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Daredevil – Speak of the Devil (Review)

To celebrate the launch of Marvel’s Daredevil and the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we are reviewing all thirteen episodes of the first season of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

There is an interesting inherent contradiction baked in Daredevil, perhaps mirroring the conflicts within the show’s title character.

In many respects, Daredevil is utterly unlike anything else produced by Marvel Studios. It stands quite firmly apart from the studio’s style in projects like The Avengers or Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show is a lot more cynical and grounded. It is a lot more violent and gritty than anything else that the company has produced as part of their shared on-screen universe. It looks and feels quite distinct from the rest of the company’s output. It has a style and mood all of its own.

daredevil-speakofthedevil

However, for all that darkness and brooding, Daredevil is arguably the most familiar and traditional of superhero narratives produced by Marvel Studios. Matt Murdock might be more violent and brutal than any other major character in this shared universe, but he is also the most typical superhero. He is the only hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a proper secret identity. He is also the only hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a firm “no kill” rule.

This creates an absolutely fascinating conflict within the structure of the show, as Daredevil manages the wonderful task of being both the most typical and the most atypical of the Marvel Studio productions.

daredevil-speakofthedevil37

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Andy Diggle’s Daredevil – Reborn (Review/Retrospective)

This April, to celebrate the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are taking a look at some classic and modern comics featuring Spider-Man (and friends). Check back daily for the latest review.

Well, by the end of Daredevil: Reborn, it is certainly time for a change.

Radar love...

Radar love…

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The X-Files – Roland (Review)

Roland is an episode that works much better than it really should. On the surface, it has many of the same problems as Born Again, to the point where it seems like “angry spirits” take up a disproportionate amount of Mulder and Scully’s case load. The filming and broadcast of Born Again and Roland in rapid succession probably points to the kind of pressure that Carter and his crew were under towards the end of the first year – both episodes play a lot better spaced out, and having the room to shuffle the production order on the two stories probably would have helped them seem less derivative.

And yet, Roland is elevated by a superb guest performance. Željko Ivanek isn’t the first stellar guest star that we’ve seen this year. Doug Hutchinson was perfectly cast as Tooms, and Brad Dourif did a marvellous job as Luther Lee Boggs. However, Ivanek might be the first guest star on The X-Files to elevate an otherwise bland episode through the sheer force of his performance.

It doesn't suck or blow...

It doesn’t suck or blow…

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The X-Files – Born Again (Review)

Born Again is a very bland episode of The X-Files that really suffers from being broadcast this late in the season. Indeed, the first season of The X-Files seems almost obsessed with life after death and reincarnation – we’ve already had episodes like Shadows, Lazarus and even Young at Heart. We’re three episodes from the end of the season, and we’ll still find room for one more “vengeance from beyond the grave!” story before we close up shop. Born Again isn’t bad so much as it’s just bland.

I don’t hate Born Again. In fact, it’s the episode that I remember least from this first season – the only evidence I had that I had seen the episode before came from a vague creeping feeling of familiarity while I was watching it. Even now, as I sit down with my notes to type a review, I’m not sure I can tell you that much about it.

It's only a paper giraffe...

It’s only a paper giraffe…

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Acts of Vengeance: Daredevil vs. Ultron (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

In celebration of the release of The Avengers, this weekend we’re taking a look at the massive 1989-90 crossover “Acts of Vengeance”, which pitted various villains against some unlikely heroes. I’ll be looking at some of the most fun match-ups. This arc is collected in the companion omnibus.

I’ll confess that I haven’t read all of Ann Nocenti’s Daredevil run. I’ve just read the issues contained in various crossover collections like Inferno, Mutant Massacre or even Fall of the Mutants. While any run on Daredevil is going to rest in the shadow of Frank Miller’s character-defining work, I find it interesting that Nocenti managed to so effectively tie the book back into the heart of the Marvel Universe. Miller defined the book as a noir adventure, and the tendency has been to follow that approach. While Nocenti writes the same Matt Murdock that Miller defined, she cleverly tends to put him in a different context, producing rather interesting and engaging results. Nocenti’s Daredevil is very much a superhero book, even though it follows Miller’s characterisation, and that gives it a unique flavour.

Stickin’ it to the man…

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Kevin Smith & David Mack’s Runs on Daredevil (Hardcover Vol. #1)

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also been said that Frank Miller’s Born Again pretty much defined Daredevil. So it should really come as no surprise that Kevin Smith borrowed from that particular story wholesale for his relaunch of the character back in 1999. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – Smith has the decency to admit that the concept isn’t incredibly original – and in a way it provides a suitable note upon which to relaunch the title.

Bring your child to work day was not the resounding success Matt Murdock expected...

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Daredevil by Frank Miller Omnibus Companion

I’ve always seen Daredevil as a peculiarly Catholic superhero. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s the devil imagery. Frank Miller clearly sees the character as an Irish Catholic (he admitted that he believes the character practices) in an interview at the end of the first omnibus. It just seems to fit. There’s just something so human and organic about the character – so vulnerable and flawed – that he seems like some sort of lost soul amidst the pantheon of god-like superheroes. A man torn between heaven and earth. The fact that probably the greatest story told using the character is titled Born Again and his mother is a nun (as close as you can plausibly get to a virgin, I suppose) doesn’t exactly hurt, either.

Daredevil puts a novel twist on flag-burning...

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