With this week’s Daredevil #11, the Omega Effect cross-over comes to an end. And, it’s not an altogether satisfying one, I’m sad to say. After the first panel below, I’ll get into some of the details of why this issue failed to fully deliver, but since that involves giving away the ending I’ll try to keep the first couple of paragraphs spoiler free and focus on the things I did like, leaving the rest of the post for those of you have already read this issue (or who don’t intend to for whatever reason). You’ve been warned, moving on.
If we look at this entire event as just a character study, or as a means of getting from A to B, where neither one of those points matter nearly as much as the journey itself, I have very few complaints. On the contrary, this has been a great way to showcase all of the players while keeping their interactions in character and tremendously enjoyable. I’ve gotten many laughs out of these three issues, including Daredevil #11. Also, focusing specifically on Matt Murdock for a moment, I am still convinced that Mark Waid is a natural when it comes to channeling our main character and that he has a profound understanding of what makes Matt tick and how he views his bigger mission as a superhero. Mark Waid has delivered top notch character work for twelve issues straight (including Daredevil #10.1), and that stretch continues here. It’s been a consistently fun, and engaging ride where we’ve had the chance to spend time with tremendously well-written characters. However, it pains me to see the great build-up we saw in Avenging Spider-Man #6 and Punisher #10 come to such a needlessly anti-climactic ending (see below).
The art is, once again, nothing short of amazing with great action scenes and interesting perspectives. Marcho Checchetto has a real knack for creating a sense of space and depth that pulls you into the scene, whether the panel has a wider scope or features a more intimate moment. The art has also been consistently clear and easy to follow which has been very beneficial to this story with its many different players and series of twists and turns. When it comes to the colors, Matt Hollingsworth brings his A game, in characteristic fashion. I actually found myself admiring the nuances of a brick wall. That’s saying something.
So, with all the great art, great character work and entertaining dialogue, what about this issue leaves me wanting something different? Or at least something more? Well, the way this story wraps up, it feels like being in the middle of a movie only to suddenly see the director walk on set saying “Okay guys, that’s a wrap,” and then watch the actors look at their watches and decide it’s time to go out for pizza. Frank Castle is seen uncharacteristically shrugging off the fact that nothing went like it was supposed to and patting himself on the back for giving it a try. Spider-Man is asking Daredevil to agree to hand over the Omega Drive, but doesn’t seem to care much one way or the other, while Daredevil finds himself exactly where he started. Which, incidentally, is an even bigger problem with how this ends up than having it seem too sudden and inconsequential. We end up with Daredevil in almost exactly the same position as where it all started.
A good story can – and should – be as much about the journey as the destination. (Incidentally a point I will be making in my long overdue Daredevil: Season One review which I hope to get to over the weekend.) But I think most people went into this event expecting the balance of power to look slightly different at the end of the story than at the beginning. This doesn’t mean that I was expecting a definitive end to all things Omega Drive-related. On the contrary, we know from solicitations of upcoming issues that the ramifications will be felt for quite some time. However, I don’t see why Matt still being in possession of an intact Omega drive is required for there to be long-lasting consequences. Simple vengeance, or even just suspecting that he has a copy of the information, would have sufficed. The way it all happens, the story manages to feel both too neatly wrapped up and frustratingly unresolved at the same time.
The criticism often leveled at cross-overs is that they are too often about rounding up a group of heroes just for the sake of putting them in a story together, where the story becomes nothing more than an alibi for doing so. With the Omega Effect, we had something very different going: a collaboration that felt organic, and which grew naturally out of a story that had been brewing in Daredevil for quite some time. There were also hints along the way (based on interviews with the writers) of the fall-out of the event affecting both the Daredevil and Punisher series in the coming months. Why, then, with everything going for it, does this story inexplicably end up giving this reader the feeling that the Omega drive was nothing more than a plot device to get these characters to team up? Yes, it was fun. Despite the destination leaving me cold, it was a fun ride getting there. But it feels as if there was so much potential for something more substantial.
Oh well, I will happily be re-reading this story for the humor, the many great character moments and the gorgeous artwork. As far as the rest goes, well… I’m looking forward to the complete change of pace of next week’s Daredevil #12.