Marvel PR: Let’s Kill Another Woman!

Received in email under the subject line “Will Daredevil’s Wife Survive?”

Karen Page. Elektra. All the women Matt Murdock has loved have been violently taken from him, victims of unspeakable tragedies and in Daredevil #98, his wife Milla Donovan may be next! The Gladiator has returned, more enraged and brutal than ever, with one purpose in mind: making Matt Murdock suffer! With the defender of Hell’s Kitchen in police custody and the Gladiator alone with a terrified Milla, things aren’t looking good for the wife of Daredevil…and history isn’t on her side either. The penultimate chapter of “To The Devil, His Due” will have huge ramifications for Daredevil as he races towards the milestone Daredevil #100.

The Eisner-nominated team of Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano continue to earn acclaim for their run on Daredevil. “Brubaker, Lark, and Gaudiano tell a gripping tale that moves at a frenetic pace,” said Richard Renteria of Newsarama.Com, who also praised the series as one “that never slows down the story and makes the reader feel as if they are in for the ride of their lives.” …

With his wife’s life in peril and seemingly no way to reach her, Daredevil may be headed for the worst day in life. One thing’s for sure–by the end of this issue, no one’s going to be the same!

Daredevil’s worst day? What about Milla’s? Oh, don’t mind her, she’s not the title character, she’s just something to be fought over.

I really admire Marvel’s cahones… not only are they selling a book based on “the woman might die!”, they start off by pointing out how many times they’ve used the same plot point before with this character.

Then there’s the preview pages that accompanied the PR. Here’s three out of the five, concentrating on “blind woman in peril! in underwear!”

Daredevil #98 page 2 Daredevil #98 page 11 Daredevil #98 page 12

I can’t decide which is stupider, the tasteless emphasis on killing the wife or the repetitiveness of how stale this feels. Yeah, yeah, some non-name villain threatens the superhero’s loved ones, we’ve seen it before. Can’t you think of something else, something fresher?


41 Responses to “Marvel PR: Let’s Kill Another Woman!”

  1. Michael Denton Says:

    I agree that, if done, it will be in poor taste and realing tiring. I’m trusting Brubaker to deliver more quality writing than that.

    As for Marvel’s PR staff, go ahead and slap ‘em around for their crap.

  2. Dwight Williams Says:

    I have my hopes and suspicions about where Ed might take this. We’ll see if I’m right…but I’m not about to name them here.

  3. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “What about Milla’s? Oh, don’t mind her, she’s not the title character, she’s just something to be fought over.”

    Is that really a valid criticism? She’s a supporting character in somebody else’s story. And a rather sketchily written one, at that. Frankly, I can’t imagine very many people particularly care about the survival of Milla Donovan, save insofar as it bears on Daredevil.

  4. Matthew Craig Says:

    I’m rather more worried about the creeping encroachment of the Marvel Universe on this title. The latest issue has cops talking about registration and Iron Man and…all sorts of Civil War-related shenanigans.

    I promised myself that I would drop this comic if/when that happened. DD’s the last of the mainline Marvel comics in my standing order, and dropping it would leave me down to Ultimate Spider-Man and Punisher/Mary Jane trades from the company as a whole.

    Which isn’t entirely relevant.

    What is is the notion that DareDevil’s world is smaller, even, than Spider-Man’s. Murdock has three people in his life:

    1. Maggie the Invisible Nun/Mum.
    2. Foggy – who’s been through enough, lately.
    3. And Milla. Poor little wooden spoon that she is.

    I suspect that this is all a bit of a Red Herring. She’s not going to die. And it’s not like she’s posing, or anything. It’s not titilating. She’s just…in her pants. Is it more than you might expect of someone clearly just out of the shower? I dunno.

    I guess it’s a bit reminiscent of the confrontation between Mary Jane and Venom between Amazing Spider-Man #299 and #300 – only, on-panel. That was brutal enough.

    That said, I’m giving it some thought. I may not bother sticking around to find out of Matt loses another significant other. Hmm…

    //\Oo/\\

  5. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “Murdock has three people in his life:…”

    Aren’t you forgetting Dakota North, and that other lawyer that Brubaker added to the cast? (Becky something? I forget.)

