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Review: Conan the Barbarian #7-12

Author: Jason Aaron
ArtistsMahmud Asrar, Gerardo Zaffino, Esad Ribic, Garry Brown Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Each issue regales a story from the life Conan, narrated by a nameless host who shares the most intimate details of Conan’s life, building to the pronounced epilogue of the infamous barbarian’s life. Each separate story contains a connection to the events that would eventually lead to this indomitable man’s fateful end.

Continuing the arc called “The Life & Death of Conan,” author Jason Aaron expertly weaves events through Conan’s rise to power that led to his seemingly inevitable end. Likewise, artist Mahmud Asrar, cover artist Esad Ribic, and featured artist on issue 8, Gerardo Zaffino, continue their excellent depiction of this primitive fantasy world of Hyboria by way of colorful characters, morose settings, and horrifying monsters. 

Content Guide

ViolenceConan’s adventures are spattered with blood and violence. Each issue features imagery of intense battle, dismemberment, and use of medieval weaponry.

Sexual ContentConan the Barbarian depicts a world of debauchery, depicting frequent sexual situations, brothels, scantily clad men and women, and promiscuous coupling.

Drug/Alcohol UseIncluded in the setting’s depraved lifestyle is the frequent consummation of ale or other alcoholic beverages, as well as the ingestion of substances with hallucinogenic properties, likened to modern-day drugs.

Spiritual ContentConan and other characters frequently mention the will and honor of various gods. Conan claims allegiance to a single god, representing a monotheism, yet there is no representation of the Christian God.

Language/Crude Humor: Some crude language is used; however, stereotypical English curse words do not frequently occur. Conan and other characters use crude humor on occasion.

Other Negative Content: Many of Conan’s adversaries practice forms of witchcraft and are based in the occult.

Positive Content: Conan, despite his boorish lifestyle, also lives by a code of honor and frequently defends those who are unable to defend themselves. The debased lifestyles of these characters is not depicted as glamorous or advantageous, rather as brutal, destructive, and detrimental.

Review

Marvel’s acquisition of Conan the Barbarian has been beneficial for the character, and Jason Aaron’s story has been buzzing around comic book fan-boy circles for over a year. Riding the coat-tails of the popularity of the Conan: Exiles video game, this relaunch of a titular comic book character landed on the table of pop-culture consciousness at the perfect time. Fans of the character had high expectations of Marvel Comics when they acquired the character rights in 2018, and now, it is safe to say Marvel has delivered with gusto.

Issue #7 continues as the previous six, opening to a brothel in a gloomy, archaic setting where a bearded and sullen Conan has entered with a hidden purpose. As with previous stories in this series, no information as to the year of Conan’s life in which this tale unfolds is provided – the main character’s age can only be guessed by his scars. As the procurer of the brothel presents five women to Conan and asks which he prefers, the barbarian responds, “I’ll take them all.” In a world where slavery is a reality, the purchase of men or women is commonplace. Still, one wonders why Conan would want to buy five women from a brothel, and so did those whom he had purchased. Afraid their new owner wished them harm, the women prepared to defend themselves, but were shocked when he saved them from a pack of wild wolves. It was then Conan shared with the women he was on a mission to take down a pirate who had a foible for women, and they were Conan’s key to get close to him. After serving their purpose, Conan awarded each woman with their freedom. The end of this issue holds an important clue that will be evident in the story’s conclusion in issue #12, recounting Conan’s former and future lovers.

The eighth issue finds Conan returning to the place of his birth, the home of his only living relative: His grandmother. As Conan draws closer to the snowy Cimmerian village, he is filled with dread and overcome by a feeling something is amiss. After being welcomed into the home of man Conan had known since he was a boy, the man turns and attacks Conan in a rage. Escaping the house, Conan is shocked to find the entire village has been put under a spell by the abominable Thoth-Amon – a nefarious wizard whom Conan foiled on numerous occasions. It can be assumed this was not Conan’s first encounter with Thoth-Amon, given Conan identifies the culprit right away by his observation of the use of snakes to hypnotize and possess the villagers. Conan’s grandmother and the others are restored to their own cognizance while Conan receives his anticipated warm welcome. Meanwhile, Thoth-Amon, far away in his tower in Stygia, has a vision of Conan’s death, not by his own hand, but by those of the children of the Crimson Witch.

