[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]
There’s a tradition amongst Daredevil creative teams that you keep going until you’ve made a name for yourself. Frank Miller did it twice, followed by Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. More recently, first Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev had a lengthy run, and then they were followed by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. Mark Waid has taken a different approach, relying on multiple, highly-talented artists and shorter stories versus longer and ever-more-depressing arcs. The strategy has been a runaway success: not only did Waid win an Eisner, but his artists led the company into the Marvel NOW! initiative, one of the best company-wide reinventions in years.
Marcos Martin is out of the art rotation for the second volume of Daredevil by Mark Waid, except for the new single-page intro at the start of the book and the cover of issue #10.1 (the second volume collects Daredevil #7-10, 10.1, and Amazing Spider-Man #677). Paolo Rivera is now the main artist for the trade, followed by Emma Rios’s standout work on the crossover with Amazing Spider-Man. Kano and Khoi Pham each drew a single issue as well, and all four are going to be on “Best Artists of 2013” lists. To add even more great art into the mix, there are alternate covers by Alex Maleev for the Eisner-winning issue #7 and Lee Bermejo for issue #8 and Amazing Spider-Man #677.
Speaking of Spider-Man, this is possibly the last issue I’ll read of his individual title for some time until the Doctor Octopus mess is sorted out. The crossover hinges on the Black Cat, who becomes much closer with Daredevil over the course of the story. Mark Waid writes both issues and Emma Rios draws both of them, and the only way to tell the difference is that the Spider-Man issues use a different type of speech box. As a result, there’s no abrupt switch between creative teams like there was in Captain Marvel: In Pursuit Of Flight, enabling Rios’ artwork to be more easily appreciated.
Continuing from the crossover, Paolo Rivera returns to the art duties as Daredevil takes on the Mole Man. Like the Klaw fight in the first volume, this adds a brilliant new rogue to Daredevil’s gallery, and it’s all because of an error! The Mole Man draws Daredevil’s ire by accidentally destroying the coffin of Battlin’ Jack Murdock while hunting for the body of his dead beloved. Waid creates the encounter so that both sides have a point: Daredevil has every right to be angry, but there’s nothing he can really do to fix the situation. If any bad guy holds grudges for insane lengths of time, it’s the Mole Man, and these blind titans will have a rematch one day. (Make your own jokes about the “blind beating the blind.”)
Many of the plotlines from volume 1 continue here, including Matt’s attempts to deny that he’s Daredevil and his guardianship of the Omegadrive. The final issue collected here, #10.1, sees both of these storylines intersect as Matt defends a criminal who tried to kill him. This villain, Pyromania, isn’t quite as interesting as Klaw or the Mole Man, but he’s humorously arrogant and in over his head. It also sheds some light on Agence Byzantine and Black Spectre, the lesser-known member organizations of Megacrime.
But what about issue #7, the Eisner-winning story at the start of the book? Well ... actually, it’s one of the weaker stories. That’s not to say it’s bad ... it just doesn’t seem special. Matt and a bus full of blind kids crash in a blizzard and barely make it out alive. There isn’t too much more to it than that; to be honest, I would’ve given the Eisner to the crossover or to issue #10.1.
That minor quibble aside, Daredevil by Mark Waid Vol. 2 lives up to the high standards set by the first volume. If you look at the timeline of events, Marvel NOW! is simply the company doing its best to get its books up to this level of quality. In the next volume, Waid and Greg Rucka will attempt to get me to like the Punisher, and if anyone can do that, it’s those two.