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review 2017-09-01 19:51
Daredevil vol. 18: Cruel and Unusual by Brubaker and Lark
Daredevil, Vol. 18: Cruel and Unusual - Ed Brubaker,Greg Rucka,Michael Lark,Mike Perkins

Okay, you know what? We're gonna talk about what I feel is the most insidious trope involving female characters in writing, and specifically in genre writing. Is it  the act of "fridging," the death of a female character in order to torment and further develop the character of their male love interest? Well, that's pretty close, and something that Daredevil in particular is rife with. But that's a trope that's called out, often--so often, as a matter of fact, that it's amazing that writers still fall back on it.

 

No, I'm talking about the Mary Sue. Oh, you say, but Mary Sues are talked about all the time! Yeah, I'm not talking about female-written and/or created power fantasies. I'm talking about the male created Mary Sue, the sexual fantasy of their perfect woman.

 

And this brings me to Dakota North in this run of the comic. Yeah, her name is Dakota North. And you know what else? She's a former world famous runway supermodel turned tough talking New York P.I. who perfectly matches Matt's wit, and calls him out on his shit in the most awesome way ever!

 

And I just facepalmed writing that, let alone reading it in the comic. It's obnoxious, and as someone who always tries to see the absolute best in every female character, it's possibly the most alienating thing a writer can do. Because it's not for me. At all.

 

And it makes me feel worse to see Milla, a character who started out as independent and funny, sweet, interesting, and a match for Matt in the Bendis run, so obviously demeaned and discarded because the writer was in no way interested in sexually. And there's a whiff of ableism to the whole thing, to the entire Brubaker run, frankly, to make the blind woman without the superpowers helpless and whimpering, and then destroy her mentally because Brubaker just doesn't want her around.

 

Also, as awesome as it should have been to see Matt called out on his selfish behavior towards Milla, the characters all do it in a way that doesn't at all defend or benefit Milla, and that most contemptible of phrases is uttered, by your friend and mine Dakota, "Get over it."

 

Yeah, Matt needs to get over himself a little. But the writing is too weak to do it in any sort of satisfying way. I'm rereading Waid's run at the moment, and there's one moment in it where Matt seems more genuinely affected by Milla's situation than he ever does in Brubaker's entire run, during the storyline itself.

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review 2017-09-01 19:30
Daredevil vol. 17: Hell to Pay vol. 2 by Brubaker and Lark
Daredevil, Vol. 17: Hell to Pay, Vol. 2 - Ed Brubaker,Michael Lark

Okay, so I was going to make this another huge, rage-filled review, complete with panels as examples, etc. And that was just too draining. So I'm just going to go over the basics with this: Milla, under the influence of Mr. Fear's gas, which made Milla insane and also somehow made him into the Purple Man instead of a second-rate Marvel version of Scarecrow from the Batman comics, sorta kinda tried to kill someone she felt was threatening her relationship with Matt, and she's going to be charged with murder, because everyone on the subway platform apparently heard her yell DIE BITCH but neglected to note that she was a blind woman flailing at the air, and that it was actually Lily, trying to avoid Milla, who inadvertently knocked the man in front of the train. Brubaker both wants you to forget that Milla wasn't directly responsible, but also make certain that she wasn't, which is highly confusing.

 

The panels of Milla in the hospital are painful. Foggy and Matt talk about her in third person right in front of her, and when she loudly objects, they do that, SHHH YOU'RE JUST HYSTERICAL sort of thing that infuriates women about men. Honestly, if I showed these to women who had no idea about the situation, they'd guess that a husband was trying to gaslight his wife, it's that bad.

 

Well, Matt's a lawyer, so he gets her released into his custody, and she doesn't do anything but try to hurt herself. But, guess what? Lily shows up again, and her pheromone comic book nonsense suddenly makes Milla lash out against a totally innocent woman, her nurse, which is not at all indicative of what we've seen of her behavior to this point. And, as with all Daredevil trauma and tragedy, Matt makes everything about himself as his wife is stuck in Hell in her own mind.

