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DAREDEVIL #51
"Echo, Part One"

Highly Recommended (9/10)

David Mack has written Daredevil, and he's illustrated the book as well, but never at the same time. Until now. Mack's unconventional comic storytelling is challenging and mesmerizing, and it's not to be missed. In this opening chapter of a new story arc, he tells the reader everything s/he needs to know about Echo, making for an accessible read. The innocent, child-like tone of the script is haunting, and it's matched by dichotomous imagery that's both mature and touchingly sweet all at once.

Since fighting Daredevil, falling in love with Matt Murdock and learning the truth about her father's murder, Maya Lopez, AKA Echo, has travelled the world, but she remains haunted by events from her childhood and the more recent developments in her life. She thinks back to growing up as a deaf child, about the lessons she learned from her father and those taught to her by the shaman from her father's native American tribe. She's reached a turning point. It's time to return to the United States; it's time to face Matt Murdock once again.

There are several images in this book that put me in mind of the work of Bill Siewkiewicz, who illustrated a classic Frank Miller Daredevil graphic novel, Love and War. Specifically, Mack's take on the Kingpin and the title character are reminiscent of Siewkiewicz's work. Of course, what's really striking here is his combination of the crude line style of a child with the dark and textured painted images. I love how Mack breaks the rules, and wraps text around images, and even rotates it upside down around the page at times. There are panels within panels for the purposes of emphasis. His work is unlike anything else in comics, and it's clear why his work on Kabuki has garnered him such a loyal following.

Echo represents an interesting culture clash here. Maya is part native American, and that aspect of her heritage is explored rather extensively here. But her appreciation of European art and music is an unusual but intriguing part of her character. She's a native American who's immersed herself in the art of the people who slaughtered and drove out her ancestors. That conflict could be representative of the perpetual inner turmoil that plagues her.

There's really not a lot in terms of plot here. Mack recaps the character for the most part, and he explores the unusual nature of her perceptions, the combined result of her deafness and her superhuman ability to "read" and replicate human motion. Ultimately, what we learn about the character is that she is still -- and perhaps forever -- a child, and now, for the first time, she has no father figure to guide her.

Email Don MacPherson (/www.thefourthrail.com) with your comments about this review.


DAREDEVIL #51 REVIEW

Reviewer: Andrea Speed andy@comixtreme.com
Quick Rating: Excellent
Title: Echo, Part 1

Echo tells us her story.

Story & Art: David Mack
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit
Editor: Joe Quesada
Cover Art: David Mack
Publisher: Marvel


Review: I have to admit, I didn’t want to like this book all that much. After all, this is not written or illustrated by the team I love. … but on the other hand, I loved David Mack's Kabuki, and I knew he was quite good (as well as a frequent collaborator of Bendis - look at all his Alias covers). So, in the end, I came to it with an open mind, and I was absolutely floored.

Mack used to write for Daredevil, but I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with it, as I didn’t start reading Daredevil until the golden team of Bendis and Maleev took it over. But just for people like me, he introduces us to one of the most memorable characters of his run, Echo. She’s a deaf woman with artistic tendencies and a desire for revenge, who once had a disastrous (does he have any other kind?) with Matt Murdock. And now, she’s coming back.

Technically, nothing happens in this issue; there’s no action, and Daredevil himself barely appears, except when Echo is “talking” about him and their doomed relationship. And yet, the whole issue, from beginning to end, is completely enthralling and mesmerizing. Mack loves this character, and he knows her; this comes through loud and clear. She could be the stereotypical “daddy’s little girl” (whose daddy just happens to be a triggerman for the Kingpin), but somehow she’s not. She comes off as a full blooded, realistic person, a tribute to Mack's ability to delve into a character not just in words, but in images too.

But what really propels this story is the art, and it truly is art. His painting and collages probably be should hanging in a museum somewhere - why aren’t they? They’re gorgeous, each and every one of them, a visual feast for the eyes. There are no classic comic panels, just entire pages of artwork, and yet they’re never static. Mack experiments with adding fragments of photos and fabrics to each piece, sometimes quite literally writing and doodling in the margins, so there’s always something new to find when you view the pages. I could go on about his art for days, and I’m really tempted to send off an angry letter about the ads in the issue that broke up the wonderful mood and momentum of his work. But since the sponsors made this book possible, I won’t. Also, please check out those wonderful “self-portraits” by Echo near the end of the issue, where “she” mimics the style of Van Gogh, Picasso, Frieda Kahlo, and possibly Kandinsky or Duchamp I get my abstract expressionist and cubists mixed up). They’re beautiful works that are pitch perfect replications of the masters. And Echo herself seems almost photo realistically beautiful. Anyone who’s read Kabuki can tell you Mack has a true gift for capturing the female face and form.