  6. Matthew Craig Says:

    They’re not people: they’re accessories.

    With the best will in the world, if Dakota North got all mashed up, Matt Murdock wouldn’t even twist a horn.

    I guess, if Becky Blake were the one under fire, it might have more impact – but only if you know the backstory. But is she really that important to the story?

    Neither of them are as close to Matt as, say, Robbie Robertson used to be to Spider-Man.

    Matt’s Wife. Matt’s Ma. Matt’s Bra. That’s pretty much all he has room for – IN HIS GINGER NINJA HEART.

    //\Oo/\\

  7. Richard Marcej Says:

    Wait a minute, Daredevil/Matt Murdoch is married?

    (boy, am I out of touch with mainstream superhero books!)

    Even though I agree that Brubaker is a fine writer and does excellent work, who didn’t see this coming? It seems to me that the only reason a super hero has a girlfriend/wife is so the company can have a “Big, startling death” story to shake up the book and pimp the sales.

    Just wait to see the sales when Joe Quesada gets his wish and offs MJ.

  8. Jake Saint Says:

    That sort of brutalization tends to bring out yer heavy-handed retribution. Milla’s got a better chance of coming out alive than the Glad-man. Expect DD to dye his longjohns black and accidently pummel Gladiator dead with, like, a saw-horse. Too bad. I always liked how Gladiator was never much more than pathetically fugnuts. I also wish that that copy contained the line “And if history isn’t on her side… THEN WHO IS?!”

  9. Rob S. Says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some heroic qualities in the underutilized Milla come to the surface because of this situation. Gladiator is a pretty weak-minded villain, IIRC — I wouldn’t be surprised if she outsmarted him, or even convinced him that he’s ding the wrong thing.

    Either way, I’ll find out months after y’all do, since I’m reading the trades.

  10. Shawn Hill Says:

    The Gladiator isn’t really a non-name. He’s a long-term Daredevil foe that nearly every Daredevil regime since the beginning has used at some point, with his own troubled history of rehabilitation and redemption and betrayal.

    And Marvel’s PR is wrong, because Matt also loved Black Widow, and she’s still alive and kicking.

    I too am tired of the “superhero’s partner/loved one must be imperiled” cliche, though. Brubaker is a solid writer, but he can also be quite formulaic. Which is sort of a novelty these days, as so few writers seem to even know the formulas.

  11. Vic Vega Says:

    I’m surprised that Marvel didn’t have a “Milla Deathwatch” clock counting down from the moment she married him.

    She lives an a world were Ninjas leap from out of the dumpsters ocasionally to kill her husband. Her chances seems slim.

    I’d think Bru was above this, but its rough being a woman on the Ponderosa.

  12. Mel Valentin Says:

    When I checked out the previews yesterday at Newsarama, I was definitely disappointed. I expect more from a talented writer like Brubaker.

    Johnana, don’t know if you noticed, but Brubaker stepped in to defend himself on Newsarama.

    Here’s the link to the thread:

    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=115723

    Not surprisingly, heated words were exchanged, with Brubaker eventually signing off, but asking DD readers to wait until the full issue was out before making their minds up.

    Don’t know if I buy that, since part of the objection is the “woman in her underwear/in peril” angle and not just whether she does or not. If she does die, I’m giving up on DD. I’ve had enough of that kind of plot point.

  13. Lisa Lopacinski Says:

    Marvel seems to like killing women for dramatic effect – Aunt May, possibly Mary Jane (One More Day), Daredevil’s wife. Really, it’s pretty overdone.

  14. Rob Staeger Says:

    Funny how none of those three women have actually died.

    Marvel likes threatening women for dramatic effect.

  15. Matthew Craig Says:

    Aunt May and Mary Jane have both died AT LEAST once.

    It didn’t stick, mind.

    //\Oo/\\

  16. Johanna Says:

    Paul: You have a point, that she’s just a supporting character, but the only Daredevil issue I’ve enjoyed reading in the past few years was the spotlight on their relationship. So I like her.

