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A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 118

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 continue our 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!

The problem with doing Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli is that there are certain moments that I think you “have” to mention, but at the same time, they’re only, like, one page deals, so I almost feel bad to take up a whole installment just for what essentially amounts to a couple of really cool lines. But you know what? Those lines are just so darn cool that I have to do it.

At the end of Daredevil #229, there is a series of vignettes where we catch up on all of our characters.

We see that Foggy Nelson and Glorianna O’Breen are, amusingly enough, actually seeming to enjoy life MORE now that Matt Murdock is out of their lives. That’s a particularly cruel bit that Miller does – a sort of reverse “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where Foggy becomes a lot happier when he is without his partner, who does seem to bring down a whole lot of crap down on Foggy (see the latest issue of Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil for an examination of this same theme).

Matt Murdock is trying to reconnect to his boyhood memories – first by trying to visit the home he grew up at and next by going to the gym that his father worked out at (his dad was a boxer, in case you didn’t know). This ends with Matt being revisited again by the mysterious nun who helped him at the beginning of this issue (in a beautiful sequence by Mazzucchelli and Miller that I just don’t have space to feature – that’s how good this storyline is – there are really great bits that just can’t make the cut).

Ben Urich is investigating Matt Murdock’s frame job with the main witness against Matt, an “honest” cop. In a striking sequence, the Kingpin sends someone to put a crimp in Urich’s investigation.

Finally, Karen Page has taken up with a crazy crook because she figures he will at least protect her from Kingpin’s goons, who are out to kill her because she is a connection to them (for selling Matt’s secret identity). She is just totally zoned out, as all she cares about now is doing whatever it takes to get to New York, where Matt will “save her.”

Okay, so Miller and Mazzucchelli give us an update on all the characters, and then, for the first time since Kingpin said to himself “There is no corpse” last issue, we see Kingpin. It’s beautifully paced by Miller – we can tell that the Kingpin has been thinking this to himself constantly since we last saw him. “There is no corpse.”

And Miller possibly tops himself with his great “There is no corpse” line from last issue with today’s “And I — I have shown him…that a man without hope is a man without fear.”

Classic.

15 Comments

You’d think the Kingpin would try some sit-ups to go with bench-pressing a big-block engine.

that line right there a man with out hope is a man without fear proves why born again should be considered one of the best daredevil stories for the kingpin figuring out that all he did was make daredevil have to up his game and that sooner or later daredevil will turn the tables is the moment that makes the story stand out. even if frank miller could have had the kingpin wearing some sweats

The more I read about this story, the more I dislike Karen Page’s function in it.

So many characters, all with their own voice.

“The more I read about this story, the more I dislike Karen Page’s function in it.”

Yeah, that is the one thing about the arc I am not crazy about. I was not a big DD reader at the time, so I didn’t have a huge emotional connection to Karen, but it does seem a bit out of character for her and it seems to me she was put in that situation to shock us and to betray Matt, which doesn’t ring true to me.

Maybe someone who is more familiar with Karen’s character pre-Born Again could weigh in?

It’s Miller, after all, so there’s always something a little off with his portrayal of women. But I think Karen’s role in “Born Again” is important and necessary. It’s a story about redemption and new beginnings, after all.

I am not sure, but it seems like this might be the first use of differently styled letterboxes to indicate different internal voices style. Miller does a good job keeping the voices distinct anyway, but it really was an innovative and influential technique. Maybe Brian could do an Urban Legend on the use of that technique, since it would good to know who to credit.

On the actual pages seen here, I love the body language of the Nurse-Enforcer as she stems up. You can really see her arms pumping like a steam engine just from the one panel. It is just great character work by Mazzucelli. As with the internal voices, everybody is kept clear and distinct. Look at Murdoch in the first panel at the gym. The way that he stands in front of the punching bag mirrors DDs pre-fight posture in other parts of the arc. It reminds the reader that they are the same guy.

It hammers home the point Miller is making in the whole thing that unlike many superheroes Matt Murdoch and Daredevil are the same guy. He fought as a kid. He fights as a lawyer. He fights as a vigilante. He fights when he is winning and fights when he is losing. Take away everything from him and that is all there is left.

Karen Page – the original “woman in the refrigerator.”

It is so very weird to go back and read the old Lee/Everett and Lee/Colan issues and try to imagine her going from being so sweet, innocent and smart to to the heroin-addicted porn star Miller gave us. She hooked up with Johnny Blaze in the first Ghost Rider series and even then was portrayed a lot more like Mary Jane Watson later was when she was acting in soap operas.

That is still the one single part of “Born Again” that I never liked, although, like pretty much everybody else, I think it is the single best Daredevil storyline ever. Miller was telling a film noir story with super-heroes, and in noir stories, that’s the way a lot of female characters are. At least, she, like Matt – spoiler alert – eventually found some happiness at the end of the story.

I just loved Foggy and Glorianna coming together. They seemed made for each other. Pity Ann Nocenti made them split later.

I just hated when a further writer Glorianna out of the series by means on one of the most gratuitous killings ever in a comic (and it didn’t even make a good story!).

Mazzuchelli is one of the greatest DD artists ever… possibly the greatest!

If you’re mentioning small moments that probably wouldn’t take the whole feature, let’s start with the splash panels from the first three parts which illustrate Matt’s descent in a simple yet brilliant way.

Agreed on Mazzuchelli’s art. He does make Matt and DD look like the same man even when not in costume. Everything that Ben Urich goes through from here on is just downright nasty. I don’t think any other artist could have portrayed it as such, not even Miller himself.

These final lines regarding hope and fear equal Lee’s reflections on great power and responsibility. Brilliant work!

Mazzucchelli is a spectacular artist… I’m hoping for some John Totleben moments down the line, another favorite.

“And I… I have shown him that a man without hope is a man without fear.”

Second best line Miller ever wrote.

Alan Moore did a great riff on the “Karen Page as junkie” thing in his run on Supreme where Supreme meets grim and gritty 80’s characters who are addicts and emotional wastoids…

Isn’t the nun DD’s mother?

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