Tag Archives: Daredevil

Listmania part 2: Favorite individual issues

Daredevil #181 “Last Hand” April 1982: Frank Miller was just hitting his stride and the character of Elektra was becoming hugely popular.  I remember picking this one up at the local newsstand and thinking it was just going to be cover hype.  I was already a jaded fan at that point.  By the time I was done reading this I had a new interest in comics.

Justice League of America #0 “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” September 2006: This was more like favorite single page.  Each of the short scenes in this story are interesting, but the single page that references Batman’s reaction after Superman was killed by Doomsday redefined the character for me and put a lump in my throat.  You don’t often think of Batman as human and this changed that for me.

The stunning wraparound cover to Mage #14

Mage #14 “…Or Not to be” August 1986:  This was the issue after the series lost the character that was the emotional center of the book and set out the direction for the lead Kevin Matchstick.  Drawing the parallels to King Arthur seemed odd on the first page, but by the last page I could not imagine a time when I couldn’t see them.

Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children #21 “Dances with Cows” February 1991:  There was never a point I didn’t love this forgotten series from Piranha Press (a DC precursor to Vertigo), but this issue was funny and sad and odd all at once.  I really wish they would collect this anthology series in bookshelf volumes.  There is a large amount of creator owned and fringe material that is all but lost to readers now unless they search out the original back-issues.  This series was uneven at times, but so different from what was out there then, and still very readable now, that it could not help but find a new audience today.

Miracleman #22 “Carnival” August 1991:  It is very hard to pick a single issue from this amazing series, and picking a Gaiman issue over a Moore one might be considered a bad choice, but this issue had an emotional core that would resonate with anyone, even people who had not read the preceding 21 issues.  It touched on much of what had come before without ever relying on it and made this a stand-alone issue that really packed an emotional punch.  Now all we need is for these to be reprinted.

Avengers Annual #10 “By Friends — Betrayed!” 1981:  An uninspired Al Milgrom cover (nothing against Al, the cover just didn’t work for the book) covered up the first appearance of Rouge, and began a run of X-Men stories that would see the book rise in sales to be Marvel’s biggest book for many years to come.  The fact that it was in an Avengers book, and that the X-Men are only in a few pages of it messed with my head a bit, but this really is more of an X-book than an Avengers one.  Art by the amazing Michael Golden with inks by Armando Gil gave this book a look that no other book at the time had.  This is collected (finally) in Marvel Masterworks X-Men vol 7 and the Claremont omnibus.  It had been reprinted before, but never in an edition where it really worked, and certainly not as nicely as it is here.

Lord Julius and a “like-a-look”. Cerebus #137

Cerebus #137 (& 138–sort of) “Epilogue” August 1990:  This was a single story that Sim used an issue and a half for, but the first part is the best.  It has never been collected in the phone books since it was a fun filler issue that really does not fit in either the book before it (Jaka’s Story) or the one that followed it (Melmoth), but gives a silly look at Lord Julius and his “like-a-looks”, explaining a lot about the character in a funny way.  It is available ONLY as the original issue(s) or in Cerebus #0 which collected the other in-between issues that are not included in any of the phone books.

Toad Men!?!?

Sensational She-Hulk #2 “Attack of the Terrible Toad Men” June 1989:  The first issue seemed like a fluke or a one-off, but when they did this one I was left in awe of how funny this book really was.  Byrne left the book after issue 8 over a flap with editorial and the book never quite recovered, until his return in issue #31 that is!  Then he left at issue 50 and the decline started all over.  Dan Slott did some fun stuff with Shulkie later, but this series is still the best there has been.

Alpha Flight #12 “… And One Shall Surely Die” July 1984:  I freely admit I was one of the zombies that jumped on this Byrne book when it arrived, and I loved it for the first years’ worth of stories.  Byrne himself has said he never really saw the point of having an AF book, but it didn’t show for most of his time on the book.  This issue was a surprise in every way.  Yes, they advertised that a major character was going to die for weeks in advance, but how often had we heard that before only to see some turd third stringer die?  Yes, death in comics has since become a revolving door plot hammer.  Never in a million years did I think Byrne would GUT the heart out of the team and kill someone as important as that!  Naive of me?  Maybe, but I had not become so jaded at that point and just didn’t see it coming.  This book gave me chills, and still does when I read it.

