Issue(s): Daredevil #227, Daredevil #228, Daredevil #229
I say this knowing that there's been a backlash against both this story and Frank Miller generally, but this arc really is on a whole different level than most other comics that will be included in this project, even the ones that i give high marks to. I don't want to open a debate on what is Art or Literature, but the writing here - and this is Frank Miller purely as a writer, with the "regular" but excellent DD artist David Mazzucchelli still on pencils - is designed for so much more than exposition and moving the plot along. The script especially is very much in voice for each of the characters, and delivers multitudes of insight. It's been years since my English Lit days, and those muscles have long atrophied (as anyone reading my slapdash entries on this site can attest), so i know i'm not going to be able to do a literary review of these issues. But as i read through this for my project, i definitely felt that part of me saying "let me in, coach". I challenge anyone to read these issues directly after a random selection of other 1986 Marvel comics and not sit up and realize that there's something very different going on here.
About the backlash, first, any writer that gets as many accolades as Miller has is eventually going to draw a reaction of "overrated". But it's really important to remember the context. Comics today are what they are, and are for who they are for, because of what happened in the 80s in books like this. Now that's not saying Born Again, specifically, changed the industry. First, the whole shift to the direct market, and therefore older "fan" readers, created an environment that made these types of books possible. And second, this book is really a culmination of the changes that began with earlier books, including Frank Miller's earlier Daredevil run and his and Alan Moore's other works, but i don't want to discount other writers as well, going back (staying with Marvel) to the likes of Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, Don McGregor, Chris Claremont, and more. Nonetheless, Born Again solidifies and formalizes that direction. To read this story outside that context and dismiss it as overrated misses the point.
Now of course there are some who don't like the direction comics went in thanks to stories like these, and that's a different but valid complaint. Maybe comics should be for kids, maybe super-hero comics should be fantasy and don't need to be deconstructed. That's all fair, but there's still no denying the significance or quality of these issues. It's also worth remembering that while "deconstruction" is a huge part of what makes this story important, and part of the shift towards mature and realistic comics in the 80s, this arc is ultimately redemptive for both Daredevil and Karen Page; hence the title of the arc: Born Again. Despite what happens here, Daredevil is left in a state where he could have went back to having swashbuckling adventures.
And he will, occasionally. But for the most part Daredevil's book will remain, and indeed has already been since at least Miller's first run, dark and gritty. And that gets to the third complaint, which was largely unintentional. Yes, this story features mob crime and drugs and porn, and the plot involves breaking Matt Murdock down to nothing to get to the core of his character, driving him nutty and destroying his support cast. But it's also immensely human, with beautiful dialogue and a smart plot. And that's really what's important. Unfortunately, the lesson that other creators and editors took away from the acclaim of this series is "they like it because it's grim and gritty" not "they like it because it's good". And that means with a few exceptions, runs on Daredevil especially are going to be about poor Matt Murdock getting beaten down over and over again while more generally "grim and gritty" will rule the day. (I've said some of this before on previous Frank Miller Daredevil entries, but it bears repeating.)
Let me front-load one more objection before i get into the plot summary. This one is about the depiction of Karen Page, who at the very start of this series is revealed to now be a junkie porn star, and who, after betraying Daredevil's secret identity for a single score of heroin, sleeps her way across the country with a scummy criminal in order to get to DD for protection after the Kingpin tries to have her assassinated. Not an empowering depiction of a woman, to be sure, and arguably unnecessarily denigrating to a longstanding supporting character. But as i mentioned above, this deconstruction of Karen is the beginning of a redemptive arc for her. And it's worth noting that a reading of early Daredevil stories reveals a really twisted relationship between Matt, Karen, and Foggy, especially when you throw in the mind-games that came with the "Mike Murdock" identity, and it's a fair reading to say that she came out of that as at least as damaged a character as Matt. And we can compare the depiction of Karen to Glorianna O'Breen (as we'll do with the latter half of this storyline) to see that Miller doesn't seem to have a problem with his depiction of women generally.
