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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 116

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we begin a look at what is most likely the greatest Daredevil story ever told, Born Again, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. It might last longer than a week, as there are a lot of cool moments, and they just keep coming with greater frequency as the series continues its slow build towards the ending.

Enjoy!

Born Again began in Daredevil #227, when Frank Miller, Daredevil’s greatest creator, returned to the title to write the comic alongside the incumbent artist, David Mazzucchelli, who was at the time only beginning to show us the greatness that he was capable of.

In #227, Karen Page, Matt Murdock (Daredevil)’s former girlfriend is now addicted to drugs and doing all sorts of nasty stuff (pornography, etc.) to feed her habit. Finally, she sells Daredevil’s secret identity for a fix.

The information makes it way up to Daredevil’s nemesis, Wilson Fisk, the so-called Kingpin of Crime.

For the rest of the comic, Fisk systematically “destroys” Matt Murdock’s life – taking away his job, his law license, his money, his reputation, basically everything.

Matt tried to fight it, but for all he knows, he is just having the most horrible month ever – he has no reason to suspect that this is all due to a super-criminal.

Until, of course, the final pages of Daredevil #227, which are practically breathtaking in the way that Miller presents the beginning to this story arc, in the way that even at the start of the tale, when all looks bleakest, he manages to get a slight matter of “triumph” mixed in. It’s a beautiful scene.

Read on to see it…

And, of course, the ending of the issue is “the” moment.

What wonderful work on the parts of Miller and Mazzucchelli (Mazzucchelli’s design work is impeccable).

And remember, just like the other week-long series, please keep your commentary to either this specific moment or very general comments of the storyline, as we have at least six more moments to get to, and we don’t want to spoil them, do we? :)

32 Comments

Best. Daredevil. Arc. Ever.

I missed Miller’s original run, and even when I went back and read it, it didn’t feel as tight as this second one does. Every individual issue is brilliant, and it all adds up to a classic self-contained storyline. Every character has at least one or more shining moment: The Kingpin, Karen, Foggy, Matt, Nuke, Captain America, and most of all, Ben Urich. Urich became a favorite of mine during these issues.

I started reading the book on a regular basis (after picking up an issue here and there) with #226. And man, did I pick a good time to start!

The best thing about a lower tier characters is that you can do anything with them. Have them loose their jobs, kill their gilfrinds, blow up their house. Not just for the sake of it of course, which is a problem most current comics have, but to move a story forward.

Was there ever a reason to root for daredevil more then before this moment.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 27, 2009 at 5:14 am

The second last page, on the second panel, where you can see the building on fire reflecting on Murdock’s
shades, was the one time I actually thought that Miller drew that and not Mazzucchelli.

Still, that was a really good run.

Mixed feelings about this arc. On its own its a GREAT arc, wonderful, loved it as a kid. But on the bad side, it was a horrible arc for an ongoing book because it left a pretty depressing and exceedingly difficult status quo in its wake. Miller got to write an awesome story and tear down everything in the process and then leave the really difficult part, actually writing the book in the aftermath of the new status quo, to another writer. I think there should be a rule that if you are going to radically change a status quo of an ongoing book like that, you shouldn’t just up and leave after. You now have a responsibility to at least handle a chunk of the follow up as well.

For example Brian Bendis in an interview said that Quesada told him he could only make DD the Kingpin of NY if he promised to follow through and write the aftermath too. Quesada said he was not going to be allowed to just end his run on such an earth-shattering change and then pass it off to someone else to deal with. So Bendis agreed. And as much as everyone loved the first half of Bendis’ run leading up to that moment, when Bendis had to deal with the aftermath most people agreed the book suffered. I suspect if Frank Miller had to write DD a year or two after the end of Born Again he’d have run into a lot of the same storytelling problems as Nocenti did later as well.

On a side note, man was Mazzuchelli a great artist.

Whenever Matt Murdock puts on the Scott Summers glasses, you know there’s going to be trouble.

