Now I tried, guys. I really tried to condense this down as much as possible. But Born Again is the most famous Daredevil story - and one of the most famous comics - of all time. There’s so much to talk about: the plot itself, the craft, the impact, the character analysis, the religious symbolism. Parts of it really are That Good, while others are…less so (there are plot holes, and it pretty much falls apart at the end).
I had to break it up into two posts, and they’re gonna be long ones, but please stick with me - it’s worth it. (And of course, the comic itself is worth a read, for its landmark status if for nothing else.)
So. When last we left our hero, Nelson and Murdock had gone under and things were tense between Matt and his nearest and dearest - Foggy and Glori at this point, basically. It’s at this point that Frank Miller comes back to the book, teaming up with David Mazzucchelli, who frankly doesn’t get enough credit for the sheer beauty of his work.
We start in Mexico, where we see…Karen Page, who has been AWOL for nearly a decade at this point. When we last saw her, her Hollywood career was taking off, but…things have changed:
Karen is now a junkie, eking out a meager living by making really low rent porn, because in Frank Miller’s world, all women eventually become sex workers. It’s less the sex work that bothers me - though it’s part of a gross pattern for Miller - and more how low Karen’s morals have sunk here, and the abuse she suffers in this storyline. She’ll turn it around, though! (P.S. Deborah Ann Woll’s absolute disdain for this plotline brings me so much joy.)
Back in New York, Matt is blissfully unaware that his life has just been destroyed:
Last time I covered the first three issues of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Born Again.” Now it’s time for the second half of the story, which…honestly is kind of a mess. Oh well!
When last we left our hero, he had suffered a complete mental and physical collapse after losing his home, savings, girlfriend, and legal license due to Fisk’s maneuverings. He would have died were it not for the timely intervention of a mysterious nun, who brought him back to her church and nursed him back to health.
Meanwhile, Karen, still fleeing Fisk’s assassins, hooks up with a guy traveling to New York and trades him sexual favors for transportation and coke. Matt’s AWOL, what with his house blowing up and all, but she gets in touch with Foggy:
FOGGY COULDN’T KEEP MATT SAFE BUT HE’S SURE AS HELL GONNA KEEP KAREN SAFE. <3 <3 <3
Meanwhile, Matt slowly recuperates under the nuns’ care:
Matt connects Maggie with the mysterious nun who visited him as a child and realizes that she’s his mother. Though there’s never a scene where she’s like “Okay I lied I’m your mom,” after this it’s basically just out in the open between them (though she doesn’t appear very frequently).
Also, Matt with a full beard is [fire emoji] [fire emoji] [fire emoji]
Matt has work to do, so he puts his filthy garbage-bed clothes back on and checks in on his supporting cast. Ben has killed his story revealing that Matt was framed out of fear, but he eventually decides he needs to publish it. However, as soon as he attempts to, Nurse Lois tries to kill Doris:
Catholic school religion class interrupting: the pose in the last splash reads a lot more as Jesus rising from his tomb to his disciples after his three days of death. Less crucifixion and more resurrection.
That makes WAY more sense in context (lol, secular Jewish girl interpreting Catholic imagery here, whoops)! I will edit the post to clarify. Thank you!