Review: Daredevil: The Devil, Inside and Out Vol. 2 trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

This review from frequent Collected Editions commenter Jeffrey Hardy Quah:

I don't think I've ever read a bad, or even mediocre book from Ed Brubaker, whether it's A Complete Lowlife, Sleeper, Point Blank, Catwoman or Gotham Central. You can always count on Brubaker to deliver a well-crafted book filled with fascinating character beats and insight, along with good old-fashioned fight scenes. His writing, along with former Gotham Central collaborator Michael Lark's artwork, was the only reason I started reading Daredevil regularly.

The new creative team did a great job following up on the new status quo left behind by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, bringing us into Matt Murdock's head as he battled his inner demons in a federal prison, while keeping it accessible to new readers. I don't know how their first story arc compares to the Bendis/Maleev run, but it was pretty damned good.

After the events of the first volume, Matt Murdock finds himself travelling around Europe, on the hunt for the person who ordered the hit on his friend Foggy Nelson. This means lots of careful detective work, some not-so-careful detective work, bullfighting, and regular fighting. Also, a very brief battle between the mafia and ninjas. There are a couple of twists and turns as well to keep things even more interesting, as Murdock thinks, angsts, punches, kicks, bludgeons and smells (yes, his heightened sense of smell is a major plot point) his way towards the identity of the person pulling his strings.

The first volume was really an excellent, accessible book, in spite of having to continue directly from Bendis's story, as opposed to being able to start fresh with a clean slate, as these things usually go. The second volume is still a good book, but where it stumbles is, strangely enough, in its accessibility. Without spoiling anything, the identity of Murdock's manipulator seems to rely on the reader's knowledge of previous Daredevil stories (I have no clue when this character originally appeared). It's not confusing, mind you; Brubaker does his best to explain who the person is without making it feel expository, and long-time readers will probably treat this as a great "WTF" moment. New readers like myself, on the other hand, have no reason to care at all, which is frustrating.

The art chores are handled by regular penciller/inker Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano, along with guest artist David Aja and colourists Matt Hollingsworth and Frank D'Armata. Lark, as always, is superb in his detailed, realistic character and environment designs. The world looks like the real world, and the characters look and "move" like normal people would. You'd think his style would seem stiff and out of place in an action superhero book, but it fits Daredevil like a glove. David Aja's style is very similar to Lark's while maintaining his own identity, using lots and lots of shadows and slightly exaggerated facial expressions. Unfortunately, while D'Armata colours the first chapter (Aja's), a different colourist, Hollingsworth, takes over for the rest of the book (Lark's), and while both are excellent colourists, their styles are different enough that the transition is quite rough and takes a while to get used to.

Again, this is a good superhero book, marred only by that aforementioned continuity point. This particular storyline is complete by the end of the volume, resulting in a new status quo, and I'll definitely be checking out Volume Three.

(A very minor nitpick: who the heck designed this book? I swear, some of the images used for the credits pages in the beginning were taken from the previous volume. Murdock even wears his prison clothes. Talk about lazy. Yeesh.)

[$14.99 cover price. Includes single-issue covers by Lee Bermejo, as well as original cover sketches and pencils by Bermejo.]
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1 comment:

  1. I had read a big chunk of Frank Miller's run just before reading the Brubaker stories and I found many minor characters appear in both runs. The reveal of who was behind Foggy impacted me mainly because I had just read the Frank Miller run.

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