 

And then the crowning jewel of the nastiness of this comic is the panels at the end, to show that Mr. Fear has truly won, that he is basically running the prison where he's been put away, including one where he has a female guard in a sexy Halloween costume parody of a cop's uniform, spread seductively on his bed because, again, he's made himself the Purple Man and she's scrambling to throw herself at him. So we end with rape, implied consistent. 

 

And Ed Brubaker is trash.

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text 2017-08-13 22:47
Yeah, I plan to do a full review of this...
Daredevil, Vol. 17: Hell to Pay, Vol. 2 - Ed Brubaker,Michael Lark

Like I did with Hell to Pay vol. 1, but I gotta say, it's sort of killing my soul. I meant to go allll the way through the 2000's Daredevil, but Brubaker is making me so furious, I have a feeling I might just have to skip a bit. And next up is Lady Bullseye. Ugh. I knew these kinda sucked at the time, but I don't remember how they didn't actually make me want to punch someone or something. Because they do.

 

EDIT: So, I just realized that the next volume is, in fact, not Lady Bullseye but Cruel and Unusual. Which... is just so appropriate.

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review 2017-08-01 21:32
Daredevil vol. 16: Hell to Pay vol. 1 by Brubaker and Lark
Daredevil: Hell to Pay, Vol. 1 - Lee Weeks,Ed Brubaker,Michael Lark

Oh boy. Sit back for this one, because I've got a lot to say. While it as eventual, in my great Daredevil reread, to come to this point, I'd even put off reading this, because I knew that I'd have to deal with this hot mess of a storyline.

 

And that storyline is how they deal with, or rather how they get rid of, Milla Donovan. Spoiler, poorly. The answer is, they deal with her poorly. I mean, it's not a surprise, at this point, since we've gone through two whole volumes of her barely being mentioned, and not by Matt, but by Foggy, begging Matt to contact her, and then one appearance as she inconveniently comes to Rikers Island when a riot is just about to break, allowing Matt to treat her like shit in order to save her. And then he fucks off to Europe without seemingly giving her a second thought. He even has a sexy adventure with a woman who reminds him of Karen, because let's not stop beating that dead horse!

 

The comic starts with Milla demonstrating that she no longer possesses any of the character traits she was established with in Bendis' run. No, seriously. Smart, capable, independent no more, she's a codependent mess, sitting by the window and moaning about Matt going out as Daredevil, because, even though that's the thing that attracted her at first, it has now become the sole source of her anguish.

 

She recounts their relationship from the beginning with some major retcon-colored glasses. First off, let's compare Matt's reaction in the original comic to Milla's accusation of having had a nervous breakdown after Karen's death, a painfully honest and defeated, "... Maybe," on Matt's behalf, to the new version:

 

 

"It's not true!" And this plays into something I'll address by the end of the review, and that's the really poor handling of mental health that dominates this storyline. The very idea that the heroic lead of the comic would have been so emotionally vulnerable by the death of his longtime lover that he'd have had a nervous breakdown that shifts his personality and impairs his judgment is obviously TOO MUCH for a comic about an emotionally vulnerable hero who consistently deals with damaging situation after damaging situation.

 

But it's okay! Because, turns out, she didn't leave him because she was confused by his admission, or worried about living in Karen's shadow, or the fact that she never would deal with Matt's shit unless it was on her own terms. Oh no. now...

 

 

Did you miss that? Let me highlight it for you:

 

 

IT WAS HER BLIND GIRL PRIDE. That wasn't at all written by a white, ablebodied man! Listen, sighs. I'm not saying that Bendis was perfect, but he tried. During his run, he introduced Milla, reintroduced Becky Blake, who is now a lawyer and new partner in the Nelson and Murdock firm, and, of course, my lady, Echo. Reading it now, there are so many cringe-worthy moments dealing with disability, but Bendis made an effort to address it, even when he failed.

