Superhero fans everywhere rejoice. Daredevil: Season 2 has finally arrived and Batman VS Superman comes out at the end of this month. For now let’s take a look at the first six episodes of Daredevil:Season 2. There are a lot of new additions to Matt’s universe but are all of them good? Let’s dive in.

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The Pros:

Something that immediately hits you in this new season is it’s change of pace. Season 1 waited a decent amount of time for Daredevil and Kingpin to meet face to face. Not this time. Daredevil meets his antagonist in the first episode. It’s also nice to things already established in the world. Daredevil is Daredevil. He wears the suit and business is booming for Nelson & Murdock. Having these things in place are especially satisfying for the comic book fans out there because this opens the door for new and fresh stories with the characters they know and love.

Thankfully the creators of the show start season 2 on the right story thread. The Punisher. His inclusion into this world is a definite pro. Actor, Jon Bernthal plays him in a way that no actor has before, and believe me they’ve tried. Punisher becomes Daredevil’s new biggest problem. There is a war on the streets and Punisher is the man behind it. However, he’s not killing just anyone. Punisher has his sights set on disposing of the criminal element that dwells within Hell’s Kitchen. Vigilante justice on a whole new scale.

The question that quickly comes up is then if Daredevil’s appearance in Hell’s Kitchen led to men like the Punisher stepping in and taking the law into his own hands. It’s a interesting premise and one that certainly has merit, as Matt begins to find out for himself. Morality plays a major factor in this season, thus far. Is justice something that is so important one must take it into their own hands? Does the system work? And the most interesting question of all, is the preservation of life sacred no matter what? Is killing ever acceptable?

Episode 3 is a fantastic example of two schools of thought on the latter subject. It presents the argument in the form of a tense conversation. Both men are impassioned in their conviction and both make clear cases for what really is the ” right” way to do things.  Daredevil and Punisher duke it out more than once in this season but I felt it their war of words that had the most impact.

D vs P

Episode 3 also gave us some fantastic action scenes. Few can forget the single-shot hallway fight scene in season 1, but this season’s big fight sequence may have topped it. Longer and dare I say, more impressive.

Punisher Eventually comes off more as an anti hero around the episode 4 mark. The introduction of the Irish mob gives us our new antagonists, and thanks to it’s particularly sadistic Mob boss, it’s clear cut. These guys don’t mess around. ( SPOILER) This forces Daredevil and Punisher to briefly team up and I’ll admit , I had a minor nerdgasim for those moments.

Episodes 5 and 6 focus more on Elektra. Punisher is still in the mix but it’s Elektra’s turn to shine. In two episodes actress Élodie Yung, makes Jennifer Garner’s version look like the performance of a bad cosplayer. It’s amazing what a stark difference there is in quality. It astounds me even more that the makers of the Dardevil films could get her character so wrong. Nevertheless back to Élodie Yung and her version of Elerktra.

I thought that taking the focus away from Punisher might be a mistake but Elektra turns out to be a more than worthy character. Her history with Matt gives her an edge we don’t see with other characters, except for Stick( Daredevil’s mentor and teacher). She knows him mentally, physically and sexually. Or rather, she did. Their relationship is fascinating and I suspect it will be explored further in the coming episodes.

Another pro is Foggy. His character feels far more comfortable in his shoes. I liked him in season 1 but I feel he is much more balanced thus far.

All and all the cinematography is great and most of the performances are good while these three below are outstanding.  This season looks well on it’s way to be awesome.

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The Cons:

Not a lot to complain about really. Punisher had a few moments that I asked myself ” really”? One in particular is his ( SPOILER) not guilty plea. I don’t see any logical reason why he would do this. Once you get to it you’ll see what I mean.

The biggest con would have to be Karen Page. Simlair to season 1, her motives and reasoning are all over the place. I find this, and her to be quite annoying at times. One second she states she’s terrified of being target practice for a lunatic with a gun, the next second she wants to ” save” someone in the middle of a massive shootout.  She breaks into , said lunatic’s house looking for evidence?? She does all this alone, I might add. WHY? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Other than that, not much else to complain about.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of my review of Daredevil: Season 2!

 

At last I have completed watching the entire series. Part two of my review focuses on episodes 6 to 13. It was a wild ride that I hope to be on again. The question that really lingers in my head is will we get a second season right away or will Marvel focus on exploring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and then do their Defenders series? These are just some of the  many questions that  arise after the action packed conclusion of Daredevil.