(Ok, that leads to one final objection - sorry - and that's the fact that as the years went on, Frank Miller's work and his real world politics got more cartoonish, and you can project backwards from that and therefore find fault in his earlier work. But i don't think that's a worthy endeavor; i don't think this Frank Miller is yet that guy.)
Ok, enough bloviating; let's "begin". These first three issues constitute the downward spiral of the arc, so we start with Karen in Mexico, selling Matt Murdock's secret ID.
The zeitgeisty comment about the 80s is a nice way to start things off.
Karen's information eventually makes it to the Kingpin, whose first order is to have everyone who handled the information on its way to him killed. The Kingpin gives the order to his top minion, whose name is Wesley. Wesley is a pretty minor character in the comics, never getting a full name and not appearing (at the time of writing) outside Miller's Born Again run, but he'll be turned into a very prominent character for the first season of the Daredevil Netflix television show.
Six months later, Matt Murdock wakes up to find out that his accounts have been frozen pending an IRS investigation, his girlfriend Glorianna is breaking up with him (via cassette tape since she hasn't been able to get a hold of him), and he's being subpoenaed for perjury (on "that Hendricks case"; is that a reference to anything specific?). Also, Glorianna's apartment is burgled, and she winds up spending the night with Foggy (Glorianna and Foggy were first shown getting close last issue, which was co-written by Miller).
Foggy doesn't sleep with Glorianna, but i do love the scene where he wakes up to her cooking.
"Must've. That's an angel." is a good line. Very pulpy but also very much in Nelson's voice.
Meanwhile, we learn that the police officer accusing Daredevil of perjury, Lt. Nick Manolis, who has appeared in this series before, is doing it because he has a sick son that needs treatment that he can't afford. But as Daredevil, Matt is unable to find any proof that the cop is getting a payoff, and he's becoming increasingly erratic and paranoid. We're also shown that Matt uses Daredevil not just to be a hero fighting for justice, but also as a "relief". Not the equivalent of Karen Page's addiction to heroin, but certainly a parallel.
The reason that DD has no luck finding evidence is because the Kingpin is keeping his information close to his chest, so that no one in his organization knows anything about the secret ID. That's good for allowing Daredevil's investigation to fail and also for being able to mostly put the genie back in the bottle once this storyline is over.
Foggy helps Matt with his trial, and the end result is that he's disbarred but at least doesn't go to jail. At the end of the issue, though, despite the Kingpin earlier saying that he "must deny myself the exquisite pleasure of a killing stroke", the Kingpin blows up Matt's house. And that's how Matt learns that the Kingpin is actually behind it all. Showing the Kingpin to not be infallible (the Kingpin also believes that Matt is only pretending to be blind) helps humanize him even while demonstrating his masterminding capabilities.
Matt unfortunately gets too literal about the Kingpin being behind it all, and so instead of simply donning his tights and going off to fight the bad guy, he descends deeply into paranoia. You can see the self-pity: "show me one single person in the world who hasn't betrayed me".
As a continuity geek i could point out that Matt actually has lots of people he could have reached out to: he has relationships with the Black Widow, the Black Panther, Power Man & Iron Fist (and we'll get to Spider-Man after these issues) and surely others, but the point is that on top of all of the things the Kingpin has done, Glorianna is now with Foggy and he's feeling betrayed.
And depressed. He can't get out of bed.
And when he does get himself out the door, he's lost touch with reality.
And he does eventually make it to the Kingpin, who has been tracking his descent all along. Matt is not in top form, and loses the fight.
Matt's unconscious body is put into a cab and thrown into the East River. However, weeks later when the cab is dredged up, the Kingpin gets his first worry: no corpse is found.
Issue #229 begins with Matt passed-out in an alley with two other homeless people...
...reliving the events of his origin...
...and a new element is interjected. While Matt was experiencing his enhanced powers for the first time, we learn that he was met by a woman who is able to understand that he has those powers, and tells him to keep it a secret. She wears a gold cross.