    Matthew: I think it is relevant if PR, which is supposed to make you eager to buy the comic, winds up doing the opposite. :)

    Shawn: I figured that might be the case, that the Gladiator was a known character, but if someone who’s seen the movies and dabbled in the Marvel universe (like me) hasn’t heard of them… they can’t be a very important character.

    Mel: Thanks for the link. I can understand why Brubaker’s defensive, but his “you can’t judge it until you read it” misses the point, I think.

  17. Rob S. Says:

    …if someone who’s seen the movies and dabbled in the Marvel universe (like me) hasn’t heard of them… they can’t be a very important character.

    Couldn’t the same thing be said about Milla herself? Richard M. (comment 7) didn’t know her, and he’s no newbie either.

  18. Johanna Says:

    True, true, but the PR at least explains why she’s important: she’s Daredevil’s wife. All we know about Gladdy is that he’s returned, “enraged and brutal”. Which describes a good percentage of the Marvel universe these days. :)

  19. Rob S. Says:

    Hell, that describes most Marvel readers. ;)

  20. Ryan Says:

    PR is supposed to make you, generally, want to buy the issue.

    Marvel PR probably doesn’t really care if you, Johanna buy the issue or not. Or me. Or anyone who’s no longer impressed by “no one’s going to be the same!”

  21. Shawn Hill Says:

    Brubaker got defensive on newsarama, and he does have a fine track record of writing decent female characters (he just made Polaris both sane and powerful recently, for example); but the objection here is to the solicitation, which does indeed miss the point. If they want us to be interested well in advance, well, we can also be turned off that way, too.

  22. James Schee Says:

    Hmm two quick things showing how little I guess I follow Marvel U. or at least DD.

    I didn’t know DD was married, and I was wondering, until reading some of the other comments, why the purple Superman with a mohawk from the Shiar Empire was wanting to kill DD’s wife.

    This is far from the first time Marvel has done this though. It has been a LONG time since I read it but didn’t the captions in the Death of Gwen Stacy say we were about to witness the “worst day in Peter Parker’s life”?

  23. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Ed Brubaker is a talented writer, working within the confines of editorial mandates. I think at this point in his career, he should not have to be defending himself regarding an upcoming issue–given that as badly as the issue is being marketed, he didn’t write the PR. And as successful as Brubaker is, do you think he can dictate Marvel’s PR department?

    (And Johanna, I know you’re not judging the issue, you’re taking issue with the PR.)

    Here’s the interesting thing, Brubaker has people (myself included) reading DD who clearly have not read the book (either before or for a long time). The Gladiator/DD dynamics is something originally introduced by Frank Miller, Becky is a character that was in the book back when DD was a bimonthly comic (late 1970s).

    And not to be absurd, but if Brubaker kills Milla, let’s not forget he brought Bucky back from the dead.

    My bottom line? I’m not pleased with the PR–when I received the release in my email box, I winced at the title. But I know Brubaker’s writing never makes me wince, so I’ll be buying the issue.

    One more thing–yes Milla is moving around in her underwear, but it’s not like Michael Lark’s art is becoming like Paul Gulacy…

  24. Johanna Says:

    Tim, your points are well-taken, but in my case, anyway, it goes a little further than the PR. There are certain concepts that are so overused (and so frequently badly used) that I’m just not interested in reading them as plots. “Wife in jeopardy in her underwear” is one of them.

    Speaking of, I thought one of the most interesting of Brubaker’s comments was how he mentioned that he’d originally written her in a nightgown but the artist wanted to change it to a bra. The actual nightclothes would have made it more plausible (and more out of the ordinary) for me.

  25. Tim O'Shea Says:

    At this point, I’m coming across as carrying Brubaker’s water. But in referencing the Lark change to underwear, you chose not to mention that Lark wanted the scene to be “reminisent of the scene where she first met Bullseye”.

    That detail, while pertinent to me, is not pertinent to you.

    Thanks for considering my points as always (and providing a forum for these discussions in a civil manner). I wish Brubaker had wandered over here to discuss it, I think he would have found a more constructive discussion.

