Episode 12: I object! (to Mark Waid’s ‘Daredevil’)

 

Daredevil and Spider-Man leap and swing into action in the latest issue of Waid's run.

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.

Andrew Ardizzi Written by:

Andrew Ardizzi is an honours graduate of journalism from Humber College, and is currently working out of Toronto as a freelance writer and editor. He's also the Senior Editor at Crystal Fractal Comics. You can find him at his blog, or follow him on Twitter.

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7 Comments

  1. Ed Campbell
    January 19, 2012

    I’m enjoying the new Daredevil. I can’t think of a comic I’ve enjoyed reading more than #7. The idea of Matt being stuck in the woods with a group of blind kids was awesome. I thought the story was very good and the artwork was amazing.

    My thought is, Daredevil is still the brooding hero that we’ve all grown to love, but he is trying hard, really hard to be happy.

    He is trying hard to distance himself from his alter-ego as well. I think someday it will all come crashing down on top of him. But for now, you can see little elements of the brooding Matt Murdock hidden behind the happy facade of Matt Murdock.

    Right now he doesn’t have a main adversary for the series, but I think that will be coming soon. I still think there is something on the horizon for Daredevil that will change everything.

    I think Daredevil is one of the best Marvel relaunchs of 2011.

  2. Pete
    January 19, 2012

    Wow.

    First off; this is completely paying tribute to the past classic DD runs. They’ve just realized that after this much doom and gloom Murdock is going to have to take control of his life.. and this is exactly what he’s doing.

    He’s trying to move past previous hardship and Waid’s writing is very much acknowledging this by making this a more superhero title. The basic fact is DD is trying to become a Superhero again. That’s the crux of his story.. He needs to inspire people instead of being reactionary.

    As far as the art goes ..Marcos Martin is one of the best artists in comics. He’s not a poor man’s anything, he is probably one of the best storytellers ever to grace this medium. Not many people can do what he does. Rivera is a revelation as well, his previous work didn’t really inspired me, but he’s brought his A-Game to the title and given us a comic that actually makes us remember that Matt Murdock is blind, has super senses, etc..

    I love yah like a brother Andrew, but totally feel that you’re off base on this one.

  3. January 19, 2012

    My problem stems though from us not seeing that. There was an allusion to it in issue seven when he was sitting in the dark office by himself, but by and large the brooding that Matt Murdock should be doing isn’t being played out. The repercussions of his actions from his peers, isn’t being dealt with. To this point, it seems like he’s been absolved by everyone despite what he’s done. As for the character, it seems as though he’s in complete denial without considerable acknowledgement towards his actions.

    As for the future, I hope it does come crashing down on him and I hope I’m proven wrong and the fallout is properly dealt with, because I love this character tremendously. I will actually at that point apologize to Mark Waid in this very column.

  4. January 19, 2012

    How is this taking control of his life though? How is denial taking control of anything really? It’s an illusion, and in that respect, it doesn’t pay tribute to past runs at all. None of the supporting cast even breathes a word of Shadowland, there are no appearances from the likes of Iron Fist or Luke Cage, and as I recall from issue eight, not a word from Spider-Man. What gives? Honestly.

    Concerning the art, I do think Rivera’s is better than Martin. I also suspect Martin was used because his artwork does a good job of mimicking Rivera’s. Maybe my phrasing was off, but what Martin does well, Rivera does better in every way. Also, as I’ve conceded in my two actual reviews of the series, I’ve said the panels where we actually see him using his senses, whether the purplish radar panels or something as simple as him sensing a scent or change in the wind are nice and intuitive. I appreciate that, because it hasn’t been done before.

  5. Blake
    January 19, 2012

    What a spot-on parody of a self-centered comic book continuity nerd! I congratulate you on your satire and just regret that those taking you to task on Twitter weren’t clued-in enough to get the joke. Why, the idea that someone could be this whiny and myopic is preposterous! Right? Riiiiiight?

  6. January 20, 2012

    I completely disagree. There has been plenty of foreshadowing that Matt has more serious issues boiling underneath the surface and Waid has recently said that the in-denial-superhappy Matt is indeed not a permanent status quo change. I, for one, would love to see with him actually work through his stuff.

    As for not dealing fully with Shadowland, yeah it needs to be addressed somehow, but the more discrete they can be about it, the better. It was a catastrophically bad story and should be acknowledged as little as possible. I love it when continuity is used well (to enrich a story and keep it anchored), but there are plenty of times where telling a good story requires that we develop a mild case of continuity amnesia. I know that sounds like heresy to a lot of comic book fans, but that’s how I see it. In my opinion, this is the best Daredevil has been in years and it’s absolutely not overrated. But, to each his own and all that.

  7. January 20, 2012

    If the problem is one of continuity, that is, would DD really act in this way after Shadowland, is it then really a problem with the current series, or more that maybe Shadowland should not have happened?

    The character started out as a swashbuckler, became grim and gritty, and over the years has oscillated between the two, but it was only at Shadowland that DD really crossed a line that you can’t quite go back from. Killing Bullseye and becoming a villain is a hard line to back off from.

    Waid’s current run could be seen more as a correction on a character that got too dark. Daredevil has received a lot of accolades over the past 10 years, but Shadowland wasn’t one of the critically acclaimed stories. And why is Black Panther running around Hell’s Kitchen? Seriously, if I were writing DD I would ignore a bunch of stuff too.

    It would seem that people enjoy reading a lighter-toned DD.

    I totally agree with you that writers and artists should respect the continuity and work of those that have worked on the character previously, but at times it can be hard when especially crazy stuff happens.

Make It Good.