Tag Archives: David Mazzuchelli

Today’s Super Comics — Batman #404-408 (1987)

batman_404I’m a bit pressed for time, so forgive me for going with a super-obvious one today. But Batman: Year One deserves all its many accolades.

Originally presented in Batman #404-408, this is writer Frank Miller’s other great Batman story, focusing on his early days rather than later days. But while The Dark Knight Returns seems to be the consensus favorite, I’ve always preferred the more down-to-earth Year One (though DKR might very well appear here before my year of positive reviews is over).

In Year One, Batman himself is the weirdest thing about his world. This is before the Joker, Mr. Freeze, and other colorful scoundrels have descended on Gotham City. (We do get some morally ambiguous Catwoman action, though.) Then-Lieutenant Gordon is the co-lead, and it’s basically a story of two flawed but good men trying to help their crime-ridden city in two very different ways. But maybe they can find some common ground and forge a productive friendship?

Artist David Mazzuchelli draws in an appropriately gritty style that produces several memorable Bat-images, and Miller’s tight story is constantly moving forward and gaining momentum.

Too often, writers portray Batman as so competent that he’s borderline superhuman, and that can be fun, but here we see an inexperienced Batman making mistakes and learning the ropes. This Batman is skilled but undeniably human, and that suits the character well.

If you enjoyed Batman Begins, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by reading this.

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: David Mazzucchelli

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Batman: Year One (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 14 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Daredevil #208 (1984)

daredevil_vol_1_208When a guest writer substitutes for an issue, it can often feel like filler. But never when the guest writer is Harlan Ellison. If you see Ellison’s name on a comic, pay attention.

Ellison co-wrote Daredevil #208 with Arthur Byron Cover. The issue doesn’t advance any subplots or provide any new insight into Daredevil’s character—those are usually jobs for the regular creative teams—but it does showcase Daredevil’s skills and resourcefulness by subjecting him to a night of hell.

He’s lured into a mansion that used to be an elegant home, but the owner, consumed by thoughts of vengeance, has rigged it into a giant death trap specifically for Daredevil. DD endures a seemingly endless parade of dangerous obstacles as he seeks an exit, when all he really wanted to do that evening was get a good night’s sleep before his early morning court date.

The story could just as well have starred Batman or Green Arrow, but it’s not really a story about a costumed vigilante. It’s a story about the high cost of revenge, with the altered mansion serving as an excellent metaphor.

This is a textbook example of how to do a fill-in issue.

Writers: Harlan Ellison and Arthur Byron Cover

Penciler: David Mazzucchelli

Inker: Danny Bulanadi

Cover: David Mazzucchelli and Bob Wiacek

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Daredevil #223 (1985)

Daredevil_Vol_1_223Ironically and impressively, Daredevil #223 ties into a company-wide crossover and stands on its own as a superb done-in-one story.

Secret Wars II was a mixed bag on the whole. The main premise involved the omnipotent Beyonder visiting Earth to learn about humanity. And being all-powerful, he could pop into a seemingly limitless number of Marvel titles throughout 1985.

The Daredevil tie-in gets the reader up to speed in a single page, wasting no time with any irrelevant details. The Beyonder had used his god-like powers to conquer the world, but that proved unsatisfactory. So now he wants to take over the world legally. Step one: employing the services of Nelson & Murdock, Attorneys at Law. And he pays Matt an invaluable retainer—the restoration of his sight while leaving his other super-senses intact.

So Matt enjoys one amazing day taking in the sights of New York City with his girlfriend Gloria, and the experience leads to a decision that reminds us what an incredibly ethical character Daredevil is (well, other than the whole secret identity thing, of course). The man holds himself up to high standards, as a superhero should.

A great quick read that holds up remarkably well, even despite being saddled with a crossover.

Writers: Denny O’Neil and Jim Shooter

Penciler: David Mazzuchelli

Inker: Kim DeMulder

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comics: Daredevil #227-233 (1986)

Daredevil_Vol_1_227Frank Miller has written some great comics over the years…and some that, well, simply aren’t eligible for this series of only positive comics reviews.

But when he’s on, he’s one of the best in the business. And this Daredevil storyline, Born Again, is Miller at his best, producing one of the greatest comic book storylines ever to grace the newsstands—especially with the excellent work of artist David Mazzuchelli that perfectly fits the gritty world of Hell’s Kitchen.

The idea is simple: Daredevil’s ex-girlfriend Karen Page sells his secret identity for drug money. This information finds its way to the Kingpin, who then uses it to ruin Matt Murdock’s life. And things had already been going rather lousy for Matt in the preceding issues.

Writers are generally supposed to make characters’ lives hell, and yeah, Miller seems to have received that memo. Daredevil gets broken down so he can build himself back up. Events strip him to his essence, allowing us to see what kind of man he truly is.

And DD isn’t the only one in crisis. Karen is on the run, and Daily Bugle journalist Ben Urich gets in over his head while trying to investigate the Kingpin. Seven issues of nonstop momentum—tense and gripping the whole way.

If you’ve enjoyed Daredevil’s Netflix series, you’ll definitely want to check these issues out.

Writer: Frank Miller

Artist: David Mazzuchelli

Publisher: Marvel

How to Read It: back issues, Marvel Unlimited, Daredevil: Born Again (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up