This series has been an absolute joy since it dropped back in July, and this most recent issue is no exception. Mark Waid continues his wonderful, more carefree interpretation of the Man Without Fear, and although we lose Paolo Rivera for this arc, that means we gain the other half of the artistic team, namely the equally-talented Marcos Martin, who did the backup story all the way back in issue #1. While he didn't do any any of the art for issues #2 and #3, it's clear that he hasn't been twiddling his thumbs in the interim, because this book is gorgeous.
Seriously, as good as Waid's writing is (and it's pretty great), Martin's superb pencils are simply breathtaking. His style is smooth and fluid, with an incredibly iconic quality to it. Indeed, his lines have a sense of timelessness to them, as if this comic could have been released at any point in the history of comics and still fit right in. I must also stress how exciting Martin's panel layouts and breakdowns are. There's a sense of playfulness and experimentation throughout that fits the tone of this book like a glove. Kudos must also be given to Munsta Vincente, the book's colour artist. While Martin's art is already stunning, Vincente's colours take it to a whole new level. This book must be seen to be believed.
Of course, brilliant art can only get you so far, and while Martin's work is quite brilliant, it is fortunately paired with Waid's equally impressive writing. Waid's Daredevil has been far more upbeat than other recent takes on the character, and this new interpretation has been making for a quality read. Of late, Matt Murdock has been having trouble taking on cases as an attorney, because most of New York is convinced that he is Daredevil. Although there is no substantial proof, the (admittedly correct) suspicion has resulted in all of his cases being thrown out, which makes lawyering a bit of a challenge. While this could be seen as an impossible obstacle , Waid's more positive Daredevil sees it as an opportunity. Instead of representing their clients in court, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson start coaching them on how to defend themselves. It's a clever solution to the problem, and one that really points to Daredevil's new found sense of optimism. No challenge is too great; you just need to find the right angle of attack.
This new approach to helping people is the focus of the issue, as Matt does everything he can to help others, whether it is through his legal advice or his extralegal vigilantism. It's really quite fun to see the many ways he can lend a hand, and his new altruism moves the story towards the next storyarc, as Matt goes to meet with Austin Cao, a blind man who wants to file a wrongful termination case against his former employer, Midas Investments. Things seem a little off as Mr. Cao explains the circumstances around his firing, and then the issue ends on a pretty intriguing cliffhanger that shows just how serious things really are.
Verdict - Buy It. This series continues to be one of the best superhero comics on stands right now. Waid and Martin offer yet another rock solid issue of Daredevil that does pretty much everything right. The tone, writing, and art all manage to support and reinforce one another in a way rarely seen nowadays. You owe it to yourself to be reading this comic.
Art by Emma Rios
As I mentioned in my review of the first issue of this mini-series, I've really been digging this comic. Nick Spencer showed us why he's one of the hottest writers around right now by penning what might be one of the only "couple" comic book issues ever written. The book was fresh, playful, and made use of parallelism and juxtaposition in some rather exciting ways. On the art side of things, Emma Rios provided some of the most visually pleasing and innovative pages I've seen in a long time. Taken together, these two creators combined for a fantastic opening issue that also doubled as the perfect (re)introduction to Cloak and Dagger.
Suffice it to say, I was excited for issue #2.
However, while a lot of the winning elements from the first issue are back, Spencer and Rios' second outing isn't quite as tight as their initial offering. The first issue had a very clear trajectory that directed the story in a clear manner from the opening through to the conclusion. This time around, the story is a tad muddled, jumping all over the place in both time and location. It by no means makes for a bad book, but this frantic pace, when combined with a few creative missteps, makes for a slightly weaker second issue.
The book opens on a mind-bending dream sequence that is rife with emotion and symbolism. Spencer does a great job on providing the content, but Rios absolutely steals this sequence, providing some stunning - and disturbing - visuals the likes of which I have not seen in any other comic book.
From there, the temporal confusion gets underway as Tandy is shown to be in the clutches of Mr. Negative. This reveal lasts for all of one page before the story flashbacks to her capture three hours prior, which also happens to coincide with the beginning of everyone turning into giant spiders, as hinted at in the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Rios shines once again, giving the reader some gruesome and terrifying panels of Dagger being overwhelmed by these monstrosities. It's a rather powerful moment, especially when Mr. Negative's Demons come in to "help", murdering these transformed innocents.
After another short foray in the present, where Mr. Negative informs Tandy that he has also captured Tyrone, there is another flashback to his capture. Described as "A short play in one act, staged two hours ago", I quite enjoyed the playfulness of this introduction, especially when contrasted with the real danger of the silent fight. Unsurprisingly, Rios does a great job on this sequence, with the exception of one panel. Rios is using a wonderfully loose and expressive style in this title, but I think it went a little too far towards the end of the sequence, because I can't figure out for the life of me how Tyrone was subdued. This moment really took me out of the narrative and made it hard to get back in for this issue's conclusion, which is unfortunate, because it's a pretty interesting finish, all things considered.
Verdict - Buy It. Despite my qualms, this remains a great read. The main problem is that this comic suffers in comparison to itself. Things are a little less clear and a little less focused this time around, but it's still a beautiful and well-written comic that also deserves your time and money.
So there you have it. Two rather solid books from Marvel this week. What did you think of them? Or were you busy reading some other exciting books? Feel free to share your thoughts!