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Daredevil #51

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer & Artist: David Mack
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens by reintroducing the reader to Maya Lopez (aka Echo) the deaf woman that mistakenly believed that Daredevil had killed her father, and used her mutant ability to duplicate any physical action she witnessed to give the Man Without Fear a pretty rough go of it. We then see her look back on her childhood, where we see her recollections are a bit scattered, as she remembers small pieces, and as such we're treated to a hodgepodge of little memories, such as the way the room would shake when her father laughed, or the time she spent of the reservation where she formed a special friendship with the tribal chief. We then see her memories arrive at the more trying moments of her life, as we see her remember the day her father was murdered, and this in turn leads to a fairly quick recap of the events that play out during her first meeting with Daredevil. We then learn what happens to Echo after she gunned down the Kingpin, as we see she ran away to Europe to immerse herself in the culture, and sought to find herself by studying art. However, while she managed to find some semblance of peace, her thoughts continue to be troubled by her unresolved feelings toward Matt Murdock. She then decides that the only way to deal with this problem is to return to America, and discover if there is really a future between her & Matt.

Comments:
This issue certainly looks and feels like it's offering up something truly profound, but having experienced the visual chaos that is this issue I must confess I found myself unimpressed by the lack of new insight it offers up about Echo. I mean basically the only element that I would even label new is the idea that Echo's native ancestry played a formative role in her upbringing. Beyond that though this issue doesn't even cover the ground all that well for the readers who might not have been around for her first appearance, as except for a couple of vague hints the idea that she possesses the ability to duplicate any physical action she witnesses is left untouched, and considering this is far an away the most compelling feature of the character, I found it a little odd that David Mack didn't do a better job presenting this aspect of the character. To me this would be like delivering an issue where Bullseye's ability to turn any object into a weapon, and his unerring accuracy with these weapons was left on the shelf, and the readers were called upon to find the character interesting by looking at his childhood, but this look couldn't include any clues about where his abilities came from, or what they would be. I realize that David Mack finds Echo a fascinating creation, but he needs to get a little more aggressive in selling the readers on why they should feel this way to.

Now it's clear that David Mack has written this arc with the idea that the readers have read Echo's original appearance, as while he does offer up a look back at the previous story, the material is so vague & scattered that I really can't see it being of much use beyond serving as a reminder for readers like myself that Echo was tricked by the Kingpin into believing Daredevil was responsible for her father's murder. We then learn what happened to Echo after she received her revenge upon the Kingpin, as she decided to run off to Europe and immerse herself in the rich culture of this continent in her search for answers about herself. Now this follow-up doesn't exactly make for a riveting read, but it does explain where she was while Matt was busy dealing with his current situation, and her declaration on the final page that she's worked up the courage to return to America to confront Matt does make for a nice method of encouraging readers to pick up the next issue. Now I'm not sure how closely David Mack is going to follow the current continuity Brian Michael Bendis has established, as the final page makes it sound like Echo isn't aware his secret identity has been compromised, and as such the idea that Matt's gotten himself a new girlfriend might not enter the picture. However, if it does it should be fun to watch Matt trying to deal with this rather sticky situation.

I've never considered myself an art connoisseur, and while I certainly present myself as an expert on comic art when I praise, or pick apart the work of the various artists in my reviews, the work of David Mack is something quite different from the typical work we see on comics. Now sure there are artists that employ a similar style, with Sam Kieth & Bill Sienkiewicz being two artists who are more about creating a mood, or atmosphere with their work. However, while I'm a big fan of both these aforementioned artists, I can't say I've really warmed to the work of David Mack, as there are times where I find his work is a little too unfocused in the mood trying to convey, or the idea it's trying to present, that I become annoyed by this lack of clarity. Now perhaps I need an artist's eye to truly appreciate the deeper meaning of the work, or the skill level involved, but my gut reaction to his work is that I'm simply not impressed. I mean Bill Sienkiewicz's work does a wonderful job conveying a sense of foreboding, or the terror of something lurking in the dark shadows, while Sam Kieth does an equally impressive job conveying the largely surreal aspects that are a regular part of his writing. On the other hand David Mack's work is a bit like someone has taken several different puzzles, thrown them together into a big box, and then it calls upon the reader to enjoy the visual confusion that results when one attempts to piece what they believe is a single puzzle back together.

Final Word:
To call this issue confusing would be letting it off easy, as even when one makes the effort to follow David Mack's work, the simple truth of the matter is that the material isn't all that interesting either. Now I realize that we need to be reintroduced to Echo, but one would think that David Mack would realize the value of playing up the more interesting aspects of the character. I mean this issue does a woefully poor job of filling newer readers in on Echo's abilities, as instead the book devotes its energy to delivering what has to be one of the most ponderous trips down memory lane that one could inflict upon the reader. I mean essentially David Mack has told us that Echo was born deaf, and she learned how to view the world in a new way thanks to this handicap. I mean that's really the entire sum of insight David Mack manages to deliver in the opening fourteen pages. I have nothing against a writer who likes to take their time developing a character, but I do have a problem with a writer who uses so many pages to offer up such little insight.



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