“Chapter Two: Heat Wave”
Writer: Joe Quesada
Artists: Joe Quesada (p), Danny Miki (i), Richard Isanove (c)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: It’s difficult to remember what happened in the first issue of this now long-overdue series, so it’s a wise move for Marvel to include a recap page to bring the reader back up to date. As Matt deals with a new client – Maggie Farrell - whose husband shares an unknown past with Daredevil, a vicious new serial killer has begun to stalk the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. In addition to this, a new group of super-heros (or are they?) “The Santerians” has begun to show up, dealing with street-level villains before Matt can even make it to the crime scene. This issue sees just a little advancement of each of these plot strands, as a ragged-looking Daredevil hits the streets to exercise his demons, before meeting up with his Maggie and realizing that she may be the victim of an abusive husband. As the “Johnny Sockets” killings continue, Matt races across town to follow her husband Sean Farrell – although whether DD believes he may be linked to the serial killings isn’t made clear. There’s little time for such concerns though, because as the issue’s end approaches, yet another group of characters is introduced, as Matt finds himself taken out by Hell’s Kitchen’s newest super-group.
Truth be told, there’s not an awful lot of decent story to be found here, and after two issues I’m yet to be gripped by any of the plot threads. It seems as though there are some interesting nuggets of story ideas here, but that Quesada could have done a far better job in condensing them down into a more compelling and straightforwards storyline. However, for a lot of readers, the attraction here will be less the creator’s skills as a writer and more the return of Joe Quesada to illustrate the character of Daredevil.
Quesada’s art seems popular amongst comics fans, but it’s never really grabbed me. Here, his exaggerated anatomy and frequent use of large panels (or even full page splashes) strikes me as an outdated throwback to the 1990s, especially since contemporary comics art seems to be becoming increasingly sophisticated and less and less concerned with empty spectacle. Such stylistic concerns might be less of an issue if they didn’t affect the storytelling, but unfortunately Quesada’s penchant for big art slows the storytelling pace to a crawl in places - and for a book which makes hard work of juggling three very gradually-paced story strands, this is clearly a problem.
The artist’s take on Matt Murdock in this series is bulky and inhumanly muscular, and for me this takes away from the character. Daredevil has never been as lithe or wiry as Spder-Man, but his overall physique is still that of a normal, unenhanced man – and to look at Quesada’s renderings you’d think he was meant to be bigger than Schwarzenegger. However, one has to credit the artist for the level of realistic detail he brings to his illustrations – especially in the gritty, smokey backgrounds - which is only enhanced by Miki’s inks and Isanove’s painted colours, which add a real timeless quality to the book. There’s also a fairly strong sense of energy and movement to the artwork, which suits the graceful and dynamic motions of the title character well.
Joe Quesada seems like he’s attempting to channel Frank Miller circa Dark Knight Returns in his Daredevil: Father, as many of the hallmarks of that seminal work can be found here: the hot, stuffy atmosphere of a corrupt city in the middle of a stifling heatwave; an unfamiliar, craggy and aged look for the hero of the piece; a tendency towards brooding darkness with a gothic, dramatic use of light, shadow and silhouette; and a taut, overly serious interior monologue, which shows our hero reflecting on past trauma and channeling it into an impassioned drive to fight crime. Unfortunately, there are ways of doing this well, and there are ways of coming off as a poor imitation. This issue sadly misses the mark, both in terms of writing and art, and instead reads like an old issue of Spawn, even down to the opening TV-news framing device, the similarities are surprising, as Daredevil: Father comes off as overly pompous, slow-moving and pretentious, with barely enough story each issue to constitue a compelling plot. Sadly, these weaknesses are only compounded by the book’s haphazard shipping schedule – an interesting example for Marvel’s editor-in chief to set.
Daredevil fans would be forgiven for feeling some disappointment with this miniseries so far, as after being treated to a great DD mini in the shape of Gaydos and Hine’s Daredevil: Redemption, this pales in comparison. It feels like Quesada is writing Father from an artist’s standpoint, as it’s clear that for all his pretty visuals, there’s a deficiency in storytelling which can’t be remedied by a well-drawn splash page or a striking, stylized cover image. Unless Quesada can tie the myriad story strands into some kind of satisfying overall picture, this is going to come off as little more than an unfocused and slow-moving showcase for his artwork. A shame, as there’s definitely room on DD’s world for a miniseries which adopts a more straightforward and traditional superhero tone to that of his current core title.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!