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DAREDEVIL #52 REVIEW

Reviewer: Andrea Speed andy@comixtreme.com
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Echo, Part 2

Echo confronts her past.

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



Review: Maybe the most frustrating thing about this book is the tantalizing hints of what could have been in this issue. It starts off great, with Echo talking to Matt on the rooftops, and shows off some of the great, “straight forward” painted work that Mack can do very well. The issue ends in a similar way, with Echo going to see the other influential man in her life - Wilson Fisk, her former guardian, the man she once shot and left for dead. I wanted to see more of either story, but the Fisk one will continue next issue.

The problem is, once the conversation with Matt is over (six pages - but six beautiful pages), Echo goes back to ruminating about her life. While this is fine and interesting, a lot of this we learned or at least gleaned from the last issue. There are some new things, about her past with Fisk and what her powers are, and certainly these are vital to the story. But the rest of it feels like a rehash (and echo, if you will - please don’t boo), and perhaps even padding, to lengthen the story to standard issue length. That was the most frustrating thing of all.

Mack is a good writer, but as such I was expecting more out of him, not just the teasers that bookend this issue. The part about Echo’s ancestors and the tragic treatment of Native Americans by the American government is moving and important, and certainly a strange parallel to her life with Fisk, but I wasn’t sure what the rest of it (save for her discovery of her gift and her “training” by Fisk) was doing there. We covered this last issue, didn’t we? It’s not boring, not by any means, but it did seem like we were covering old ground.

The art, once again, is a big draw. His work on the first six pages - and last two - has a more traditional painted art style that is gorgeous to look at. Look at the startling blue of that night sky and how it highlights the dark, skeletal buildings in the background; it gives off a somber feeling of bleakness and disappointment that words couldn’t as easily convey. And his faces - mostly Echo’s, I admit - have an almost photo-realistic quality to their look and their expressions; it’s amazing how good Mack can be. There are more of his collages in the middle, which allows him to experiment with spatial relationships, watercolors, and details, and it too is lovely work. He’s an artist, and no one can claim otherwise.

But …

I wanted more from the story. Seeing a bit more Daredevil - and interaction between him and Echo - would have been nice. I look forward to the next issue, to see what happens between Echo and the Kingpin, but for this issue, I was a little let down.


DAREDEVIL #52
by David Mack (Marvel Comics/Marvel Knights)
The second chapter of a story arc is a little early for a creator to be repeating himself, but that's what happens here. Mack rehashes Echo's history and her one-time innocent perceptions of an alien concept -- sound. It certainly makes for an accessible read, but not one that advances the plot at all. This chapter will no doubt be frustrating for those readers who wait for the inevitable trade-paperback collection. Mack's multimedia artwork is as stunning and well crafted as ever, and his depiction of Echo as an adult is alluring, graceful and haunting.
7/10

Daredevil #52/#432

Posted: Monday, September 22
By: Paul Brian McCoy


“Echo, part 2”

Writer/Artist: David Mack
Publisher: Marvel Knights

I think that publishing this in a monthly-installment format is hurting the dramatic power of Echo’s story. I loved the previous issue, which was my introduction to both the character, Echo, and the creator, David Mack. It was beautifully designed from start to finish, no question. This month we get more of the same, impressionistic painting of Echo’s internal autobiographical monologue, this time interspersed with actual events outside of her head. Again, this is gorgeous work, hands down. The mood is tangible as we see DD and Echo on a rooftop discussing where their relationship stands. I’m even willing to forgive the fact that Echo’s hairstyle changes from free flowing to tied back as the scene draws to a close. It’s not impossible for someone to tie back their hair in a matter of moments, but I wanted to see some visual cue that she was doing it. I forgive it because is works thematically. When she’s opening up, her hair flows. Once she turns inward again, the hair is bound. It works. I like it. I just wanted a transition. Oh well.

Moving on, the rest of the book falls back into the stylistic pattern of the previous issue, with its bright oranges, paints overlaying pen and ink work, and the ever-present Scrabble tiles. Mack takes us into Echo’s life with much more detail this month, as we follow her inner narrative from her childhood through her father’s death and her subsequent raising (from afar) by Fisk. It’s at this point that I really began to wonder if this story wouldn’t work better as one long graphic novel, rather than in monthly installments. A nice oversized hardback of this story would be fantastic, especially coinciding with the little amount of actual Daredevil reading required by the audience. A fan of the movie could pick this up and follow it, no problem. In fact, they might be more interested in it than loyal readers, to whom most of this information might already be known in one form or another. At least, that’s what I’m assuming; since I missed Echo’s previous appearance and don’t know what went on there.

This is another solid issue by Mack on both the writing and art chores. I just wish that I could get it all at once in a more durable and complementary format. Then we could get back to what’s going on with Matt and Hell’s Kitchen.