When he finally wakes up, to add injury to insult, he's stabbed by Turk in a Santa Suit.
Meanwhile, Ben Urich has been pursuing Lt. Manolis. The Manolis' son dies despite the treatment he received as payment, and so, since his record was otherwise spotless and the guilt over what he did was hurting him, he agrees to talk to Ben. However, he's stopped by the world's meanest nurse, who is actually a Kingpin operative.
Urich's fingers are broken and he's told to drop the story.
Matt continues to stagger around, winds up at his father's old gym, and passes out. He's found by a nun that is pretty obviously the woman that we were told about at the beginning of the issue, and his mother, who was thought dead.
Meanwhile, Foggy and Glorianna continue to get closer (the "even in Ireland" phrasing is part of a bit that began in issue #226)...
...Karen travels across the country with a criminal "fan" of her porn movies to escape the Kingpin's goons...
...and the Kingpin sweats.
So we stop here with Matt, Karen, and Ben at their nadir, while with the introduction of Matt's mom we see a way out for him, and the Kingpin is also getting uncomfortable. It's a nice, classically structured plot; the ability for Miller to do that was actually an advantage he had over a "regular" comic book writer; i'll talk more about that at the conclusion.
I'm actually glad that other books force me to stop here for a bit, because it's worth realizing that this was a monthly book, and here we are three months in with the title character completely destroyed in every sense - beaten, stabbed, ravingly paranoid. I wasn't reading this in realtime but that had to be a holy crap moment for monthly readers. I remember seeing Micah Synn brought to these lows in realtime and being pretty shocked by it; i can't imagine my reaction to the hero being brought this far down and kept there for several months.
As an aside, my issues of this series come from a trade with a 1987 print date. This wasn't the first trade of sequential issue reprints (at a minimum, there was a 1984 trade of the Dark Phoenix saga) but it does seem to be a new phenomenon for a story to have been reprinted in fairly short order after the original issues.
Quality Rating: A+
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's not worth trying to place these issues at a specific point in time. The first issue alone jumps first "six weeks" between Karen giving up Matt's secret ID and then "six months" as the Kingpin mulls over the information and then a "few weeks" after the Kingpin's plans kick off. Then in #228, "weeks" pass after Matt is beaten by the Kingpin and thrown into the river. It's prior to Christmas towards the end of #229. The MCP have some of the Daily Bugle characters in these issues between Web of Spider-Man #12-13 and i'm going with that placement because it also fits the pre-Christmas criteria (Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #112 takes place on Christmas). The most important outside connection is with Amazing Spider-Man #277, which takes place after Daredevil is brought to the Church mission but before he's really recovered mentally, so between Daredevil #229-230 is a good fit.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Born Again TPB
Inbound References (4): showBen Urich, Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Glorianna O'Breen, Grotto, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Karen Page, Kingpin, Lt. Nick Manolis, Sister Maggie Murdock, Turk, Wesley (Kingpin henchman)
Miller apparently didn't realize that mothers aren't allowed to become nuns until their children are adults.
Posted by: Michael | November 27, 2013 6:30 PM
Remind me, Michael -- Cyclops?
Posted by: Todd K | November 27, 2013 7:09 PM
Yeah, Scott has hallucinations, is going crazy and just like Matt he just pulls himself together.
Posted by: Michael | November 27, 2013 7:23 PM
I found the "Born Again" story both gripping and tough to take at the time. I look back on it as greatness, although not without flaws, and some of them have been pointed out. The downfall does feel a little rigged, the isolation overstated, and the "madness" accelerated. Miller had a great novelistic story in mind, and it was going to happen in this title, and it was going to happen now, even if two issues earlier Daredevil had been fighting a guy in armor who shoots energy blasts. To get into this, you had to reset. You had to forget selectively a lot of other things going on in the Marvel Universe, and be willing to part with the tone of the issues before and after, but hold on to the threads of some things (like Glorianna O'Breen). It was worth it, of course.
