Issue(s): Daredevil #230, Daredevil #231, Daredevil #232, Daredevil #233
...who provides the way out. Issue #230 is largely an interlude as we wait for Matt to recover. He is looking better and thinking coherently.
His recovery is arguably miraculous, which may have been the point considering the divine arrival of Sister Maggie in issue #229. But stress and sleep deprivation can go a long way to causing someone to become paranoid. The concept of a "nervous breakdown" is often a euphemism for an episode of a serious mental illness, but the idea of an actual nervous breakdown isn't entirely without merit and one can recover from it with enough care and rest. That said, we know that this isn't the last time poor Matt will be "deconstructed" so his recovery here isn't as permanent as it may seem. But for the purposes of this story, the idea is that under the semi-spiritual care of his mother, Matt is restored.
Also in issue #230, we see Karen Page making it to New York and meeting up with Foggy Nelson. There's a great contrast between their worlds, beginning with Foggy and Karen having a different conception of how long it's been since they last saw each other.
And when he and Karen meet, it's like he doesn't know what he's looking at.
But when she tells her story, including the fact that she's a junkie and that it's her fault that Matt is in trouble (she doesn't say why) and that she's also on the run from Paulo, the abusive guy that brought her here, Foggy forgets all that and takes her home to try to protect her.
Interesting surreal bottom panel there, more symbolic than anything, showing Foggy as an island of normalcy in the seedy sea that Karen has been swimming in (unfortunately, "seedy" is depicted by images of black people, though).
It's also worth remembering that Foggy was in love with Karen once.
Of course, JJ doesn't know that the Kingpin has a goon planted on the Bugle's janitorial staff, ensuring that Urich keeps quiet. However, Urich is not making the transition to non-crime stories well, and he's further pressured when he gets a call from Lieutenant Manolis, who tries to tell Urich his story, but is instead killed by the Kingpin's evil nurse.
Matt is not the only one dealing with psychological issues.
We also get a perspective on the Kingpin. As he's calling in an agent called Nuke - someone that his lackey Wesley warns has never been used domestically before - to deal with his lingering fears that Matt Murdock is still alive, we see the Kingpin briefly relish the position he's reached. "A general in my pocket.. the thought dances briefly through the Kingpin's mind... that is a branch to be nurtured". We typically see the Kingpin as already being fully accomplished and a full embodiment of criminal evil, but here we see something from his point of view. And it's not at all redeeming, but it is humanizing, seeing him actually relish the power he's amassed.
Also as part of the Kingpin's plans, Gladiator, in his guise as a costume shop owner, is forced to create a replica of Daredevil's costume.
With next issue, things start moving. Urich gets over his fears and gives a statement to the police and begins writing about the Kingpin. The nurse, against orders from the Kingpin, shows up to attack his wife, brutally hanging her in the shower...
...but Matt, not in costume, shows up to stop her.
Matt also tells the troubled Gladiator to go ahead and make that costume, as Kingpin gets a criminally deranged man released from a mental hospital to wear it and attack Foggy.
The Fake DD first kills his handler.
Also lurking around Foggy's apartment is Paulo, angry that Karen has left him.
Earlier, in one of my favorite scenes from this series, we see Karen dealing with heroin withdrawal, while Foggy awkwardly looks on. "It seems so stupid with Foggy here -- he's part of another world".
When i was in middle school and early high school, i had two sets of friends. I played guitar and was into heavy metal, and i read comics and played dungeons and dragons. So i had my metalhead friends and my geek friends. And they really were separate groups. And i was actually much more a metalhead than a geek in those days. But as the metalheads started getting more into drugs and i didn't want to be a part of that, i started transitioning more to my geek friends. But it's a weird transition going from sitting in the back of a car on the way to the shore, terrified after watching the driver snort up a pile of cocaine, to getting driven to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie by your friends' parents. It's dumb, but you feel like you're regressing, like you're a kid again doing kiddie stuff. And so while my little experience is nothing like Karen's, that scene does have a lot of resonance for me.
And here comes what i see as Karen's redemptive moment. And yes, it involves hitting Foggy on the head with a potted plant.