  26. Gloria Says:

    Personally, I don’t want Milla to die… If Marvel doesn’t want his superheroes to be married, I think that there are more civilised ways to write a character out. Allow me an example/proposal: Milla (tired of being a potential scapegoat for every lame superbaddie in the book) divorces Matt. Then she keeps on with her worthy job of giving to Hell’s Kitchen people a decent house to live in. Then Matt returns to San Francisco like in the old Conway/Colan days… But this time he takes Foggy with whom he lives happily thereafter.

    Just a note. By “cahones” I imagine you meant “cojones”. If a Spanish speaking person reads or hears about “cahones” he’s more likely to think about furniture (cajones” means “drawers” or “crates” ;)

  27. Johanna Says:

    Tim, I didn’t consider the artist’s reason relevant, because the point I was trying to make was that real nightclothes add to the believability for me, while the underwear undercuts it (and makes it more typical). Thanks for adding the artist’s stated reason, although you left out the part about Lark thinking it also made her “more vulnerable”.

    Gloria, thanks for correcting my phonetic spelling. :) Are you suggesting some Daredevil slash?

  28. Gloria Says:

    Hi Johana,

    Re Slash: Actually, I was only considering places where Matt or Milla could go if they got separated. And then I remembered about the old Dd San Francisco DD days, and the pun just came his way, ha, ha… (now, that would be a NEW plot development! lol)

    So far other doomed women in Matt’s life have not been mentioned: Heather Glenn and Glorianna O’Breen… I’ll really be pi**ed if Milla joins the list. Enough of dead girlfriends. So far I’ve found Brubaker’s work in the series a compelling read, so I hope he won’t settle for the “Karen Page solution”

    And darn, Karl Kesel actually managed to write a happy daredevil… and it was fun and pretty readable, too. I have heard about “happy endings” being a cliched convention, but aren’t “unhappy endings” equally so? Nothing ever ends, said dr. Manhattan

  29. notintheface Says:

    Don’t count your WIR’s before they’re wacked. Brubaker may throw us a curveball yet.

  30. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Johanna, I left out the “more vulnerable” because it was a dramatic effect that both writer and artist used in positive terms and was already defined as negative here for the context of this discussion. It was not intentionally crafting a defense by omission on my part. I could have included it only to be told by you that the storyteller’s opinion is not relevant to you.

    Honestly, I still hold out an expectation that Milla may ultimately be able to defend herself. The hype? Bad. The plot device of “loved one endangered”? Not bad, in my book.

    BTW, go back to that Newsarama thread (which is a hard one to read, for some of the useless side debates that have resulted) as there’s now folks speculating about rape in the issue–prompting Brubaker to return to the thread. I won’t quote the whole thing, and read into that what you will, but I did like this line on his part:
    “A writer’s obligation is to their story and their characters, not to some outside agenda decided on by individuals who don’t actually read the work, but just look for images to find offensive.”

    I must say, any complaints currently made beyond taking issue with the marketing is commenting about a work that none of us has read yet. And by the same token, I think I’m actually defending a work I have yet to read. :)

  31. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for passing along another Brubaker quote. I have to say that I find it naive, at best, for someone working on a major superhero title to think that only their plot and character work matters.

    It’s a shared universe, after all, and the readers will definitely consider his work in a bigger context. So I think it’s his responsibility to consider not only what he wants to do but how it will “read” in a situation where so many others have done a similar thing badly.

  32. Gloria Says:

    Tim,

    I’ve been following Daredevil for a long time. And I must say that I like Brubaker’s work in the series, and very much so (I recently started to buy issues “Captain America” when I learned it was written by him). I think that he won’t kill Milla… Well, I really hope so. In “The Devil in Cell Block D” he remained silent whenever the fans were having hot arguments and wild speculations about the fate of Foggy, and said “Wait till next issue” (and wasn’t that a surprise!)… So I reserve my actual judgement until I read the actual issue…

    However, looking at DD’s history, please understand my fears about the worst happening. And the situation depicted in the preview really chills my bones: it’s about the lack of balance between the brutality of the agressor and the utter helplessness of the victim (she is blind!).

    As a woman, I just imagine myself being in Milla’s situation, and man, that gives me the creeps… And take that from someone who has read Alan Moore’s “From Hell”‘s chapter 10

  33. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Gloria, I definitely respect your right to be concerned about Milla’s fate and to comment upon it. And I respect everyone’s concern/distaste about the general approach that Brubaker/Lark are taking with this particilar plot. And as a guy still displeased with Kevin Smith’s (mis)use of the Karen Page character, I sympathize.