No one does squallor like Mazzuchelli. "Nurse Lois" was terrifying to me as a kid.
Posted by: Todd K | November 27, 2013 7:39 PM
Also on the subject of Matt's psychotic break: Was it in these issues or somewhat later in the story that he beats up the guy who's coming into his room because he thinks it's the Kingpin, but it's just some other large man who breathes through his mouth?
For any nitpicks I have about the story, Miller really went all-in on the disturbing elements of it.
Posted by: Todd K | November 27, 2013 11:28 PM
That did happen in these issues. It was the owner of the roach hotel Matt was staying at.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 27, 2013 11:59 PM
Another problem:at the time, there was no instance of a TV actor/actress going to porno(maybe Angelique Pettyjohn, but she was already appearing frequently naked in movies and working as an exotic dancer while she was on TV).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 28, 2013 12:16 AM
The weeks that pass after Karen gets her fix ... The Karen portion could take place parallel to one of the previous few issues of O'Neill's run, since it's context free, and then everything else could take place after issue 226. Just a thought.
Posted by: Jeff | September 17, 2014 5:39 PM
That makes sense, Jeff. For placement purposes i'd still keep these issues together, since the end of #227 leads into #228. And there are still some "weeks" that pass during #228, even. But the parts in #227 before Daredevil is shown can certainly take place further back in time, maybe even into my 1985 category page depending on how much you want to adjust those "months" and "weeks" for the sliding timescale.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 17, 2014 9:12 PM
This is the film that originally should have been made. This storyline is tailor-made for being a great film - complete with voiceover. I actually wrote a screenplay based on Born Again and changed very little of what was originally on the page. With the noir dialogue, the voiceover narration and the look of the art, this is the most cinematic story ever put on a comic page.
What's truly amazing is how incredible the artwork is - it shows that Mazzucchelli should have been doing his own inking all along.
I'm guessing part of the reason this went to trade so quickly is that Dark Knight Returns went to trade even quicker (the Alan Moore intro to the TDKR trade is dated 1986 while the intro in my Born Again trade is dated July 1987) and they figured, well, Miller's work is selling so well in trade format for DC . . .
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 7, 2015 9:18 AM
I have the initial collection of "Born Again" as well. I think "Dark Knight" and "Born Again" were really the first times Marvel and DC could jump into the budding audience for graphic novels. Marvel also had the "Dark Phoenix" storyline and the first "Wolverine" miniseries, I'm not sure if DC had any other contenders before "Watchmen," which is what really solidified keeping these books in print as a constant profit-center. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons are supposed to have the rights to "Watchmen" back if the book ever goes out of print. 30 years later, no sign of that happening.
"Cerebus" and "Elfquest" had shown the value of collecting issues into larger books which stayed in print. Robert Crumb and others also kept their issues in print, but Marvel and DC would have been very hesitant to move in that direction. Where would they even start? Lee/Kirby/Ditko? Claremont/Byrne? Miller? "Howard the Duck"? And that's just on the Marvel side. "New Gods"? "Green Lantern/Green Arrow"? Siegel/Shuster "Superman"? A bad decision would cost the company a lot of money, and it took a while to become profitable.
Even Marvel's "Star Wars" collection (which I owned) didn't stay in print. A licensed book owned by a company that was having its own growth spurt in the late-70s/early-80s, and the company that owned the license couldn't keep that proven money-maker in print for years. If you can't get that far, how are you going to stake a lot of money on, say, an Englehart/Rogers/Austin "Batman" book.
[I'm deliberately citing stuff that did get reprinted and collected as soon as possible. The companies knew the potential was there, but had no idea how to get in on it. Will Eisner could get the Spirit back into print, but he also had books which didn't even pretend to be superheroes. How could Marvel or DC compete against "A Contract With God"?]
If nothing else, credit Frank Miller with being a part of the zeitgeist where Batman had suddenly become awesome in ways a new reader could understand, and Daredevil had a great storyline that was far deeper than almost any other comic ever done, and both could be collected.