But what's happening here is that Foggy is making a heroic but stupid stand, calling the police while Paulo is on his way up to the apartment. And remember that the reason Karen traveled all the way here was to get help from Matt, the man whose life she ruined. Not to warn him, but to get him to save her from the thugs that were trying to kill her. But in the end here, when faced with the fact that Foggy is at risk, too, she opts to sacrifice herself so that he can live.
It's a heroic moment for her. In the throngs of heroin withdrawal, with the expectation of nothing but abuse and death, she nonetheless makes sure that Foggy will survive instead of trying to use him as a scapegoat with Paulo or hide behind him for protection. I see it as a turning point for her.
The Kingpin has additional goons on the scene, and they start firing at Paulo and Karen. Paulo is hit, but they're in a dead end alley, and Karen has no reason to think she's survive, so her only thought is to shoot up again, showing how far gone she is and how strong the urge to try to make nice with Paulo regardless of Foggy's safety would have been.
And the fact that Matt shows up, taking out the fake Daredevil...
...and the Kingpin's goons, doesn't reduce the fact that she expected to die. Karen's tears in the final splash for #231 are pretty powerful.
After a prelude introducing Nuke, which i'll come back to in a second, Daredevil #232 opens with Matt and Karen in practically the same pose.
Obviously time has passed but thematically it's a continuation of the same story and it's for this that i don't want to break this arc up (see the Chronological Placement Considerations here and for Power Man & Iron Fist #125).
We also learn that Karen never told anyone what Matt's powers were, exactly. We did see earlier that the Kingpin is under the impression that Matt is only faking his blindness.
Back to Nuke. He's currently in Nicaragua, presumably helping the Contras for the US government. Not that he knows it. He thinks he's rescuing POWs in Vietnam.
It hadn't occurred to me until my most recent re-read that this was likely a bit of a Rambo parody; the movie came out in 1985.
Nuke's level of patriotism, demonstrated by a freakout he has on the plane ride back to the US where he demands that the beer he drinks come from the US, makes him easy to manipulate by the Kingpin.
In addition to wrapping himself in the flag, Kingpin calls himself a corporation, which is an interesting conflation.
Frank Miller's use of Nuke is actually not that different than his use of Superman in Dark Knight Returns, although Nuke is obviously more extreme and much more of a dupe.
Before i get to his battle with Daredevil, though, i want to talk about Glorianna. This is in the context of Frank Miller's treatment of Karen Page, turning her into a junkie porn star. Since that's a questionable and potentially exploitative move, it's useful to look at Miller's depiction of other women in the series for comparison. And i think we see in Glorianna a much more positive depiction. So far she's been a love interest for Foggy, and their developing romance has been nice in its own right. But that changes when, while Foggy and Ben Urich are comparing notes, Urich happens to see some of Glorianna's photographs.
Later, we find out that Urich has gotten Glorianna a job taking pictures at the Daily Bugle. And Foggy isn't all that happy about that (he's also dealing with the fact that he unknowingly got hired by the Kingpin).
It's also shown that Glorianna is fearless while taking pictures. She snaps away while an interview with the Kingpin's nurse turns into a massacre, with the nurse and all the police getting killed, and Urich himself strangling the Kingpin's corrupt planted cop.
We'll see further in #232 that Glorianna's pursuit of a career is bothering Foggy. He clearly thought she'd be his stay-at-home wife. There's definitely commentary here - Matt was basically ignorant of her talent (despite what Ben says above, Matt actually did see Glorianna's pictures in issue #223 when the Beyonder temporarily gave him sight, and called them "extraordinary", but we can forgive Miller for ignoring that and Matt for not remembering to follow up on it after the events of that weird day; the point is that Matt wasn't capable of nurturing or encouraging her to think of her skills as something more than a hobby), and Foggy was happier when he was waking up to the smell of her cooking him breakfast (DD #227).
Again, Glorianna is a fairly minor character in this story, but the question comes up of whether or not what Miller did with Karen Page here indicates that he had a problem with women at this point, so i think looking at Glorianna is illustrative even if you don't think Miller ends with a redemption for Karen (or if that redemption was enough).
But now it's time for some super-hero stuff already. We begin with the battle between Daredevil and Nuke...
...which begins after Nuke is taken on a helicopter ride by his handler so he can shoot rockets into Hell's Kitchen, injuring Karen.