 

The next eight episodes really kept up with the pace of the first five. Perhaps, even a bit less brutal, but only a bit. The performances manged to stay strong and we had the chance to see more of a back story for characters like Wilson Fisk ( Who never gets mentioned as Kingpin). His back story was done very well and it showed how different & alike Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk really are. Both of these men had a strong father figure that directly affected the paths they choose. Of course, one was arguably much more negative than the other. We also get introduced to the character “Stick“. If you are unfamiliar with the comic, Stick served as Daredevil’s teacher and Sensei. We also learned that Stick is the one responsible for training Daredevil , not only to fight but how to control and harness his new abilities. There are some cool Easter eggs that leads me to believe we will be seeing the villainous group called ” The Hand” sooner rather than later.

The Pros:

Once again the performances are a key component that stands out to me. Wilson Fisk and Daredevil’s stories only get richer and more interesting thanks to the actors wonderful portrayals.Despite Wilson Fisk being ruthless criminal I couldn’t help but care about him. I even agreed with him in some ways. This is a testament to the thought that went in creating and portraying this character. I’m hearing a lot of flack regarding Foggy’s portrayal.A lot of people think his character is not played very well but it doesn’t grate me. Yes, he is the weakest link along with Karen Page, but it doesn’t ruin anything for me. A definite pro is the arrival and portrayal of Stick. Scott Glenn plays him almost perfectly. He certainly does justice to Frank Miller’s version. The episode he is in is a clear highlight after the first five. Without giving too much away, both he and Daredevil have a fight scene together that is equally as impressive as any on the series. At the end of Stick’s episode we get a hint of the bigger picture he keeps talking about and we get a view of a mystery character who is as of yet unidentified.

 

The fight scene’s continue to impress and the last episode is a gem of brawl. I won’t tell you who the participants are but it’s safe to assume it’s what the fans are waiting for. It’s important to point out the strength of the story as well. I have a few minor quibbles with it but I’ll get to that later. For the most part the story provides twists that are quite effective and it gives both the protagonist and the antagonist excellent arcs. The philosophical questions that the series put forward are more heady than the average superhero show and it feels very organic in its scheme. Obviously, I have to mention the elephant in the room. Daredevil’s red suit. It does appear and it’s very cool. It looks even better in action. We even get to see Daredevil’s trademark billy club.

 

The Cons:

I had a lot more time to reflect on this one. I’ll say that overall this is a great show but not one without it’s flaws.  One thing I noticed and that was actually, brought more to my attention by my girlfriend, was the lack of motivation for many of the supporting cast. Especially for Karen Page. She seems hellbent on tackling Wilson Fisk’s criminal organization despite the obvious dangers involved. The question is why? Why does she cares so much? She thinks and acts on these desires even to the detriment of others in her life. Foggy also has a similar problem but it’s more understandable for him because he is a lawyer. However you have to question his judgement when he sets out to go to war with Wilson Fisk knowing full well what kind of man he is. How can the consequences surprise him and Karen when they actually happened?  Another character who’s motivations I question is Claire. The medical practitioner responsible for patching up Daredevil. In my opinion she seems to be going along with Daredevil a little too easily. I think she has a motivation but it feels very flimsy to me.

These are all minor points that don’t take away from the season. I still maintain it”s the greatest live action superhero show of all time, even after only one season. Let the speculation about Daredevil’s next villain begin. I got to think Bullseye is next in line. How about you?

You certainly can’t say there aren’t enough superheroes on TV these days. With the success of shows like The Flash, Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. it seems that the powers that be of the TV world have decided to keep pumping out shows based on comics or comic characters. There are currently six comics related shows on network TV with the likes of Supergirl & Netflix’s version of Daredevil on the way. Brian Michael Bendis’s Powers just debuted on the PlayStation network as well.

I remember a time when you would be hard pressed to find any superhero/ comic shows on TV. I still have a particular fondness to the 70’s version of The Incredible Hulk. As cheesy as it could be it still had a ton of heart and it was pretty much the first show to treat the material seriously.

Even with the plethora of material already on TV here is my wish list of 5 comics/ characters that would make for awesome TV.

5. Conan: The Barbarian ( Dark Horse Comics)

We all remember the entertaining and sometimes cringe worthy Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the 80’s and I’m sure we’d like to forget the remake from 2011. The ongoing success of shows like Game Of Thrones and Vikings shows that if you put out quality people will flock to it. There was a time where no TV executive would touch a show like this with a ten foot blade of Cimmerian steel. The time is ripe for a chance to bring back one of the true legends of the Sword & Sorcery genre. The key here is not to dilute the material. It could work on network TV but I feel it would fall nicely somewhere on cable TV.