In issue #9, Conan awakes in a strange place, guided by a nameless host as he faces a slew of monsters and obstacles in an attempt to rescue a people that have been trapped there for years. In this issue, monsters from throughout Conan’s history are featured, including the mirror-monster from the Schwarzenegger film, Conan the Conqueror, and the ice giants from Conan: Exiles. After rescuing the people and his host from the belly of “the god below,” his guide reveals the name of Conan’s murderer, Razazel, stating, “…it will be the last name you ever hear.” 

**SPOILER ALERT**
The following paragraphs contain major spoilers concerning the conclusion of this story line. Do not read any further if you wish to remain spoiler-free.

Issue #10 begins the narrative Conan fans have all been waiting for. The children of the Red Witch make their move and manage to capture King Conan, revealing they have been following Conan, biding their time for decades, and waiting for the moment when he was weak and vulnerable enough to be overtaken. The Red Witch had required the blood of a great warrior to revive the blood-god Razazel and, at long last, Conan was to be sacrificed so Razazel may rise. Conan would not be dispatched without a fight. Despite his valiant effort to defeat the witch and her children, Conan was drained of enough blood to arouse the blood-god and, as promised, Conan died.

In the next issue Conan entered the afterlife, though he is unaware at first. As Conan climbs a mysterious mountain, his life is recounted with each new height. At the summit, Conan finds an audience with Crom, the god who he had followed his entire life, and learns that he, himself, is dead. Conan finds it laughable that, after all his exploits, adventures, and victories, his demise came by the hand of a feeble witch and her blonde, twin children. Speaking face-to-face with his god, Conan pleads his case; not from a position of begging, but rather accusing Crom of being a worthless, absent god who does not honor his subjects despite their devotion. Even in the face of a god, Conan is a fighter. Crom, understandably, lashes out at the puny Conan, enraged by his insolence. Conan will not settle with being dismissed. Conan argues he has lived his entire life devoted to Crom, carrying his name to distant lands, declaring his victories in Crom’s name, all the while never praying to ask his god for anything, and this is what he earns? Death at the hands of a witch. Furthermore, someone has to stop Razazel, and Conan is the only man who can do it. Crom is angered by Conan’s rebuttal, but can not deny his subject makes a valid argument. Crom agrees to send Conan back to the land of the living to defeat Razazel, but also promises his next death will be gradual and more painful. He will die alone and downtrodden, and his next trip to the afterlife will not be as pleasant as this one. Back in the land of the living, the children of the Red Witch are just beginning to celebrate their victory when the fallen body of Conan stands.

The final issue of “The Life & Death of Conan” finds a newly resurrected Conan the Barbarian King fighting for his life and the destruction of the blood-god, Razazel. In the face of such opposition, the newly powerful twins and the blood-god plus an army of undead warriors, Conan is severely outnumbered – he is losing. However, help arrives in the form of an unexpected means. The seventh issue of the series told of Conan’s two loves: The love of his young life (presumably the pirate queen, Belít, according to past Conan lore), and the love of his later life which produced Conan a son. Followed by a brigade of soldiers ready to fight beside their king, Conn, the son of Conan, descends the stairs into the gloomy, battle-stricken dungeon. Aided by the prince and his army, King Conan defeated the twins and their undead army. Because it was Conan’s blood that awoke the blood-god, he alone has the power to defeat the beast and send him back to the nether-world. After doing just that, Conan and his son ride into the sunset, looking forward to their next adventure.

