Current Reviews


Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Ed Brubaker, Ande Parks
Chris Samnee
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula arrives in stores tomorrow, April 30.

Ande Parks was best known in the industry as an inker, until, in 2004 he debuted as a writer with Union Station and followed that up in 2005 with the acclaimed Capote in Kansas, which centered on the time Truman Capote spent in Kansas (duh) as he worked on In Cold Blood. If you don't know what In Cold Blood is, then Google it, read it, and see the films. They're all well worth your time.

Anyway, Chris Samnee did the art on Capote in Kansas and now they're together again continuing the story of Black Tarantula and his attempt to go straight and clean up his neighborhood (which isn't clearly defined, but seems to be part of Hell's Kitchen). Parks worked with Ed Brubaker on the Daredevil Annual that introduced this storyline and returns to the character here in what is solicited as issue #1 (but I don't know of any other issues in the pipeline).

Brubaker's name is on this, as he contributed to the development of the story with Parks, then Parks is credited with the script. I'm not sure who's responsible for what, but ultimately what we have is a solid script with good characterizations and effective dialogue, for what is kind of a generic plot.

The character of Black Tarantula is an interesting one, and the situation he's in is tailor made for comics. He's an ex-super criminal trying to be a good guy and clean up his neighborhood, kind of like Daredevil. The big difference is he doesn't necessarily care about the law. The distribution of confiscated drug money is a nice touch, with some going to the local church and some going to keep the police off his back. I like that.

What I'm not sure about is the rest of the issue. It seems that Black Tarantula's powers are mystical in origin, and his family runs the underworld in Argentina. Now that he's not running the old gang, they want his power back for their current leader. And the power is in his blood. Thus, the title.

It's a good idea, but the execution is kind of bland and doesn't really hold too many surprises. But it's well crafted at the same time. I didn't care much for the way the story wraps up, but we do get a vivid example of just how powerful Black Tarantula really is. And it establishes a functional reason for him to take on a secret identity, rather than flaunt his identity as he was doing at the beginning of the issue.

Something similar can be said for the art. Samnee's art is good. Very good. A quick check of his website reveals pen and ink work that is comparable to that of Sean Phillips or even Steve Rude. Seriously. For this project, though, he seems to have reigned in the natural energy of his work to make it closer to that of Michael Lark's regular Daredevil work.

That sounds bad, doesn't it? I don't mean it to. It's just that this looks a lot like Lark's work, rather than really bringing out Samnee's individual personality. This is similar to what goes on over in Captain America where a variety of artists work together to create a unified style for the book. There's almost a lack of individuality, but the cohesiveness makes for stronger storytelling. Workmanlike is a good term for that art and this.

When you see these pages, you can tell you're in the world of Daredevil (and by extension, Iron Fist, who's title also usually shares this sensibility).

In the end, though, because the story falls a little short, and the art isn't as distinctive as it could be, Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula ends up being just average. But there's potential here. Both the writer and artist have really only started working over the past four or five years, and they're both kind of restrained here by having to fit this story into a particular mold. This is an okay addition to the Daredevil portion of the MU, but isn't really a very distinctive one.

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