“Who Won?” is a new column here on SKTCHD, and a potentially semi-regular feature going forward. The premise behind it is simple. I look back on a comic from throughout history – it could be the recent past or decades back – and reexamine it by attempting to answer one core question: who won it? And by that, I mean which person, character or title involved with the comic earned the biggest lift from said work, especially with hindsight now available to us. 1
You might be wondering, “How the heck is David going to determine this?” I have good news that might not be altogether surprising as my response to that would be, “Trust me, I have a process.” For each featured title in this column, I’ll be looking at each with three main categories in mind to help determine the winner. They are:
- Quality of work: This one is obvious. It’s purely a qualitative idea for each person, character or title that could be considered.
- Situational context: Where was this person, character or title at right then in their career? What did it mean for their overall story?
- Historical context: Where does it fit in the person, character or title’s own history, relative to the rest of what they did?
From there, I decide who finished last, third, and second before revealing my winner. And we’re starting with the comic that I’d argue is the greatest Marvel comic ever made: Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Born Again” arc from Daredevil. 2 This story features some of the greatest creators in comic history, some of its greatest characters, and it’s told in the title that is arguably pound-for-pound Marvel’s most consistently great series. There are a lot of great options available to us as a potential winner.
But there can only be one.
Let’s figure out who that is in this debut edition of “Who Won?”
Last Place: Nuke
In a lot of ways, Nuke should finish higher than this. He’s a character that has been used plenty of times before and plenty of times after, arguably never to greater effect. “Born Again” was the first comic he ever appeared in, and it might be his best usage as well. That sounds like someone who would score well in my system. However, there are four reasons Nuke finishes in last, which I will break down below.
- He only appears in the last two issues, which very technically are outside the bounds of the core “Born Again” story, so he has a limited role here despite his explosive presence in the last two issues.
- In the story, he’s a tool of Wilson Fisk, a break glass in case of emergency button that releases a guy named Nuke that is effectively pure destruction in human form upon Hell’s Kitchen. In a way, his job is to be the clear cut bad guy that leads to Daredevil’s redemption, so by nature, he’s less of a character in this as much as he is a mechanic to impact the core players from the story in Fisk and Murdock.
- Nuke, fundamentally, to his core, sucks.
- Someone has to finish last, and everyone else involved with this comic is effectively their very best self.
While this is arguably the best that Nuke ever was, unfortunately for him, that’s still not good enough to be anything but the spot he was destined for on this list: last place, forever and ever.
With the whole thing really just being a mechanism to explore a comic I really like – or just find interesting – in the process.↩
Which technically just takes place between issues #227 and #231, but for the purposes of this exercise, I’m including #232 and #233 as well because that’s what the collections do.↩