4. The Spectre ( DC Comics)

This DC comics character is little known outside the world of avid comic readers but thankfully TV’s Constantine seems to be putting his name out there a little more. I’ve always had an affinity towards this character. He is a spirit of vengeance carrying out his from of justice from within a human host. Essentially DC’s version of Ghost Rider. Seeing as Ghost Rider has had two movies based on him already, I figured it was time to give the original Spirit Of Vengeance his due. When I read John Ostrander’s run on The Spectre from the nineties I realized that this type of long form storytelling really works for the character. There were a vast number of supporting characters that you cared about and the material went everywhere from controversial to convoluted, in a good way. they really used both the philosophical and violent aspects of the character to their advantage and had very little limitations. The same could conceivably be accomplished with the proper group of directors and writers. This is another one of those comics that can go as dark as it needs to.

3. The Punisher ( Marvel Comics)

Speaking of dark, I bring you good old Frank Castle.I’ll give them credit in Hollywood. They keep trying and trying with this character. There have been three separate films starring The Punisher and not one of them turned out well. They all had their moments but none of them  really captured what the character was about. They focused to much on the gimmick and not the man behind the gimmick. People often cite Garth Ennis’s run on the Punisher because he doesn;t pull any punches and he doesn”t hold back. While I appreciate his work I feel that some of it may be extreme for extreme’s sake with the exception of Ennis’s story line BORN. If a TV show followed a story line closer to Greg Rucka’s fantastic Punisher run we’d be set. It is the perfect marriage of character development and bad ass. Much like the Spectre, if this was a show that was on TV it has to be darker than the norm from the Marvel camp. Let’s hope we can have a Punisher on the small screen we can all be proud of.

2. Judge Dredd ( 2000 A.D. Comics)

Extremely popular in the U.K. but not as well known in North America is Judge Dredd. The Stallone movie in 1996 was more of a miss than a hit but the Dredd film in 2012 hit it on the mark. Unfortunately not a lot of people went to watch Dredd in theaters when it came out, pretty much killing any chance of a sequel. While it developed a cult like following and did very well on DVD/ Blue ray, it doesn’t appear a sequel will happen. I throw out the idea of giving Judge Dredd his own show in the same universe and style as the DREDD film. This would work so well given the rich history of stories already out there featuring this character. ON top of that the world of Megacity one gives a TV show limitless possibility in terms of diffrent types of stories to tell. This would be a very comfortable fit on H.B.O.

1. Gotham Central ( DC Comics)

This is it. The clear number 1 for me. Most people who haven’t read this may think this is a retread of the current show Gotham. It’s not. Gotham makes a good attempt but after reading Gotham Central there really is no comparison. Gotham Central is about the Cops who work in Gotham WHILE Batman patrols the city. It’s an intriguing idea that works surprisingly well. Imagine being a Cop in a city that really may not even need Cops for the big cases because Batman takes care of everything. The characters are rich and were so well developed that two of them became a big part of the DC universe. Essentially Gotham Central could be Law & Order with Batman in it. I know that there seems to be a hang up about actually putting an established Batman on TV but that’s the beauty of it. Batman makes very scarce appearances in the comics but when he does show up it’s very powerful. The focus is on the cops and their world. Gotham Central is in my opinion tailor made for TV. I strongly recommend you seek out this series which only ran for 40 issues.

 

Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Da...
Theatrical poster for the live-action movie Daredevil starring Ben Affleck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 7th, Marvel and Netflix announced the release date for the latest live-action adaptation of the Daredevil franchise. Marvel’s Daredevil will make its entire 13-episode season available to stream on April 10th, much to the delight of compulsive bingers everywhere.

