Review of Netflix’s Daredevil Season 1

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This MCU show premiered on Netflix in April of 2015, produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios, DeKnight Productions and Goddard Textiles. Steven S. DeKnight served as the showrunner. Principal stars are Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. This review contains spoilers.

Matt Murdock is the blind, orphan son of a dead boxer in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, and Foggy Nelson is the son of a local butcher. Matt and Foggy graduate from law school together, form a partnership and set up a law practice on their old home turf. One of their first cases is defending a woman named Karen Page from murder charges, as she has been found in her apartment covered with blood, leaning over a dead co-worker. They are later approached by a man named Wesley to defend another questionable client, and with info from this case and from Karen about bookkeeping at the company Union Allied, they start to make connections about local organized crime. They hire Page as an office manager/legal assistant and begin investigating. Matt was blinded by a toxic waste spill in a car accident when he was a child, and after his father was killed by organized crime, the orphanage staff brought in an old martial arts expert, also blind, to help him cope. Matt learned how to compensate with unusually sharp senses, and unknown to Foggy and Karen, starts to work as a vigilante at night to take care of problems the law can’t reach. Local residents begin calling him the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. When Foggy finds out about the extralegal activity, the two have a huge fight that endangers the practice, but they manage to bring down crime boss Fisk regardless.

The strongest of Marvel’s superheroes are that way because of how Marvel creators connect with the murky symbolism of the ID. That’s one of the things that makes Daredevil hard to carry off, but also makes it resonate. Matt’s blindness and his search for a moral compass in a complex world where good and evil intertwine is the heart of this show. He channels his rage at the world’s injustice into his nightly endeavors, while seeking the counsel of his local priest by day.

This show looks expensive because it is—the creators have been given artistic license. It spends huge amounts of time in character development and suspense, as we watch Fisk linger over his morning omelet and follow Matt’s difficult childhood. There is also a constant stream of imagery featuring blood, fire, hell and the devil. The award-winning opening sequence paints blind justice, the city and Daredevil’s mask all with red. Matt is constantly scarred and bloodied by his encounters with the world’s realities; the yakuza call him “fire demon,” and he sees the world in burning flames instead of black. His priest Father Lantom provides us with philosophical discussions about the nature of Satan and how good and evil reside within all of us—trying to help Matt sort it out.

The show isn’t for the faint of heart because of the violence, and it may seem to move slowly for the action-oriented because of the time spent in suspense and character development. Matt wore black for most of his nightly activities in this season. The Daredevil costume debuted toward the end of it and was criticized as pretty ugly. The first season made the show 7th most popular on TV, and it was nominated for a slew of awards. Cox was honored for his portrayal of the blind Matt Murdock at the American Foundation for the Blind’s 19th Annual Helen Keller Achievement Awards. He deserved the honor.

Highly recommended. Four and a half stars.

Scary poems!

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Edward LearI’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, and I may be back to posting next week. We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve got a poem called “The Haint” and a piece of artwork titled “Demon Face” up at the SFPA 2016 Halloween Readings page. Since I’ve been so busy, I need to thank Stace Johnson for doing the reading for me. This was a really fun poem to write, and it’s in no way serious. Please click the link to go check it out.

Review of “Abere and the Poisoner” by Jonathan Edelstein

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FeatherPenClipArtThis story is a random read, not in contention for any awards just now. It was published this month in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

The story opens in a swamp, where two people are waiting. The Narrator names the other Poet, and goes on to tell a story of an assassin named Folau who took a commission and came seeking poison from the swamp witch Abere. In the story, Folau finds the witch and couples with her, then realizes he’s in a battle for both body and soul. He defeats the witch by becoming invisible, but she offers him a deal. Now the Poet must make a similar decision.

This is an interesting read, with the world very lush and richly imagined. It’s written in second person and includes only one side of the conversation, which is creative and intimate without affecting the readability. The story line includes elements of making deals with the devil and the drawbacks of keeping lovers against their will. It’s not a heavyweight in the ideas department, but I enjoyed it.

Four stars.

Review of Off World by Jonah Bergen

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Here’s another R-rated, adult type book. This one is billed as a “m/m romance.”

There’s been a war between humanity and the Witches, and humanity has lost. Human worlds are thrown into hard times. The girls are protected, but the homesteaders sell their boys as slaves. Taine is a Lowman who looks like a red-skinned “devil” and has spiritual powers. He feeds on life-force and he’s looking for boys suitable to be returned to his temple for training. Taine can sense the quality of life-force. He buys an unlikely slave that feels like Sunshine, but the woman prevails on him to take her son Tanner, as well, to train as an apprentice. Taine starts to take the boys back to the city of Longknife, but encounters problems in the journey—enough so that he starts to wonder if there’s not something else going on. Eventually his horse wanders away, carrying all his supplies and documents in the saddlebags. They find the horse has been captured by a Witch, who also captures the boys, and then Taine when he goes after them. Once captured and in the power of the Witches, Taine finds there are other things he needs to take care of.

This is mostly an adventure tale, set against a broader background of intrigue. The culture on this remote outback is clear, and Taine’s ongoing references to his home world, the temple and his mentor Shilandra are all suggestive, but I didn’t get a good feel for the Witches and the culture outside the local environment. This is definitely an adult novel, running to BDSM because of the slavery. Taine’s mysticism and taste for life-force lend a little strain of the occult. Although there’s a lot of sex, none of it is explicit. This is definitely written for a male audience. Three stars.

Review of “Pale Realms of Shade,” novella by John C. Wright

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Edward LearThis novella appeared in The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House.

Flint has been a “twilight” detective, one of a partnership that deals with mystical elements. Now he’s a poltergeist, a ghost angry about his murder. We get glimpses as he skips through space and time, scenes where he talks with his wife Rory, his business partner Sly, tries to confess to a priest. Eventually we find that his wife has murdered him for the insurance money and has taken up with his business partner. He is called by someone named the Fixer who offers to release him from the world. Fixer offers him an opportunity to kill Sly, but Flint realizes this will send himself to hell—not Sly. He flees, and the Fixer screams after him that he can never rest until he has finished with the business of life. He goes in search of Christ and finds an archangel who asks him to confess his sins. Flint takes a hard look at his life and realizes his problem is that he has tried to possess his wife. The angel tells him where to find Christ, and he goes off in search of Him.

I pretty much liked this one until it got preachy at the end. It’s written in the 1940s noir detective style, with the added effect of the “twilight” business and the poltergeist. Wright has done the same thing here that he’s done in the other stories I’ve read, which is to throw around too many archetypes, name-dropping elves, fairies, saints and angels. A little of this is good, but more is not better. Two and a half stars.

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