160 pages $20
I am beginning to get a little irritated by these volumes. Volume 1 was outstanding, but 2 & 3 have issues. True the art team has changed and is very uneven at times, but there are other issues here. Literally.
This book reprints issues 11 through 15 of the monthly DD title by Mark Waid, but also reprints a 2 issue story from one of the Spider-Man titles and a Punisher book. Like the previous volume, they are more or less “value added” material, but they distract from and are not done like the main title. They are a decent story; they are just not what I signed on for. These are written by Greg Rucka, and I like them, but I really only want the Waid stories. Value added material isn’t really a value, at least not in this context. These issues make this a 7 issue collection, so the cost is most definitely passed on to the buyer for these extra 2 issues. If they only have a 5 issue arc, then just do a 5 issue collection! DC appears to be slowly figuring this out, and they are still not succeeding all the time, but Marvel just sort of seems to tell the readers that they will like it and buy it or not.
The art is another issue. While not actually bad, it is NOT as good as the first volume’s wonderful art by Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera. Volume 2 had art by Khoi Pham and Emma Rios in addition to Rivera, thanks to the extra issues inserted into the book. There at least, everything was written by Waid. In this volume, the stories by Rucka are drawn by Marco Checcetta. Waid does appear to have at least co-written some of these but Rucka is the style you feel and the art follows suit. The regular DD issues are drawn by Pham, Checcetta and Chris Samnee. They are all well done, but Marvel, and to a lesser extent DC, just don’t seem to care that changing artists like this has an adverse effect on the flow of the narrative no matter how good the art is in each issue. They must not care, because the alternative is that they don’t realize it, and that is just not likely with all the genuinely talented artists and designers there. Getting the book out on time is just more important. I tend to be less interested in who is drawing the book than who is writing. I buy this for the Waid stories and will continue to do so. But the art can drive me away from a well written book if it is distracting enough.
As for the actual Waid issues, other than the art jumping around too much, I have nothing but good things to say. Waid continues to put Matt Murdock into new situations or at least new twists on the same old situations. It is interesting that Dr. Doom can be in a Daredevil story only by implication. He never actually appears, but you always feel the threat and presence of the Monarch of Latveria, which is even more effective than his actually being in the story. This is a tough trick to pull off, but since Doom is nowhere near as interesting these days as the legend of Doom, this is the way he needs to appear more often. He was overused for a while, and now when I see him on a cover, my first inclination is to pass on it, but that part of this arc is outstanding. The overdue resolution of the Omega Drive arc is not as satisfying, only because it all seems born of a fairly stupid but completely reversible choice by our hero. The story is easily an issue too long, and the eventual resolution is obvious and leaves you with the thought, “well why didn’t you do that 2 issues ago, you doofus?” It is clearly to show how fallible Matt is, and generally works to that end. It is just a little longer than I would have liked. Fortunately, the real reason to read Waid’s DD is for the characterization and style of storytelling. Waid makes you interested in even the most mundane situations very easily. We care about Matt and Foggy and the rest of the cast. It is interesting that the supporting cast is only important when they need to be. When they are they to simply move the other plot along, they are almost ephemeral, even appearing as off panel voices. They never distract from the point, and are only there as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern type placeholders. They are completely interchangeable unless they are needed for a character specific function, which is rare. Waid is an economical writer, and in the restrictive format that the high-profile success of this title has created, even more so. I know some people don’t like the sparser, stripped down style he uses here. Many people prefer the excessive and wordy style of a Millar or Bendis, but those are the junk food of comics, and that is SAYING something. In a medium where junk seems to be preferred over the real substance of good writing, it is amazing to me that Waid’s run on this books has been popular. You can usually do much more with less and Waid and this fantastic run has been proof of that. While this volume has its flaws, they are not Mark Waid’s fault. I am sticking with it for at least one more arc. Hopefully so will most of you.