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You Decide ’09 – What’s the Best Miller/Mazzucchelli Comic Book Work?

You know the bit – each day in October I’ll give you folks a poll question. Each poll will last four days. The results will be posted every Tuesday leading up to (and ending with) Election Day on the first Tuesday in November.

Enjoy!

50 Comments

Born Again was the first Daredevil story arc that had me buying the series on a monthly basis. It’s a classic.

If you’d asked me before I reread both of these this year I’d have said Born Again by a nose, but Year One holds up better. Born Again is perfect right up until the Avengers appear and stick out like a sore thumb; Year One is just perfect.

On the whole though, Miller’s Daredevil work is better than his Batman work (and I’m not saying that just because there’s never been an All Star Goddamn Daredevil and Foggy the Tubby Sidekick, either).

But the Avengers were supposed to stick out like a sore thumb in that Daredevil arc. I remember the first time reading that part and thinking that this would be how awe-inspiring (and not to mention a little frightening) that these God-like figures would appear to your normal schmoes on the street. Year One is fantastic but I have to give the edge to Born Again just for reasons like that.

I too’ve read both of these recently.

It’d be Born Again if not for the Duke issue.

Born Again – besides having a more interesting story, except the last part, and not being a rehash/reworking of an origin story (which, while those can be and often are interesting, they’re still not completely original), I like the art better. Year One often looks like Giffen. BA is murkier.

On the other hand I’m going by memory, as I haven’t re-read them in several years.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 5, 2009 at 5:54 am

I don’t think the Avengers “stick out” in Born Again — they’re pretty clearly there to represent that bigger, brighter world that DD and the Kingpin have, in essence, barred themselves from by story’s end. That always struck me as part of the point of the Nuke material: the Kingpin’s final overreach, really, his attempt to be not only respectable but, perversely, to go back to being a supervillain instead of the noirish ganglord Miller made him. It fails, of course. (That and the rather heavy-handed symbolism of “what’s happened to America!” and the idea that the general, in his way, is just another Kingpin.)

That said, the politics of the sequence belong almost entirely to the 1980s, with the allusions to Vietnam filtered through Rambo and to Iran-Contra really dating poorly. That’s why Year One seems to me to hold up better; it uses generic corruption rather than specifically-instantiated corruption as its reference point.

as much as i found millers take on batman first year in operation have to go with Daredevil born again for it showed that no matter what the kingpin did to matt that he would not go down quielty that he would keep on fighting and it showed that frank knows how to handle the character real well.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 5, 2009 at 6:30 am

This is a tough call.

Not the kind where you can JUST flip a coin and call it to decide who’s the winner. (Too much like Two-Face)

In many ways, Daredevil: Born Again, has been done over and over again, in the way that the character would hit rock bottom, and then somehow rise up to overcome whatever obstacle. Then the new change would last for a few years until the next rock bottom comes along.

Batman: Year One is a rare look at characters came to be before the status quo, and tends to stand out to last the tests of time. The movie Batman Begins borrows heavily from this story arc.

I went with the latter.

Mazuchelli’s art might be a bit more accomplished in Year One, but otherwise, Born Again wins out by a large margin for me. It’s more emotionally gripping, and more groundbreaking. Born Again is the best Daredevil story ever. Year One isn’t even Miller’s best Batman story. (I don’t mean this to sound like I’m bashing Year One, because it’s great.

“anonymous” above is me.

Due respect to Born Again, but Year One is the best story ever written about comics’ best character. For me, it wins hands down.

While they are obviously both amazing works, I’d say that Born Again is slightly more significant objectively. Since Year One is building off of the gradual darkening of Batman that began with O’Neal in the 70’s, it probably doesn’tclaim as much new ground as Born Again. It turned Daredevil from Spider-Man-lite, and into the complex character he is today.

One of the best superhero comics ever versus possibly The best superhero comic ever.

Year One wins it for me, but they’re both fantastic.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 5, 2009 at 7:26 am

Since Year One is building off of the gradual darkening of Batman that began with O’Neal in the 70’s, it probably doesn’tclaim as much new ground as Born Again. It turned Daredevil from Spider-Man-lite, and into the complex character he is today.

