Since this is a fairly early review and many have not yet read the issue, be warned that there are spoilers ahead!
Daredevil #5, which came out earlier this month, was one of my favorite issues of Mark Waid & Co.’s run so far (both volumes included). Daredevil #6, however… I’m just going to come out and say it: This was not my cup of tea. It may be somebody else’s, but I just can’t see myself getting too invested in this Original Sin two-part tie-in. (But hello, Purple Man in September! Yea!)
I know some of us were worried that Jack Murdock’s reputation would be tarnished by what we were going to see in this issue, and I guess there was a legitimate cause for concern. Here we learn (at least from the looks of things) that Jack abused Matt’s mother, which can hardly be seen as flattering. On the other hand, it does make sense considering Jack’s known history of violence.
Oddly enough, this history is apparently overlooked. Later in the issue, Matt claims that Jack never laid a hand on him which sounds odd to me. Man Without Fear may no be one hundred percent “canonical,” but Matt is definitely beaten by his father in that story. I can’t quite remember off the top of my head if there are other cases from the main title, but I’ve always had a sense that Jack did right by Matt most of the time, but was far from perfect and definitely had a dark side. Am I the only to have this impression? I’m actually a little curious about that now. There may be more to this revelation that we see here however, and I guess we’ll learn more next issue.
Either way, Matt obviously goes looking for his mother to find answers and ends up being pulled into a massive conspiracy. This is where things get kind of far-fetched. Maggie and two of her fellow sisters are apparently into civil disobedience. (Not really feeling that one either.) This, in turn, leads to an arrest and an extreme chain of events that sends her to Wakanda. This at first seemed really contrived to me, though I admit that, by the end of the issue, Waid and Rodríguez do enough work to at least create a somewhat plausible chain of events, even if that entails painting a picture of the U.S. as practically lawless in the process (are the Serpents still in charge, or what’s going on?).
It strikes me that another reason this issue feels a little off is that there is so much narration, by Matt himself, at the expense of character interaction. This builds up more distance between me, the reader, and the characters in this story. I’m not experiencing events unfolding as much as I’m just having them told to me, in a somewhat clinical fashion. Does that make sense? The issue becomes a case of “first this happened, then this happened, which lead to this happening.” and boombadaboom, Matt is gearing up to go to Wakanda. And I find myself not really being all that psyched about going.
To be sure, there is nothing technically wrong with this issue, and Javier Rodríguez’s art is absolutely fantastic, as always, but there’s something missing, that certain je ne sais quoi that has been so consistently successful in pulling me into nearly every issue.
I also found the scene of Matt uncovering the devious plot at the heart of this issue, which takes him to the Wakandian embassy, a little too convenient. Amping Matt’s superhearing up to ridiculous levels is not new. Brubaker did it when he sent Matt out to look for Mister Fear by listening from a rooftop. Bendis once had Matt listen to Hector “White Tiger” Ayala crying in the basement from a rooftop and Miller had him pick out a distinctive cough by sorting through the din of the entire city.
The fact that it’s been done before, even by some of the best, doesn’t make it a great idea (at least not in my book), and I’m used to Waid being much more clever than this when it comes to writing Daredevil’s senses. The scene in which Daredevil is seen listening in on the entire building “at once” does give us some magnificent artwork, however, so major kudos to Javier Rodríguez for that. Meanwhile, I’m just going to pretend he heard all those voices through the ventilation system and not through several layers of concrete. 😉
I really hope Daredevil #7 can get me more invested in this story. And if I sound a little cranky here, it’s only because I know how jaw-droopingly good this book can be – and almost always is. This issue just wasn’t for me. But that’s okay.
Before I let you go, and to balance things a bit, I will tell you what I did like about Daredevil #6. Of course, there was some of that too. The last few pages, where Daredevil is actually in the office of a Wakandian representative, are well-executed and more in line with what I’m used to with this book. Recent events, i.e. Matt’s new public identity, are used as a plot device to create a legitimate threat against his safety, and the tension builds. The way Matt’s agony is portrayed on the page is also very well-done. He looks absolutely beaten by the end of it, at which point the events of this story start feeling more real than they had earlier in the issue.
I also appreciate the narration at the very beginning of the issue, through the flashback to the big fight scene alongside the Avengers. Matt’s admission that he shouldn’t be there reinforces his past opinions about huge fight scenes, and recognizes the obvious conflict between Daredevil’s senses working the way they do and the reality of full-on cosmic war. The internal monologue leading up to the fight scene is also really strong, in my opinion.
Well, that’s it! What did you guys think? Are you skeptics like me, or did you feel differently about this issue? Let the rest of us know in the comment section!