Pull of the Week:
Daredevil #500 – Marvel – $4.99
70th Anniversary. 600th issue of Thor. 600th issue of Captain America. 600th Hulk. 600 issues of Amazing Spider–Man. And finally the 500th issue of Daredevil. Marvel sure has a big summer. And of the two milestones, the two best written have been those from Ed Brubaker with Captain America #600 and this issue of Daredevil. This issue of Daredevil continues building upon the deal that Daredevil had made with the Kingpin against the Hand. Though Daredevil suspected Fisk was turning against him, it was a move he was forced to make.
The twists of the story and thought processes of Daredevil during the issue just go to show how awesome a writer Brubaker is. In addition, there is a preview of Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil, a great short story about Daredevil and Bullseye called 3 Jacks, a Pinup and Cover Gallery and of course the reprinting of a past issue of Daredevil, this time choosing #191 from Frank Miller’s run on the series. While normally not a fan of reprinting old materials to fill out the length of an oversized issue, the quality of the two new, original stories are well worth the hefty $4.99 price tag.
The main ongoing story follows Daredevil and his sensei Master Izo as he pays a final visit to his wife as she lays in a hospital bed. The entire time, Izo taunts Daredevil, trying to give him the kick back to being the man he should have been. Daredevil finds out that one of the Kingpin’s operatives, the Owl, has taken Dakota North, the private investigator that he had been having an affair with, captive. At the same time, the Black Tarantula and White Tiger have been sent by the Kingpin to assassinate Murdoch’s old law partner Foggy Nelson. And to make it all even worse, the Kingpin, with Lady Bullseye at his side, is using this time that Daredevil is distracted to find a way to put himself at the head of the Hand as its new leader.
Using some various flashbacks of Izo and the part he has played behind the scenes that Daredevil has been unaware of and just what his ultimate plan has been leading up to. The title of the arc, “Return of the King” takes a very unexpected twist as all the pieces fall in to place over the course of the story. Beautifully penciled with great layouts and fantastic storytelling through the panels, this issue has some great fight scenes within. It also carries a lot of great emotional panels with every piece of the spectrum from sadness and surprise to rage and failure. This is one of the best Daredevil stories in a long time, coming to an extremely satisfying conclusion both in execution and result.
Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil‘s preview in the back of this issue has earned itself a spot on the Pull List when the oneshot issue comes out in September. Unfortunately other than praising the story put down by Andy Diggle drawn by Billy Tan, not much can be said about the events within without spoiling what happens in the current Daredevil story. “3 Jacks” however can be praised and explained a little more in-depthly as writer Ann Nocenti makes her return to the pages of Daredevil along artist David Aja. Told as a story from Daredevil’s past, “3 Jacks” starts out with Daredevil squaring off with Bullseye on what looks like the Coney Island pier.
After Daredevil has gained the upper hand, Bullseye sets off a handful of firecrackers and nails Daredevil with three photos, knowing Daredevil wouldn’t be able to see what they were of. An old boxer and a young girl carry the concussed Daredevil in to the bar nearby to let him recover. The old boxer talks to Daredevil about what was going on in the fight and asks him why he wouldn’t stop his fall by grabbing on to the cable near him repeatedly. It is a very poignant story as more of Daredevil’s personality is brought out in only a short standalone story.
Like always it is cool to see the covers of the series laid out next to each other but a shame they are made so small that the fantastic artwork cannot truely be appreciated. Speaking of fantastic covers though, this issue features an amazing three page gatefold with Daredevil at the center surrounded by acquaitences, enemies and events of his past all done by Marko Djurdjević. The Pinup Gallery features some great takes on the character from heavy hitters like Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada and John Romita Sr. In all, Daredevil gives a complete package for the quincentennial issue of the series.
The current story is forwarded greatly, the character continues to build, and there is a tribute from the artists who have loved being a part of the legacy of the Man Without Fear. If you are not currently reading Daredevil, this issue is a great spot to jump on.
Archie #600 – Archie – $2.50
No, you aren’t seeing things. Archie is actually on the Pull List this week. The same Pull List that often features only superhero stories or deranged takes on classic fairy tales or Greek mythology. But since we at the Flickcast love all things comics, we couldn’t pass on reading the momentous issue where Archie proposes to Veronica, could we? (especially after we covered the announcement of the storyline a few months ago here and here ) And as odd as it was for us to go an entire book without someone wearing a mask or cape, seeing someone rise from the dead or watching a beloved children’s character mutilate someone, we got used to it and were able to enjoy the story for what it is.
Like it has always been, Archie is a story for younger readers. There aren’t any overly mature themes like death, strong language or drug use. Archie is meant to be a feel good book at its core and what makes people feel better about a wedding (except for the guy who realizes he has just sealed his fate with one woman forever that is)?