In this highly anticipated climax to the story line, Conan becomes the obvious Christological metaphor (not suggesting this was the author’s intention): An evil has been unleashed upon the world that can only be defeated by the resurrected hero who is willing to sacrifice himself so that the innocent may be protected. Hebrews 9:22 says there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, and 1 John 1:7 says Jesus’ blood purifies us from sin. Jesus died on the cross but was resurrected three days later, and it is by his shed blood sin is defeated and we can have a relationship with God, our creator. Just as Jesus was willing to die on the cross for those who would follow him and be saved (Philippians 2:8), Conan put his own life on the line to save the world.

In his interaction with Crom, Conan metaphorically represents many modern attitudes towards the Christian God. Many who deny the existence of God do so based on God’s perceived lack of benevolence – on their perception God does not help his people, so he must not be real. Or, if God is real, he does not care about his creation. These are the claims Conan states of his god, Crom. Even Christians, those who believe in God, often claim God seems distant; that he is uninvolved in their life. In the Bible, King David asked this same question in Psalm 10:1 saying, “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?” David, a man after God’s own heart, at times felt God seemed far away. The first important distinction is this feeling happens to the best of us. There are times where God will feel distant, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean he is not there. What is paramount to note is David wrote this Psalm in a time of disobedience – a time where he had strayed away from following God. Take a moment to read Psalm 18 and you will find David in a completely different state, celebrating the overwhelming presence of God in his life. The book of Romans tells us sin separates us from God (Romans 1:18-25, 3:23). If God seems distant, it is because we are not pursuing him with our whole selves. If God seems absent, it is because we have sin in our lives that is separating us from him. God hasn’t moved; we have. When God seems distant, we must draw closer to him, not the other way around.

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Action/Adventure Articles Christian DVD/BluRay Movies Sci-fi/Fantasy Uncategorized

Flawed Faith: Tony Stark and the Lament for Modernity


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” —Romans 8:28

Modernity is a dirty word for Christians. Instinctually, Christians are trained to be skeptical of the moment. The moment is a place were we live, but it’s also the place where sin overcomes and tempts us. The past may be forgiven, the future can be prepared for, but the moment must be endured. In a larger sense though, Christians have lamented the notion of modern life for a long time. This is partially because the nature of human sin makes us believe there’s something innately superior for being a modern human. We tend to forget the past easily. As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants and think we’re flying.  

Modern life is defined by this banal sense of pride for our position in life. It’s become the default state of mind that humanity is always moving forward and past the sins of the past. Antiquity becomes blasé and Christianity, like much of the wisdom of the past, gets thrown out like the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

We’re living in a world that fancies itself beyond the need for the traditions of the past. In a world where we can literally shape the surface of the Earth, travel to other planets, and communicate anywhere around the globe in moments, what is human capacity lacking at this point? Technology is incredible and it’s made the human experience more universal and comfortable. At the same time, though, it’s lead us to a point culturally where we feel like we can’t believe in God because of all the progress we’ve made. 

As Nietche put it, “God is Dead, God remains dead, and we have killed him.” Because of our notion of transcendence, God or higher morality is effectively dead in this modern culture. We’ve come to seek a new form of morality and transcendence. Through the Enlightenment, we’ve attempted to build a new kind of man, driven by logic above all things.

Unfortunately, this has caused two massive side effects. It’s made us less in touch with our human emotions, and it’s forced us to frame a narrative that cites external ideologies as the central corrupting influence of mankind, instead of us. We think once we shed our dogmas we’ll achieve a mild form of heaven on earth. 

The problem with this is it denies human nature. As G.K. Chesterton once put it, “trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.”
We are by our nature illogical and flawed creatures. The more we deny that flawed humanity, the more we’ll bend over backwards to obfuscate our problems. This has largely been the mission of modern atheism: To nail tradional religion and spirituality to the wall as the sole source of modernity’s failures.

To quote Steven Weinberg, “with or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.” Even just a cursory glance at culture throws this notion out. People don’t stop being religious when they abandon religion; they turn that fervor towards things that shouldn’t be worshiped. This is why you see so many radical political ideologies today. It’s why Marxism, white nationalism, and political violence of all stripes is gaining steam. People are worshiping ideas or material things in place of God. 

