DAREDEVIL by MARK WAID, Volume 5 [2013]

Daredevil by Mark Waid volume 5
R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 8/10

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

There’s nothing much better than getting a collected volume of any series and seeing the same writer and artist for EVERY issue. Even better when it’s Daredevil by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee. I know, I know…it’s true that I raved and bragged and basically wouldn’t shut up about the awesomeness that was Daredevil by Mark Waid & Marcos Martin, but it’s confession time: Chris Samnee wins. Every panel is so clear and crisp and clean and every other positive c-word you can muster. And it’s fun! Hoo-boy is it fun. The subject matter may get dark at times, but there’s no beating the refreshing artwork that accompanies it.

But let’s get to the meat of the book. There’s some great peripheral stuff here, with the team-up with the Superior Spider-Man, the return of Stilt-Man, the attempted re-creation of the toxic formula that granted Daredevil his powers, and the reveal of Foggy’s cancer. But this all comes to a head as the mastermind – the great puppet master pulling the strings for 25 issues – is revealed! And it’s none other than…Bullseye? What? The idea of the crazed (and let’s be honest, somewhat slow on the uptake) assassin Bullseye as an evil genius is a little too far-fetched and unbelievable for my liking. Just as Daredevil himself points out, it’s too out of character. And even though Waid admirably attempts to find some logical reason for the reveal, it’s still too dumb in my opinion. I’d rather have seen one of DD’s long-time second-tier baddies behind it all, like Mister Fear (who I thought it was going to be) or Death-Stalker. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have believed Death-Stalker either.

We’re almost 30 issues in and this series hasn’t hit much of a bump yet. Cannot recommend Daredevil by Mark Waid enough!

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AVENGERS FOREVER [1999], by Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco

Avengers Forever

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 8/10

I just read this for probably the fourth time and it still stands up as one of my favorite Avengers stories. Definitely NOT for the casual reader, AVENGERS FOREVER requires readers to have a good amount of Avengers history under their belts to be really enjoyed. Kurt Busiek is at his wordiest here, with many pages taking extra time to read. Sure, some of the peripheral dialogue can be skimmed, but there’s such a large chunk of story exposition that demands attention.

When I first read this in 1998-99, I was blown away. The love has dwindled a little (only just a little!), but it still stands up to be a solid tale. My favorite issue was always #8 (“The Secret History of The Avengers“) but I now find the long-winded retconning delivered by the Space Phantom a little forced; loose ends from the past are conveniently tied together a little too neatly for my liking. I think my favorite issue now would be #9 (“Reflections of the Conqueror“), which delves deep into the history of Kang the Conqueror. An interesting character study that doesn’t seem at all forced.

The team here is comprised of seven time-displaced Avengers and I think they are all smart choices, with the exception of maybe Songbird, who doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose and is mostly just posing in the background throughout the story. I really appreciate Busiek’s attention to detail in the dialogue, intentionally making Yellowjacket and Hawkeye seem like they are really pulled from Marvel’s Bronze Age: lots of campy, over-the-top repartee. It makes it that much more fun to read.

Carlos Pacheco’s artwork is at its absolute best here, and he does a masterful job whether drawing a single character in the frame or throwing in dozens (which happens often).

The final two issues are full (and I mean FULL) of Avengers battling one another all over the page, and although this is visually stunning, the book loses a point or two here for the fact that it’s primarily just eye-porn filler. Overall, Avengers Forever is maybe not quite a perfect 10/10 but it’s certainly worthy of at least an 8.

A must-have for any Avengers fan.

DAREDEVIL: Volume 4 (2013), by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee

Daredevil 4

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 9/10

At this point in my life, with all of the comic books I’ve read and experienced along the way, I would have presumed it impossible for any series to be so strong 21-issues in. I realize that doesn’t seem like such a large number, but it’s huge these days where a new book will come blazing out of the gates with an incredible four-issue story and then fade away into obscurity to the point where readers question why they ever liked it in the first place.
But here comes Daredevil by Mark Waid! Volume 4 is chock full of classic moments and I still can’t get enough. The best part is that Waid continues to find new and inventive uses for DD’s radar sense. A surprise issue by Mike Allred is always welcome, especially when it’s a flashback story involving Stilt-Man! Nice to see the Spot show up again, and the newest villain, the Coyote, is mysterious, unnerving and unpleasant, everything you want in a great villain.
Bring on Volume 5!

DAREDEVIL: Volume 3 (2012), by Mark Waid

Daredevil 3

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 7/10

Suffers a bit from “Volume 3 Syndrome”, where readers really should be up to speed with everything in the first 2 volumes.  This chapter is very Omega Drive-heavy and readers need to already be caught up on the continued story. That being said, this is still my favorite series Marvel is currently putting out. The highlight in this volume is definitely the two-part Latveria story at the end. Chris Samnee’s art is so good it leaves you salivating for Volume 4!

DAREDEVIL: Volume 2 (2012), by Mark Waid

Daredevil 2

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 7/10

Certainly not as strong as Volume 1 but enjoyable nonetheless. A good range of storylines in here, from the single-issue opener, to the crossover with Spider-Man, the Mole Man 2-parter and the extra “10.1” issue. All of this builds towards the next volume where the Omega Drive storyline continues. The art’s a bit of a jumble, almost enough to keep me from consuming this volume in a single sitting.

DAREDEVIL: Volume 1 (2011), By Mark Waid, Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera

DD Vol.1

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 9/10

FUN title! Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera give this book such a throwback feel, and Daredevil’s radar sense is almost reinvented in the innovative artwork. Mark Waid’s scripts are enough to take the Daredevil character out of the dark and gritty world he’d been stuck in for the last fifteen years. I can’t say enough good things about this book.

EARTH X (1999), by Jim Krueger and John Paul Leon

Earth X

R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 10/10

** spoiler alert **

My favorite Marvel Graphic Novel of all time! Ideally, readers should feel comfortable with a LOT of Marvel history before venturing into this alternate reality tale and what they’ll find is a bold new take on much of what we thought we knew. Reed Richards hiding in the guise of Doctor Doom? The Watcher on the brink of death because Black Bolt didn’t want him to see what was coming? Planets as eggs for space-faring Celestials? There’s so much fresh material here, all gorgeously drawn by John Paul Leon, it’s the Marvel Universe told like never before. A pleasure to read over and over again. The Alex Ross covers and character designs are a bonus too.