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Daredevil – Nelson v. Murdock (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.

Franklin P. “Foggy” Nelson is perhaps the most constant fixture of Matt Murdock’s personal life.

The lawyer was created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett for the first issue of the comic, published in April 1964. It seems like Foggy has always been there for Matt in one form or another. “Nelson and Murdock” is the heart of Matt Murdock’s life as a lawyer, and so Foggy is generally around to deal with the fallout from whatever crisis has engulfed Matt’s life from one moment to the next. However, Foggy is notable because he is really the only member of the Daredevil cast who can be described as a “regular” character since the book’s inception.

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Despite the fact that Stan Lee and Bill Everett were clearly inspired by The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil never developed an ensemble with quite the same depth and breadth. While casual comic book fans can list off dozens of Peter Parker’s friends and colleagues from the earliest years, Matt Murdock has always had a rougher time building up a steady and reliable supporting cast. Part of this is undoubtedly down to the book’s difficulty finding its own identity. Characters came and went as the creative team tried new directions.

Through all of that, Foggy stuck around.

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Daredevil – Shadows in the Glass (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.

Much like Stick, Shadows in the Glass emphasises the relatively episodic nature of Daredevil.

If Stick was “the mystical ninja tie-in episode”, then Shadows in the Glass is the obligatory “villain episode.” This is evident in the choice to open with a teaser dedicated to the morning routine of Wilson Fisk. It is a nice structural choice to repeat the sequence two more times, once at the midpoint and once towards the end. The second iteration of the sequence plays much the same as the first, but the third version plays out with both Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna, suggesting that Fisk is no longer as alone as he claimed to be in Rabbit in a Snowstorm.

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Daredevil is a show that really does take advantage of its format to flesh out and develop the world of Matthew Murdock. It would have been easy to structure Daredevil as a simply thirteen-hour origin story with a reasonably high budget. However, the show capitalises on the extra space afforded to a thirteen-episode season. None of the Marvel films could afford to devote fifty minutes of character development to the antagonist, and even Loki has never been given as much narrative attention as Fisk. (Only Michael Fassbender’s Magneto can compete with Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk.)

Shadows in the Glass provides Wilson Fisk with a supervillain origin story very clearly designed to mirror that of Matt Murdock.

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The Flash – Fastest Man Alive (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 let me know in the comments.

In many ways, Fastest Man Alive plays like the second part of a pilot for The Flash. Like City of Heroes before it, Fastest Man Alive is written by Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns, with Greg Berlanti credited on the story. It is also directed by David Nutter, one of television’s most respected pilot directors – even if his famous “hot streak” of pilots going straight to show was interrupted when CBS did not pick up The Doctor in 2011.

Fastest Man Alive is still about building the world around Barry Allen. City of Heroes established the basics, the ground rules of the world in which Barry operates. Fastest Man Alive exists to delineate them a bit further. It defines the ensemble better, clarifying the roles of Joe West and Iris West in the grand scheme of things; it gives Barry the confidence he needs to do what he does; it imposes limits on Barry’s ability; it clarifies that Harrison Wells is not entirely heroic.

CGI flames! My fatal weakness!

CGI flames! My fatal weakness!

Given the amount of attention and effort that Fastest Man Alive devotes to cementing the foundations of The Flash, it’s understandable that there really isn’t too much room for anything else. Fastest Man Alive is about settling the cast and the writers into a sustainable status quo for the next stretch of episodes – maybe even the entire first season. It makes sure that everybody knows where everything lies and that there’s a solid base upon which to build.

So, while Fastest Man Alive might not be an especially brilliant episode of television, it does a very good job of setting up what it needs to set up.

Born to run...

Born to run…

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