 

It's not his problem alone! Daredevil was always plagued with this problem. Hell, even the Netflix show isn't immune to this.

 

 

Funnily enough, the Ben Affleck movie remains the most informed and sensitive portrayal of Matt's disability, and that was made and released during Bendis' run on the comic. (Seriously, despite what people say, the director's cut is a pretty good movie.)

 

So, Milla is apparently done struggling with her blind girl pride and is now simply wallowing in being so ridiculously incompetent and vulnerable, some of her scenes play out like bad horror movies containing people with disabilities. She's seen stumbling around her own apartment in her underwear, asking if that silent, threatening presence is, in fact, her husband.

 

 

This remake of Wait Until Dark looks really trippy...

 

Hell, maybe she doesn't know what Matt sounds like coming home. God knows, we're not shown anything of their relationship. When she is, in fact, kidnapped by Gladiator (and, oh, I promised a discussion on mental illness and we'll get to good ole Melvin Potter in a moment!) Matt's rage seemingly comes solely from the fact that they dared threaten Matt's WIFE. Like... if there is only one panel in this entire volume that shows both Karen and Elektra's deaths haunting Matt, I'd be surprised. There's at least one. And it comes across here as... that it doesn't really matter that it's Milla, simply that women are possessions in Matt's life and basically interchangeable as they continually, well, die. The women, mind you, because they killed Foggy off but, whoops NOT REALLY! Because dudes more often than not don't get permanently fridged.

 

And all the behavior I have described from Matt so far? This is why I am continuously defending the character from people on the internet who cannot tell bad writing on a fictional character from a genuinely toxic real person. Cough.

 

I take this quote from a wonderful character analysis on Daredevil-themed Tumblr blog redringsideseats:

 

 In Brubaker’s run, a lot of Milla’s previously-established power and autonomy is taken away, and her strength and complexity as a character suffers as a result. The previous drawn-out suspense and drama of her relationship with Matt, the ebb and flow of their dynamic, gets smacked down by the harshness of reality. Milla becomes a victim and not much else; yet another of Matt’s loves to suffer a tragic fate at the hands of his enemies.

 

Oh, and Milla had now been poisoned by Dr. Fear, as the aforementioned Melvin Potter was, and is now totes bonkers because BLURB BLURB BLURB CRAZY PEOPLE! And responsible for the death of a completely innocent man who she secondhandedly shoves in front of a subway train. Because crazy people, phhffft, am I right? Not only can our hero character no longer admit to maybe having had a nervous breakdown, we descend into the dangerous, hysterical crazy people thing, and Milla is susceptible because... she went to see a psychiatrist? Seriously, like... that's the level of mental health shaming we're on here?

 

The building of Melvin's character, any sensitivity he'd been shown, is gone in an issue, and Milla, well... she's not only incompetent and blind, codependent, and suffering from a major case of OVARIES, but she's CAH-RAZY now, too. It should be noted that, when fans talk about this storyline, they talk about her being "poisoned," so as to avoid many of the troubling implications.

 

But I suppose we ought to save some of this for the next volume.

 

And still three stars? Hell, it was a suspenseful read and I couldn't put the fucking thing down. But the myriad issues, the ableism and sexism, come to the fore in Brubaker's run and was it any surprise to anyone that readers were so relieved when Waid took over? (Yes, I'm ignoring Andy Diggle.)

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text 2017-07-19 10:28
19th July 2017
Lark & Termite - Jayne Anne Phillips

Talk between women friends is always therapy... 

 

Jayne Anne Phillips

 

Happy birthday, Jayne Anne Phillips! After earning her B.A at West Virginia University, the American writer embarked on a cross-country road trip to California. Instead of driving a direct route, she stopped to take on odd jobs and meet new people. Phillips would later use many of those experiences in her writing.

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