Written by Mark Waid
Art by Javier Rodriguez
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: July 23, 2014
With the shortest solicitation I’ve ever seen, Mark Waid himself writes, “It’s like a Kafka novel.”
This week’s Daredevil #6 is our first Original Sin tie in for the title, but it won’t be our last, as Matt Murdock sets off to find his mother and discover some terrible secrets (as Daredevil is wont to do). I should provide a full disclaimer that I have not been reading Original Sin and know little of the actual event plot, so what happens near the end of this issue might be a lot more important than I know. But since we’re here to discuss this issue and not the event, I hope we can move along without any problems.
The opening of the issue is relatively straightforward, and explains that while Matt is in New York battling the Orb he is blasted with visions of his parents from the past. I’m not really sure why he’s in New York since this new series is supposed to be set on the west coast, but I’ll roll with it because he’s joining a battle with other superheroes and this is an event tie-in. Matt explains how the memories placed into his mind are unreliable, and he doesn’t know whether or not to believe the imagery of his father as an abusive husband now. This confusion acts as a catalyst to track down his mother, which is where the real story will pick up. The scene with him kneeling over his father’s grave is a bit melodramatic with him wiping mud across the tombstone, but Matt is not known for subtlety and this further justifies to the readers why Matt must stay in New York instead of returning to a bright Samnee-drawn San Francisco.
If you’ve read Daredevil in the past, there’s a good chance you know that Matt’s mother is a nun named Maggie who has been following him from a distance over the years. Waid assumes you know this, and wastes no time in heading over to the church to catch up and go down the rabbit hole of Daredevil craziness. The next few scenes play out like Waid’s Kafka novel: Matt has difficulty talking to Maggie, no one wants to give him answers, and he keeps getting turned around in his investigation.
Matt’s conversation with his mother doesn’t sit right for me because up until this point we’ve been led to believe that he never really knew her as a person. Yet, put in front of each other here, her dialogue implies she knew he was coming and they speak to each other like old friends. I would have loved to see more emotion on Matt’s end, as she essentially abandoned the family years ago and now needs his help. Instead, he just jumps in to help her and things move along. Herein lies another problem: everything Matt has been worrying about up until this point in the issue are immediately thrown out the window for this new plot. I like to believe I understand the purpose of a jumping off point for a story, but in this case we literally just jumped off that thread for the rest of the book.
There is a mystery is afoot: What role does Wakanda play in all of this? In true Daredevil fashion, he sneaks into the Wakandan embassy in New York and waits for someone to say the right thing. While he’s listening, we’re presented with my favorite pages of the book – a double page spread of him listening to people talking, clocks ticking, toilets flushing, shredders shredding, and all the other things that happen in an office daily. Matt himself admits that keeping these noises separate gives him a headache, and Javier Rodriguez’s art portrays a scene that I feel would definitely give me a headache if I had to listen to it all!
The issue wraps up with a teaser that Matt may be going to Wakanda. I’m still not sold on why Wakanda is a threat here, but maybe that’s what I’m missing in Original Sin or it will all be explained next month. Maybe this is my grumpy old fan showing, but I would have liked to see more of Matt in San Francisco before shipping him off to Africa.
As I noted earlier, Javier Rodriguez takes over art duties for Chris Samnee on this Original Sin tie-in (Rodriguez is sticking around for next issue). Across the issue I find the art to be between good and great, though I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the look and feel Samnee brings to the book. Rodriguez’s work makes a bold statement in the beginning as he illustrates Matt’s visions of both Battlin’ Jack as both an angel and a horrific monster – I can feel the pain Matt must feel as the visions of the kitchen and Maggie cowering in fear are pushed to the front of his thoughts.
The rest of the issue features textbook comic art, with nothing too outlandish or adventurous. Everything fits where it should and looks clean. Again, I’ll give a shoutout to the great double page spread of the Wakandan embassy, and I also really enjoy the panels from Daredevil’s point of view after the events in the Lieutenant’s office. Over the course of recent Daredevil issues we’ve gotten used to the “radar vision” used by Paolo Rivera, and it’s cool to see from Matt’s perspective when things go wrong. My only major qualm with the art in this issue is that Maggie and her friends look much more like teenagers than old nuns.
At the end of the day, this a very “by the numbers” Daredevil book. He has a mystery, he dives in head first, and now must fight some baddies. I hope we’re able to pick up more on the visions and problems he had at the start of the book, because that seems like a huge opportunity for character development that I just don’t see happening in Wakanda. Mark Waid has built something special for this series with intensely vivid characters, and Matt was primed to build a new life in San Francisco. I hope it doesn’t take too long for him to find his way home.
The Verdict: 6.5/10