Friday, September 17, 2010

Daredevil: Born Again

Grade: E
Title: Daredevil: Born Again
Author: Frank Miller
Artist: David Mazzucchelli

This is my second Daredevil comic to look at, and I loved it so much more than the first one! It made me remember why I thought Daredevil was such a compelling character (please, don't think of the awful Ben Afleck Daredevil - in the comic he doesn't even have the same look, thankfully). The plot is simple: Kingpin (the nemesis of Daredevil) discovers Daredevil's secret identity and works to take everything away from Matt Murdock (who is, of course, the owner of the alter-ego Daredevil) from his job to his home to his friends.

Let's start with the bad stuff (even if it is a little out of order). Born Again ends with a real campy, kitchy villain, which leads to the involvement of Captain America (among others). This ending just falls short from the rest of the volume, which is beautifully done. I am not sure why they ended it like they did - why they had to pull in these random people, who didn't have any involvement with the rest of the story (I mean, it would be like if the writers at Penguin felt the need to draw in random people from other stories - taking liberally from both good books and bad ones...really not an advisable idea).

The rest of Born Again is really quite brilliant. Obviously, from the title and the cover, Miller was drawing from a distinctly religious theme. This thread runs throughout the comic and really achieves a lyrical and moving storyline. Apart from being lyrical, Born Again presents some of the most harrowing moments that one could ever encounter. Matt's life literally falls apart in one day as he loses everything, even faith in his closest friend Foggy. However, for me, for obvious reasons, the Christian elements are the most intriguing.

This image, from just after Matt had stooped to his lowest point, beautifully invokes the classic motif of the pieta (sorry, I couldn't quite figure out how to put the proper accent over the "a"). This is a symbol that I find quite evocative, so I am going to take the opportunity to share some of the most sublime pietas from art. mwhahahahaha!

Here is the haunting painting by Bouguereau of the Pieta or "the Sixth Sorrow: Mary Receives Jesus' Body into Her Arms." Just observe the intense look on Mary's face! In fact, this painting is what inspired Mel Gibson (please excuse all of his many indiscretions and don't judge his past work for his present deeds - or should we?) to look for a similar looking Mary in Passion. I find the white body of Jesus particularly striking against Mary's black robes.

Here is probably the most famous Pieta, and famous for a good reason, sculpted by the ever astonishing Michelangelo. I remember the first time I saw a picture of this statue I was a freshman in high school. We had to analyze it for my history class and as a group we particularly noticed how much larger Mary's body was compared to Jesus' waif-like corpse. The emotion conveyed by the way the figures are arranged is especially poignant.

Another image from Born Again that is evocative of religious symbolism is this touching picture of Matt and his mother (she is the nun clutching his hand, in case you were curious). I love how Mazzucchelli uses the negative space to create the illusion of a cross, especially with the tiny crucifix at the center, reminiscent of the sign nailed above Jesus' head when he was murdered.

Oh yes, I found a way to fit in one of my favorite paintings of Jesus, this one done by Velazquez (yes, I didn't get to put the accent over his a either...oops). Isn't it exquisite - try to get a close up of his face - I find myself always drawing this eloquent depiction of Jesus' sacrifice everywhere (right now it is scrawled across our bright blue kitchen wall in chalk). Just take a few moments to ponder this painting . . . doesn't your soul feel better now!

Ultimately, Born Again is a comic definitely worth the read. In fact, despite its somewhat weak disappointing end, I would say you should buy it right now. Cave under the pressure: http://http// The way this comic inspires you to think, to look at your life, to evaluate makes the read especially worthwhile. Until next time; go enjoy some art!

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