The fight continues in #233, which is "respectfully dedicated to Jack Kirby".
(There's Glorianna on the front lines again.)
The battle with Nuke is so destructive that the Avengers arrive. Not just any Avengers, but the core Big Three Avengers. And as per the Jack Kirby dedication, these are the characters at their most iconic. They are more symbols than characters. And whether it's despite that or because of it, it's one of my favorite Avengers appearances and a yardstick i use when seeing them in other books.
"The voice that could command a God -- and does." is a superb summation of Captain America's leadership attribute, the thing about him that makes him one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. And Daredevil backing down to Iron Man, even in his own book where in most encounters the hero is depicted as an equal to any guest star, again shows that these aren't just another group of guys in costumes showing up.
I do believe that there should be a pecking order in the Marvel universe, where the Avengers - especially these guys - are more powerful than street level characters like Spider-Man and Daredevil, and that it should be generally acknowledged by the characters involved. It's not necessarily just about their powers - Spider-Man is undoubtedly stronger than Captain America - but that thematically the Avengers represent the top level of heroes, the ones that have "Federal authority" (even if their clearance is suspended at the moment!), while Daredevil and Spider-Man are street level vigilantes that stop bank robberies and deal with lower level super-criminals. It doesn't mean that Spider-Man can't take out Firelord every once in a while given the right circumstances, but nine times out of ten Iron Man beats Daredevil and everyone knows it. Otherwise the characters become interchangeable.
And so to see that pecking order maintained, i like to see scenes like this, where the Avengers show up and their status is properly shown. It doesn't mean they have to be right - Chris Claremont did a decent job in New Mutants #40 showing the Avengers as being powerful and respected even while their pursuit of Magneto was based on at least one false premise - but they should be competent. Al Milgrom having the Avengers tripping over each other while Captain America was paralyzed with indecision in Hulk #321-323 is exactly the wrong way to use the team.
Frank Miller gets away with this particularly strong use of the team in part because he really does just use the characters as symbols, but we'll see further in this issue that he does have a strong handle and a fresh look at Captain America, who as you can see from the panels above is particularly disturbed by the flag on Nuke's face.
After Nuke's capture, we turn to the Kingpin where we see his lieutenants questioning his pursuit of Murdock and use of Nuke, and then we go to the church where the victims of Nuke's attack are being cared for (the conversation between Glorianna and Foggy that i mentioned above is shown below).
Captain America shows up at the church (i love Miller's description of Cap from Matt's perspective: "a little sloppy but fast", etc..)...
...and Matt meets him on the roof, out of costume. Cap is looking for info on Nuke, and Matt asks why he doesn't ask his "employers" (of course Cap does not really work directly for the government), and tells him that Nuke's body is partially artificial, made partially of plastics that make him resistant to damage and fire. Matt asks Cap why he has an interest, and Cap responds that it's because he wears the flag, to which Matt responds that he hadn't noticed.
Matt, of course, is blind, but Cap doesn't know that, and the response hurts him.
Cap then investigates at the army base where Nuke is being held, and forcibly makes his way into the database in the subbasement...
...where he learns that Nuke is a continuation of the Super-Soldier program that created him.
Meanwhile, Nuke escapes and has himself a whole bottle of "reds".
Cap is the one that takes him out (in part thanks to Cap's shield obviously causing him to falter).
Daredevil, meanwhile, now that he's back in action, is taking out the Kingpin's various operations, ruining the Kingpin's plans to transition from crime into legitimate operations. But DD shows up as the army orders an attack on Captain America in an attempt to cover up their responsibility for Nuke. Another great moment for Cap here, thinking about how he doesn't like helicopters. "Don't be old... don't be crazy."
I'd really have loved to see Frank Miller exploring this side of the character more on Captain America's solo series.
Nuke's heart is in the process of exploding thanks to all his reds, so Daredevil takes him to the Daily Bugle, ensuring that he will be exposed.
We end with the Kingpin's empire beginning to crumple around him...
...and a happy ending for Matt.