Modern life is failing in spite of the immense technological and social advancements humanity has attained. Science is curing diseases, culture is becoming more accepting, and absolute poverty is rapidly disappearing as a statistic. At the same time, though, our culture is bifurcating. Social cohesion is falling apart. We don’t know our neighbors as well as we used to. This has all coincided with the rise of secularism and the decline of mainstream religion. 

Last month for Flawed Faith, I talked in no uncertain terms about the failures of the church and mainstream Christianity in the modern world. As a whole, the piece was mostly about how the enduring difficulty of life in general can break even the strongest of Christians, but I started the piece with an important preface. Simply put, the church is in shambles.

This month however, I want to look at the other side of things. There is a growing sense that the world is facing immense problems amongst people. Amongst a small contingent of the internet, there’s been an active desire to return to faith and embrace a posterity this generation doesn’t offer. You see this clearly in the Jordan Peterson phenomena. Young people who have been given everything are craving responsibility and meaning in a world that’s offered to satiate them without those values. Simply put, to quote Ian Fleming, the world is not enough. We yearn for transcendence and grace beyond this world and when we try to satiate our senses to keep us happy, it fills us with nihilism and hopelessness. 

Ironically, like most people my age, I’ve spent the last several months thinking about Avengers: Endgame given it’s been one of the most culturally embraced films this year. I probably could’ve been considering more profound things, but what’re you gonna do? There’s a lot that can be said about how well it approaches the issue of resolving a decade’s worth of story arcs, but there’s no argument the movie brings many of it’s most prominent character’s arcs to a conclusive finale. The most prominent of these is Tony Stark, who goes out at the end of the film in a blaze of glory and receives the film’s most touching send off of any character. 

If any character has defined this generation of popular storytelling, it’s him. The star of the Iron Man Trilogy, all four Avengers films and a co-star in Captain America: Civil War and Spiderman: Homecoming, Robert Downey Jr.’s character has risen from one of the more obscure Marvel Comics heroes to one of the most celebrated characters in popular fiction. 

What’s interesting about that mass appeal is Stark is the MCU’s stand in for a vision of modern man. While Steve Rogers represents a nostalgia for the past as a literal “Man out of Time,” and while Thor represents a culture that doesn’t exist, Tony has always been the stand-in for the best foot forward of modern secular life. As he describes himself, he’s a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” He’s a fusion of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs. He’s a great-man in the vision of an Ayn Randian superhero who uses his intellect and wealth for what he sees as the greater good. He’s everything the modern man wants to be: Successful, witty, intelligent, and proud of all of those things. Women want him and men want to be him. He’s the pinnacle of what we would consider the highest a human being can achieve. 

He’s also deeply depressed, scarred, and broken. Tony’s journey from the outset of the first Iron Man movie is beset by wounds, pain, and personal strife. He’s given a great deal of prosperity in his life, but that prosperity is undercut by his own mistakes and the agendas of other worse people around him. His prosperity in fact comes at the expense of others as he discovers his company’s weapons being used against Americans, wounding him in the process nearly mortally. 

Tony Stark’s story can effectively be cut into two separate acts. The first, taking place between Iron Man and Iron Man 3, concerns Tony Stark’s personal internal journey as a man looking to become a better man, overcome his alcoholism, defeat his trauma, and fully realize himself as a man separate from the tools he creates. The second half of that story starts in Age of Ultron and concludes in Endgame, and concerns the story of one man’s attempts to reshape the world. It asks the difficult question of to what degree a man can truly change the world for the better.

As we see in several occasions, Tony Stark’s attempts to do so end in catastrophe. He creates Ultron to replace the Avengers and gets hundreds of innocent people killed. He tries to delegate authority of the Avengers to the United Nations and it breaks the team in half. He tries to face off against Thanos and fails, leaving half the universe dusted. Finally, he works out a method of traveling through time which unintentionally drags a second Thanos into the present.  

The disparity between his status and weaknesses is the driving force behind his entire character. He knows perfectly well he has the power to change the world, but knows if he tries he might fail. Often his failures are caused by his action or lack there of. As Happy Hogan describes him in Spiderman: Far From Home, he’s a man who questions himself at every step of his life.

