Charles Soule was a virtual unknown when he started on Swamp Thing in 2013. Since then, he’s written some of comics biggest characters, from Superman and Wonder Woman to Deadpool and Wolverine. December saw him tackle the man without fear with the launch of a new volume of Daredevil. Drew sat down with Soule to go through issue 1 page by page, so get your copy handy and join us on the Commentary Track. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 1, originally released December 2nd, 2015.
You might know me as Matt Murdock, defence attorney, here to help. That guy’s gone.
Matt Murdock, Daredevil 1
Drew: We’re living in the age of the comics auteur. We may not have yet settled exactly who the auteur is in a work that is written, drawn, colored, lettered, and edited by five (or more) different people, but so long as they work together in largely uninterrupted runs, we don’t really need to. That is to say, we may not be able to assign auteurship to one individual on, say, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run on Daredevil, but we can appreciate that they brought a distinct set of sensibilities to the character that are unique to their collaboration. On the whole, I think this is a good thing — it allows creators to play to their own strengths and follow their own interests — but it makes the prospect of following a beloved run particularly daunting. What works for one creative team might not work for another, which means that anything from costumes and character designs to theme and overall tone might be subject to change. Indeed, with the freedom (and perhaps pressure) for each team to bring their own take on the character, those changes are unavoidable. Daredevil 1 features plenty of changes from its previous volume, but writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney quickly set about showing why those changes are going to work. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 18, originally released September 2nd, 2015.
Act three: The climax occurs as well as the dénouement, a brief period of calm at the end of a film where a state of equilibrium returns. In other words, it is simply the resolution.
Wikipedia, Act (drama)
Drew: It might be reductive to call the final act of a story the most important, but it certainly defines what kind of story it is; is it a tragic or optimistic? Is it about how people and things change or about how they stay the same? Is it about satisfying resolutions for the characters, or satisfying resolutions for the plot? I’ve presented some obviously false dichotomies there, but the point is, the exact nature of a story, from its ultimate message to its storytelling sensibilities, can’t be defined until that final act. That puts a lot of pressure on the final act — a pressure that is doubly true in comics, where the final issue may make up a tiny fraction of the series’ run. Of course, it’s under pressure that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Daredevil has always had its highest moments, from moving Matt and company across the country to gracefully integrating into whatever crossovers Marvel cooked up to simply resolving the daring cliffhangers they came up with the month before. Daredevil 18, their final issue, is no different, which is exactly why it’s such a remarkable ending. Continue reading
Patrick: One of the base assumptions that I usually have to check when discussing a work of genre fiction is the assumption that the villain acts as an analogue to the creative forces behind the story. Heroes — be they superheroes or brave knights or swashbuckling adventurers — seldom get to trade in particularly complex or nuanced ideas. But villains! Villains get to have a much more human relationship to morality, often holding conflicting ideas in their heads. What’s more is that both the villains and the creators have the same job: make the hero suffer. This relationship gets even trickier when the characters are on-loan from elsewhere, as is so often the case with comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have made their mark on Daredevil, but the character does not belong to them in the strictest sense. Issue 16 sees the creators trying to reconcile their relationship to the titular hero, and in so doing, welcome a host of villains into their drama. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Daredevil 14, originally released March 25th, 2015.
Spencer: One advantage visual mediums such as comics, movies and television have over other mediums is the ability to tell two stories at the exact same time. One of my favorite examples comes from Season Four of Mad Men, where Don’s secretary, Miss Blankenship, dies in the office as the partners are having a meeting with a very important client. As the camera focuses on the clients and we hear only their dialogue, in the background the rest of the staff tries to remove Blankenship’s corpse from the office without the clients noticing. It’s a brilliant bit of dark humor, but I’m always impressed by how well the show tells that second story in the background without a single line of dialogue, even as the audience’s attention is divided. Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson manage to pull off similar feats multiple times in a single issue with Daredevil 14 — it’s absolutely dazzling — but also get a lot of mileage out of the stories playing out behind the scenes that nobody notices. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 13, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…or candy!