A nice, classically structured story. I wanted to say that Miller has a couple advantages here coming back as a superstar over a "regular" comic book writer. The first is that thanks to that star power he does have leeway to "break" characters in a way a normal writer might not. And the second is that he can structure this so that it's essentially a self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and ending, and therefore definitive character and story arcs. There seems to be a little doubt over whether or not Miller intended to stay on this title long-term but it doesn't feel like that was the case. It reads more like a mini-series, and when he's done he can walk away with a happy ending. But the story does have lasting impact on the Daredevil book, and, with Nuke, the larger Marvel universe through the revelations regarding the super-soldier program. And to this day i still say "give me a red" when i'm tired and need a pick-me-up, not that anyone knows what i'm talking about.
My grading system has been a point of contention on this site on a few occasions, and i'm therefore almost hesitant to raise this, but one thing i think about with those ratings is something Stan Lee used to say in the early Marvel Age when he was still trying to sell the idea that comics had potential to be something more than just kiddie stories. Stan's argument was that if you could get Shakespeare to write a story and Rembrandt to illustrate it, no one would contest the fact that it was art. And of course just inviting those comparisons was typical of Stan Lee's promotional style. But it strikes me that despite Stan Lee's vision, which i agree with, comics, and especially mainstream Marvel super-hero comics, rarely reach that level, or even come close to it. There are a lot of factors involved, especially the fact that comics had to transition out of a place where they were being made exclusively for children, but i've always found it to be a dodge to say that, for example, a Silver Age comic may be goofy but it's a product of its time and therefore excusable. No one says that about a John Steinbeck novel. So why do we lower our standards for comics? I'm not necessarily talking about depictions of minorities and women, for which, yes, we do use the "product of its time" explanation even when talking about literature, although i do think comics lagged and continue to lag behind other literature in that regard as well. But so many comics are just a failure in a basic logical sense, and so many have such awful dialogue, and so few strive for any meaning beyond a basic adventure story. (Comics often do better on the art front, and that's even with the unique challenge of having to depict sequential action and tell visual stories through multiple panels and pages, something Rembrandt didn't have to worry about.)
Early Marvel comics were groundbreaking because they did strive for more on the character front, but Stan Lee only took us part of the way there. And while, as i mentioned on the review for the first half of this story, later writers made various strides and/or stabs, it was and still is rare for comics to really achieve the level of Shakespeare or Steinbeck (etc.). Frankly, they rarely hit the level of John Grisham or Steven King.
(There are of course merits to these comics beyond this aspect. I don't mean to dismiss the value of a fun action story, even if the script sucks. And i think there's something unique about the continued saga of the Marvel universe that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.)
But with Frank Miller and Alan Moore and others around this time, we're seeing the fruition of Stan Lee's vision. Unfortunately it will happen more in places like independent graphic novels and a little later in DC's Vertigo line instead of in the mainstream Marvel universe, but we do occasionally get moments like this here where it happens inside a regular Marvel comic, and it's worth appreciating. It's also worth appreciating the fact that Miller was able to do this story without neglecting continuity or writing the guest stars out of character. Everything here fits seamlessly within the larger Marvel universe. Also seamless is Miller's story and David Mazzucchelli's art. Mazzucchelli had been on the book since before Miller returned, but both he and Miller are done after this issue. And Mazzucchelli's art really complimented Miller's story. Great angles, great storytelling, great expression, nice action. A really nice depiction of the iconic Avengers but then (i think) a switch to an homage to Kirby's early Cap work for some of the scenes in the later part of #233.
Nothing is perfect of course, but these issues merit a rare and surely highly coveted SuperMegaMonkey A+.