Fans of the visually impaired vigilante are looking forward to a series that is 12 years clear from the blast radius caused by the much maligned big screen adaptation. The internet’s hate-boner for Ben Affleck still rages on to this day because of the fictional events that transpired back in March of 2003. Still, if you were to weigh that collective nerd rage against the more measured response of film critics you’d objectively conclude that most people didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil. Not an unfair statement, considering that even Ben Affleck didn’t like Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

Affleck animosity aside, the movie as a whole is considered a resounding flop. Yet all the components of a classic superhero movie seemed to be there; a hero born of tragedy, a menacing and well-rounded villain, plus a romantic subplot for whoever the hell cares about romantic subplots. What was it then, that made this movie so unlikeable? Here’s a hint: the exact same things that made this movie so fantastic. Daredevil may just be the greatest superhero movie that nobody liked. Here’s why:

The Tone is Dark, But Not Too Dark

Matt Murdock, for all his efforts advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, still doesn’t stack up against Marvel heavyweights like Spider-Man and the X-Men, both of whom happened to be successfully captivating moviegoers back in 2003. An acrobatic blind man, nimble as he may be, just doesn’t out-cool a dude with a metal-laced skeleton and knives for hands. So rather than punch above its weight class against established blockbuster franchises, Daredevil bobs and weaves in a different direction; it diverges from the flamboyance of contemporary superhero movies by ultimately choosing gritty over grandiose.

 

English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He's ...
English: Ben Affleck at the premiere for He’s Just Not That Into You. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tone is dark, but not hopelessly so. The film paints a grim picture of a New York that it is overrun with murderers and rapists in order to validate Daredevil’s hard-line, surgery-by-subway approach to crime fighting. However, the gloom is tempered with just the right amount of gaiety so the movie doesn’t spiral into what can only be described as “Dark Knight territory.” Here, our protagonist is not so heartless that he’ll pass up an opportunity to engage in a good old fashioned game of full-contact flirting (or kung fu courting, I can’t decide which bad line I like better) with token love interest Elektra. It is perhaps because this movie walks a tightrope between cynicism and optimism without committing fully to either, that the audience was sold on neither.

 

Daredevil Isn’t Your Friendly Neighborhood Vigilante

So you’ve decided to become a vigilante? Great! Congratulations on taking in the law into your own hands. Wait, what’s that? You say you’re not actually going to execute those rapists and murderers? Oh, you’re going to just rough them up a little then pass them on to law enforcement? In that case, well done, you’ve entirely missed the point of becoming a vigilante. You can go ahead and return that costume. Maybe you can still get back your deposit.

As an aspiring vigilante, you really only have two choices: you either take matters into your own self-righteous hands, or you stay out of the way while the legal system does what it has been put in place to do. There’s no middle ground. A true vigilante believes the legal system doesn’t work, which is why they’ve appointed themselves to bring the lost causes of civilized society to justice.

Matt Murdock understands the dichotomy that exists between being a vigilante and being a law abiding citizen, and he is able to craft his alter-ego accordingly. By day he attempts to bring the legal system of New York back up to respectable standards, and by nightfall he hunts down the criminals who slip through the cracks. Reintroducing criminals back into a failed and/or corrupt system is baffling decision that a lot of comic book vigilantes make. Daredevil isn’t as forgiving at the Batmen and Spider-Men of the world, which might have cost him some popularity points with fans.

Daredevil Doesn’t Waste Time on the Learning Curve

Unlike the majority of cinematic superheroes, Daredevil has his shit together before the end of the first act. We see a few minutes of young Matt bumbling his way into toxic sonar vision, and from there we jump straight to an adult Matt who already has a strong grasp on the fundamentals of superheroing.

Being introduced to a superhero in his prime is a welcome change of pace from watching an emotionally troubled loner blundering through their early days of superherodom. Daredevil’s early days of crime fighting are glossed over, perhaps to the chagrin of the people who like a good old-fashioned origin story.

Kingpin is a More Grounded Villain

Wilson Fisk is a refreshing take on comic book villains, in that he isn’t inexplicably committed to mass genocide or establishing a trans-continental dictatorship. He is just a unethical businessman with simple ambitions: stay in business by influencing and/or murdering anyone who threatens the stability of his organization. In other words, he’s your typical oil company CEO, only with the physique of a steroid-riddled pro wrestler.

The Kingpin doesn’t pursue some otherworldly weapon that will grant him the power to destroy all who oppose him; his weapon is influence, and he is ruthless when yielding it. Though admittedly, an intangible quality is not as resplendent as, say, the Tesseract.

It Isn’t a Traditional Superhero Movie, Mostly

Daredevil is at its best when it doesn’t acquiesce to standard superhero movie tropes. For most of the movie, Daredevil’s take-no-prisoners approach to crime fighting is a welcome deviation from take-all-prisoners approach of most comic book heroes. The choice to kill off the main protagonist’s love interest is an undeniably ballsy move, and one that few superhero movies have tried.

When it does succumb to genre cliches, however, Daredevil falls flat. The kiss in the rain is clearly borrowing (if not blatantly stealing) Spider-Man’s iconic kiss from the previous year. Furthermore, when Daredevil spares the life of Kingpin, it feels like a copout and a thinly veined sequel setup.