George Oscar Bluth, Arrested Development
Drew: While I understand the distinction magicians make between “trick” and “illusion” — the former is about the techniques a magician uses, the latter is about the effect those collected techniques have on the audience — I think we’re perfectly justified in calling them “tricks.” The “illusion” — that a rabbit appears out of thin air, that a lady survives being sawed in half, that a card jumps to the top of the deck — dares us to believe that “magic is real,” but the actual techniques used to pull it off tend to be much more clever, if simpler, explanations. For me, an understanding of those tricks leaves me much more impressed about the illusion — knowing just how subtly they palmed the coin, or how convincing their false shuffle allows me to appreciate the actual craft that goes into what they’re doing. Indeed, any “magic” in the illusion lies in the skills of the magician, making knowing the trick more magical for me. Which I suppose is my way of asking forgiveness in focusing on the “tricks” of Daredevil 13, which pulls off an illusion so compelling, it’s hard to deny its magic. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Spider-Gwen 1, originally released February 25th, 2015.
Patrick: If you had to name the most important quality for a superhero story to nail, what would it be? Action? Adventure? Humor? Relatability? Kind of depends on the character, doesn’t it? What I think ends up being most important across publishers and mediums is the story’s ability to express the fundamental nature of the character. If you’re telling a Batman story, it better be dark, grimey, and morally ambiguous. If you’re telling a Spider-Man story, it better be humorous, optimistic and dutiful. So how on earth would anyone write a Spider-Gwen story? The character barely exists beyond a small roll in the recent Spider-Verse event. Fans latched on to the character for a number of reasons (everyone misses Gwen Stacy), but the clearest virtue of the character is that she looks amazing. In lieu of a letter’s page, editor Nick Lowe thanks fans for worshiping the incredible design of Gwen’s costume, celebrating it through fan-art and cos-play. This obsession with image becomes the fundamental nature of stories in Gwen’s world, as Spider-Gwen turns the superficial into the substantial. Continue reading
Forget the self and you will fear nothing…
Carlos Castaneda, The Active Side of Infinity
Drew: What would you say defines who you are? Without getting too specific, I think most people would agree that their identity can be loosely described by their tastes, values, sense of humor, intelligence, and interactions with others — that is to say, their everyday state of being. Someone is considered kind or funny or smart because they are kind or funny or smart most of the time. Fictional characters, on the other hand, aren’t defined by their everyday state of being; instead, their mettle is tested through conflict — some kind of extraordinary circumstance that demonstrates who they really are. Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has been all about defining Matt by putting him through the wringer, largely by testing his fears — fear of losing his sanity, fear of losing his friend, fear of losing his secrets — but issue 11 test the very notion of fear itself, as Matt is forced to confront his own ego. Continue reading
Patrick: Have you ever watched a video of a baby eating a lemon for the first time? There are hundreds of these videos up on YouTube, and while it always strikes me as a little mean-spirited, it’s fascinating to see the purity of these babies’ reaction to the sourness of the lemon. There aren’t any videos of adults eating lemons, because: who cares? Adults have filters and modesty and the knowledge that they can make that sour taste stop. The baby, meanwhile, just has to stew in this unpleasant, unfamiliar experience. The same is true of emotions — adults have enough perspective to realize that their emotions are temporary or irrational or perhaps just resultant from a changeable attitude, but children are largely at the mercy of their emotions. Basically, adults can will themselves to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as far as a child knows, the tunnel is all there is. The Marvel villain the Purple Man is a scary presence, with his ability to impose his will on others, but the Purple Children introduced last issue are something much more terrifying: the entire slate of childhood emotion projected outward. Continue reading
Patrick: Shortly after I moved to Chicago, I was looking for jobs and had landed an interview for a secretarial job at an accounting firm. Or… maybe it was an accounting firm, maybe it was a bank? Something with money and finances, that much I knew for sure. I practiced answering questions about myself, I wore my best suit, and walked into the interview wholly unprepared to ask for a job at an institution I knew next-to-nothing about. I had underestimated just how hard it was going to be to get this job, and my confidence proved to be my undoing, as I was heading back to my car 15 minutes later. That’s the danger of moving to a new city and looking for a new job: you simply don’t know what you don’t know, and all of your previous assumptions get thrown out the window. Daredevil 3 finds Matt Murdock overestimating his likelihood of success over and over again. How do you think that works out for him? Continue reading