Friday, December 16, 2011

Daredevil #6 (Marvel) – Matt Murdock is still smug/grimly smiling at the end of this, so despite a teasing announcement in the intro that this time he’ll suffer, he’s still having fun. Looking back, the first “arc” (too all over the place storywise to really call it that) clearly falls into two very separate parts: first the new, carefree Matt is introduced and fleshed out by Mark Waid with artist Paolo Rivera, and then the story is sort of sitting around waiting for penciler Marcos Martin to do something spectacular. 

And often he obliges. Martin doesn’t much do continuous action sequences, rather he breaks fight scenes down into tableaus of decisive moments, where the immediate outcome of a move is seldom in doubt. Indeed he seems to be looking for ingenious ways to work around the action. Here’s a brilliant page where Daredevil turns the tables after being beaten to a pulp by Bruiser, a somewhat lackluster villain of artificially enhanced humanity on the lookout for sponsors. A zoom into Daredevil’s face alternates with radar (or so it is suggested) images of Bruiser’s knee, leg bones straining toward breaking point . . . then we don’t see the hit at all but only Bruiser’s shocked cry of pain framed by the letters of the transliterated sound of his bones breaking. Marvelously conceived and not a little silly (the cute knee). Thrilling as art and not (merely) because of the action. Though I wouldn’t mind if the inker were a little lighter on the colors, all the villains seem evenly distributed across the color wheel, which, while it seems a nice nod toward classic comics, works against an atmosphere. There’s not much to grip the emotions. So however marvelous the pages are, I do get a feeling that Martin is still working from the empathy we’ve built up with Matt Murdock over the first three issues, and is not adding much to the character himself.

But maybe that’s the writing, not the art, and it gets pretty thin when Daredevil has to talk himself out of a spot explaining to the mean guys that their five gangs wouldn’t get along afterward if first they’d kill him anyway, and nobody does him in for the heck of it. Whatever happened to the villains? So with Martin leaving the boat, not sure if this series can keep it up, but with sheer beauties like the panels below, him getting a creator-owned project can only be a good thing. (Though I’m not sure the boat’s moving in exactly the right direction here?)


  1. I think Rivera's actually been as strong as Martin on this series, so I'm not too worried about Martin leaving. It's been so great because Waid seems to be having so much writing the character as an actual happy-go-lucky daredevil who's having fun for once, and because both artists have taken a formalist approach to Daredevil's lack of sight.

    Agreed about the villain showdown, though, that was pretty contrived and not very satisfying. Still, this is up there with Rucka's Punisher and Remender's X-Force as one of Marvel's top tier books.

  2. Definitely Waid/Rivera might even be better for the character. Btw, since I've been checking out Martin's back catalog as far as I could find stuff: I really enjoyed Batgirl Year One from 2003. It has a light mood, Martin continues after subbing for Javier Pulido on Robin Year One with the same authors, but beyond the fun (another wannabe Superhero, The Bug, who wonders why that isn't as cool as The Bat), it did make me care for a figure I usually have no interest in.

  3. Ouch no, the misgivings were more than justified. Christmas issue 7 is a Duckstyle misfortune in winter wonderland with Donald replaced by an even whinier versioning of Peter Parker. Since next issue will see the original Spidey and the Black Cat guesting, I don't think the series will recover any time shortly ...

  4. Yeah, I read that issue and immediately thought of your post. Ouch indeed. I'm not at all sure what they were going for there but it just didn't work at all. So terrible.

    In all fairness, the fault pretty much all belongs to Waid on this one. Rivera's art was nice and I doubt Martin would've done any better with such dire material.