Quality Rating: A+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I should note that while the opening of #230 shows movement for a number of characters and therefore implies that time has passed (Matt has at least been brought to the mission and bandaged, Karen is traveling with her "boyfriend" as opposed to being in a room with him, Foggy has signed a contract for his new job and is meeting Glorianna), Ben Urich is shown still on the scene of the nurse's attack on him and Manolis. I'm taking the opening pages of #230 to be more of a montage/recap and not necessarily a strict chronology. Daredevil's appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #277 most likely takes place between issues #229-230; you could argue that it takes place during #230, while Matt is struggling with a fever. But although he's feverish, he's not rantingly paranoid the way he was in issue #229 and Amazing Spider-Man #277. He's much more together. So it makes sense that Matt spent more time in the mission recovering than we see in #230; it seems he was put in a private room as we saw in ASM #277 and got through the worst of the paranoia before getting moved to the shared space with the cots that we see in #230. I've also decided to place Daredevil's appearance at Iron Fist's funeral in Power Man & Iron Fist #125 during this gap. This is a lot less natural than the ASM issue but i find it works better for the narrative of this story than other possible placements (see the PM&IF issue's considerations for details). This story itself, specifically the Nuke part, is referenced in a flashback in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #118 which takes place concurrently with Amazing Spider-Man #279, so ASM #279 has to take place after this. The other main consideration here is the appearance of the Avengers, and it's by design a very context free appearance. As mentioned above, it doesn't represent a current line-up of either team, so it just needs to fit in any gap for the characters. Thor is shown in shadow only so the state of his face/beard/scars isn't critical. There are some additional considerations around the Kingpin and Nuke which i'll cover in the relevant Spider-Man issues, and i'll also note that Debbie Harris's Character Appearance is due to a brief phone conversation with Karen Page, who calls looking for Foggy.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Born Again TPB
Inbound References (12): show
Note that Matt thinks that Sister Maggie is his mother in this story but in issue 235, Matt thinks to himself about how his mother died when he was a child.
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2014 8:35 PM
Note that it's left ambiguous if the sister is his mother or not. It's entirely possible that Matt just resigned himself to the fact that she couldn't really have been his mother.
This is my very favourite DD story. I enjoy Nocenti's run more than Miller's, but it's funny that fnord writes that nothing is perfect, as my feelings after reading this story is that this story-arc is as close to perfection as you're going to find. Miller was really on top form here.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 2, 2014 8:45 PM
Chris, the combined population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before the bombing was less than 750,000. We can't say exactly how many people died but it was definitely not "millions".
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2014 8:53 PM
I didn't mean that Miller was correct in his figure either.I was more responding to your comment, than defending Miller. Although, I was saying that 200,000 is a very conservative estimate.
Nuke is appearing in current issues of Captain America.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 2, 2014 9:30 PM
Man I read some of Miller's newer stuff and I wonder how and why he went crazy. Seems like he hates everything from women, anyone and anything from the Middle East, almost all superheroes and more.
But I'm sure he'll always love Batman, hookers and Spartans.
And I had no idea about Nuke, I first saw a 70s era Captain America pop up in the Ultimate Marvel universe and thought he was an original.
Posted by: David Banes | January 2, 2014 10:00 PM
I agree with what you write about stress and sleep deprivation being enough to cause paranoia and even impaired perceptions, but I still wonder if Miller went too far by showing Matt having a phone conversation with a dead pay phone. Matt was even supplying "Foggy" with answers, and reacting appropriately to them. I suppose it could have been a major depression with psychotic features (we had seen him shortly before that unable to will himself to get out of bed), but not the sort of thing one snaps out of. However, it's probably folly to play DSM-IV with a 25-year-old comic book, least of all one written by Miller, who has his strengths and weaknesses, and I suspect nuanced understanding of mental illness is not among the former.
Best review ever, fnord. I mean it.
Posted by: Todd | January 3, 2014 4:10 AM
This is truly a masterpiece.
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | January 3, 2014 1:44 PM
The Richmond Construction sign may be a reference to the late Nighthawk.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 3, 2014 4:57 PM
Great story. Agree with everything said here especially the depiction of the Avengers. I have long said that my favorite Captain America story is Daredevil #233. At the time it was painful to go back to the Gruenwald scripted book.
Posted by: Chris | January 3, 2014 9:31 PM
#231 was supposedly released without a comics code seal due to a hypodermic needle in the story.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 1, 2014 5:25 PM
According to Mazzucchelli in Amazing Heroes #102, Nuke wasn't in this story to begin with, and Matt was supposed to meet a new girlfriend to replace Glorianna.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 26, 2014 8:40 PM
I thought that Richmond Construction was a reference to colorist Richmond Lewis (Mazzucchelli's wife).
No matter. I've been reading a few of these reviews from 1986 and 1987, and had forgotten how great Marvel Comics were in the day. And this story is arguably the best of a fine crop.
