would have loved this when I was 15. I know what Mike is saying about the fight being too one-sided, but the appeal of this to me is seeing how heroic Matt can be when he is so over-powered. And there are some good character moments for Namor, like when he flies Matt to safety, or when he saves a cop.

Then, Bernard is killed by an ambitious underling named Ruffio Costa. Suddenly Bernard is killed at gunpoint. What did this story gain by introducing Bernard in the first place? Sure, it makes Costa seem ruthless, but we could have assumed that had he been the mob boss at the beginning of the story.

After another fight with the Sub-Mariner, Matt nearly loses the briefcase of fake ransom money. Namor overhears where Daredevil is headed, and follows him. Meanwhile, T-Challa gets free, frees Mallory's son while getting him to hide in a storage room. The Black Panther breaks out of the hideout and meets Daredevil in Washington Square, negating the need for the fake ransom money, another story element rendered redundant. That's Bernard and the ransom money so far.

Namor catches up with Matt and T'Challa, and another fight with Daredevil takes place. This time, Matt gets the Sub-Mariner to listen, and it is agreed that Mallory will be fought in the courts. Namor takes off out of the book altogether, but three panels after his departure, T'Challa tells Matt that Mallory's invention requires vibranium that only Wakanda can supply in order to function, and the King of Wakanda has decided against that. So that story element is all wrapped up. That source of conflict, which was the entire reason the Sub-Mariner was here, has led to nothing.

T'Challa punches Costa into some machinery. Is this supposed to be Mallory's machine? The comic doesn't say. The captions say this is the Barrington Research Center of Columbine University. It's 9:31pm, as if that was important for us to know. The lab had been sold by the university in the late sixties when students protested the weapons research it was doing for the Pentagon. That sounds like a detail Wolfman would have fixated on. It would have been good if they had made it clear that it was Mallory's machine, because colliding with the machine turns Costa into.... the Mindmaster! Somehow.

I checked. This is the only appearance of the Ruffio Costa version of the Mindmaster. Even though his origin is nonsensical, I think this villain had potential. His power set is similar to Killgrave's; he can take over people's minds and get them to obey his commands. The Mindmaster takes over the Black Panther and orders him to kill Daredevil. Daredevil uses his wits to get close to the Mindmaster to break his command over T'Challa. However, Daredevil seems to get caught head on in one of Mindmaster's energy blasts. Then after pushing his power too hard, Costa reverts back to his human form, and T'Challa knocks him unconscious. We find Daredevil tending to Mallory's son. It turns out he simply ducked under Mindmaster's blast, and no one noticed, including us. That's kind of insulting to us, the readers.

So this is a very sloppily told story, and it's also very dumb. But hell, it's also pretty fun. Tuska's art is full of energy, and it makes the tale worth following to the end. I wish Wolfman and Claremont put in more effort to tell a cohesive story, but they didn't. For being fun, I'll give this a 3.5 out of 5.
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