Last week I saw something truly heinous, truly unseemly, truly asinine: “Daredevil is Marvel’s best new comic series of 2011.” With Comic Book Resources among them, media outlets and reviewers have praised the book for its content. Here are some examples.
“Best New Comic Series of 2011” – IGN.Com
“…easily among the best new series to come out in 2011.” – CNN.com
“Simply a beautiful, beautiful book both thematically and visually” – MTV.com
“Best relaunch…Mark Waid’s brought him back with a new freshness and Marcos Martin & Paolo Rivera have chipped in exquisite artwork.” – USA Today
Before I continue, let’s analyze the book based on these comments. First, in what regard was Daredevil the best new series of 2011? What has it accomplished as a title? What ground breaking elements has it introduced that has blown away the competition? My answer, quite plainly, is it’s done nothing to warrant such acclaim. Altogether it’s one of the most lazily cobbled messes, continuity wise, and Stephen Wacker should be ashamed of this book for it’s near complete ignorance of Daredevil’s history. I know he’s not, as I’m sure Marvel editorial is quite pleased with the misplaced praise this watered down iteration of one of Marvel’s classic characters has received. What Mark Waid has effectively done is unravel the quality work Miller, Bendis, Brubaker and Diggle completed before him, creating a poor man’s Spider-Man in the process. Secondly, although I’ve come to appreciate Paolo Rivera’s artwork in contrast to Waid’s writing, it still pales in comparison to the work of Marco Checchetto and Matt Hollingsworth during the Diggle run which was dark, atmospheric and beautifully done. Although Rivera’s work is intuitively detailed, his pencils are too cartoonish, while Martin is effectively a poor man’s Rivera, failing to do much of what I appreciate Rivera for. The book, as a whole, is simply mediocre and pedestrian. It has not done a thing to encourage positive review.
Given Waid’s track record, I even doubt whether we’ll ever see Waid’s Murdock deal with the fallout of Shadowland. We’ve been given no indication, as it seems all signs point towards Murdock somehow being unquestionably forgiven for his misdeeds, while the character himself has simply, until now anyway, stuck his head in the sand and is pretending it never happened. We’re to forget he murdered Bullseye in cold blood? That he led The Hand to taking over New York? That many were killed during this period and it’s on his head? No, and those who discount those elements in favour of some false, squeaky clean Matty are flat out wrong in their opinions. Part of what has made Daredevil a successful series since it’s Marvel Knights relaunch (including Miller as well) has been the humanity and resiliency of Murdock, how in the end the man, without fear, shines through and he rebounds. Moreover, what we’ve seen especially in the transition from Bendis to Brubaker, and later Brubaker to Diggle, is a direct continuation of the previous arc. Each writer had to deal with the dangling plot lines from the previous run, and what happens is a fantastic story about a guy who has been through absolutely everything the world could throw at him, and yet here he is, still standing. Shadowland was a story about finally pushing him too far, about finally going over the edge and subsequently, his road back from actions which he can’t ever be completely exonerated from. Marvel editorial has decisively dropped the ball with bringing Waid on to write the book. This run has completely ignored the last year’s worth of stories, not even addressing a shred of its plot, much less that Black Panther is still running around Hell’s Kitchen. The book, as a whole, is lazy.
That’s not even the most concerning part. Although some commentary I’ve read on the new series points towards the character’s obvious denial of the events and his eventually having to deal with the aftermath realistically, I’m not so convinced it’s going to happen, and if it does, much less that Waid can execute it. That is the mark of a great (mainstream) comic book writer, and the fact that Waid can’t seemingly perform, and that Marvel has actually approved this book is a travesty.
I truly look forward to the issue where I have to eat my own words, but I have no reason to believe it’s going to happen, or that Daredevil, while helmed by Mark Waid, is going to turn the corner any time soon. As of issue eight of the relaunched series, it’s still failing to impress.