• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Daredevil – Kinbaku (Review)

This month, we’re doing daily reviews of the second season of Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

Although she appeared in a small cameo at the end of Penny and Dime, Kinbaku marks the proper introduction of Elektra.

Elektra is very much an essential part of the Daredevil mythos, tied to Matthew Murdock since her introduction all the way back in Daredevil #168. There was even a thinly-veiled reference to the character buried deep in the first season, with Foggy making a nod towards Matt’s Greek girlfriend in one of the flashbacks in Nelson v. Murdock. Elektra was always going to be a part of Daredevil. It seems the only reason the show waited a full season was due to the Jennifer Garner twin disasters of Daredevil and Elektra.

Enter Elektra...

Enter Elektra…

After all, Daredevil owes a lot to Frank Miller. Like every Daredevil story or adaptation after 1980, the television show is steeped in the mythology that Frank Miller carved out for the character. It was Frank Miller who elevated the Kingpin from a b-list Spider-man villain to an a-list Daredevil baddie. It was Frank Miller who introduced Stick, adding a whole host of ninja training to Matt Murdock’s back story. It was Frank Miller who turned Matt Murdock’s life into a slow-moving trainwreck. As such, Frank Miller’s fingerprints are all over this adaptation.

However, Elektra remains Frank Miller’s most lasting and enduring original contribution to Marvel. While Miller transformed and defined characters like Daredevil and Wolverine, Elektra was created from whole cloth. More than any other character, Elektra is Frank Miller’s baby. She represents the pinnacle of Frank Miller’s contribution to the character’s mythos. She is very much “peak Miller.”

Superhero sex...

Superhero sex…

Continue reading

Daredevil – The Path of the Righteous (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.

With The Path of the Righteous, the first season of Daredevil properly enters its end game.

After a lot of soul-searching and contemplating, Matt Murdock is spurred back to action – albeit in a somewhat limited capacity. Matt spends most of the hour searching out Melvin Potter to help design a new costume. This is perhaps the most obvious indication that the end of the season is fast approaching; Matt is beginning to transition away from the costume inspired by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s The Man Without Fear and more towards something approaching his iconic comic book outfit.

daredevil-thepathoftherighteous2

At the same time, Wilson Fisk finds himself desperately losing ground. Vanessa Marianna is in a coma, poisoned during an event hosted and organised by Fisk. Karen Page and Ben Urich have found Marlene Vistain, and begun piecing together a past that Fisk worked very hard to bury. On top of that, The Path of the Righteous ends with Fisk suffering a fairly dramatic personal loss, when Karen Page repeatedly shoots James Wesley. It seems fair to suggest that the ground is shrinking from under him.

However, it is interesting that The Path of the Righteous sidelines Matt and Fisk so thoroughly. Fisk spends the entire episode in a hospital, while Matt is running errands that feel disconnected from the immediate threat. As such, The Path of the Righteous allows for some focus on the supporting cast and the wider ensemble. The biggest dramatic beat of the episode is carried by two supporting players, as Karen Page and James Wesley square off against one another.

daredevil-thepathoftherighteous

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

The Flash (1987-2009) #1-2 – Happy Birthday, Wally!/Hearts… of Stone (Review)

So, I’m considering reviewing this season of The Flash, because the pilot looks interesting and I’ve always had a soft spot for the Scarlet Speedster. I’m also considering taking a storyline-by-storyline trek through the 1987-2009 Flash on-going series as a companion piece. If you are interested in reading either of these, please share the link love and let me know in the comments.

Like the rest of the comic book industry, DC comics went through some serious changes in the late eighties. Books like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns had re-shaped expectations of the comic book world. There was a sense that things had to change. DC was worried about its own expansive and increasingly convoluted continuity. In order to streamline that continuity, DC decided to stage a massive crossover event. Crisis on Infinite Earths was a truly epic comic that reshaped the shared universe.

It made quite the impression, providing the opportunity for a clean start for many of the characters. George Perez gave Wonder Woman a new origin and back story. John Byrne reinvented The Man of Steel, making several additions to the Superman mythos that have remained in place through to today. Frank Miller offered one of the defining Batman origin stories with Year One. There were obvious continuity issues around certain characters and franchises, but Crisis on Infinite Earths was a new beginning.

If the suit fits...

If the suit fits…

This was arguably most true for The Flash. Cary Bates had finished up a decade-long run on the title with the mammoth storyline The Trial of the Flash, where Barry Allen was accused of murdering his arch-nemesis in cold blood. Although the arc ended with Barry retiring to the distant future (comics!), the character went straight from that extended arc into Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he eventually gave his life to save the multiverse in what became an iconic death sequence.