Uncanny X-Men #186 “Lifedeath” October 1984:  The single most beautifully drawn mainstream issue of the 1980s.  Barry Windsor Smith as inked by Terry Austin was too much for many at the time. It was a challenging story that made me expect more (too much) from my comics after that.

Superman #712 (had to sneak this one in) “Lost Boy: A Tale of Krypto the Superdog” August 2011:  I was never a huge fan of big blue and have only occasionally read his adventures.  What I AM is a dog person.  This was an inventory story used to fill time while the Grounded arc needed to get caught up.  This issue was better than ANY of those.  I defy any dog person out there to not be an emotional wreck after reading this book.

This was a REALLY hard list. To just come up with ten (OK, eleven) was really tough, and if asked in a month I would think that there would be changes.

Feel free to start throwing chair and arguing, but I would really rather see some other people’s lists.

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Daredevil by Mark Waid (mostly) vol 3

Daredevil

Marvel Comics

2012

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.

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The Man Without Fear is Yellow!

Daredevil Yellow

Marvel Comics

2002

$15 trade paperback

This is one of the books that is considered by many to be essential reads for all comic readers that I have never gotten around to reading.  It has always been on the list, just never got around to it.  To be fair, it is a big list, varies by who is making it, and I HAVE read a lot of it.  What has always slowed me down on this one, Like Spider-Man Blue and Hulk Grey, is that I am not much of a fan of Jeph Loeb or Tim Sale.  Loeb has never been a favorite and Sale is a very talented artist that I have always been lukewarm on.  I really enjoyed his run on Matt Wagner’s Grendel, but since then I have struggled to find something in his work for me.

This book has given me reason to rethink that for both of these creators.  The volume I read was the slightly longer Hardcover version from 2002.  It is getting very pricy to find in HC so I recommend finding the still in print trade edition.  This volume reprints the six-issue series from 2001 and is a really good read.  Like many books that seek to revisit/re-tell the origin story in a modern context, this could have just been revisionist, but there is very little that is actually changed here.  Like all the best retellings, this book is more interested in the color behind the static story we all know.  The origin has been more fleshed out than changed in any meaningful way, and the story is told in the form of a letter to Karen Page.  A letter that will never be sent.  The covers of the individual issues are a clue to the story structure.  They show DD looking in or looming above the main focus of the story.  This is entirely a flashback story, and is never meant to be something new to the myth.  It tells a story we mostly know, and does it in a fresh way.  We care almost immediately about Matt and Foggy.  Anyone that has never read DD or only knows the Miller stories will be fine here.  The Elektra thing is avoided completely as it should be.  Those familiar with the Bendis and the more modern “Matt has a gun barrel in his mouth” (borrowed that line from Mark Waid) type hellscape that Daredevil’s life had become before Mark Waid revitalized things last year, may have a harder time. More modern readers used to the darker stories tend to forget that even under Miller, DD was not in constant misery.  If you have enjoyed Waid’s run, this is a book more your speed.

Tim Sale’s art here is the bonus I didn’t expect.  While I don’t always care for his faces, as they are quite heavy and iconic rather than more realistic, the art as a complete work is beautiful.  There is a delicacy to his line that is not immediately obvious and it is only really evident when you look at the entire page as a unit.  I often gripe about artists that are all about pin ups or cramming a panel and page with as much detail as possible to the detriment of the storytelling.  Here the storytelling is effortless and seems organic to the art.  Loeb and Sale have worked together a lot and it shows.  The meshing of the 2 aspects of the story is seamless.  The words are a part of the visuals and the art never distracts or confuses the narrative.  Sale has been doing this a while now, and he is a master storyteller.  Any complaints I may have about his drawing style tend to be entirely on my side.  It has just been my personal tastes.  These tastes may be changing.  It looks like I may have to give the other two “color books” a try.

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Daredevil vol 2 by Mark Waid review

Daredevil vol 2 by Mark Waid

Marvel comics 2012

136 pages

$20 cover price

Having previously read, loved and put up a review for volume one of the Mark Waid run on the re launched Daredevil series, I was really looking forward to this second volume collecting issues 7-10, 10.1 and Amazing Spider-Man #677. 

