Best Shots Extra: DAREDEVIL #6, HAUNT #19

Best Shots Extra: DAREDEVIL, HAUNT

 

Daredevil #6

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 7/10

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Mark Waid has done something pretty amazing with his current run on Daredevil. He's taken a character that, for almost the last 20 years, has been the bleakest, most downtrodden character in Marvel's oeuvre and turned him into one if its brightest, most accessible heroes. Month in and month out, this book has been consistently entertaining and joyful, two things that more comics should aspire to. While Daredevil #6 isn't the high point of Waid's run so far, Marcos Martin's art is as good as ever, and more than makes up for a bit of a lull in Waid's writing.

This issue picks up where the last left off, with DD in hot pursuit of the corporate sponsored supervillain Bruiser, who's about as close to a classic Daredevil villain as it gets. With the ability to shift his center of gravity to any part of his body, throwing his entire mass into any blow, or preventing even a skilled grappler like Daredevil from tossing him, Waid's best script moments in this issue come from their fight. Daredevil's use of his heightened senses to locate weak points in Brusier's overtaxed bones is exactly the kind of device that Waid has used to great effect throughout this series. No other writer has done such a spectacular job of highlighting and using DD's signature powers, and it's that this fight is the only moment where they are put to great effect that makes this issue feel a little less electric than some of the previous five.

Waid's Daredevil is at its best when we're looking through the titular character's eyes, and there's less of that perspective than in the best issues of this run so far. I found myself wanting more of the moments when Matt Murdock's unique talents take the spotlight. That said, it's still light years ahead of most of what's on the stands today, so don't take that criticism too harshly.

Waid is aided immensely by the art team of Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente. Martin has long been one of Marvel's best artists; his skills as a cartoonist are almost unparalleled in today's mainstream market. His work on Daredevil is no exception. His eye for characterization elevates what would otherwise be a bit of a b-side story to a must-read experience with all the charm and grace that Mark Waid has worked so hard to inject into Daredevil himself. It's a shame that this is his last issue on this title, for the time being, but Paolo Rivera and upcoming artist Emma Rios are no slouches either, so there shouldn't be much of a drop in quality.

All in all, this isn't the best example of Waid's Daredevil, but there's still a lot to love. Bruiser is a welcome addition to Marvel's gallery of b-level baddies, and Marcos Martin's art should be enough to sell any book on its own. Daredevil #6 may not have been the fastest moving train out of the station, but it's still one well worth catching on a month-to-month basis.

 

Haunt #19

Written by Joe Casey

Art by Nathan Fox and FCO Plascencia

Lettering by Comicraft

Published by Image Comics

Review by Scott Cederlund

‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

With Haunt #19, the new creative team of Joe Casey and Nathan Fox accomplish three things.

The first thing they do is establish where the book is going. It may be a red herring (in fact, it probably is a red herring) but the issue opens with Haunt perched atop the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, cackling madly about fulfilling his destiny or some other comic book-y rant. He’s obviously not a hero or a good guy here as the world chaotically burns around him much to his delight. The opening caption tells us that this is the “near future” so it’s where Casey and Fox are going. Sure, there’s probably some misdirection going on here — can our “hero” really be this maniacal madman who watches the world burn? Maybe, maybe not.

After showing us where we’re going, Casey and Fox briefly recap where Haunt has been, introducing us to the brothers, one alive and one dead, who combine to be Haunt. They show us what it’s like to be the brothers and introduce us to a few members of the supporting cast. It’s not a recap but more like a Cliff Notes version of everything we need to know about Haunt.

And then, finally, they blow it all up and make sure that there’s no looking back. By the time Casey and Fox are done with the issue, almost everything they showed as part of the set up of the character is out the window. They keep the basic concept about the brothers, but everything else is blowed up real good.

Haunt #19 serves as an introduction to the character (or reintroduction if you’ve been reading it all along) before Casey and Fox tell you that they’re tossing out the old status quo and then make sure that it’s dead and buried so that they can start telling the story that will lead up to Haunt sitting on top of a giant Brazilian statue, raving about how he’s "the bringer of blood."

Nathan Fox’s artwork is wild, energetic but also cannot get out of its own way, particularly when it comes to the action sequences. Combined with FCO Plascencia’s glowing colors, the pages where all hell is breaking loose are muddy and confusing. Fox fills these sequences with so much niggling little details that it is nearly impossible to figure out how Haunt is separating shock troopers’ heads from their bodies or what his costume is doing at any given moment. With Casey’s focus on the character of the brothers, he and Fox leave out any information about Haunt or his abilities. His costume seems to have these numerous trailing appendages that flail about on their own, filling the panels with random trails of ink and color. It adds to the pandemonium of the comic but it also creates more distractions than it does clear storytelling.

When not filling the pages with whatever Haunt’s costume is made of, Fox has a nice, clear, easy and laid back style, reminiscent of Fabio Moon’s work on Daytripper and Casanova. Like Moon, Fox is good at expressing his characters personalities through fairly simple images. Fox even captures the big moments and gives them an epic feeling. There’s a one page image of a fiery warrior on a gigantic horse crushing the room that Haunt is sleeping in where Fox is able to throw in a good amount of damage and destruction without losing the clarity of his image. Whenever Haunt actually shows up in costume, that clarity disappears and Haunt seemingly loses all spatial relationship with everything around him.

Haunt #19 is a message to both new and old readers. To the new, Casey and Fox send a clear signal that you don’t need to know much beyond the basics of who and what Haunt is, even if they don’t make that perfectly clear in this issue. Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane told their stories while Casey and Fox are going to tell theirs. To the readers who have been around for the previous 18 issues, Casey and Fox signal that they know the old status quo but that it’s time to move on and tell new stories with these characters. Haunt #19 is pure chaos on the comic page. Sometimes that chaos is beautiful and evocative but other times its just confusing and too difficult to wade through.

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