I still miss and await the return of Bendis and Maleev, but if anyone was going to do a “fill-in” arc, it should be Mack. With him, Daredevil should continue to keep up its almost impossible high quality standards. Not only a winner, but an incredible piece of sequential art by a storyteller who understands that words and images can work together to communicate not only a story, but feelings and thoughts as well. Lyrical and beautiful. Highly recommended.


Reviewer: Omar A. Safi, safi@sbcglobal.net
Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Echo, Part One

David Mack revisits Echo with a new story arc!

Story and Art: David Mack
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit
Editor: Joe Quesada
Associate Managing Editor: Kelly Lamy
Managing Editor: Nanci Dakesian
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
President: Bill Jemas

Painter extraordinaire and writer of the Daredevil story ‘Parts of a Hole’, David Mack (Kabuki, upcoming Ultimate X-Men) gives Brian Bendis a break on Daredevil with a whole arc starring Echo (Maya Lopez). ‘Parts of a Hole’ entailed Echo, in a role similar to Elektra in Daredevil: The Movie, believing Daredevil murdered her father. First, let me say this issue is indescribably amazing.

I came into this issue with having experienced nearly none of Mack’s work and not knowing too much about Echo either. Echo is similar to Daredevil himself in that she is deaf yet can emulate a fighting style by sight. This issue goes into the details of Echo’s life and delves into her feelings. The narration is brilliant and Mack presents questions from the point of view of a deaf person. For example, as a child, Maya asks what sounds usual silent objects make like the grass, clouds, and sunshine. Mack creates excellent analogies to Maya’s life; how she is the “silence between the notes” rather than the “sound of the notes” is only one of them.

Her story is a touching one also. Maya’s father is written as a compassionate man even though working with the notorious Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. As a child, Maya was thought of as a retard and later found to be deaf. The death of her father and leaving only his echo with her was a particularly moving moment. The Native American experience throughout the story is genuine and adds much. The medium of comic art is even related to what Maya would like to do, tell stories without having to hear them. Her fascination with art is interesting and provides many symbols and comparisons of her life through famous pieces.

Thought not yet fully apparent, it seems like Maya is embarking on a vision quest while going back after Matt Murdock, possibly to find some closure in her life.

The art is indescribably amazing. It truly seems like Mack can do anything with paints. From the cover to the last page, it is all done with optimum skill. His incorporation of letters in the paintings along with Cory Petit’s letters creates an enjoyable twisting feel through Maya’s emotions. The close-ups of various faces are excellent and rival those of Alex Ross. The parts showing Maya as a child are incredibly creative with her holding crayon drawings of different people in her life, alphabet blocks instead of letters, and more. He displays a plethora of styles in this issue. This is wonderfully shown by Maya’s travels viewing the aforementioned renowned artwork. Mack uses the suffering in Picasso’s Guernica as symbols for her life. Numerous self portraits were done by Maya, an artist herself, and Mack used Picasso’s abstract style quite a bit and a portrait capturing the feel of Van Gogh’s A Starry Night. Actually, Mack is an artist who is able to tell the story with his art rather than the words, like in this case. Maya’s love for Matt is definitely depicted through the paintings. The hand print that her father left on her face right before he died is a constant symbol, like on the cover, and represents an echo. The only problem with the art is a slight inconsistency on the faces of Maya a couple times.

Mack is a relatively new writer but does well. I cannot stress how remarkable and insightful the narrative was. Although, the reader is not introduced to Echo very well. Her abilities are not said and her past with Daredevil is not touched upon too much. ‘Parts of a Hole’ is not referenced much either. I realize that these details would not fit into this kind of story but it would help to new readers. This minor qualm does not detract from the quality too much at all.

Daredevil #51 is highly and absolutely recommended. It is a very personal and emotive story with unique art. ‘Echo’ should be a great arc and I anticipate the next issue.


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