As it stands, every time Waid gets to work on an established book, he makes it his own, usually revitalizing it in the process.  Daredevil though, has to be a high point even in that list.  The story is easily the best that this title has seen in decades, particularly if you are tired of Marvel treating poor Matt Murdock like a punching bag.  Waid himself has said that he fully expected to see a gun in Matt’s mouth at some point, given the way it has gone.  This series under Waid and artist Paolo Rivera has brought the character back into the light.  The book is fun and still exciting; there are just no ninjas and demons, which were getting to be a bit much. 

This volume does not flow as well as the first, partly because the artists change.  Rivera gives way in the Spider-Man issue to Emma Rios and to Koi Pham in another.  The artist switch up can be jarring at the best of times, but with Rios employing a very rough line style here, it is doubly so.  The single issues are a bit choppier here than in the first volume, mostly, I think because Waid is less interested in writing for the trade than he is in putting out a good book every month.  That emphasis on a good month to month book is the idea, of course, but the collections do not always work as well because of it.  There are times when it seems as though some of the things done are a bit obligatory.  Captain America in the first volume and Spidey and the Black Cat in this one seem as though they were put in to cross market.  Marvel is very often and historically guilty of this, more so than most other publishers.  As a result, even when that is not really what is happening, it very often FEELS like it. 

These are minor quibbles though.  They are things to be expected from modern mainstream comics, and are nothing new.  The high mark set by volume one has just spoiled me.  Where that book was really special, this one is just very good.  That still makes it the best book Marvel is putting out with the exception of the Hickman FF titles.  If you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this too.  Rivera and Waid are a great team, and if they can stay together on this book, with as few fill in issues as possible, I see no reason that Daredevil will come off my pull list any time soon.

 

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Daredevil by Mark Waid

It has been nearly 30 years since I genuinely liked Daredevil.  As a book or as a character. Everyone since Frank  Miller has either tried to be just like him, be the exact opposite of him or outdo him.  None of the writers seem to have wanted to tell a great story as the first priority.  Some managed to tell good stories, but upon reading them initially, I was always struck by “event-itis”, that need to shake things up.  This need has seemed to be more important than just making the book good.  Then the need to essentially rape the character seemed to rule the day.  Destroy Matt Murdock in every way possible.  Miller always liked the idea that Daredevil was one of the more flawed people in a costume at Marvel, but he never went as far as some of the writers that followed him.  By the start of the 2000’s, he was unrecognizable as the Matt Murdock I remembered, more so even that many other Marvel heroes that went through the mill in the 1990’s.  There were bright spots, but never more than a few short arcs.  This is not to say these were bad comics, they just weren’t really Daredevil comics.  Many of the arcs were quite good, but the guy in the red outfit was just some guy.  The heart of the character was gone, at least as I knew it.  The need to tear him down stripped away everything that made him work for me.

Now Mark Waid is on the book.  I was very skeptical at first.  I have really enjoyed Waid’s work, particularly in the last decade or so, but I really didn’t think that anyone could save this character or the book believably.  At some point the damage is just too great.  Was this going to be a hard reboot, ignoring all that had come before?  Would he have to spend the entire first arc unraveling the previous mess?  There is reference to the mess that was Matt’s life previously.  The really stupid Shadowland events are mentioned.  The outing of the secret identity is handled beautifully.  Done like more of a tabloid story or internet rumor, and it works very well.  In all, the past is mentioned and handled as though the crisis was over but not forgotten.  Like a recovering alcoholic might always have to live with his past, but keep moving forward one day after another as though each day is the most important day so far. 

Marvel re-launched the book with a new number one and gave him world class artist Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera to play with him in the sandbox.  This book is beautiful.  It handles the difficult angles and vertiginous shots of Daredevil above the city’s rooftops as stunningly as I have ever seen.  The trickier villains’ powers are done with a visual style that is amazingly clever.  Dealing with how Daredevil “sees” the world was something Miller and Mazzucchelli always handled well; here it has been taken to another level.  The villain The Spot is a really creepy idea in concept and a fairly stupid idea in actual execution depending on who is doing it.  The visual here for the Spot is done so well, the only word I can think of is trippy.  There are the prerequisite “blind guy in the streets” scenes that are done with a nice flair that actually keeps the flow of the story. 

This is the best book Marvel is doing right now and easily one of the best books in the field regardless of company.  The first collection (issues 1-6) is out now with the second arc due to be collected in June.  If you have ever liked Daredevil, this book is wonderful.  If you are like me, and have not cared much for anything about him in the last quarter of a century, this book brings back the hero that you have missed all these years.  Like Hickman’s FF, this is the book I have been wanting since the last time I loved these guys.

