A look at Daredevil #270-276, 278-282 and what I could learn about Ann Nocenti who is a cool motherfucker and it’s all going to get away from me I’m sure.
…how to start. Okay, I have to caveat that I have not read “Born Again” and I haven’t read the “Typhoid Mary” issues from before this run of issues. I also don’t really care about the Nocenti stuff that isn’t drawn by John Romita Jr. because it’s not drawn by John Romita Jr. (it’s also why I skipped an issue in this run.) And having not read “Born Again” by now, having worked four years at a comic book store, having ample opportunity to do it for fucking free and having read the original Miller stuff even that almost there but-we-still-need-to-havehimfight-The Hulk stuff by Roger McKenzie, I’m an asshole for not reading “Born Again”. But I tend to gravitate away from the major works and I always tend to like something less known better than those works. “Ran” and “Once Upon a Time in America” are better than “The Godfather”, for example. But I’m getting away from myself already. I’m saying this because I understand the impact of those stories on this set of stories I’m writing about. They loom over the events here and really in stark contrast to the usual Daredevil narrative as a whole. But you guys, these issues are so good, so different, so smart and on the nose in their didactic-isms but not giving a shit and so strange I can’t believe they were published by Marvel Comics, 1989-1990. This is going to be difficult and long and complicated but these issues rate such attention, they really do.
Even more than “Born Again” I do actually feel pretty bad I haven’t read those “Typhoid Mary” issues because from what I’ve read elsewhere, she is a really fully formed female character, and a character Nocenti seems to favor the most. Those issues weren’t in the dollar box I got these from and I can’t get that Typhoid Mary tpb on Amazon and that is just garbagesex.
“I’d never read a super-hero comic, wasn’t really sure what they were let alone know they were a rich and complex art form, but I knew I wanted to work in an office with a giant cutout like that…I went into the big executive’s office and talked a blue streak of lies, invoking Nietzsche, McLuhan, Warhol, and anyone else I could think of that toyed with superhumans, pop art, or visual linguistics. On the way out a very nice woman named Virginia Romita said to me: “You don’t smoke, do you?” So, adding one more lie to the pile, I said no. (Winstons, pack a day). I never thought I’d hear from them, figuring my bullshit was transparent as glaze on a donut, but Jim Shooter (who interviewed me) called the next day and hired me. Who knows why, maybe he thought bullshit was the best qualification to write comic books. So, I quit smoking and hustling cocktails, and began working for Marvel Comics.”
My personal favorite run of X-men comics is from like issue 180, right after John Romita Jr started drawing the book and that is the issue he really started infusing himself into the book even though I still think he was just doing roughs and Dan Green was doing a lot of the work on inking, I could be remembering that wrong, not the point though, till that issue where there is that big fight with Nimrod in the park, like issue 209 or 210 I think (and including those “Asgardian Wars” stories with Art Adams and Paul Smith art which are my total absolute favorites. I’m gonna diverge alot because comics remind me of other comics and junk.) The bulk of these issues Nocenti edited and of course New Mutants as well and those Sienkiewicz issues too which are some great comics too. I guess my point with this and above paragraph is that Nocenti was given alot of fucking leeway for the Jim Shooter era of Marvel, kind of.
“…and even though, during the years I was the editor of the X-MEN and all the “mutant” books, Shooter and I fought like hell, I always respected the guy for his passion for comics. And, as it turned out, the dullsville regime that replaced him makes him look practically open-minded in comparison…”
“As for editing, I enjoyed it back when it was a gentle job of inspiring and caretaking talented humans. Now, because of the cutthroat way the biz is, I don’t imagine it’s much fun anymore.”
That last quote in particular is the reason I adore those X-Men comics in particular and I think all the Silvestri stuff has its charms as well. Really, even with the X-Men crossovers, Nocenti seemed like a non-interfering sort of editor and encouraging certainly. Uncanny X-Men was a book with a feminine quality, stories that trailed off and went in all sorts of different directions, changed constantly and was this organic imperfect thing posing as a superhero comic and it was the best-selling thing at the company. I think the reason, before even getting to all the Daredevil stuff, that I like Nocenti so much is because she’s an intelligent person who didn’t know anything about comics who learned to love comics on the job and because of this was able to infuse the things she worked on with a different energy and different point-of-view but also this whole “fuck it” sort of thing, but like, in a way that she did give a fuck?
Months and months ago I promised to do an examination of the Jim Starlin Warlock run. I’m not going to do that because I never got the issues and Douglas Wolk did it already and I’m not going to do it any better than him. But these? Mephisto and Blackheart and the Inhumans and these Daredevil stories not about Daredevil? This’ll work.
-Daniel Von Egidy, 2011