    But as for the lack of balance, call me optimistic, but I’m holding out hope that Milla while lacking one sense, uses her other senses (and intelligence) to save herself. That being said, I respect and acknowledge the lack of balance.

    Johanna, the guy who brought back Bucky and “killed” Cap has a great deal more influence as a writer in this shared universe than your average writer, I dare to think. Partially editorial mandate, true, but mandate entrusted to a particular writer.

    As for your suggestion that Brubaker not put a female in peril because in essence Kevin Smith once killed Karen Page (and Miller once had Bullseye hang Black Widow [in a cover] with a hair dryer cord) among myriad other writers’ treatment of women (think of how Stan Lee once wrote Karen Page)–it is naive to think he should write to your particular expectations of how it might “read”.

  34. Gloria Says:

    Hi Tim,

    Milla has been depicted so far as an intelligent woman who doesn’t allow herself to feel misadvantaged because of her being blind. And she’s got the right attitude, for me: her concern about housing issues in Hell’s Kitchen is a very positive point for the character.

    Incidentally, and as a girl still displeased by Kevin Smith’s work in Daredevil, I’d say that not only Karen Page was -brutally-misused by him… In fact, most of the people seemed a bit out-of-character: Foggy, for instance has been traditionally -and sweetly- shy with girls (remember his “taking the couch” when Glorianna stayed at his place?), and in “Guardian Devil” he was seen behaving in, um, an uncharactheristically randy way (I mean… is this the same who turned down Niomi Brink in order to date Liz Osborn?).

    Since the whole thing was masterminded by Mysterio, it has been argued that Foggy was a rape victim in Guardian Devil.

  35. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Gloria, the nice thing about the ebb and flow of the shared universes, one can only hope in about 10 years someone figures out a way to bring back Karen Page and treat the character right. Johanna, again thanks for initiating this discussion and Gloria, thanks for your insight.

  36. Shawn Hill Says:

    Brubaker seems to be advocating for artistic freedom in the face of censorship; but certainly there’s a difference between censorship and objection to offensive cliches in storytelling. It’s not so much that he’s in a shared universe to me; it’s that he’s working in a genre where cliches abound, and where almost all of the best stories transcend those cliches, including the innovation of finding inspiration and creative story ideas in outsider perspectives. There are actually a great number of super-heroines; but sometimes interesting things happen to them, and sometimes horrible things happen to them for dramatic effect in other people’s stories.

    I’d say the ratio is even worse for wives and girlfriends (excepting Lois Lane), as it’s harder to resurrect the simply human than the gamma-radiated, magickal, robotic or alien.

    So the problem here isn’t Brubaker being denied his full creative license. It’s whether he’s going to give us something tired and dull or something fresh and interesting.

  37. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Shawn, he’s definitely “working in a genre where cliches abound”, but how often has Brubaker himself utilized these cliches? I’m hoping he’s able to deliver something fresh and interesting, but will be happy to admit I was mistaken in my expectations if he delivers something tired and dull.

  38. Lyle Masaki Says:

    Tim, I don’t think it matters if Brubaker has made use of these cliches or not. One of the benefits of writing superheroes is that you get to build off of a rich history, but the exchange is that you’re judges partly by what others have done.

  39. Shawn Hill Says:

    I really mostly know his work from the last year of X-men; and in that book he made Polaris sane (whereas Chuck Austen cast her as Bridezilla, and Peter Milligan had her as unpredictable and possibly unstable), had Hepzibah armor-up to avenge her man, had Deathbird act rationally to achieve her vile goals, had Lilandra plot carefully and diplomatically with former enemies to achieve hers, and had Rachel fall in love with a leather-clad dude with a really big sword.

    At least with the X-men, Brubaker tries out the old, established plots but adds new elements and progresses the story. I understand that’s what he does with Daredevil, too: he gets the basic appeal of the title, and then makes it seem new all over again.

    So I’m not too worried about the Milla situation; but I do agree with Johanna that he should be aware of certain plots that can be offensive.

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