mark waid

STK529420You guys…seriously, you guys…I mean seriously…wow, just wow.

This is easily one of the best comics I’ve read this year.  I know we’re not very far into the year, but this one’s going to hold up because man it is good.  This is one of a handful of Marvel titles that you absolutely should be reading and it’s one of a smaller handful titles that I can recommend to anyone without reservation or caveat.  From top to bottom, art to coloring to writing, there is literally nothing in this series that is not firing on all cylinders.

By way of background, Daredevil enjoyed a substantial period of tremendous creative quality.  Brian Michael Bendis turned mainstream comics on it’s ear with his wickedly experimental work on his Daredevil run before passing the baton (ha, see what I did there…) off to the able hands of Ed Brubaker.  Brubaker dragged Matt Murdock through a torturous and brilliantly written run in which no punches were pulled.  Then Shadowland happened.  The less said about that particular creative debacle the better.  Thankfully, Marvel handed the series editing duties off to Stephen Wacker and brought in Mark Waid to right the ship.  Thus we are 26 issues in to what may be one of the best single character runs I have ever read.

Issue 26 is a culmination of threads which Waid planted back in issue one over 2 years ago.  Mark Waid picked up Daredevil at his lowest point in years, both creatively and in terms of Matt Murdock’s life, and set about the work of rebuilding the character from essentially scratch yet managed to maintain strong ties to the work that was done before, including adding validity to the absurd events of Shadowland.  Waid, in what has become his characteristic fashion (see Legion of Superheroes and more recently The Indestructible Hulk), stripped the character bare and pulled the true essence to the forefront.  From that point, Waid has weaved a tale spanning 26 issues and presented a series of ever increasing dangers and more complex questions for the reader to puzzle through.  For the last several issues, it’s been clear that someone has been pulling the strings and systematically tearing Matt Murdock apart.  This issue finally clues the reader to who that someone is and its excellently crafted revelation that I won’t spoil here.  I will only say that it works.  Well played, Mr. Waid.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the stellar artwork.  Chris Samnee has been working on a Daredevil for quite some time now and we should all be hoping he sticks around for quite a while longer.  His deceptively simple style lends itself well to the character and the way he presents Daredevil’s senses to the reader is a masterstroke.  It’s definitely some of my favorite art in comics at the moment.

So, to sum it up…you need to do yourself a favor and read Daredevil.

 

10/10

I’ll come clean up front…I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk. There I said it.

Maybe I should clarify and say that I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk in practice.  That is to say, I’ve never been able to maintain interest in an ongoing Hulk series.  I mean, I’ve tried.  Seriously, I have.  I like the concept of the Hulk, I like the Hulk in movies and cartoons (I still guffaw when I think of the infamous “Puny God.” Scene in Avengers).  But, the comics – well, they’ve just never done it for me.

And then Marvel NOW!

You ask me what about Marvel NOW! brought my attention to the big green guy?  Well, five words actually.  Five words in one of Marvel’s teasers caught my eye – Mark Waid and Leinil Yu.  The way I figured, if Mark Waid – he of Daredevil fame and the man I would argue wrote one of the most perfectly crafted 12 issue arcs in all of comics with his reboot of the Legion of Superheroes – if that guy couldn’t put a spin on the Hulk that got my attention?  Well, odds were that it was never going to happen.  And Leinil Yu was simply icing on the cake.

And you know what, Mr. Waid pulled it off.  I’m hooked and thus, here we are at Indestructible Hulk #3.

So, a quick recap for those of you who haven’t read the series to this point.  Bruce Banner has finally come to terms with the distinct possibility that he cannot, at present time at least, rid himself of the Hulk.  Moreover, he’s wasted his Tony Stark-Reed Richards-T’Challa level intellect for YEARS trying to do just that.  So to make a long story short, Banner approaches SHIELD and says “Listen, guys, you give me a lab and some world class geeks and I’ll have you rolling in cool, world changing stuff.  And as an added bonus, when I Hulk out you just point me at the bad guys like a great big green WMD, then come in and get me once the clean-up starts.  It’s a win-win.”  SHIELD eventually says “A-Ok” with a few caveats and our series is off.

Issue #3 picks up with Mariah Hill finishing up the interviews for Banner’s geek squad, which seems to be a pretty eclectic bunch to say the least.  Meanwhile, SHIELD agents elsewhere are setting the Hulk loose on AIM compound through a pretty clever bait and switch.  The proceeding pages are filled with panel to panel wanton destruction as the Hulk clears the AIM facility.  The opening represents a great setup for things to come as each of prospective character for Banner’s lab team is given just enough space and eccentricity to intrigue the reader.  Be it the mad scientistish type, the ones who want to learn from Banner, or the one who seems to have a potential Hulk fetish – it should be an interesting mix.

But, thanks in no small part to the art of Leinil Yu and the coloring Sunny Cho, it’s the Hulk pages that really shine.  I’m going out on a limb and saying right now that no one has ever the drawn the Hulk better than Leinil Yu is right now.  Yu’s Hulk is dynamic and appears astonishingly powerful.  Moreover, this Hulk looks positively menacing, his face often a growl draped in shadow with sinew, vein, and muscle seemingly ready to burst.   I feel like one thing that artists and writers often overlook is the devastating speed the Hulk is capable of.  Yu plays with perspective and blurs and muddles his usually tight lines to give a sense of acceleration and burst in the Hulks movements.  And, of course, Yu’s pencils are perfectly accentuated by the palette Sunny Cho has put together for the series.  This is the most powerful creature on Earth and the physics behind his movement should be terrifying and awesome to behold.  Yu makes that so.  Hulk is a force of nature – here we believe that.

Hulk Smash…

So far, for me, the books only downside is Banner himself who was engaging in his appearance in the first issue but ever since seems fairly unlikable.  Perhaps he doesn’t need to be.  We’ll see.

On a final note, this issue had the funniest final page of the week in my opinion with the introduction of “R.O.B” SHIELD’s “Recording Observation Bot”.  Banner wasn’t particularly pleased with good ol’ R.O.B. and apparently neither is the Hulk.  The last two panels literally made me laugh out loud.

Sound off below…

9/10

Justice League: Tower Babel

Discussing the modern Justice League classic: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid and Howard Porter

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