For those who haven’t been reading Archie lately, here’s where the gang has gotten to in the last sixty years. Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the Riverdale crew are finally on the eve of their graduation from high school. After playing their last performance as high schoolers, the Archie’s all split up and head home where Archie has his parents ready to talk about colleges to apply for. Not wanting to deal with the pressure of it, Archie goes off for a walk to clear his head and opts to go up Memory Lane. The next thing Archie realizes is he is on the eve of his college graduation where he sees Veronica who talks to him about how everyone is getting ready to leave Riverdale.
Archie is caught off guard and decides at the graduation party he will find out what everyone is planning on doing only to realize he is the only one without a plan. A few months later, he and Jughead head in to NYC where Betty is working and Veronica is taking off for a three month long world cruise. It’s here where Archie makes his choice and pops the question to Veronica (don’t worry, it isn’t a spoiler since the title of the arc is “Archie Marries Veronica”). What Archie doesn’t realize is Betty is standing outside the window and sees the whole proposal happen which obviously upsets her since she has always been in love with Archie.
Archie Comics should be commended for making it to this milestone issue #600. In a industry that revolves so much around sex, violence and adult themes, it’s refreshing to see that other kinds of stories can still be told. It’s also a very cool nostalgic moment to revisit characters someone remembers from their childhood. The Archie gang does just that, bringing the reader back to where the characters have always been and even though the technology and world around them has changed, they are still the same fun kids they have always been. Archie is still never totally sure of himself, Jughead lacks ambition and Veronica still spends big and thinks even bigger.
It was a little surprising to see Archie pick Veronica as everyone pretty much always hoped he’d go for the blonde Betty instead. But because Archie is imagining this is where he is going to be in four years there is always a possibility he may have a change of heart before that really does happen. (But in Archie comic book time, does that means it will take another sixty to get these kids through college?) Regardless, it’s still fun for a trip down memory lane to see what these kids that many of us grew up loving haven’t changed as the years have passed.
Blackest Night: Superman #1 – DC – $2.99
With ‘Blackest Night’ in full effect, you just can’t have DC’s big crossover without featuring their biggest stars and with Blackest Night: Batman out last week, it was time for Superman to step in to the fold. Though supposed to be on New Krypton, Superman comes back to earth to visit Smallville and visit his mother and the revived Connor Kent to pay respects to his father on the day of remembrance being observed around the world for the fallen heroes and those the heroes had been unable to save. There is also a little bit of irony that this day had actually been started as a way to remember Superman himself when he had been thought killed by Doomsday. What he finds instead is the return of Kal-L from Earth-2, otherwise known now as the Black Lantern Superman.
Not a surprise appearance by any means since Earth-2 Superman was the first announced Black Lantern, the issue opens with Kal-L’s hands rising from the grave. Then in the following pages, Smallville gets slowly picked apart by the Black Lantern, although he isn’t seen yet. There is a variety of panels throughout the issue shown from his point of view of people’s emotions showing through, almost everyone yellow with fear, as his power levels rise. Back at home, Clark and Connor are discussing life with Ma Kent when they and Krypto hear something in the distance. Superman and Superboy go off to investigate only to find Black Lantern Superman has unearthed Pa Kent’s grave. As expected a lengthy action sequence kicks in with the two living Supers taking on the dead one. But back at the Kent household, Ma Kent and Krypto get an unexpected visitor from a new Black Lantern. And back on New Krypton, Supergirl and her mother must come face to face with a Black Lantern of their own.
The standout of the issue is Eddy Barrows artwork. He does a fantastic job throughout, especially dealing with the fear of those seeing the revived Superman. His large single page spreads work great and his illustration on Krypto is enough to make this dog feel like a real character, instead of just a walking cartoon in the world of otherwise real people. The rendition of Black Lantern Superman works great as well with both the costume design and the rotting flesh of the character, although the headband is kind of strange looking. The inking could have been a little strong as one page’s shadowing has Connor Kent sporting a cheesy French mustache.
While a good issue, this title suffers from some of the same problems that most Superman titles deal with. The most interesting people in the Superman books are often the supporting characters and not Superman himself. Superman’s reactions seem so cookie cutter at this point that much of what he does in the pages of the issue can begin to feel predictable. Another problem with the story is the overuse of seeing emotions from the Black Lantern’s perspectives. In just this one issue, ten separate panels use the device. Some are effective like a young couple’s emotions changing from one panel of love while making out to fear when they see the dead Superman. Others are less so like when Superman himself is so filled with emotion he looks like a rainbow.
Overall, Blackest Night: Superman is still a strong showing for ‘Blackest Night’ though the impact of seeing the Black Lanterns has begun to lessen. It is now time to see the story drive the books instead of the impact of seeing who is being brought back from the dead which pretty much feels like the answer at this point is EVERYBODY. Though it hasn’t tied in directly to the main Blackest Night yet, it’s safe to say the events of this book will probably at least play a small part in the bigger picture of this story.