I’ve been meaning to write about Mark Waid’s Daredevil series for a long time now. I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say this, but if you don’t already read Daredevil, you need to start right now. You can find people saying the exact same thing here, here, here, and here. Honestly, if you love comic books, there’s really no reason for you not to pick up this book. It easily competes with Thor: God of Thunder for Marvel’s powerhouse series. Issue #22 has all the elements that have made the series great so far, and it’s a perfect jumping-on point for anyone not already reading the book. This issue is also one of the first appearances of the highly controversial Superior Spider-Man, as well as the return of Daredevil’s most ridiculous enemy, Stilt-Man. And in true Mark Waid fashion, he manages to do the seemingly impossible by making Superior Spider-Man likeable and Stilt-Man menacing.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
If you’re a fan of comic books and you use the internet, which I think is likely given that you’re reading a comic book blog right now, you’ve probably already seen that the ending of Amazing Spider-Man #700 was leaked today and anyone who has seen the spoiler now knows who becomes the Superior Spider-Man, a plot point which has been shrouded in secrecy for months now.
Again, SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you’re curious, if you don’t care about spoilers, or if, like me, you are so fed up with Dan Slott and his shitty shitty oh so shitty Amazing Spider-Man stories and don’t care anymore, here is the link.
Of course, since this is a spoiler preceding even the release of advance copies, either it’s fake or some sneaky intern at Marvel (or Dan Slott, for all we know, given his track record of fucking with readers) took pictures of the actual book and posted it on 4chan. Now, I am pretty confident this is real, since I saw on Dan Slott’s Facebook page today that he wrote a post saying that ASM 700 had leaked and everyone should be careful if they don’t want it ruined for them. Plus, the leak isn’t just a plot description; there are actual pictures there, and the images are clearly Humberto Ramos’s penciling.
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
I came to Daredevil: End of Days reluctantly. I remember standing in my local comic book store, turning to the now infamous two-page spread in the beginning of the comic, feeling disgusted and angry, putting the comic back and thinking, “Fuck this.” As a devout Daredevil fan, Matt Murdock being murdered in the street by his nemesis, with his own baton, in such a gruesome fashion, seemed ignoble and unworthy. I felt betrayed. But the more I heard people talking about how brilliant it was, I decided I had dismissed it without knowing enough about it. So I gave it a second chance.
Second impressions are a hell of a thing. It’s quite possible that End of Days is a masterpiece in the making. It transcends the conventions and assumptions of comic books and what they can accomplish. This issue achieves a level of complexity, subtext, and characterization normally reserved for novels. And I mean classic novels, like The Sound and the Fury or To the Lighthouse. This comic is so much more than your standard “death of a superhero” story, which was my initial, uninformed opinion of it. No, this comic is a nuanced, subtle examination of “The Hero” archetype, the merging of news and entertainment, voyeurism, schadenfreude, the cheapening of any sense of justice in society, and the untenable dependence between hero and villain. In fact, there are probably layers of this story that I won’t even notice until I reread it multiple times.
It has been nearly ten years since Fox released the poorly-received Ben Affleck vehicle Daredevil to theaters. Though much of the criticism of that film was justified, it was certainly exaggerated. Yes, it was far from perfect, but much of the hostility about that film had more to do with Bennifer “Gigli” Affleck’s shaky career and tabloid popularity at the time, and less to do with the actual quality of the film. Given Affleck’s meteoric rise in the director’s chair in the last few years, if Daredevil were made with Affleck today, I doubt very much it would have been panned so harshly. It still would have received its fair share of deserved criticism, but Affleck wouldn’t have gotten a Razzie for it. Daredevil definitely had its problems, but many of those were remedied in the 2004 Director’s Cut version of the film. If you’re a Daredevil fan and were disappointed with the theatrical release, then you need to check out the R-rated Director’s Cut. It’s darker, more violent, and includes an interesting subplot that was entirely cut from the theatrical version. Yes, some unforgivable problems still remain, such as the atrocious soundtrack where the orchestral score would have sufficed, and the unintentionally funny fight scene in the park still made the cut. But in general, it’s a vast improvement over the original, and certainly worth two hours of your time. It’s a very fun movie, and it looks great. And frankly, I think Ben Affleck looks the part and did a good job playing it too.
If there’s one thing people love, it’s ‘end of days’ scenarios. Everyone dies, the legend ends, the final story is told. But then everything gets fixed and that story is voided. Or it gets relegated to a future time, one we’ll never see.
Marvel would like you to think that Daredevil: End of Days is the final Daredevil story. Matt Murdock is brutally murdered by Bullseye and we’re supposed to sit through the next seven issues and witness the fallout. It’s really hard to think of this story as little more than an ‘alternate’ story. Alternate universe, alternate ending, alternate events. In the end it doesn’t matter because none of it is the real story. You can’t have the last Daredevil story while they’re still publishing ongoing Daredevil stories. If it was the end it should be the end.
5 out of 5 stars
Story – Mark Waid
Art – Leinil Yu
I have been looking forward to Indestructible Hulk for months now. There are some books in the Marvel Now! revolution that I felt may not be entirely necessary or need the facelift. But Hulk is one of those (along with X-Men) that I felt really needed this treatment. I’m one of those people who has always been fascinated by the Hulk and Bruce Banner as characters (and they really are different characters), but I have little experience with them in comic books. I unfortunately saw Ang Lee’s Hulk, which was a terrific mess, and I also watched the reboot The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton twice in theaters. I thought Norton’s Hulk was very fun and totally underappreciated in the Marvel Studios canon. And of course there was Mark Ruffalo’s perfect interpretation of the character in The Avengers as a quiet, introverted brilliant scientist who only wants to be helpful but is so clearly plagued by the guilt of his “condition.” Ruffalo really brought the character back into my cultural awareness. He was the most well-rounded and lovable character in that movie. Iron Man was the funniest and most charming, and Thor was the most peculiar (in a great way), but Bruce Banner had me wrapped around his huge green finger right away. The Hulk I saw in The Avengers is the Hulk I wanted to read in a comic book. After reading this first issue of Indestructible Hulk, I am doubtful that will be the case exactly, but I am still very happy with the portrayal of Bruce Banner and the Hulk that we’re given in this first issue. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but that ultimately didn’t matter.
The February Solicitations for Marvel Comics have been released and we can now get a good feel of what Marvel Now! will be bringing to the table. Just from this month’s selection alone, it looks like Marvel Now! will be anything but expected.
1. Marvel Movie Invasion. The new Secret Avengers book will be led by the likes of Nick Fury Jr. and Agent Phil Coulson. Who is Nick Fury Jr? Well he’s Nick Fury’s secret son who strangely looks like Ultimate Nick Fury and Samuel L. Jackson. Then he loses an eye and looks exactly like Nick Fury. So the movie Fury is now the main Marvel Fury and Agent Coulson is here too. It’s pretty obvious that Marvel is pushing their movie properties into their comic books, but are they pushing a little too hard?
There is also the Avengers Assemble book, which chronicles the adventures of the movie Avengers. The book is supposed to be set in continuity, but there is really no telling how. Whether this book takes place in the past, with some other Avengers team with this lineup or completely outside of continuity, this book’s main focus is advertising the Avengers in the movie. I suppose that’s the exact point. Take Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye and throw them into the Marvel Comics Universe filled with all the heroes and villains they could want.