Daredevil #52

Posted: Thursday, September 25
By: Jason Cornwell


Writer & Artist: David Mack
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with a rooftop meeting between Echo and Daredevil, where Maya learns that Matt has moved on in her absence and has become involved with another woman. As Maya deals with this little hurdle we see this meeting also makes her aware of the fact that the Kingpin is still alive, in spite of her having emptied a gun into him, and sent him tumbling off a bridge into the river far below. As Matt attempts to convince her to let sleeping dogs lie with the Wilson Fisk issue he soon finds that his comments are going unheard as Maya has vanished into the night. We then rejoin Maya's recollections of her childhood, as we see her mother abandoned the family when Maya was just a toddler, and as such Maya turned all her affection to her father who in spite of being a criminal was also a loving father figure. When Maya's disability was discovered we see her father made every effort to give her a normal childhood, and when her uncanny ability to duplicate any physical movement she witnesses surfaced, he encouraged her to take an active interest in every activity she could become involved in. After his death, we see the Kingpin took an active interest in Maya though his interests steered her toward the more useful talents in the criminal community, as she quickly became a fighting machine, by mastering a variety of fighting styles. We then return to the present day as Maya pays the Kingpin a visit in Rykers.

Comments:
Now I don't want to say this issue doesn't have any forward movement, as we do get a fairly well crafted exchange between Daredevil and Echo that pretty much does away with any real hope that they might get back together, and I must confess I was rather pleased to see Echo didn't devolve into a green-eyed monster when Matt made it clear he was in a relationship with another woman. I also enjoyed the rather amusing observation that Echo makes about the pattern she has observed in Matt's choice of partners. There's also a fairly major step forward on another front as we see the issue ends with the reveal that not only has Kingpin been locked away in Rykers, but Echo pays him a visit, which makes for an intriguing way of pulling us into the next issue. Now I must admit I'm not sure what her next step will be, as the last time she dealt with the Kingpin she tried to kill him, as she believed him to be the man who killed her father, and while I can't see how this situation has changed, since there are several chapters to go, I imagine David Mack has something more elaborate planned than simply a second attempt for her to kill the Kingpin. Plus, the whole let's kill off the Kingpin card has been used a little too often as of late, as David Mack used it to cap off his first arc, and Brian Michael Bendis used it to open his run, so here's hoping David Mack isn't going take a third kick at that can.

While there is some plot advancement, there's also a very real sense that David Mack is simply repeating the show he offered up in the previous issue. I mean the first chapter established that Echo's father was the center of her world, and that his death was an emotionally scarring experience, and this issue offers up pretty much the exact same idea. Now I will credit this issue for also devoting it's energies to detailing Echo's ability to duplicate any physical action she sees, as this was a key aspect of the character that I felt had been woefully ignored in the first chapter, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you read the first arc involving Echo, than there's very little about most of this issue that won't feel like familiar ground. Now I will concede that after reading these first two chapters I have a far better understanding of the character than I had going in, and hopefully this in-depth examination of her formative years will result in a greater concern for the character when the story does kick itself into gear. However, there are also times in this issue where it's almost frustrating to see story points that have already been established gone over once again, as I was left with the sense that David Mack doesn't trust the readers to have understood the fairly basic ideas the first time he presented them, so he repeats them, which I guess is in keeping with the character.

Now I'm guess most of the David Mack fans who are buying this arc are strongly influenced by his very distinctive art style, and as was the case with his first arc on this title I find that as the issues progress I'm becoming more and more appreciative of his visual style. I do know that I enjoyed this second issue far more than the opening chapter, as to me it seems he has established a stronger storytelling approach in this second chapter. From the cool, almost detached look of the rooftop meeting between Echo and Daredevil, which I felt was indicative of the feeling that their relationship had essentially burnt out, to the more cheerful colors of the scenes from her childhood, that eventually give way to the more harsher orange tinge as the Kingpin enters their world, and than drops out completely when her father exits stage right. However the highlight of the issue would have to be the scenes that detail Maya's life after her rather unusual ability is discovered, and we see her hobbies and interests progressively become more and more hostile. There's also a very impressive sequence in the final pages as first we're treated to the almost nightmarish look of Rykers Island, before this scene is contrasted by our first real look at Maya. The cover to this issue is also worth a mention, as it's a fairly solid look at our lead character in costume.

Final Word:
Not a great deal of new insight into the character of Echo if one was already familiar with the character from her previous arc, but I will give David Mack credit for making this character far deeper than we normally see in a character who doesn't currently star in her own title. Now Daredevil fans might be a little annoyed that Echo has essentially taken center stage of this book, as while we do open the book with her meeting Daredevil to discuss their relationship, and the story is clearly set within the confines of Daredevil's corner of the Marvel Universe, there's little doubt that this arc belongs to Echo. Now lucky for us the character in interesting enough to carry this arc, as while David Mack is guilty of dragging his heels, and there are moments where I feel he's repeating points that have already been established, in the end this issue is a fairly engaging reading experience, and that's all that really matters. Plus the final page offers up a pretty solid cliffhanger, and it is nice to see David Mack is being allowed to mess about with the toys that Brian Michael Bendis left in the sandbox.


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