I think this is a common misconception among readers, really: like Batman, DD had undergone no small amount of darkening in the 1970s under Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Jim Shooter, and most importantly Roger McKenzie, who was writing the book before and then with Miller. The introduction of Bullseye as a purely psychopathic killer predates Miller, despite the tendency to credit him with the character’s personality. (Bullseye’s very first appearance has him ram a pen through someone’s throat, and that about 6 years before Miller came onto the title.)

Before Miller even started on pencilling the comic, you’d already had the Purple Man reinvented as a sadistic mind-cntroller, one who memorably drives Heather Glenn’s father to suicide. That may have been the first supporting character suicide in superhero comics, come to think of it.

Even if you’re a Miller purist, the Elektra saga was well before Born Again, and hardly “Spider-Man lite.”

I’ve never read Born Again. I know, I know. I’m terrible. But it’s probably better than Year One, which is good but not great.

man… thats a tough pick.

First issue of the “Born Again”(I think it’s #238, maybe) is my favorite Daredevil issue ever. I’ve got Wally Wood, Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, etc., still that issue rocked the foundation of the character without using devices from out of left field. Awesome issue. Born Again gets my vote.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 5, 2009 at 9:20 am

I’d argue that “Karen returns as a strung-out heroin abuser” is, if not out of left field, certainly a status quo shift of epic proportions devised to make the story work.

It works quite well, yes, but it’s certainly not something that was built towards or expected prior to the issue in question.

I’m sorry for missing it, but how and when are we going to see the results to all these polls?

I said Born Again because it made me a fan of Daredevil after finishing it. I was already a Bat fan after reading Year One.

No bad choices here, but BATMAN: YEAR ONE was much more influential.

LouReedRichards

October 5, 2009 at 10:00 am

I love them both, they were important milestones in my comics reading.

I went with Year One in the end though.

Miller and Mazzuchelli were damn near perfect in each book. But I think Year One is the maturation of two great talents in sync with each other.

Plus the art on Year One has some of the best storytelling I’ve ever seen.

@ A. Nominus – I’m pretty sure that he was going for much more of a Toth look than Giffen/Munoz, but whatever it is it’s absolutely gorgeous.

LouReedRichards

October 5, 2009 at 10:02 am

I still have my Born Again poster (in really bad shape though). Such a wonderful image.

I should hang it up again.

Really tough question. I’m going to plump for Year One on the basis that it’s by far Miller’s best DC work, while he has other Marvel work I have enjoyed as much or more than Born Again. Namely, the craziness contained within Elektra Assassin.

It’s funny, the Batman letters pages at the time, which obviously didn’t cherry-pick readers letters, were virtually unanimous in the hatred for and revulsion towards Year One!

Born Again is the greatest thing that Miller has ever written. Bar none.

I reread both not very long ago and DD: Born Again stood out as the more thrilling read for me. Both are excellent stories, though. It’s interesting to note that they both feature equally compelling “B” plots in the characters of Ben Urich and Jim Gordon.

But DD’s inner turmoil and the Kingpin’s delicious evil and an incredible slew of cool comic book moments (recently featured on this very blog) means DD wins it for me.

Also, I like when Mazzuchelli draws the costumes “muscled”. That’s what gave us that beautiful iconic DD splash, after all…

I’m also going to throw out some love for Elektra: Assassin. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and pick that one as a far back underdog, even though it’s not here. ;) Still holds up better to me, because while BA and YO often feel tired (through no fault of their own, mostly just from people trying to be them), nobody seems to know how to even approach an Assassinish story.

Though yes, I realize it wouldn’t be eligible here anyway.

Born Again also features one of THE greatest Captain American appearances ever!

I loved Year One all the way through. I loved Born Again until the last issue where I just really, really liked it.

I’d vote for Born Again, since Year One built more on what was already present as FlashJ noted. Though both series represent Hat Tricks for Miller on the respective characters.

Just last week I tried to buy a copy of Year One, but none of the shops in town had it.

Born Again is the best straight superhero story I’ve got. Winner.

Story-wise, its a toss-up. I’m giving the edge to Born Again strictly because of its incredible art, which conveyed grandiose themes, thrilling action, and desparate romance with confidence and clarity.