Both companies started learning how to do it. DC soon got "Watchmen" and would soon start "Sandman." Neil Gaiman was specifically asked to write "The Dolls House" as a book, which he had already planned to do.
There are negative points, 'writing for the trade' for the creators, 'waiting for the trade' for the audience, but this story and "Dark Knight" are where the idea truly manifested, thanks to Frank Miller. And in a medium originally built by collecting newspaper strips, no less.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 6, 2016 10:41 PM
It's been observed on a few occasions that the Kingpin has basically won by the end of the very first chapter. Fisk has completely destroyed Matt Murdock, without anyone, including Matt, realizing that he was behind it. And then Fisk screws up. Despite all his subtle behind-the-scenes machinations, he just has to get clever and blow up Matt's house. Fisk can't help himself; he inevitably defaults to his mobster persona, and that reveals his role in Matt's frame-up.
Even then Fisk could still have salvaged his plan. Matt is so far gone that he recklessly attacks the Kingpin, and gets brutally defeated. Fisk could have just killed him then & there, but once again he just has to get clever, putting Matt's unconscious body in a cab and dumping it in the East River. But Matt doesn't drown; he escapes, and slowly works to rebuild his life.
It's interesting that in "Born Again" the Kingpin is defeated as much by his own limitations, his inability to transcend his thuggish mob roots, as he is by Matt's unwillingness to give up & die.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 6, 2016 11:06 PM
I agree. That scene in a later issue, where the Kingpin ponders having a general in his pocket, I read the series in real time. Although I was too young to understand the implications, I got the impression that the Kingpin was really running out of ideas at this point. He doesn't know what to do next, so he decides to call Nuke. It takes days to even find out where Nuke is, much less make arrangements for him to be brought back to the States to do the Kingpin's bidding.
Like I say, I was too young to understand everything that was going on, but even now, I'm not sure that assessment is too far off. The Kingpin has boxed himself in, just like he thought he had Murdock. He can't call the underworld to do a major search, that would reveal him as a criminal overlord as well as show how vulnerable he is. He can't call the police or the feds for much the same reason, at an even higher level. And calling the Avengers (or whoever) to protect him from Daredevil isn't really an option. Other supervillains don't even exist in the story as it's written, so they're irrelevant. But Murdock is still out there, and who knows what he'll do next?
The Kingpin is working himself to the same level of paranoia that he's driven Matt into. He thinks of Nuke (the mid-80s symbolism is obvious) and a general in his pocket, and clings desperately to that branch. It's his only hope.
The Kingpin is fundamentally tribal, like most organized crime (gangstas from the West Side, Sicilian Mafia, Chinese Tongs) and can't advance beyond his roots no matter what, because he's fundamentally a bad person. Matt Murdock is an Irishman from New York City who studied in Japan and learned how to respect the American Constitution, and became a vigilante. At the climax of "Born Again," he's put his costume on for the first time in several issues, and he's, well, born again. A devil, standing in firepits, ready for battle, and he's the hero. He's the one who dares. The Kingpin, not so much.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 6, 2016 11:27 PM
There are negative points, 'writing for the trade' for the creators, 'waiting for the trade' for the audience, but this story and "Dark Knight" are where the idea truly manifested, thanks to Frank Miller. And in a medium originally built by collecting newspaper strips, no less.
As an European and a comics reader, I feel obliged to point out that releasing self-contained comic stories in large "book" format (in Europe we call them "albums") already became common in the 1960s. Some comics, like Asterix or Tintin, were still first published one chapter at a time in monthly/weekly anthology titles, but they were always written so that there was one big self-contained story with a beginning and an end, which could then be collected into a book, and after that a completely new story would begin. So European comics were "written for the trade" since at least the 1960s, and by the 1980s self-contained "graphic novels" were already the norm, while the periodical anthology series had mostly disappeared.
