Bridge issues are awful hard to do right. Even when you've taken the time to place clues throughout the prior issues that point to where things are going to go, it can be a challenge to transition from one story to the next while maintaining the same type of excitement and enthusiasm that goes on in the middle of a thrilling tale of interest.
Unfortunately, the bridge issue problem is exactly what Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera find themselves up against in Daredevil #9. They're picking up on a number of hints and asides that have come up in earlier issues, and while there's a lot of interesting things going on - and, as always, some gorgeous art to accompany it all - there just aren't enough details offered to explain everything that's going on in a satisfying manner.
Instead, we get a bunch of things that just sort of happen. Matt Murdock discovers that subterranean tunnels have been dug under a cemetery and a number of caskets (and the bodies within) have been stolen - including his dad's. This is obviously kind of a big deal for Matt, so he jumps in half-cocked to investigate. From there, we get Moloids, a dust-up with said Moloids, Matt striking the River Styx pose you see on the cover, and a confrontation with the Mole Man without any real idea of what's going on. Things don't go so well for Matt, as he is subdued and subsequently thrown into a death pit. All the while, Mole Man continues to open up caskets until he finds the corpse of a beautiful (at least for a dead person) lady and starts dancing with it.
This is all well and good, but it doesn't really make a lick of sense at present. Obviously Daredevil will survive the death pit, Mole Man will monologue his dastardly plan, and Daredevil will KO him in round 2, but that's going to happen next issue. This issue is all set up and no explanation. It'll read find in trade, but as a single issue, Daredevil #9 is pretty danged weak. As interesting as this will probably end up being, it's pretty underwhelming at the moment.
This issue seems to be teeming with unfulfilled moments, as Waid spends the first part of the comic slowly cancelling out Matt's senses due to various outside natural coincidences, and the idea is actually a really good one, but the execution doesn't lead to anything. Matt ends up with both his sense of smell and hearing at huge disadvantages, and although he is beaten by the Mole Man, it has nothing to do with his impeded sense and everything to do with his rushing in to fight without a plan. Again, considering Waid's writing pedigree, I feel like the sense deprivation is going somewhere, but nothing comes of it this issue, which is a major let down.
Fortunately, while Waid doesn't quite pull his weight this time around, Rivera more than keeps up his end of the bargain. The underground (and blatantly hell-like) landscapes that fill this issue really give him the chance to spread his artistic wings and give the reader some absolutely stunning pages. While the ultimate driving forces behind this episode are yet to be revealed, Rivera does his darndest to allay the reader with the darkest issue he's done thus far. I, of course, mean that from a lighting perspective, as Rivera has Daredevil slink through this inky and moody underworld.
Verdict - Check It. As a single issue, Daredevil #9 doesn't do so hot. Waid's writing is too vague here to provide much meaning to what goes on, which makes for a surprisingly unsatisfying read considering everything that goes on. While the fact that this comic will look much better in trade isn't much of a consolation to those who actually picked it up in singles, Rivera's wonderful art definitely takes some of the edge off.
I know we're six issues in to this crazy adventure, but I'm still sometimes having a hard time believing that we have such a good Wonder Woman series happening right now. Fortunately, we keep getting a great new issue dropping every month to remind me.
Unsurprisingly, Wonder Woman #6 is no exception to this wonderful new state of affairs. Diana tries to negotiate with Poseidon and protect Zola from attacking centaurs at the same time, while Lennox discusses a similar deal with Hades during a walk through the underworld. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for a pretty great issue to me, and the ingredients definitely deliver.
I've said it before, but the best part of this series is how it fits perfectly within the tropes and traditions of classic myth, yet is thoroughly modern at the same time. It truly feels like some modern day myth making by Brian Azzarello. The narrative is filled with scheming, hubris, and double and triple-crosses, but it also has all the elements of a superhero you could want, including action-packed fights, witty one-liners, and profound and heady concepts being bandied about. I honestly have a hard time imaging what more Azzarello could be putting into this tale at present.
But at the same time, I must admit to not being terribly fond of Tony Akins' pencils in this issue. He can be quite good - and there are some great looking panels spattered throughout these 20 pages - but just as often, his work can come off as looking a little sloppy and rushed. Considering he was brought in as a fill-in artist for two issues in the middle of the run, that likely goes a long way to explaining the mixed bag of quality, but whatever the reason behind it, it ends up hurting the reading experience. For every shot where Diana looks like a complete badass, there's two where things don't quite look right, which is rather frustrating. On the plus side, kudos must go to Akins for his awesome depiction of Hades. I'm in love with the candle-hair. It's brilliant.
I also appreciate that Azzarello manages to find room within the battles of gods and mortals to slip in some humour. Certainly, Wonder Woman is far from a laugh a minute, but the jokes that do find their way into these pages always seem appropriate and often elicit a pretty decent chuckle, at the very least. I'm thinking in particular of the moment where Lennox says "God a'mighty..." in surprise, a comment that is immediately followed by Hermes, Hades, and Poseidon all casually responding, "Yes?" Gold. Pure gold.
Verdict - Check It. Azzarello continues to bring his A-game, but Wonder Woman suffers without Cliff Chiang's masterful presence. Fortunately, he'll be back next month to pick right up from this suspenseful conclusion. I can't wait.
Verdict - Buy It.
Verdict - Buy It.
Verdict - Buy It.
And there we have it. A week filled with a pile of fun, enjoyable books. Did you manage to get your hands on Peter Panzerfaust? What did you think of it? And what did you think of the rest of the week?