Tony Stark as a character is often defined by his futurism. He believes science and technology can create a more innovative, peaceful, and humanistic future for mankind. At the same time, Stark is a nihilist. He’s a materialist, a paranoid wreck, and constantly racked by guilt over his inability to totally control the world around him. Maybe that’s what makes his final act in Avengers: Endgame so emotionally fulfilling. The modern man becomes a God and performs a Christ-like act of selfless sacrifice to restore the world. 

Tony Stark is simultaneously the best and worst case for modernity in the modern world. Just as the later Captain America movies lament the death of a more simple, old-fashioned morality in modern life, the Iron Man films lament the immense inner turmoil that living in the post-Christian world can inflict on the soul. At the same time, the movies fully embrace his status and relish in showing us just how incredibly the gains of modern life are. After all, Tony Stark only wins the day because of his technological innovation. Without the Nano-suit, Thanos would’ve won. 

Where does this leave us, though? If Tony Stark is our collective vision of the best of modern man, then what does his sacrifice say? 

As uncertain as the future is, we find ourselves in a world where the foundations of our beliefs and institutions are more rocky then ever. Some people believe we’re facing down the end of the world as we know it. While I’m skeptical of the most cataclysmic scenerios of total societal and ecological breakdown, it’s not hard to look at the future with an air of uncertainty. I am somewhat optimistic, though. The world is a pendulum eternally swinging between chaos and order. Chaos always gives way to order eventually. As the world slowly reforms, reconnects, and rekindles the ideas that allowed us to thrive, it’s likely the instincts that created modernity will give way and we’ll build something new. 

It’s a sad irony that the world is only saved in the end when the symbol of modernity sacrifices himself to build a future past him. If we wish to survive this difficult cultural moment, we have to realize there’s a life ahead of us. Thankfully, humanity isn’t coming to an end anytime soon. As Christians, we must put our faith in Christ to help lead the tense world around us into a better place. We don’t have to live lives of inner turmoil alone amidst the wreckage of modernity. The future is uncertain, but eventually it will give way and a better world will emerge in this life or the next. Man is flawed and broken, but he is made in the image of God and he capable of great things. In the wake of modernity, we will find hope for a brighter future. 


Categories
Bible Studies Christian Living

Bible Study – Captain Marvel (2019)

This Bible Study is for the movie, CAPTAIN MARVEL. Download the printer-friendly document down below. You can then watch the movie with your Bible Study group (we recommend 2-15 people), and talk about the Christian values found in the movie. In this study, the discussion topic is entitled “Reaching Your Full Potential”.

 

This film has been rated PG-13

for sequences of sci-fi violence and action,
and brief suggestive language.

 

 

We hope you enjoy Geeks Under Grace’s Bible Studies. They are completely free for you and your group to print and use. This is possible because of our Patrons. If you would like to help support us through Patreon, please go to:

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Bible Studies Christian Living

Bible Study – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

This Bible Study is for the movie, SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE. Download the printer-friendly document down below. You can then watch the movie with your Bible Study group (we recommend 2-15 people), and talk about the Christian values found in the movie. In this study, the discussion topic is entitled

“Connection Within Diversity”.

 

This film has been rated PG

for frenetic sequences of animated action violence,
thematic elements, and mild language.

 

 

We hope you enjoy Geeks Under Grace’s Bible Studies. They are completely free for you and your group to print and use. This is possible because of our Patrons. If you would like to help support us through Patreon, please go to:

www.Patreon.com/GeeksUnderGrace

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Comics/Books Graphic Novels Reviews

Review: Daredevil – Born Again (#227-#233)

Author: Frank Miller
Artist: David Mazzucchelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Genre: Superhero, Crime, Drama
Rating: 12+

When Halloween comes around, everyone points towards the spooky themes. For our “Fear Week” we are diving into some themes of fear on a surface level. However, we have begun to submerge ourselves into some of the deeper levels of what fear really means. I have chosen to focus on the Man Without Fear for that reason—to find out what drives a character who has been given that nickname. To be honest, being a Daredevil fan made it an obvious choice for this particular theme week.

