Comics has an accessibility problem. After decades of existence some books can be really hard to ease into. That’s why the infamous “jumping on point” was created — single issues designed to garner new readers and lure back old fans. Each week brave surveyors Luke Miller and Jamil Scalese will venture into the comics abyss and let you, the consumer, know just which series are worth JUMPING ON, and which are better left to be revisited at a later date.
(Charles Soule; Matteo Buffagni; Matt Milla)
Jamil: We’ve got a good lather going, Luke.
I think we’ll both admit the purpose and drive of this column is just a tad bit interpretative. Week to week our focus shifts from relaunches of established franchises to brand new concepts, novel spins on classic ideas, and so on. In examining Daredevil #6 we’re tapping into the heart of the spiritual aim of Jumping On — how does one find access points into the sprawling and tricky mythology of most established comic book characters?
Over the recent years Marvel has adopted a new philosophy to numbering and it generally comes down to “fuck it”. Diehards probably freak out every time they launch a new #1 when there is a new creative team or plot break but I can’t deny it’s really a damned good way to pick up readers.
Luke: I was actually thinking of the purpose of this column this week as well. We obviously never pick an issue in the middle of a story arc – that would just be insanity. We’ve always gone #1’s or “something new” be it an arc or creative team or whatever else we decide. We then just decide if it’s worth reading or not.
This was the first time I felt like we picked something that wasn’t a “fresh start.” (Unintentionally, of course, it just turned out that way.) I have very little idea what’s going on with Daredevil in this book, and I’ve read a lot of DD in my day – all of Miller, Bendis, Brubaker, most of Waid, some others thrown in here and there. With this issue, we have a bunch of curveballs to the status quo – Matt’s secret identity is secret again (Mephisto? Superboy-Prime? As of yet unexplained retcon? I don’t know.) There’s an invisible sidekick. Matt’s suit is black and white for some reason.
This isn’t meant as criticism, rather the non-fresh-start-ness of it. This book walks a fine tightrope of trying to acknowledge there are differences, while at the same time trying to persuade us that the differences don’t matter.
Jamil: I’m a Marvel guy but I’ll admit that I’ve read very little Daredevil, especially considering how much classic material there is out there. Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada’s “Guardian Devil” was probably my first legit foray into Hell’s Kitchen and I’ve only dabbled since. However like most of the world I’ve grown into a DD fan after watching over 25 hours of live-action charitable law firms and gratuitous hallway beatdowns. The Netflix show has taught and/or reminded fans of the character’s unique greatness.
I actually thought this issue felt a lot like a #1. Aside from a few blind spots, one literally named Blindspot, I could follow what Charles Soule was dishing out. The why of Matt’s secret identity reset really doesn’t matter (to me), there seems to be other focuses in his life that the writer is trying to highlight. The sidekick seems a little gimmicky or hollow at first, but I kind of love the new dynamic it creates for the longtime solo act. The new suit is slick and a lot of fun (though the Silver Age duds are still the best). The best change might be Matt Murdock’s flip from private defense attorney to working for the city. On a subtle level that changes up the protagonist’s civilian life in a major way.
Let’s be real though, this issue is basically one big fight scene with some sexually taut exposition added in. That’s why I find it pretty accessible, there’s not much going on beyond a furious Elektra kicking the shit out of Matt and a final page mini-bombshell. It’s more a visual adventure than a narrative one. The comic’s all about Buffagni and Milla; they put a dynamic spin on the neon noir world of Daredevil.
Luke: Ah, gratuitous hallway beatdowns. If we ever start a column on the MCU/Netflix universe that’s easily going to be our title. I can’t wait to see how many bullets Luke Cage takes to his unbreakable face before punching three dudes through a wall. But I’m digressing. I thought the art was the real highlight here. The black and white with red flashes was cool to see – and it’s always fun to see how artists play with the world of a blind protagonist. Plus the contrast between the Daredevil scenes (the vivid black/white/red) and the Matt Murdock lawyer-y scenes (muted greys, a lot of… I dunno, beige, I guess?) really showcased the difference between the two aspects of the man’s life.
For not having a whole lot of story here, I was definitely entertained. I mean, this literally was “Matt gets his ass kicked, lawyer flashback, Matt continues to get his ass kicked, another flashback, Matt finds out why he’s getting his ass kicked.” There wasn’t a ton of substance, but there was a lot of flash, and I liked it quite a bit. The fanboy/continuity nerd in me wishes there was more explanation for the subtle changes to the status quo, but the realist in me knows I’m also too lazy/poor to go find back issues, so I’m just going to roll with what’s presented here and say it was a solid all-around outing.
Jamil: You just poked right at the bigger idea we were opened this convo with. Marvel is at the point where they’re slapping a banner on the front of comics that announce the start of a new storyline. That’s an age old industry sales ploy, but an entire foldout reminding you about comics that just launched? Wowza.
The grand point of this new market is to get you, ardent comics fan Luke Miller, to buy that first trade (out May 24th, kiddos!) after you were reminded how badass Elektra was in the show, and, oh yeah, if you want some Frank Castle action Daredevil/Punisher comes out this Wednesday. Funny how that lines up.
Soule is was capable writer and will serve the franchise very well. The art is a blast and works to bring in the Netflix fans “off the street”. We lazy/poor are doomed to our fate but I’d venture those who invest in this series will feel they got their dollar’s worth.