Posted by: Haydn | May 3, 2014 8:47 PM
What a great write up to summarize this fantastic run. I've been reading selected runs in chronological order and noted that the Silver Age comics usually received a C or B- tops. I thought the grades were harsh but I never got to stories like Born Again or Don McGregor's Black Panther. Now I see what you're talking about when you mention an A comic. It's fantastic reading it now but I wish I was able to read it in 'real time' to see what the comic community was saying at the time. This had to be groundbreaking.
Also it makes me wonder how other creators would be without editorial interference. It's clear Miller was able to write a story exactly how he wanted. For the most part, Walt Simonson's Thor and Miller's DD are self contained storylines. It makes me appreciate it more - I don't have to worry about their stories being forced in another crossover or their characters messed with *cough* X-Factor *cough*. What would've happened to runs like Claremont's X-Men (Madeline Pryor in Inferno) or Straczynski's Spider-Man (Gwen Stacy sleeping with Norman Osborn, One More Day) if they were able to write and develop characters the way they wanted?
Posted by: Ryan | September 24, 2014 7:50 AM
This kind of stuff is what weirded me out about Miller's lurch to the Right in the 2000s. I know there was always an underlying machismo and disdain for 'scum' and other conservative values, but there also seemed to be an understanding of how false and twisted American patriotism is. Nuke is a product of the US military, and the allusion to his participation in the dirty war in Nicaragua is an implicit condemnation of Reaganite foreign policy. Kind of jarring to go from this to a "Kill 'em all" mentality; these days he'd introduce Nuke as a hero. Sad!
Posted by: Cullen | September 24, 2014 9:52 AM
FNORD - How many A+'s have you given out on this site?
Posted by: clyde | May 22, 2015 3:42 PM
Hopefully fnord doesn't mind my answering for him. One of the advanced search options lets you search by grade. Checking that shows 12 A+ entries so far.
Posted by: Robert | May 22, 2015 5:43 PM
And three of them are fnord marking out over wild and crazy concepts and stories that aren't necessarily actually good.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 22, 2015 7:48 PM
I would actually rate this higher than Dark Knight Returns because some of what Miller does satirically in that story he does with actual considerable thought and depth here, namely the look at Captain America in #233. One thing that always struck me as odd though - Cap has met Matt Murdock numerous occasions. Does he not recognize him without the glasses? Gladiator recognizes Daredevil's voice without even seeing him. I'm so glad that in the Nolan films, Batman uses a different voice from when he is Bruce Wayne.
Perhaps with luck, Netflix can follow up their series with this storyline adapted as a film, complete with Avengers crossover. I so want to see this Daredevil film, complete with those final words: "That's all you need to know."
This would be a great story no matter what, certainly my absolute favorite not involving Batman or X-Men and possibly my favorite of all-time. But it's the art that really takes it over the top. Fnord doesn't really mention it, but every issue in the storyline ended with a truly magnificent splash - he shows several of them but not my favorite (you can see it here). Those splash pages, some of them with epic dialogue ("You shouldn't have signed it." "There is no body."), some of them with no dialogue at all (the magnificent one fnord shows here with Matt holding Karen) really are the icing on what is one hell of a delicious cake.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 19, 2015 6:49 PM
Following on from my comments about the first half of "Born Again," as well as what ChrisW wrote, it's interesting to look at the role of Nuke in the second half of the storyline, and what his presence says about the Kingpin.
I will admit that the first time I read "Born Again" I really felt Nuke was a very incongruous character. After several chapters with an extremely noir tone that was pretty well grounded in a semblance of the real world, suddenly the Kingpin brings in a hyper-violent "super-soldier" to deal with Matt Murdock.
But over the years I've come to realize that Miller utilizing Nuke fits in perfectly with the theme repeated throughout "Born Again," that no matter how much Fisk attempt to be subtle and low-key, sooner or later he just cannot help defaulting to being a brutal thug who relishes inflicting flamboyant acts of violence against his enemies.
I didn't notice it for years, but in the scene in which he first plans to utilize Nuke, Fisk is clad in a tuxedo, hobnobbing it with the wealthy & powerful at a high-society function. Here he is, working very hard to move into the world of prestige by becoming a "legitimate" businessman. Yet right in the midst of his careful work to establish a respectable persona for himself, what is he doing? Why, he's planning to deal with Matt one and for all by dispatching a mentally disturbed, drug-addicted, hyper-violent super-soldier to blow up a good portion of Hell's Kitchen. For Fisk, this is literally a case of one step forward, five steps back.