Daredevil: Born Again is the story arc that inspired the events that take place in season 3 of Netflix’s show based on the same character. Though I have not yet watched season 3 because of this review, I can say for sure that liberties will have to be taken. Hopefully this review will educate those who have not read the comics yet, but want to because of the show. You’ll find some familiar names and find out where they were at in the comic book world at the time these stories were published.

Content Guide

Spiritual Themes: Due to Matt Murdock’s catholic roots, Born Again takes many spiritual themes from Christianity and Catholicism. In many ways, the symbolism is based on the death and resurrection of Christ. It is not comparing Matt Murdock to Jesus in any way, but he does go through a series of events that bear similarities to the death and resurrection. This same symbolism can be seen in the salvation process of a new believer who gives their life to Christ.

In a few opening splash pages and a handful of panels, that symbolism is shown through some biblically iconic images. The Catholic Church plays a part in Matt Murdock’s restoration, as does a cross on the neck of a Nun who nurses him back to health. The titles of issues #227 through #230 are also based on Christian concepts: Apocalypse, Purgatory, Pariah, Born Again, and Saved.

Violence: This story arc is for a more mature audience. There are numerous fights that take place within the panels. Many characters are beat, shot, stabbed, or face some kind of injury. Blood is seen during some of the more violent scenes that take place. Various kinds of onomatopoeia are used to describe these actions that are depicted, including explosions.

There are some disturbing moments that occur during this story arc that readers should be aware of. One of the scenes involves a character being choked out in his hospital bed as a man is forced to listen over the phone. Another tense series of panels show a women that has just recently been hung as a man struggles to get her free. A major event that takes place involves a man dropping from a chopper and firing on the neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen. The scene vividly describes a massacre of people dying, including children—this particular event is very close to home in the current political climate of the U.S.

Drug/alcohol Use: Multiple scenes depict a variety of characters either smoking cigarettes or cigars. One of the characters suffers from a come down through the entire arc that was caused by the abuse of heroin. In one of the panels, we see this character make an attempt to shoot up the drugs, though the image does not show it directly as they search for the vein.

We also witness another character affected by drug use. This person uses various kinds of amphetamines that come in the pill form. One type of pill increases his adrenaline, while the others are used to calm him down and stabilize his body.

Language/Crude Humor: N/A

Sexual Content: The backstory of the same character that struggles with heroin abuse is referenced on multiple occasions, which is that they spent some time working in the porn industry. Unfortunately, this led to them using their body in order to acquire the next drug fix. This is depicted in the panels through the aftermath of such an event as they sit on the phone. In the background, a man lays on a bed asleep and his belt is completely undone from the pants he is wearing. The implications of what occurred in the room are fairly obvious.

Positive Themes: Though Daredevil: Born Again is quite a dark story for Matt Murdock and other various characters in the book, it is a story about overcoming the darkest times of life. This story ultimately teaches us that the way to overcome fear is to find a source of hope. That source can vary depending on the character, but the ultimate source is the light that shines through the darkness. For me and my personal faith, that is Jesus Christ.

Review

Daredevil: Born Again is a story arc that takes place during the time when Frank Miller took things over and rebooted the character. The issues of this story were published in February through August of 1986. The time period is one of my favorite parts of the reading experience. We are so accustomed to seeing these characters in our current time period, which means that they use the same kind of technology that we do on a regular basis. What stuck out to me in this aspect is the use of payphones, which was a huge reminder that many of the stories of my favorite heroes were published before I was born. Sure, there is technology that is advanced for the time, but the television shows and movies based on our favorite comics have those too.

I became a fan of the Daredevil character thanks to the very flawed Ben Affleck movie, and had only read a handful of the comics and graphic novels until recently. It wasn’t until the Netflix show that I came to know certain characters better, like Karen Page for example. It was very interesting to see where these characters were at during the first issue. The strongest element of Born Again is the characters, and where each of them go as the plot moves forward. This story isn’t only about Matt Murdock — the people that he spends time around are just as important.

