“Enemy of the State: Part 5 (of 6)”
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i)
With Wolverine still brainwashed by the Hand and Hydra – and with a whole lot more apparently going on behind the scenes if you read the recap page – he targets Matt Murdock – Daredevil - for death and re-animation as an agent of evil. However, it seems that Logan didn’t reckon with Elektra’s interference on the scene. Or did he…?
For the most part, this issue is a fun fight sequence which is a great showcase for the talents of artist John Romita Jr. His chunky, simple style suits the showdown between Daredevil, Wolvie and an army of ninjas well, and we get to see some visceral action from both sides. As the fight rages in Murdock’s apartment, we also see new enemy the Gorgon drop in on Elektra for a rooftop tête-à-tête, and he proves a tougher challenge than expected for the experienced assassin. As the issue draws to a close, we learn that writer Millar has been trying to bluff the reader, as the true target for re-animation is revealed, as well as an assassination plot which is bigger than S.H.I.E.L.D. had expected. The art really makes this book worth a look, and fans of Romita will find more of the same high-quality solid superhero storytelling here, aided by the faithful, precise inks of Klaus Janson.
However, for all the fun and simple super-hero action that this issue offers, something feels a little lacking in its execution. Maybe it’s the fact that it feels more like an issue of Daredevil’s own series than that of Wolverine: you’d certainly have to be familiar with that title’s history and characters to really appreciate what’s going on here, and understand the significance of the Matt/Elektra relationship. However, if you were a keen Daredevil reader, you might be a little disheartened by the poor show that Elektra puts on whilst fighting the Gorgon here – and the final page ‘twist’ will be likely to invoke less shock and more déja vu among faithful followers of the character involved. The larger plan that Millar hints at here is also questionable: it sets up an exciting conclusion of the arc next issue, sure, but one has to wonder why Hydra has been going to the bother of recruiting so many “masks” if that’s the full extent of their ambition.
This arc has been the comic equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster – over hyped and lacking in substance, but fine if you want to switch off and read something a little less challenging for a while. I enjoyed this particular issue more as a fan of Daredevil than of Wolverine, but as a whole the arc feels like it lacks a real drive or focus. A lot of the details of what Wolverine’s up to seem to be being made up as Millar goes along, but kept vague enough to not give any firm hints as to how they will affect the final chapter of the story. The ever-more-confused inner monologue suggests that Wolvie may be about to break away from Hydra’s control – and he gets a brief respite at the end of this issue – but to be honest, there hasn’t been much advancement of either plot or character beyond the formulaic “Wolverine v good-guy-of-the-month” for the last four issues. The ending of this installment suggests a different tone for the arc’s conclusion next issue, but Millar will have to wrap up the arc pretty impressively if he’s going to keep the reader’s attention for his next six-issue opus.
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