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Comics I can get excited about in 2012

I have not been this excited about upcoming comics in a while.  The crop of new books looks rich and varied.  It has been years since this many books, both ongoing and new, had me this interested in the coming issues.

To start with the most controversial one…

I am looking forward to Before Watchmen.  Yes, I am just a tool of the DC corporate structure.  I don’t care.  These look good, or at least some of them do.  Comic books are corporate entities and the comics that are both popular sellers and never followed up on are rare indeed.  Alan Moore can gripe all he wants; DC owns these and gets to play with them if they want.  The original was a masterpiece and a landmark in the medium, but that does not make it untouchable.  The new books cannot destroy what has been done before.  The original will always be out there, so enjoy.  These new books are by creators every bit as talented as Moore and Gibbons and deserve the same chance to play in this particular sandbox if they choose.  Ultimately if they tell good stories, that is all that matters.  Personally, I think that there is every chance that one or more of these could turn out better than the original, but I also have no doubt they will get none of the recognition of the original whether they deserve it or not.

And the next most controversial on the list…

Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples Saga has generated a fair bit of chatter online.  This is due mostly to the cover.  Apparently breastfeeding is an evil that mere humans cannot stand to be exposed to.  Never mind the countless impossibly large, gravity-defying breasts barely covered by skin-tight spandex.  No, those are just fine, thank you.  We likes ‘em big, fake and barely covered by cloth.  We do not likes ‘em barely covered by a baby’s head, it seems.  The preview of this book I saw looks like it may well be a fantastic book.  Vaughn has already made a name for himself with great books like Ex Machina and Pride of Bagdad, and this will be every bit the classic story those were.

The next trade volume of Atomic Robo is due this month, and I am thrilled.  Silly, fun and exciting in equal measure, this book is what adventure comics should be about.  It is called The Ghosts of Station X and I imagine it will follow the same fun style we have come to love from the team of characters from Tesladyne.  Any book that regularly has a talking robot from the start of the 20th Century, an evil brain in a jar and a talking intelligent dinosaur gets my vote.  Wegener and Clevenger have created one of the freshest, most enjoyable comics out there today.  Reading this book now that I am a mere lad of 43, I get the same fun, druggy glow I got in the 70’s reading comics as a mere lad of 10.

Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising is another book that has really interested me.  The trade of the first six issues is due shortly from Abstract Studios.  This book is the most interesting thing Moore has done since SiP and it is easily the most compelling and rich story I have read in several years. 

Since Mark Waid has announced the end of Irredeemable and Incorruptible, I find I am looking forward to these even more.  I have always preferred stories that actually have a planned end, and the fact that this is arriving is a good thing.  This has been a great couple of books, and the end should be impressive.  I have been in a Waid mood lately.  His new run on Daredevil has been a real surprise.  Not that he is doing it so well, but that a Daredevil book is actually good.  That has not been the case for several years. 

Then there is the first crop of hard covers and trades from the New 52. My pull list is up to six of these, and I am equally giddy about all of them. 

There is also Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss 2.  If you never read the first one from nearly 30 years ago, this book will probably shock you.  The first one was porn.  There is really not another way to say it.  The difference between this and regular “bom-chicka wow wow” porn, is the story.  You cannot tell this story without the adult content.  It is integral to the plot and the feel of the book.  This will not sell as well as it should, just because of what will be some fairly harsh stuff.  But if you are open minded and hard to offend, this will be a great book.

Then there is my “squeeeeee” nerdgasm.  Star Trek the Next Generation/Doctor Who Assimilation2.  I cannot wait for this.  Not only is it by top flight creators, but is just about the nerdiest, most fun crossover idea I have ever heard of.  This book will rock!

And lastly is Batman: Earth One.  Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are the team bringing this to us.  Johns has been pretty good, and I am a big Frank fan so I am very excited about this.  I really hope that this turns out to be an even bigger game-changer that the Superman: Earth One GN from last year.  I liked that book quite a lot, but I really think they could have gone farther than they did.  This is an Elseworld’s story for all intents and purposes, even if they are not using that branding anymore, so why not go for it like they did with some of those?

In any event, these are some of the books coming in the next couple of months or so that I want to see.  Anything you are excited about?

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