The weekly reviews of the best comics for June 26th, 2013! Summer officially starts on a bang!
Book of the week: Daredevil #27
Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee continue on their Eisner award winning and seminal run on one of Marvel’s longest running yet often neglected superhero franchises, “Daredevil: the Man without Fear”. As with most issues, this one offers another breathtaking union of script and sequential comic book art to offer a suspenseful, action packed and character filled superhero adventure. What kicks this one up a notch is that this issue not only offers the conclusion to the current arc, but an finale to the long term subplot which has been running through the title since Waid relaunched it in 2011.
Beginning where last issue’s cliffhanger left off, the secret mastermind who has been manipulating figures and events against Daredevil’s life for some two years of comics stands revealed as Bullseye, Daredevil’s arch nemesis. Killed off at the start of the “Shadowland” event in 2010, the professional assassin was revived in body, but remained hopelessly crippled. Utilizing his vast resources from being a professional assassin (as well as official federal agent during Norman Osborn’s “dark reign”) along with his ally Lady Bullseye, Daredevil’s premiere enemy has been reborn as a figure who schemes behind the scenes but is still just as deadly. Having full knowledge of Daredevil’s identity and where his friends and lovers are, Bullseye arranged the creation of more than one of Daredevil’s new enemies, which now include the vicious Ikari – who has all of Daredevil’s powers without the handicap of blindness. Yet in having Daredevil beaten to the brink of death and left to flee in fear for one of the first times in his superhero life, Bullseye sparked the precise yet impulsive streak in Daredevil which usually leaves enemies mangled and arrested.
It could be argued that the biggest flaw in Bullseye’s plan – wanting Daredevil to suffer rather than just having him killed outright – is an all too typical flaw in villains which is convenient for their heroic opponents. However, Waid sells it by capturing the spirit of the vicious Bullseye despite his own handicap. While references to past stories such as “Shadowland” and beyond are referenced, enough material is offered that the story flows for the reader even if they don’t know “Shadowland” from “Candyland”. Ikari’s true face hasn’t even been revealed, but this is actually a good thing as it gives this new nemesis for Murdock a chance to grow. Furthermore, the finale offers the usual mixture of smarts, martial arts and his sensory super powers to outwit his enemies. Waid also wisely takes advantage of the fact that Daredevil has many connections without the superhero community, especially after a stint on “New Avengers” years back.
“Daredevil” has become one of those rare Marvel Comics titles which sells well and deserves to. Not only that, but it has gained sales for the first five months of 2013 without crossovers or other gimmicks, which is a very rare feat in the mainstream direct market. Positive word of mouth and consistent quality are earning this title genuine sales gains without flash in the pan stunts, and it is a shame that more “big two” comics aren’t willing to attempt this. “Daredevil” has quickly become one of Marvel Comics’ best titles as well as career defining works for both Waid and Samnee. This comic, more than anything, proves that superhero comics don’t have to be shallow and can still offer a sense of art, wit, and style.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #23: The increasingly violent and dark toned “City Fall” continues along its second installment as it details the Foot Clan – organized by the Feudal Japan era Shredder and his granddaughter Karai – taking control of New York City as well as their mutant enemies. Last month, the Foot successfully kidnapped Leonardo and Shredder mortally wounded Casey Jones, Raphael’s best friend. This issue sees an increase in the creative team for what amounts to a very packed issue. Co-writers Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman (co-creator of TMNT) are joined in story credits by Bobby Curnow, and current regular artist Mateus Santolouco only draws half this issue. As Shredder’s magical ally Kitsune psychically brainwashes Leonardo to her master’s bidding, those psychic warping pages are drawn by former series artists Dan Duncan, Andy Kuhn, and even Eastman himself, alongside Ben Bates and Ross Campbell (who drew for the last micro-series). Ed Brubaker’s run on “Captain America” often utilized flashback sequences to give his regular artist a break on some pages per month to make deadlines, and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as they are woven in well – this issue’s psychic warfare pages are no exception. The mutant character Old Hob also returns with a new angle to his operations – to unite all mutants, period – which offers a unique tertiary force to reckon with. As always, IDW Comics’ TMNT remains a riveting read for fans new and old.
Age of Ultron #10AI: While the overall “Age of Ultron” crossover came to an underwhelming and overall terrible conclusion last week, this epilogue issue breaks with tradition by delivering a simple quality story. Unsurprisingly, it is written by Mark Waid and drawn by Andre Lima Araujo, and not only is it an advertisement for a new “Avengers” title, but it rehabilitates Hank Pym. Historically neurotic and unstable, Hank Pym’s woes continued during the event as his signature creation Ultron once again ran amok. Fortunately, Waid continues his efforts to boil down what works best about certain characters and spin it in a new manner. In this issue’s case, after padding out Pym’s upbringing, he resolves his perennial self-loathing and turns the often unbearable crossover event into a character building exercise for Pym. Embracing Pym’s unique imagination for science, it is frankly a shame that Waid can’t write the character long term. The upcoming “Avengers A.I.” couldn’t have had a better promotional story if it tried.
Scarlet Spider #18: Chris Yost continues to script this often exciting and delightfully unique spin-off title to “Amazing Spider-Man” starring the reformed clone, Kaine, as he stumbles his way into being an anti-hero. As the second part of “Wrath”, Kaine and his mystically empowered teenage ally Aracely (now in the costumed identity of “Hummingbird”) find themselves caught in the web of the Assassin’s Guild. Forced into attempting to kill Wolverine, Kaine manages to clue the berserker X-Man in on the plot and gains his aid in taking on the league of hit-men (run by Gambit’s old flame, Belladonna). The issue devolves into a simple and brutal team-up between Kaine and Wolverine as they tear through nameless and named assassins, wonderfully drawn by Carlo Barberi and Ale Garza. If there is one blemish, it is that one two page splash has instead been positioned as two page turns, which reads awkwardly. It seems the Guild were involved in resurrecting a mysterious woman called “the Red Death”, who may actually be a relatively obscure X-Men character. During the 90’s, a league of seemingly “immortal” mutants dubbed the “Externals” ran around the X-books and one of them, Candra, was the patron of the Assassin’s Guild. She was axed off in “X-Men #61”, circa 1997, and this “Red Death” could practically be her twin. Yost continues to mingle violence and humor within this book and has truly carved a unique spot in the Marvel Universe with this series.
Young Avengers #6: Kieron Gillen and fill-in artist Kate Brown offer a one-shot story featuring former “Young Avenger” Tommy Shepard/Speed and former “New X-Men” member David Alleyne/Prodigy. They’ve both retired from superhero affairs and are working boring jobs at a company in Manhattan which exploits their unique abilities – Tommy’s speed for technical engineering and Alleyne’s massive data knowledge for tech support. Like many issues of this series, it succeeds on style but sometimes stumbles on substance. Gillen makes these two characters who have never met before come off very well together, and wrings a lot of humor out of Speed and his interactions with the stiffer David. Where things falter is in the revelation of some unknown mystery threat which kills one of them off within a page. Between this and “Avengers Arena”, it just isn’t safe being a young Marvel character anywhere. Overall, it’s a fun issue which also serves as a solid jumping on point for fans of either character.