More than that, Barry Allen stayed dead for twenty years; a phenomenal amount of time for a comic book character. In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC offered a fresh new beginning for the Flash. Wally West, the former “Kid Flash” and sidekick, stepped into the iconic role and headlined a monthly series for over two decades.

His heart might not be in it, yet...

His heart might not be in it, yet…

Continue reading

Non-Review Review: Sin City – A Dame to Kill For

It is very hard to get the same trick to work twice.

When it arrived in cinemas, Sin City was a visceral punch to the gut. It was powerful and shocking, and utterly unlike anything that had ever been seen before. It had its fair share of problems, mostly inherited from Frank Miller’s source material, but it managed the rare treat of being incredibly raw and stylishly slick at the same time. Even years later, the images and characters from Sin City linger in the popular consciousness.

It would be too much to expect the same from Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but the movie lacks the youthful energy that made the original such a classic and the memorable images that imprinted themselves on the collective imagination. Sin City arrived with a reckless irreverence and a whole new bag of tricks. Ultimately, A Dame to Kill For feels like an old dog, and you know what they say about those.

Green-eyed monster?

Green-eyed monster?

Continue reading

Legends of the Dark Knight: Shaman (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Given the success of the Batman line in general and Year One in particular, a comic book like Legends of the Dark Knight made a great deal of sense. First published in 1989, the original objective was to tell stand-alone stories that could be positioned at any point in the life of Batman. As such, the book was not tied on any status quo at the publisher or any demands of the on-going Batman or Detective Comics books.

These were continuity-light stories that would allow writers to tell any story they wanted, unhindered by the larger editorial direction of the Batman line. Legends of the Dark Knight filled a pretty great niche in the Batman line. In a superficial way, it allowed the comics to reconnect with the success of Frank Miller’s Year One, giving the company the option of publishing more comics set in the rough early days of the Caped Crusader.

A dark night...

A dark night…

However, the continuity-hopping nature of the title meant that Legends of the Dark Knight could welcome all sorts of creative teams for short runs without tying them down. Batman and Detective Comics were traditionally books where creative teams would enjoy “runs”, with the occasional fill-in. In contrast, Legends of the Dark Knight could rotate through creators, allowing for different flavours at different times.

More than that, free from the burden of having to tie into a larger context of Batman, many of these Legends of the Dark Knight stories were friendly to casual readers who did not care about the on-going titles. Eventually Legends of the Dark Knight found itself tying into events like Knightfall and No Man’s Land, but the bulk of the run was accessible on its own terms. Featuring a varied assortment of creators free to tell the stories that they wanted to tell, Legends of the Dark Knight was a great idea.

I am the lord, your Bat-god!

I am the lord, your Bat-god!

As a whole, the two-hundred-and-fourteen issue run of Legends of the Dark Knight holds up remarkably well. The run contains a number of genuinely classic Batman stories like Gothic or Prey or Faces or Blades or Hothouse or Going Sane. The first twenty issues of the title are remarkably strong, and there is a very series argument to be made that the anthology nature of Legends of the Dark Knight made it the best Batman comic book of the nineties.

However, when it came to launching Legends of the Dark Knight, it made sense for Batman veteran Denny O’Neil to write the first story. O’Neil had been an essential part of the Batman line since the seventies. He was a prolific creator who had contributed an incredible amount of material to the wider universe of Batman. During a short run on Batman with artist Neal Adams, O’Neil had helped to restore some of the character’s darkness and mystery following the bright and colourful sixties.

The mask comes off...

The mask comes off…

Continue reading

Batman – Year Two (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Batman: Year Two is an… interesting read. It’s much-maligned by comic book fans, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Most obviously there’s the fact that it really doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there’s also the fact that it was published by DC as a way of capitalising on the success of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Year One is a classic comic book story, one of the greatest origins ever written, and one that endures to this day, where even Scott Snyder felt intimidated in writing over it more than two decades after it was published.

Batman: Year Two is not that sort of classic.

In fact, it’s not any sort of classic. However, divorced from context, it’s an interesting read. It feels like writer Mike W. Barr is consciously and gleefully subverting absolutely everything that worked so well in Miller’s Batman: Year One, rejecting the notion of a version of Batman anchored in something approaching the real world, and getting right down to the comic-book-y-ness of the character. Positioning it as a sequel to Batman: Year One feels odd. It would almost read better as a rebuke.

Welcome to the late eighties...

Welcome to the late eighties…

Continue reading