“Echo: Part 3”
Writer/Artist: David Mack
In this, the third-part of Mack’s five-part Echo-centric story arc, Maya Lopez (aka Echo) pays a visit to the Kingpin before returning to the chief of her tribe and embarking on a “vision quest” that brings her closer to her native American roots. In the closing moments of the book, Marvel’s favourite ‘guest star’ is introduced which promises to take this arc in a more kinetic direction. And not a moment too soon…
Considering the fact that Echo’s face-to-face encounter with the Kingpin served as last issue’s cliffhanger, Wilson Fisk is dispensed with reasonably quickly a few pages into this issue. Their exchange is short but faithful to the characters, providing a glimpse of Fisk’s humanity as well as a sense of Echo’s burgeoning maturity in facing her past demons. The meeting serves as some sort of closure to their relationship, leaving Echo free to return to her family tribe and explore her native American culture and how it relates to her personally, through a lengthy discourse with her tribal chief. Embarking on a spiritual “vision quest”, Echo attempts to mentally cleanse herself and gain a new perspective on her life.
David Mack gets credit for making this wordy and ideas-filled issue interesting (his undeniably and consistently beautiful artwork playing a large part in this) whilst at the same time making the arc accessible to anyone who hasn’t read the original “Parts of a Hole” storyline which introduced Echo’s character. The story also serves as an interesting exploration of native American culture, especially for those (such as myself) who are relatively unfamiliar with their history. However, three issues in and with only two issues to go, the story element of this arc can’t escape the feeling that it is treading water. Instead of a taut, focused exploration of Echo as a character, there is the sensation of a meandering storyline with little or no plot, further confused by the throwing of Wolverine into the mix in the final pages: an addition which threatens to again shift the tone and focus of the tale away from any kind of cohesive narrative.
As an idea, this fleshing out of one of Daredevil’s more interesting recent supporting players takes a commendably different direction than the series’ regular super-heroics. However, it is a worry that such a character-based arc is becoming not only intellectually uninteresting but also lacking any real excitement, with no action to speak of, and failing to make use of Echo’s “super-powers” (her ability to imitate any movement she witnesses) in a story which is admittedly less a super-heroic tale than an internal meditation on Echo’s feelings and reactions her world. Wolverine’s appearance suggests that a more visually exciting direction will be taken next issue, but with only two issues to find some resolution to Maya’s story, the purpose for this sudden excursion into the more action-packed elements of the Marvel universe is difficult to foresee.
In reviewing this title, it is important to point out that “Echo” was originally planned as a miniseries which explored the deeper elements of Maya’s personality, culture and feelings: Mack has understandably made this clear when defending his work on messageboards. However, when inserted into the regular Daredevil series (especially in the middle of a large overarching storyline to which this arc pays little heed) the arc reads as little more than a stop-gap: a shame for a visually stunning addition to Matt Murdock’s world which, given some breathing space as a miniseries, may have flourished instead of trudging along in the regular title.
Despite Mack’s fantastic painted art and an explosion of ideas - both elements being different to the content of a lot of current mainstream comics - this storyline is threatening to collapse under the weight of its own slow-pacedness and lack of plot. Let’s hope that the closing two issues of this arc will provide some focus to the relaxed beginnings of Echo’s story.
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