Miller at least seems to have been aware of European comic book trends at the time, because he namechecks Corto Maltese (one of the first Euro comics that was aimed exclusively at adult readers, with little kid-friendly stuff in it) in Elektra Assassin. Though I'm not sure how many Corto Maltese stories were available in English in the 1980s?
Posted by: Tuomas | March 7, 2016 4:55 AM
Sorry, I omitted a part of a sentence there, what I mean to write was:
"...in Europe releasing self-contained comic stories in a large "book" format already became common in the 1960s."
Posted by: Tuomas | March 7, 2016 4:57 AM
@Chris W: I was always intrigued whether the leasing of Nuke to Fisk was Miller hinting at his earlier scene from Daredevil: Love and War where one of Kingpin's hired goons looked a lot like Garrett, the SHIELD/ CIA cyborg, which I'm sure can't have been a coincidence. Was this more CSA wheeling-and-dealing? Do we think Miller had a story planned here?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 7, 2016 5:15 AM
A few Corto Maltese books had been released in America in 1985-6, and they quickly won high praise from critics and fanzines.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 7, 2016 11:10 AM
Nathan, I thought Garretty's (is that his name) appearance was just Bill Sienkiewicz doing a cameo. "Elektra" was at least partially-satirical, but "Love and Death" was a fairly straightforward story.
Mark, you're right, and Frank Miller would have known that. "Corto Maltese" was the island nation in "Dark Knight" where Superman stopped a nuke [!] and it was obviously a tribute to Hugo Pratt.
Which segues into Tuomas, who obviously knows way more about European comics and their tradition of collection into one book than I do. I know very little. Never read "Asterix," couldn't get through the few "Tin Tin" books I have, and mostly know Moebius through his Marvel/Epic contributions. [Although his agent/co-writer/whatever he was RJM Lofficer was co-writing some "Dr. Strange" stories in the early 90s.] Otherwise, I know Milo Manara and Horacio Altuna, but not for reasons that belong in a discussion of superhero comics. *ahem* I might recognize a couple other names if I heard them, but know nothing of their work.
Another thing to credit Miller for would be breaking through the insularity of American comics publishers to be influenced by both European and Japanese comics. Epic would start publishing an English translation of "Akira," Miller had done "Ronin" in 1985, and the trend towards 'manga' would be in full bloom soon. With the possible exception of the 70s version of "Heavy Metal," these influences didn't exist in American comics.
Obviously Miller didn't do all the work, but I'd say he did a lot of heavy lifting to bring some of the good ideas in, and basic things like collecting multi-issue stories into a single book would be one of them. Just going to a convention in Europe, seeing how fans line up for books that are totally not superheroes, know and respect the creators, and getting into chats about copyright laws in different nations would have had a lot of influence.
These are things we the readers don't see, but Alan Moore can forbid Chris Claremont to use Marvel Characters published by Marvel Comics under (technically)work-for-hire situations - which Neal Adams had already been making a lot of noise about - because copyright works differently in England than in the US. There would have been a lot of discussion going on between artists and writers, in the Bullpen, the editors, the publishers, the lawyers, etc.
Quality of "Daredevil," "Dark Knight" and "Elektra" aside, Frank Miller was riding that wave. He did a lot to make that happen. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird would rip off his "Ronin" art style and Daredevil's origin to create the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which they owned completely.
Sometimes the first time something is attempted is the purist form, because it's never been done before and no one knows how to make any mistakes. That's the impression I get when looking at "Born Again," a superstar writer/artist teamed up with one of the best artists ever to draw comics, returning to the character he made his name on, for a limited story with a beginning, middle and end, which can immediately be collected into a book that's still in print 30 years later.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 7, 2016 6:21 PM
RE Corto Maltese: After the Dark Knight Returns named-dropped him, Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing released eight volumes of English translations of the Corto Maltese books. I bought each one, trying to figure out what Miller liked about them. I never did figure it out. By American standards they're pretty dull.
Posted by: Andrew | March 8, 2016 6:18 AM
So what was Frank Miller's thinking here with Matthew Murdock's mother leaving Jack to become a Catholic nun while her son was still a baby?
