The Devil You Know
By Alan Donald
"Parts of a Hole, The Conclusion"
Writer: David Mack
Artists: David Ross (p), Mark Morales (i)
Publisher: Marvel Knights
Plot: The lasy part in the much-delayed series - the blind Daredevil faces off against the deaf Echo.
Let's get the bad bit out of the way first. The Preview edition of this comic had a few pages loose and out of place in the book, a bit of judicious editting later and the story came together. If the published version is as badly put together as this, then a few people might be confused and end up scrapping the book entirely, which would be a shame because there's a classic story waiting to be unearthed.
The diligent reader can get around this easily enough, then we move on to why this book was so late. Well, this issue is the first in this storyline that Joe Q had no artistic input to, Dave Ross took on the full pencilling chores, and this came out just a month after #14. The natural assumption is that the timing problems have been purely down to JQ and his new position, although it would've been nice to have this acknowledged earlier in the run to avoid the scheduling disruptions.
However, given that this storyline is a dead cert to be collected into a TPB form, and sooner rather than later, you'd find that this is comic book writing and art of a quality and synergy that is worth of comparison to Watchmen. If this book was written full script, then I am blown away by Mack's mastery and vision along with Ross's skillful adaptation. If, however, this was Marvel's plot-only method, then I don't know what to think - everything gels and blends so perfectly together that it's almost magical.
Mack and Ross walk a very fine line with a work of this type - too little skill in one discipline and they'll end up with surreal mess that nobody gets; too little skill the other way, and you'd have an over-blown parody, pretentious and disastrous. It would be like Alan Moore's writing coupled with my art in one direction, and my writing coupled with Alex Ross's art in the other!
The guys walk the fine line between crappiness, genius and madness very well, and the whole kit and kaboodle emerges as a wonderful single issue of a comic, and a terrific final issue of a series. The series itself is a body of work that will stand in immortality as a piece of class graphic literature in TPB form, which has also always been readable in single issue format. Basically, it's how comics should be.
Why am I raving? Well, story-wise this issue is little more than a superhero slugfest, with a smattering of a villain's autobiography inserted for good measure. The story itself is good fun, well-paced and well-executed. OK, it's hardly Shakespeare, but what sets this comic apart is structure. The text isn't simple introspection of a brooding hero, or an overly descriptive narration of the action on the page. No, what we have here is a juxtaposition of words and art; ideas bouncing off of visuals, and visuals used to prompt ideas.
Unlike the way JLA #51 jumps disconnectedly from place to place, this flows seemlessly from idea to idea, often in a disjointed way, but never confusingly, never distractingly - simply put...this is beautiful.
BUT!! - it's so bloody late! Comics like these shouldn't be put into the system until they are completed. This is no joke (but Stuart Moore's apology (and stated aim for 2001) at the end was nice). Along with DF and poor comics, lateness is contributing to killing the industry. Marvel is trying to sort itself out, but we still get weird bits like X-Men Forever coming out after X-Men #106. Why is that a problem? Well, in the normal X-Men comics we now have the film versions of Toad and Mystique, and there was no explanation for this...except the explanation is in the X-Men Forever prequel, which should've come out first!
How this is relevant to Daredevil is the recently concluded Daredevil/Spider-Man miniseries which featured a blind Kingpin, but for no apparent reason. Except the reason is in this issue, which should've come out before Daredevil/Spider-Man #1 did, nearly four months ago!
Speaking of the Kingpin, his past is covered here, a great component in the overall story, with aspects of Lex Luthor, Al Capone and what almost appears to be a degree of autism. The Batman-style acquisition of his physical ability is good, albeit an oft-used plot device (a trip to the Orient). I think one question remains unanswered - is the Kingpin a mutant? His youthful experiences would appear to say no, but as mutant powers tend to reveal themselves through puberty and the teenage years, this could maybe explain his sheer resistence, strength and agility despite his bulk. What a twist that would be - Kingpin = Mutie. You heard it here first.
Daredevil #15 is, in a word, awesome. I can say no more.
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