Sound effects, word balloons and captions obviously have a very special (and often under-appreciated) place in comics. In a book like Daredevil, where sounds play such an important role in the unique world of the main character, sound effects have the potential to add even more to the overall reading experience than is the case for most other comic books on the stands. However, I have to be honest and say that I never paid much conscious attention to these things until the current run, which has really made me sit up and take notice.
The key to the successful use of sound in the current incarnation of Daredevil starts with having a writer like Mark Waid who seems to constantly be thinking about how to portray things from Matt Murdock’s perspective. Add to that the inspired visual storytelling of artists like Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martín, who have been equally committed to translating Daredevil’s senses into something that works in a visual medium. The final piece of the puzzle comes courtesy of skilled letterer Joe Caramagna who is able to add that final touch of perfection. All put together, Daredevil feels like a book that speaks to all of our senses.
Despite the 500+ post history of this site, this is the first time I’ve thought to give the spotlight to the sounds of the comic book page. With how well this particular dimension has been handled by all involved since last summer’s Daredevil #1, now seemed like the perfect time. So, I bring you, in chronological order, a list of ten favorite uses of sound from Daredevil, volume 3!
The Spot breaks a mobster’s neck, from Daredevil #1
Foggy has a loud snack habit, from Daredevil #1
In the back-up story from Daredevil #1, it is Marcos Martíns who turns the sound of Foggy chewing on snacks into a character in its own right. Set against a dark elongated corridor, the sound completely takes over the scene, reminding us of how it dominates Matt’s own perceptions.
Daredevil versus the Master of Sound, from Daredevil #3
This scene was just one of many from an issue where sound in all its forms came into play in many different ways (see also #4 and 5 below). As one might imagine, it was not an entirely pleasant experience for our horned hero. What I like about the panel above is how the sound effect is made to match the background, giving the impression of the sound being inescapable and literally all around.
The ill-defined honk, from Daredevil #3
After the intense experience in Klaw’s secret basement, Daredevil has been subjected to enough noise to cause some real damage. I really like how this effect is illustrated in the above panel by having the noise from the traffic look at once loud and ill-defined, almost distorted. Nice!
“I can’t hear you!”, from Daredevil #3
Yeah, all that noise made some real damage, illustrated by having everything Matt says in a larger font. For those of you taking notes, the “post rock concert” phenomenon Matt is experiencing here is called a (temporary) threshold shift. How is that for a great conversation starter at loud parties? 😉
Sound bullets, from Daredevil #5
As if going up against Klaw wasn’t bad enough, two issues later, Matt finds himself under attack again. This time he’s being shot at by a sniper while protecting his new client Austin Cao. Oh, and having the bullet trajectories also be a sound effect? Brilliant!
“Fa-thoom,” from Daredevil #5
Yeah, this one pretty much speaks for itself. Fa-thoom indeed!
A broken knee is a bitch, from Daredevil #6
Next issue, Matt gets his revenge against new villain Bruiser. The sound in this panel, that of a knee shattering, is big enough to literally take over the whole panel. Very cool-looking!
Matt’s noisy security, from Daredevil #8
This panel it littered with sound effects, which is exactly the point. It’s also a good example of how sound effects can be used to let us guess what’s going on without seeing it directly. One has to wonder where exactly Matt would put his keys while in costume though. 😉
Sploosh!, from Daredevil #9
Last but not least is this splash of water from the most recent issue, Daredevil #9. I like how it’s made to look like the sound effect is made up drops of water that could rain down on Daredevil at any moment. Also, “sploosh”? Yeah, I kind of like the sound of that.
This panel has really been trimmed down to the bare essentials with the chilling “sight” of The Spot breaking a man’s neck accompanied by the inevitable sound of bones breaking. Paolo Rivera has talked about how Daredevil, in the panel leading up to this one, covers the eyes of the little girl about to be kidnapped, to shield her from the horror while wanting to underscore that Matt doesn’t have the option of looking away. As of omni-directional radar sense weren’t bad enough, the oversized “KRAK” makes sure that, even if he could, the details of the mobster’s demise would not be lost on him.
Do you guys have any favorite sound effect moments? From Daredevil or comics in general, of course. Personally, I’m also partial to the sound of Spider-Man’s web shooters. 😉