The song Dreams by Fleetwood Mac is one of my personal favorites. I’m not sure why, but I can listen to it over and over and I never get tired of it. A few years ago, Irish sibling quartet The Corrs did a cover to this song. The newer version, however, leaves me completely cold. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve seen examples of the opposite too, when something stale and old is transformed by the sound of a new beat or a great new voice.
So, is this a post about music or about comics? Well, I guess I’m using the cover analogy to make a point about revisiting old themes, which is something we see quite a bit of in Daredevil #106. Most would say we’ve been here before, and I have to agree. The second question is whether it’s any good. Is this the cover to an old classic that beats the original hands down, or does it just feel tired?
For me, Daredevil #106 was a something of a disappointment compared to #105 last month. Where #105 was a masterpiece, #106 is the epilogue that does feel warranted (more on that below), but could have been handled better. In a sense it’s kind of like the inevitable hangover that follows the (somewhat sadistic) party that was #105. I’m not actually saying that this issue was bad or unsatisfying. Ed Brubaker has yet to write a single issue that leaves me cold, and #106 is no different. It is, however, my least favorite of his run so far.
Part of the reason for my relatively poor marks for this issue was the artwork by Paul Azaceta. I’ve read enough reviews to know that most were not happy with the art, whereas a handful of reviewers liked it quite a bit. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal tastes, but I have to say that the art looks a little too different from what we’ve seen so far. Or maybe not different enough. Going with a completely different style might have been a better choice. I think there are some panels that work quite well, and characters like Ben and Dakota look more than okay, but why does Foggy look like Pinocchio? And I’m not referring to the size of his nose, but to the fact that he looks like he was carved from a block of wood. And I have to agree with fellow blogger and DD fan Gloria (who I know liked the art more than I did) in questioning the wisdom of dressing Foggy in all plaid. Including the bow tie!
Aside from the artwork, let’s come back again to the question of the day: is the song any good? While I’m not sure this particular theme needed a cover, it is well-played. It revisits old themes, but it also pays tribute to the many times we – the readers – and Matt Murdock have been down this road before. This becomes both one of the strengths of this issue (showcasing Brubaker’s tremendous respect for continuity), and something of a pitfall. If the reader didn’t know that this wasn’t Matt’s first visit to the land of “anger and depression,” he sure does by the end of the issue. There’s quite a bit of needless wallowing going on. When Matt tells Dakota about having to keep his father’s things in a box in the attic because the scent of him is too strong up close, I had one of those “Oh, come on!” moments. The self-pity aspects of Matt’s story were obvious enough without the extra topping.
There are also quite a few really good redeeming points to this issue. One fresh approach is having the hero’s problems be at the center while being viewed through the eyes and minds of people around him. Brubaker is a master of the inner monologue and here we get to see him apply it to Foggy, Dakota and Ben. At the very beginning, I mentioned the necessity of this issue in light of the fall-out of issue #105. And I do believe that a story like this one, though it could have been better, was necessary to give the appropriate weight to the events that preceded it.
Part of the reason I feel so conflicted about this issue (if this review seems schizophrenic, there’s a reason for that), goes back to the events of last month. As much as I loved Without Fear, as a story, I’m still not sure how I feel about the current status quo. The party is over, and it’s time to pick up the pieces. I just hope Brubaker can piece our hero back together again. At this point, even the hardcore pain worshippers are looking for a break. Then again, maybe that was Brubaker’s point from the start. One can always hope.