“Echo Part Four: Two dogs fighting”
Writer & Artist: David Mack
Whilst it's tempting to write nothing in this section, the fourth part of "Echo" does contain a plot of sorts: Echo fights Wolverine, and they sit down and chat about their respective paths in life.
This issue continues the already negligible story of Echo's "Vision Quest", beginning with a few pages of fighting with Wolverine. Whereas in other hands this would be a chance to show off some exciting art. Mack shows up the weaknesses in his painted renditions (with only one double-page spread being noteworthy for its inventiveness as he leads us round a board-game-esque fight sequence), giving us abstract glimpses of combat in progress but never delivering a truly satisfying money shot. Subsequent talking-heads waver between childlike scrawlings and composed pencil renditions, revelling in an inconsistency which may be deliberate yet is decidedly jarring (witness the transition between a Hugh-Jackman fighting Wolverine and a pretty-boy fireside rendition). Also noteworthy is a sequence of four pages which manages to make do with only two or three reused pictures of Echo and Wolverine. showing the latter popping his claws in perhaps the most unispired way yet committed to paper. In short, the art - wchi has been one of the only reasons to maintain interest in this arc - lets itself down here.
The writing also bores and confuses where it should be interesting the reader, in an episode that is indulgent as it is wordy. Readers of this arc are already familiar with the concept of the vision quest; we know what Echo is doing in the mountains; we have seen for three issue already what Echo is trying to do: let's see her do it. Whereas previous discussions were just about justifiable, the talk in this issue just goes on and on and never goes anywhere, as though desperately trying to fill up pages (and doesn't even manage this, as we are short-changed a page at the end: think of it as more a blessing than a curse). The cliffhanger is that Wolverine is about to tell us a story: how will we live with the suspense for a month?
As a foreign element to the tale, Wolverine is handled particularly badly. Whilst the painted and pencilled renditions of him may be faithful (if, as mentioned, inconsistent) the way his character is written is barely recognisable. When did the gruff, uncommunicative, rough-edged rogue of the X-Men turn into a philosophising and zen mentor figure who lays his soul bare at the drop of a hat? Anyone tuning into this issue for the guest-star crossover would do well to look into any of Wolvie's other countless appearances, as they'll find a truer Logan there.
When it comes down to it, it's a shame that the undoubtedly talented David Mack has had his story (conceived as a miniseries) thrust into the main title and given to a waiting audience rather than letting a more suitable audience find him. If this meandering story was presented as a seperate title, an interesting sideline and addition to the Daredevil canon it may well have been better-received - I for one would have appreciated it on a different level. As it stands, most fans of the series will be wishing that Daredevil slowed to a bi-monthly pace (if neccessary) to give regular writer Bendis a chance to catch up, rather than this long-winded and potentially fan-alienating intermission.
Tedious and uninspired, the lacklustre plot is this time let down by something unexpected of David Mack: some repetitive and unimaginative art. The sooner Daredevil reaches issue #56, the better.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!