It was great how close the Kingpin was to victory and then had to screw it up. We saw Matt on the verge of raving paranoia, even to the point of doubting his best friend.

It’s amazing how what was once done in a single issue would probably take about a year, today. Born Again might have been even greater with some decompression. Imagine seeing the tearing down of Matt’s life and sanity instead of just being told about it.

Like many great stories, it’s spawned a host of poor imitators. Nowadays, everyone wants to bring the hero low so that they can build them back up. Unfortunately, the building back up part tends to get lost in the shuffle. Eventually, someone new comes along and decides its best to ignore a bad Born Again clone.

one of the best daredevil stories ever for it showed that knowledge is power and once the kingpin learned dd id he took that phrase to a new level. not to mention the story proved that frank miller should be doing daredevil for he gets the character

One of the all time great lines. “It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn’t have signed it.”

Knowledge is indeed power, Chad. Nowhere is that better illustrated than when the Kingpin says: “…any man so dedicated as to pretend to blindness in daily life…”

I’d’ve been about 12 or 13 when this came out and I remember reading it for the first time at a friend’s house. I still think of it as Miller’s best work.

“I think there should be a rule that if you are going to radically change a status quo of an ongoing book like that, you shouldn’t just up and leave after. You now have a responsibility to at least handle a chunk of the follow up as well.”

I completely disagree. The goal should be to put out an enjoyable story. Don’t worry about figuring out the next guy’s work.

Man, I miss comic books. All of this so-called Decompression stuff really irks me. It probably took me longer to read the pages that you posted than it does to read an entire Marvel comic book right now.

I had the misfortune of reading this after I’d already read Bendis’s run. And I must say Born Again had much less of an impact. I think it’s sort of like covers in music. If you hear the cover first, you almost always like it more than the original song.

“I completely disagree. The goal should be to put out an enjoyable story. Don’t worry about figuring out the next guy’s work.”

Maybe with an original series or an original graphic novel. I think if you agree to work within certain limits (using someone else’s property short term) it’d be nice if you stuck within those limits. Really though I guess the editors and other higher ups are responsible.

I was pretty annoyed when, on the commentary disc (the best thing about the DD movie by miles), Miller was like “yeah I did that to his law career because that blind lawyer thing was kind of stupid.” I think that’s a ridiculous comment at least given the fact that this is a superhero book, and it took like a decade to getting him back as a lawyer. But I still love this scene. I wasn’t around back then but it smells like it was an instant classic.

I like T’s point. I didn’t read DD post-Born Again, so I don’t know how jarring that was to a reader. I do remember the difficulty of trying to read Incredible Hulk after Peter David left the title the first time. It wasn’t just the lousy change of writers and the inconsistent art–the next team really had a tremendous change in status quo to work from.

I wonder how often this happens in comics of late?

Born Again’s ending specifically set up the new status quo – it did not leave the next writer in the lurch, except for the fact that the next writer had to follow Frank Miller, which is rough enough as it is.

David surely left the Hulk in worse shape when he left than Miller left DD (both times), but I can forgive David as he was coming off a decade-plus run on the book – it was going to be hard to follow him anyways.

T.: But the this was followed up by Nocenti’s run, which is often thought of as one of the great little-known runs. And Bendis did end his run on a huge changing note, which led into Brubaker’s absolutely fantastic first arc.

I hope there is a best moment from DD #7, one of the greatest single issue DD comics ever.

True, Gopher. Between the DD/Subby battle and the debut of the red costume, it’s pretty much a classic.

Nocenti’s run was excellent. Definitely not everyone’s thing, but one of my favorite runs of any comic. As noted above, Brubaker’s first Daredevil arc was very good.

I think good talent can follow one good run with another. Imagine if Morrison’s JLA came after the Giffen/ DeMatteis stuff. It would have been a radical shift in tone and style, but the quality would have been there. It’s possible for quality run to follow quality run (even staus quo – destroying runs), just rare.

