Monday, February 05, 2007

One book

Daredevil #93 by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark

Distressingly, Brubaker's latest issue has all the excitement of watching furniture being rearranged - Matt weaves an alibi for a press conference, gets reunited with the presumed-dead Foggy with as little fuss as possible, gets his various charges dropped within less than a page, manages to spring the Kingpin from the pen.... Any writer, regardless of quality, would seize upon the melodrama inherent in these details (the Kingpin trial virtually demands its own arc), yet Brubaker merely prods at the notions, fearful of letting the content intrude upon the generic tone he's set up in the previous issues.

It is a minor vice of criticism to reimagine the object at hand, the typical result being one careworn set of preoccupations (the artist's) being replaced with another equally forgettable set (those of the commentator), but even the scenes where Brubaker's competence makes itself known long for a bit of punch. For example, if one replaces the close ups of Matt in the press conference scene with illustrations of his wholly apocryphal tale, his dialogue in voice-over, the scene, once tightly bound in the visual stasis held over from the Bendis/Maleev era, suddenly becomes exciting to look at, casts genuine doubt upon whether Matt's public and private personae will ever be fully separated (a notion only glanced at in the scene's final panels), and takes a not altogether too disruptive tonal shift into actual humor (which didn't hold over from the Bendis/Maleev period).

Alas, the only amusement found herein proves wry - the contrast between the bullet-point storytelling of the current issue (racing from plot point to plot point in a variety of environments) to the previous, perhaps Brubaker's best yet - an issue-length conversation between two figures in a dark room.