Thinking back, every character got their moment in no small part because of Mazzuchelli’s art. Ben’s triumphant removal of his cast while muttering the words “Matt Murdock” on a quiet park bench is as much a fist-pumping moment as any of the riveting fight scenes.

The villains do well here, too. The nurse and the psycho DD impersanator were genuinely scary in their limited, but essential roles. Kingpin owns every scene he’s in. Really, the only weak link is arguably Nuke.

Year One is terrific. REALLY terrific. But if I had to compare the two, I’d say Born Again is a cinematic triumph, while Year One is a fantastic BBC miniseries.

I’ve only read a little bit of each, so I’m probably not equiped to judge. But from what little I have seen, I’d have to pick ‘Born Again’. Admittedly, I’m much more of a Marvel fan, and I’m prejudiced against ‘year one’-type stories anyway. I hate writers that are always trying to go back and rewrite the past. I always want the history of a character to remain as is.

I vote for Year One for the reasons Gavin and Andrew said. Namely, Born Again’s ending was weak. Too much of a straight superhero story that dissipated the previous chapters’ revelations and insights.

I’d go for Batman over Daredevil… Simple design but yet efficient. If I knew nothing about those characters and was completely new to comics, the Year One cover would make me pick that book over Born Again

Year one has:

The birth of the modern Commissioner Gordon
The birth of the modern Catwoman
The Best Looking Batman ever drawn
that fuck yeah moment with the cop getting his ribs broken over a cat

I think Mazzuchelli’s work on Year One is a hair better than what he did on Born Again, but Miller’s writing on Born Again is more creative and interesting than Year One. Neither are bad, at all, but if you have to pick…slight edge to Born Again. I think.

Seriously, that’s a very very hard call.

Knowing how important year one is seen, I’d still have to choose Born Again, as I like both story and art more.

I’m also going to throw out some love for Elektra: Assassin. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and pick that one as a far back underdog, even though it’s not here. ;) Still holds up better to me, because while BA and YO often feel tired (through no fault of their own, mostly just from people trying to be them), nobody seems to know how to even approach an Assassinish story.

Elektra Assassin is great, but only from about the 3rd issue onwards. The first couple feel like a mess to me.

It’s DD #227. Best Daredevil issue EVER! Loved Year One, but I don’t see any of the issues as the single best Batman issues ever. (that’s reserved for Batman #251/ Dark Knight Returns #1)

Wow. This is a really tough call, and although i’m mostly a Marvel reader, Batman: Year One was one of the best work produced EVER. I also voted on which story i remember the most and that’s absolutely Year One.

I’m going to be the grammar dick and say that the question should be “What’s the better Miller/Mazzuchelli comic book work?”

Year One was the better, more enjoyable read for me, but I liked both.

I think Year One is better.

I’m going to be the grammar dick and say that the question should be “What’s the better Miller/Mazzuchelli comic book work?”

No, the question is which is the best. If neither of these two are the best then the correct option is to not vote, not to vote for the better one.

Unless I’m mistaken it has to be one of those two. I’m not aware of any other Miller/Mazzucchelli works.

That said, I’ve never really understood that supposed rule that you should use “better” rather than “best” when there are only two. I’m not convinced it’s that hard and fast.

i have to vote with Born Again, because as great as Year One is [and it is SO great!] it didn’t have the emotional impact for me that BA did/does. i love Bats, kinda like DD, so seeing Matt [along with Foggy, Ben, and Karen] triumph over near impossible odds makes me love it.
Of course, Year One is more visible given the Billion dollar movie, but my heart makes me choose BA
DFTBA

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

The grammatical argument that only “better” can be used for groups of two things puts the cart before the horse. “Better” is a comparative, not an absolute degree; it exists entirely because one might need it when there are more than two options.

The idea that groups of two can only use a comparative (better) and that a field of three is necessary for the use of a superlative (best) has more to do with a bizarre notion that qualitative adjectives are somehow actually indicative of quantitatively bounded measures of quality.

I voted for Born Again. Because Daredevil should have ENDED there. He had no real reason to be a hero anymore. He got the girl and a new life and now he doesn’t HAVE to do it anymore. Year One was an origin story.

This one was tough.

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