I believe Peter David was fired off Hulk.

“I had the misfortune of reading this after I’d already read Bendis’s run. And I must say Born Again had much less of an impact. I think it’s sort of like covers in music. If you hear the cover first, you almost always like it more than the original song.”

In some cases yeah, but in this case it’s like the Smurfs covering Mozart.

I loved this issue, and I was really impressed by how much story it contained. I thought the first issue was the best part of the story (incidentally, I felt the same way about DKR).

What version of the comic does this post come from (i.e., which coloration does it show)? I like the colors on the Kingpin sequence a lot more than the single issue, but I think the panels that follow look worse.

Peter David quit Hulk, but it was because he was being told he had to take it a direction he really didn’t want–the book was going to go in that direction with or without him, and he didn’t have time to wrap it all up neatly for the next guy. (His last issue summarizes several years’ worth of possible plotlines, in such a way that it wasn’t binding on any future writers.)

Classic story!

Bendis’s run was great too though.

In some cases yeah, but in this case it’s like the Smurfs covering Mozart.

You’re implying Bendis’ run wasn’t any good? I know it’s a trend to bash Bendis and there’s definitely a fertile ground for it in more recent parts of his work but Alias and the bulk of his Daredevil run are still good and enjoyable comics.

Born Again’s ending specifically set up the new status quo

That it did…but I think it was an incredibly depressing and difficult one. Don;t get me wrong, I love Nocenti’s writing and her run, but I think a big reason it was little-known was the status quo she had to write under. I think her run would have been even better known and better regarded if she had more of a traditional status quo to work under. She did well all things considered.

I was pretty annoyed when, on the commentary disc (the best thing about the DD movie by miles), Miller was like “yeah I did that to his law career because that blind lawyer thing was kind of stupid.” I think that’s a ridiculous comment at least given the fact that this is a superhero book, and it took like a decade to getting him back as a lawyer.

That’s exactly what I mean. This one story is GREAT, and I am not bashing this story in a vacuum. It’s a great story, an instant classic, and I love it. But it also lead to 10 years of DD and his status quo wandering around in the wilderness. Miller thinks the blind lawyer thing is kind of stupid so he ruins it….FOR OTHER WRITERS. Not even for himself because after he destroys it, he just leaves never to write DD again.

Loved this when it came out, then loved it again when i got the trade. If i ever get any free time again, i’ll have to break it out of comic book jail and re-read it.
One thing that someone can answer for me, how does Matt all the sudden know that the Kingpin is behind everything once he finds his DD costume? i think that i’m missing the clue that points Matt in Kingy’s direction. He finds his costume, but how is that the clue that makes the puzzle fit together? Just before, Matt is thinking that there may not be one single enemy, but that it may be everybody. Then, his house blows up, and he finds his costume in the rubble. Then, he knows that the Kingpin is behind it, i am not getting that connection. Thanks for the help friends!

Oh, by the way, this run rocks! i hope that we have a moment from Ben Urich and Foggy with Karen as well.

i don’t think the costume is what tips him off so much…i think it is the fact that someone blew up his freakin’ house, which is a very classic mobster thing to do. I think the Daredevil costume is just there for the awesome imagery…

Unless it’s one of those House MD moments where the sight of the Daredevil costume is what enables him to make the mental leap to put the things together.

But yeah, I think it’s the explosion that’s the signature, not the costume.

Totally agree that this is both the best DD and best Miller story ever.

About Miller mucking up the status quo and leaving– I seem to recall that some comic fanzine mentioned, around the time “Born Again” was about to wrap up, that Miller left in a falling-out with Marvel– that he had planned to stay but personal disagreements caused him to leave (I think it might have involved how he felt Marvel was mistreating Jack Kirby over the question of original art). Is this true, or just more fodder for Brian’s wonderful “Urban Legends” column?

“It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn’t have signed it.”

I love that line.

I really need to get the TPB for this.

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