And in the end the Kingpin's inability to truly move away from his brutal organized crime roots plays a major role in his failure. Yes, Fisk manages to stay out of jail, but his carefully constructed façade of being a "humble spice merchant" is torn away, the public knows he's nothing more than a criminal, and his plan to destroy Matt totally fails.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 7, 2016 1:18 PM
Well put, gang: what a stupid, petty use of Fisk's sphere of influence. "Let's Mafia things up!"
Posted by: Cecil | March 7, 2016 4:42 PM
Ben, this is why 'hero vs. villain' stories work so well and will never go away. Even if they're light years away from what real people have to deal with, we can understand the human motivations at work. A bad person can be on the verge of getting what he's wanted his whole life, and then makes a bad decision that undermines everything he's worked for, a decision that a good person wouldn't have made.
We've all known people like that, or maybe even been one of those people. You're watching them and thinking 'thing will work the way you want them as long as you don't make that stupid decision standing right in front of you. You can even advise them 'don't make that stupid decision.' They may even tell you that no, they will not make that stupid decision because they know better. And then they go ahead and make that stupid decision anyway, and then cry 'why is this happening to me???'
No tales of heroism or villainy are required, "Don't. Do. That." is one of the most basic forms of storytelling. Look at fairy tales. Don't break into a house of bears, eat their food, break their furniture and fall asleep in their beds. Don't tell a wolf in the big bad woods where you're going. Don't underestimate the power of magic beans.
The Kingpin is facing the result of his choices - in a way that keeps him viable for future writers - and in a non-heroic way that people can relate to. Like clearing a minefield, when the guy next to you gets blown up, the best lesson you can learn is 'don't step there.'
Posted by: ChrisW | March 7, 2016 6:38 PM
To this day I think of this storyline and wonder what was the point.
Much like the very similar and even more over-rated Dark Knight Returns (soon to be a motion picture) it reads like an overblown exercise at nihilism. The popularity of both stories is entirely lost on me.
They do, however, strongly hint that Frank Miller should be quite at home writing Sin City stories. But we knew that already.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 8, 2016 1:40 AM
What other books got A+ from you? :)
Posted by: Karel | May 21, 2017 11:06 AM
Much like the very similar and even more over-rated Dark Knight Returns (soon to be a motion picture) it reads like an overblown exercise at nihilism. The popularity of both stories is entirely lost on me.
The whole point was that Born Again was supposed to be the SERIES FINALE of the entire Daredevil character.
In 1986, when Marvel was planning the great mass cancelation of 1986 to make room in their publication schedule for the New Universe line? Daredevil was originally going to be canceled along with Rom, Dr Strange, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Cloak and Dagger.
The book had super bad sales and when it was decided that the book was going to be canceled, Marvel decided to reach out to Frank Miller to write the final 6-7 issues and basically end Daredevil's story.
Miller's first draft/outline for the story was called "Apocalypse" (a title which was used as the promotional name for the story in the lead up to it being published, before it go switched to "Born Again", the same way Kraven's Last Hunt and Stark War were renamed by fans from their original titles Fearful Symmetry and Stark War after the fact once the stories hit trade).
Posted by: Jesse Baker | September 22, 2017 8:18 PM
Ultimately, the news that Miller was returning to Daredevil (even temporarily) caused a HUGE spike in pre-orders for the "Apocalypse" storyline. So much of a spike, that it was enough to keep the grim scythe of cancelation from claiming the title.
Posted by: Jesse Baker | September 22, 2017 8:26 PM
Obviously you mean that Stark Wars was renamed to Armor Wars.
That seems really naive from a modern perspective. Did Marvel seriously think no one would come along at some point down the line and have Matt put the costume back on? The ending would have left him alive and the costume intact and accessible to him so they had to have known they were leaving the door open to an eventual return, even if such a return would have meant undoing the ending to a beloved story by the man most associated with the character. At least this way writers could continue making Daredevil stories while still allowing Born Again to stand on its own merits, without being "tainted" by the existence of further Daredevil stories.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 23, 2017 12:18 AM
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