I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 12 comics last week: Convergence #7, A-Force #1, Ultimate End #1, Convergence: Adventures of Superman #2, Convergence: Justice League of America #2, Convergence: New Teen Titans #2, Avengers World #21, Wytches #6, Daredevil #15.1, Star Wars #5, Uncanny X-Men #34 and Batman and the Outsiders #2.
The best comic I read last week was Daredevil #15.1
I feel like I could pick Daredevil and any Daredevil related title written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee every time an issue is published. Since these two creators have taken over the character, the stories have been terrific, honoring the long history of the character while seeking out new narrative ground, and the art – especially under Samnee – has been tremendous. Samnee’s take on Daredevil is simply perfect and fits the tone that Waid has struck for the series like a glove.
15.1 is a special title. Mark Waid writes a wonderful frame story around two other pieces, one written by comic veteran Mark Guggenheim and the other scribed by Samnee himself!
The frame deals with Matt Murdock in the final stages of collaborating with ghost writer Foggy Nelson on the true story of Daredevil. In the frame, Waid sets the stage for Guggenheim to wrestle with a surprisingly serious legal question about Daredevil and his vigilante activities and for Samnee to take Diablo, one of the more silly characters from Daredevil’s past.
What makes all of these stories work is the tremendous “feel” the writers have for the character. They, especially Waid, know Daredevil and they know what makes him work. Each separate chapter gives us a different insight into him. Waid writes the character as fully formed, fully confident hero. Guggenheim writes a serious Daredevil at the beginning of his career, wrestling with questions of morality and law – questions not normally grappled with in a comic book. And Samnee deftly plays on the happy-go-lucky side of the character whose adventures can often flip from the comic to the critical. Readers of Daredevil #15.1 are treated to three great stories.
And the art is awesome. Peter Krause illustrates the middle chapter of the tale and, rather than simply aping Samnee’s work, Krause draws a Daredevil all his own, identifiable in the Samnee-style, but distinct and cool.
Samnee’s the star here. The fluidity with which he choreographs superheroics is a clinic for other artists. His Daredevil should be the standard by which all future incarnations are judged and his work must be mentioned in the same breath with Miller and Quesada (if not Bill Everett himself). Beyond the art, Samnee’s story rocks. He’s learned much in his collaboration with Waid and I look forward to books he pens.
Matthew Willson’s colors deserve mention, too, and they lend the book a tonal color palette that holds things together.
Daredevil is the consistently best superhero comic on the stands. Period.