Special Edition Podcast

Booksplode #31 – Daredevil: Born Again

Show Notes

Thanks to our awesome Patrons, we’re proud to present another Booksplode!

What’s a Booksplode? It’s a bi-monthly special edition show in which we take a look at a single graphic novel or collected edition, something we really just don’t have time to do on the regular show.

This month, Josh Flanagan and Conor Kilpatrick take a look at Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Christie Scheele, Richmond Lewis, & Joe Rosen!

Running Time: 00:41:30

Music:
“Who the Devil”
The Wood Brothers

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Comments

  1. I finished my reread on Monday and have been eagerly awaiting this booksplode.

    Born Again is great, and I loved your enthusiasm.

    I appreciated that Conor called out the great J Jonah Jameson page – he came across very well. I had a similar feeling about the brief Gladiator appearance, and how he didn’t want to make the Daredevil costume until Matt gave permission.

    “With a voice that could command a God
    And Does.”

    “There is no corpse.
    There is no corpse.
    There is no corpse.”

    I know Josh was exaggerating, but I’m confident you can find something for the next booksplode that isn’t pointless. Maybe a re-read of a favourite from the video show era?

    Something like Daytripper? Or of course you could cut your pull list and do a reread of 60 issues of Scalped!

  2. Thanks for the great show! I was also really looking forward to hearing this one. No matter how many times I read Born Again I’m always left in awe as if I’m reading it for the first time. Nobody does snowy New York like Mazzucchelli!

  3. Great episode, great book. You are right that it was amazing to read this when it was coming out. It was mind blowing.

    If you want one more taste of Frank Miller Daredevil at this point, check out Daredevil 219. Miller returned in the middle of Denny O’Neil’s run for a one shot story in the months before this run. For me this is the real preview of what Miller could do with his writing. No Daredevil in costume and the story doesn’t have anything to do with what was going on in the book, but the story telling and the writing are a clear preview of what he was capable of.

    This one issue is why I was so excited to read this run when it first came out. I had missed Miller’s first run on Daredevil, but I read 219 and said I have got to read more of this…

  4. Fantastic show guys and a great pick of a book to discuss. Unfortunately, I’m nowhere near as big a fan of this as you guys are. I was underwhelmed by it when I first read it about ten years ago and I was underwhelmed by it after rereading it for this show. I agree entirely about Mazzuccheli’s art – though I have the 1987 trade, which doesn’t include the extra issue and does feature that dot-matrix colouring that later printings seem to correct – and the craft, in general, is really very impressive by everyone involved.

    My big problems are that the first half of the book has been copied enough times to turn me off of it slightly – but only slightly. My bigger problem is the end. Everything after Matt’s “rebirth” still reads as anticlimactic to me and, though Miller does write a surprisingly good Cap, that whole ending with Nuke felt tacked on. It’s possible that my dissatisfaction with the ending comes from the fact that so much of this reads like a self-contained story only to feel like just another chapter by the end.

    To be honest, I’m glad I don’t have to actually review this comic since so much of my misgivings about it are hard to nail down. All I know is that I do massively respect Born Again and I like 90% of it but I don’t love it anywhere close to as much as I wish I did. Daredevil is far from my favourite character but I have certainly enjoyed some of his comics (especially a solid chunk of Waid’s run) and am a big fan of Miller’s ’80s Batman comics but I simply can’t bring myself to love Born Again – or the other Miller Daredevil that I read. It’s weird.

    Really awesome to hear you guys speak this enthusiastically about it, though. I certainly finished the episode understanding why you guys loved it so much, at the very least.

  5. Great show! I got turned on to this story by David Price on the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast, and I’m really happy I read it. One thing that’s crucial to this book too is that, for two guys who have said in interviews how much they are not religious, Miller and Mazzuchelli turned the Catholic imagery to 11. It was issue 229 or 230 that ended with Matt stumbling toward the gym; this symbolized Jesus’ three falls on the way to Calvary. Then when the nun finds him and Mazzuchelli and Scheele imitate the Pieta, that page just floored me. I wrote a 10-page paper on pretty much just that page for my Sacred Art and Scripture class two semesters ago, and it was one of the easiest papers I’ve ever written. Talking about the art, the words flowed like butter it was so easy.

  6. I have to disagree on your assessment of the book compared with Miller’s earlier run. While Born Again is a really good story with really good art, it falls far short of the original Miller run of Daredevil:

    The original run introduced an iconic new character in Elektra, with an involved backstory that evoked mythology and a celebrated costume design. Not only did this character captivate everyone but she is killed off in the run! Those panels where she is dying and bleeding and crawling back to Matt are unforgettable. Born Again introduced no iconic characters.

    That sequence of panels was typical of the run, where Miller draws from manga storytelling to bring a fresh new dynamic style to American superhero comics. The page and panel designs were both understated and powerful. There was also the noir influence with the use of blacks- particularly memorable with the scenes with the Kingpin and his venetian blinds. This was the storytelling that many others have tried to imitate since. Born Again has some nice pages and panels, but this was not the run that transformed the medium, the original run transformed the medium.

    On the Kingpin, this was a joke fat character from Spider-Man with a silly jewelled stick. Miller saw the potential and together with Janson recreated the character as a brooding, sinister, clever boss of a criminal empire, again with iconic visuals that have been riffed on ever since, including in Born Again. In real terms it is as dramatic a reinterpretation as Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing or other celebrated reboots like the original League characters or Cap Britain. While Born Again does a good job at characterising the established players, Cap America and Nuke (“Our Boys!”) it does not redefine any of them (as I say this I’m wondering about how much we knew about Matt’s catholicism before this, so I may be understating that).

    I could carry on but you get the idea. Born Again is an expertly-executed and illustrated story but it is ultimately a postscript to the transformational original run.

  7. Great show. I think these are the episodes I look forward to the most. I love listening to you guys talk about old classic runs.

  8. Listening to you guys review this book compelled me to order it from my shop today. I’ll be reading it next week. Looking forward to it.

  9. I’m turning 55 this month. I started reading comics around 1973, I’ve quit & come back a few times since then. The first time I stopped reading was around 1978; then in 1986, I was in a 7-Eleven after work with nothing to do that night, the spinner rack caught my eye and I thought, “I haven’t read a comic in years, wonder what my old favorite characters are up to?”

    My favorite comics were always Captain America, Avengers and Daredevil, so I grabbed the latest issue of each. Lucky for me, the issue of Daredevil happened to be the first issue of the “Born Again” storyline and after reading that, I was blown away– I had never read anything like that. I was hooked all over again and dove head-first back into comics big-time. I even ran my own comic store for a few years.

    Captain America has always been my favorite character– still is. There’s so many great Cap issues & stories by Stan & Jack, Steve Englehart, Steranko, Brubaker, etc. But my all-time #1 favorite Cap moment isn’t even in a Cap comic– it’s the scene in “Born Again” where Cap says “I’m loyal to nothing except the dream”. That is Captain America in a nutshell. Brilliant.

    I’ve read a lot of comics since 1973, and “Born Again” is one of the all-time greatest moments.

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