Daredevil may have been a critical failure, but it needs to be stated that the movie introduced some relatively innovative ideas to the genre that are now becoming popular in superhero franchises. Perhaps the world of 2003 was simply ill-prepared for the awesomeness that Daredevil unleashed upon it.

Netflix’s Daredevil comes out today and I thought it fitting to put out a little research material that may interest anyone who wants to delve deeper into the world of the man without fear. I’m expecting big things from the show and hopefully it makes up for the less than stellar movie that came out in the early 2000’s. Without further ado, here are my top five recommended Daredevil picks.

5.Daredevil : Gang War

This will be a trend in this post. Frank Miller writes Daredevil really well. IN this story we get two of Daredevil’s greatest enemies ( Kingpin & Bullseye.) gunning for one another. This places our hero in red square in the middle of it all.  We also get a fascinating look at the relationship between The Kingpin & his wife Vanessa. It gives him a human side that is quite intriguing considering the brutality of the character. Honestly Frank Miller’s whole run is worth reading and I feel it is my duty to give a nod to the great Klaus Janson. The unsung hero of many of Miller’s greatest works. His pencil finishes along with his wonderful inks were a huge reason Frank Miller’s early stuff looks as good as it does.

 

 4. Daredevil: Yellow by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Loeb & Sale work as well together as any duo in comics. They produced one of the great Batman tales in “ The Long Halloween.” Daredevil “ Yellow is a high point in their Marvel work. It’s another type of origin story BUT this time it focuses more on the early days of Daredevil in his original Yellow outfit. It’s exquisitely painted and drawn by Tim Sale. I own this story in an extra sized Hard Cover edition that cemnts the gorgeousness of the art.  Jeph Loeb can be hit and miss. Mostly miss these days but when he’s on he really nails his characters and is one of the best in playing to his artists strength be it Jim Lee, Ed McGuiness or in this case Tim Sale.

 

3. Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil

It’s hard to single out one particular story more than another because the whole arc is so intertwined but if I had to suggest where to begin I would recommend the first seven issues. It’s important to point out that this story takes place after the “ Shadowland” major event that turned Daredevil into a, kind of villain. It’s complicated.

The point is that the story takes place after that event and takes a totally different turn with the character that had not been seen in years. It changes the tone and allows the stories to be lighter and lets Matt Murdock actually be happy and it surprisingly works.  Daredevil is such a streetwise gritty character that the proposition of such a thing seems very strange but it actually becomes a breath of fresh air.  The reasoning for this is sound and you honestly don’t know how long Matt’s positive, can do attitude will hold up to the challenges he will face.  The writing is excellent and the art is ambitious and very different for Daredevil.

 

2.The Man Without Fear – by Frank Miller & John Romita Jr.

Based on the early trailers for the show, it seems to have taken quite a bit from this particular story. It’s entirely an origin tale but one that focuses on the becoming of Daredevil. In fact Matt Murdock does not even appear in full costume until the last page of the story. It’s raw and noir in the style that only Frank Miller can provide. This is actually Frank’s third and final stint on with the character. The artwork from John Romita Jr. Is nice enough. I’m not a huge fan of his particular art style but the man can make action scenes extremely dynamic.   It’s focus on Daredevil’s supporting cast is also worth mentioning. All the important characters are there and flushed out even more. The inter change between Daredevil and his Sensei, Stick are harsh at times but wonderfully entertaining.

 

1. Born Again.  By Frank Miller & David Mazzuccchelli

Frank Miller’s finest hour on the character, in my books.  The Born again story arc was actually Frank Miller’s second stint with the character since his famed first run.  This time Miller decided to team up with his Batman: Year One artist, David Mazzuccchelli.

The results were fantastic.  The collaboration allowed Miller to focus solely on the story and this allowed Mazzuccchelli to put out arguably his best artistic work.  The story is dense and  as dark as any of Miller’s Daredevil tales.  I’d say this is the story that beats Matt Murdock down more than any other before it. You could argue that the death of Elektra was huge as well. However, this one had a betrayal that was so severe it nearly destroyed our titular character. Another huge point to mention is that this story is a particularly important game changer in the battle between Daredevil & Kingpin. Seek it out!

Honorable mentions goes to the work done by Ed Brubaker and Michael lark on their acclaimed run. I’m sure it’s good but I have yet to read it. Same goes for Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run.