I feel like the focus was taken off of Matt for a reason. This was meant to show what the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen and the lives of his friends, loved ones, and even enemies are like without Matt Murdock or Daredevil. In the same way Iron Man 3 showed us that Stark could fight his battles out of the suit, we get that in these issues with Matt. With everything taken away and his identity revealed, taking on Kingpin by grabbing the mask and billy clubs was not going to work. Seeing him try to figure out how to act without having that option made for some the character’s best moments.

At one point, Matt abuses his power AND responsibility as Daredevil.

The paths of both Karen and Ben Urich are unique because Matt is a symbol of hope to them. They are put into some of the most intense scenes of the story and are driven to find that hope. The same can be said for us when we put all of our hope and faith in Christ. Kingpin as a character is the least interesting, but we get to see his empire head in a direction we rarely see. He thinks he’s got his whole plan figured out, but fails when he uses his typical tactics or something else gets in the way. Kingpin reminded me of how flawed we are as human beings. We think we’ve got things all figured out when we really don’t. Those are some personal spiritual themes I took from this story, aside from the more obvious ones.

So, how do you capture great moments of action when the main hero of the story is wearing his suit and fighting crime? We do get some of that, but a majority of this story is spent without a hero. The events that take place in this story lead some characters into the action. Matt is even at a point of powerlessness, which leaves him in their shoes for some time. He eventually makes a move towards the Daredevil we know and love, but it takes a lot before he can fully dawn the mask again. From panel to panel, the artist did well to capture these moments and leave my heart pounding and a sigh of relief as these moments concluded.

Matt steps in without the costume on a few occasions.

As much as I love the character development of this story, the overall plot suffers in a few places. One of them being a moment where the origins of Matt’s blindness and abilities are retold. This moment did serve a purpose, but I felt a good portion of it was likely there for readers who might not have read a Daredevil comic. At the same time, I don’t think this story arc was written for first time readers in mind. This may have been a decision that came up in editing somehow, but I felt all that was needed was Matt recollecting those first few days in the hospital rather than the entire explanation that came with it.

Another place where the story felt awkward is in the final issues, #232 and #233. Issue #231 ends in such a way that it felt like the original intent was to wrap up these particular events for awhile, but it picks up right away in the next issue. This is where the character of Nuke is finally introduced, who was mentioned in an earlier issue. These last two feel like an afterthought, as if Frank and anyone else involved forgot they intended to use him at some point. However, some good things do come out of this. Loose ends are at least tied up and put to an end, and we get some fun camoes that involve some currently popular heroes.

If you’re reading this review, you are already likely a fan of anti-heroes such as Daredevil. I have to admit there were some moments in this comic that were almost too intense for me. Having a personal history with drug abuse, one of the characters’ present status hit a little too close to home. There is a moment that takes place in Hell’s Kitchen towards the end of the story that involves gunfire and mass shooting as well. That issue would not have gotten away with being published these days due to our current political climate and will likely be a sore spot for a number of potential readers.

Born Again is an important moment in the lives of Matt Murdock and those around him. I greatly appreciated the short length of only seven issues, because it didn’t take a huge commitment compared to other story arcs. At anywhere from 23 to 25 pages, each issue never overstayed its welcome—including the 31 page final issue. Reading this story was more than the “villain of the week” tropes that were likely common around these times — it was an experience. I recommend Born Again if you are familiar with the character or have watched the Netflix series. For new readers, I recommend starting with The Man Without Fear.

Lastly, let’s tie this into Fear Week. Kingpin says that, “A man without hope is a man without fear.” I personally don’t think that is quite true. Matt Murdock is fearless because he knows that good will always triumph over evil in this world. I believe that came from his Catholic faith, and he was reminded of that during the lowest moments of his life. Personally, I believe that a man without hope becomes a man without fear when he finally finds that hope.

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