A widowed woman can become a nun, but Jack was still alive when she left him to join whatever Catholic religious order she did.
Miller might have wormed his way out of this by suggesting Maggie divorced Jack to become a nun, but in Catholicism a civil divorce doesn't break the marital bond. Maggie would still have been married, so she couldn't become a nun.
Now if she got the marriage annulled by the Catholic marriage tribunal that could be a different story, although it would still be up to the order she wanted to join as to whether or not they would accept her. However, if a divorcee has children, s/he wouldn't be accepted because a parent will always need to be a parent, even if the children are grown and of legal age.
That and things wouldn't have moved too quickly as they seem to have for Maggie because an annulment takes forever and can be painful (what with needing to prove the claimed grounds for nullity against canon 1099 about the sacramental dignity of marriage, or even as the closely related intention contra bonum sacramentalitas of canon 1101, § 2), and a religious community would want to see that an applicant has had plenty of time to grieve and bring closure to that part of life before beginning with them.
Just like marriage, good discernment of religious life requires that one be totally "free" and conscious.
The Holy See (Rome) has permitted couples to remain married, dispensed them from the obligations of marriage without dissolving it, and then to enter religious life or ordained priesthood. But this is a rarity, and I'm doubting Miller had this in mind!? Maggie and Jack were Brooklynites, and therefore unlikely to be well connected through higher Catholic circles.
In addition, a decree of nullity does not dispense a person from the obligations of marriage because it says they were never assumed in the first place. What does not exist cannot be dispensed from. However, canon law recognises that certain obligations of natural law do arise even from invalid marriages and continue to bind after even definitive separation, namely things like any alimony, child support and education, etc.
Yet Maggie had no direct ongoing contact with Matthew after she left Jack to take up the religious life.
Plus what grounds would she be able to claim for nullity against Jack at that time, that would likely ensure a tribunal would permit it? Jack while involved in criminal activity was never openly charged so she could not present that before them, and after she left he always seemed respectful of Matt's following of Catholic ritual, etc.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 30, 2016 4:54 AM
Those are the rules. But there've always been people willing to bend the rules.
There was a lot of ambiguity about the situation, too. Where was it said that Matt's parents were Brooklynites, or even that they were married? Almost the only information at this point was the line Jack told his son, and if she's alive, even that much was untrue.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 30, 2016 3:38 PM
@Mortificator: We can make up as many excuses for Frank as we want, but it just comes off as another piece of prejudiced uneducated crap by a comics artist who learned everything he ever knew from comics, well quelle surprise.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 30, 2016 3:44 PM
That escalated quickly.
Posted by: Robert | March 30, 2016 4:04 PM
@Robert: Perhaps some traces of Brimstone still hanging around;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 31, 2016 4:21 AM
Miller was raised Catholic. He's probably not the go-to guy for instructions on becoming a nun - too busy drawing comics - but I see no reason to assume he's trying to be literal or factually-correct.
What makes his best work shine isn't that it's realistic ["Dark Knight," "Born Again" and "Daredevil" being the obvious examples, "Sin City" and "300" too] but that realism is thrown through a plate-glass window and whatever's left makes the heroes stronger as characters and symbols of whatever they're symbolizing. The Dark Knight. Thermopylae. Mickey Spillane pastiches. A dirty city ruled by an evil man, and the only savior has to die and be reborn... as a devil.
Later continuity establishes the relationship between Matt and Maggie, but I think that's as pointless as adding to the legend of Mary Magdalene as the mother of God. Whether or not she's literally Matt's mother, she is serving in that role, and praying to God that her boy will assume his rightful place in the world, to save us all. Real life details on Catholic nuns taking their vows aren't important.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 2, 2016 1:19 AM
Wesley has actually reappeared in Charles Soule's current run on Daredevil.
Posted by: AbeLincoln1865 | February 4, 2018 3:15 PM
Comments are now closed.
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