Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Daredevil #11 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 11, February 2015
Selling a highly creditable 31,382 copies in December 2014, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, Issue Eleven of “Daredevil” appears on the face of it to simply be another attempt by storyteller Mark Waid to resurrect one of the titular character’s oldest foes; in this case Gene Colan and Roy Thomas’s Late Sixties creation, the Stunt-Master. However in something of a unique twist the Eisner Award-winner’s narrative actually places the retired elderly motorcyclist in the position of the story’s victim rather than Hornhead’s antagonist and actually goes to quite some lengths in order to encourage the reader to have a little empathy for the one-time partner of Johnny Blaze.

Indeed by the time the battered bitter stuntman apparently commits suicide, approximately two-thirds of the way through the book, the Alabama-born author has impressively created a genuine sympathetic atmosphere for George Smith and a real hostility towards the villain’s replacement, an especially arrogant and “smug jackass” whose smart mouth is as galling as his stunts are impressive; “Dude, good riddance to that old geezer! I hear he’s jumping bedpans in a wheelchair now!”

Unfortunately in building up to a wonderfully climatic confrontation between the bragging youth and the real ‘Man without Fear’ atop the Golden Gate Bridge, Waid is almost forced into padding out the proceeding pages with some especially tiring dialogue-heavy panels. Admittedly many of these conversations are important in order to demonstrate just how desperate Daredevil’s aged adversary is to ‘reclaim’ the name Stunt-Master. But even so, having already spent three pages depicting Matt, Foggie Nelson and Kirsten McDuffie tediously discussing the crimefighter’s “first meeting with Hawkeye”, it comes as something of a chore to then additionally wade through even more discussion driven scenes as the “former star” repeatedly badgers his blind lawyer for an update regarding his libel case.

Fortunately when this magazine’s finale does present itself, it is as well-drawn by resident artist Chris Samnee as it is written, with the American penciller’s double splash comprising of a series of wordless frames depicting the new Stunt-Master dangerously driving towards a stationary superhero, two hundred and thirty metres above San Francisco Bay, proving as tense and nervy a spectacle as any bibliophile could wish for.
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee, and Colorist: Matthew Wilson

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