This week’s pick isn’t a total Virgin Read. But then again, what is for me anymore? I mean, this all started innocently enough over a year ago. But now, once a week, for over 52 weeks, I indiscriminantly pick a comic book, go off with it and let it have its way with me. Over 52 times! I’m no longer a virgin, clearly. Sounds like I’m kind of a whore, doesn’t it? Except I don’t get paid. So what does that make me? A Comic Book Slut. A slutty comic book reading whore! (Even if that’s not really funny, I can assure you that TFO’s hit count just went up by 50% by those googling for porn. Yay me!)
So, what I mean in this case, though, is that I read the previous issue of Daredevil. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t! It started as “Nina, you’ve got to see this page.” Then, “Nina, let me read you this passage.” And then I just took the book and read the whole thing. And it was really poignant. A well done piece, one that made me almost root for the Kingpin. I felt really bad for him. I'm only bringing all this up because it sheds light on how different it is to review one issue of anything as a stand alone vs. having a context for the issue. I usually do the stand alone. Not this time!
Had I not read the last issue, well, it’s impossible to know exactly how this issue would have affected me. But I do know that the last two pages of this comic, and especially the last two frames, would not have had their impact. And that’s from just reading two consecutive issues. Those of you who have been reading it for weeks, months and years surely have an even deeper connection and this issue clearly has even more import. But how shall I review this? I’ve, well, de-virginized myself. (Sounds technical, but it's cleaner.) My usual parameters that are used to for critiquing are not available. If you’re new to this column, it’s generally been an exercise in seeing how any issue comes across to a brand new reader – to someone who knows nothing about comics, or at least the comic she’s reading. And that’s an interesting experiment, don’t you think? If the story is good, but the art doesn’t make sense, a new reader is lost. If it’s the reverse, same problem. In other instances, it might be a totally mediocre premise, but well written and drawn and therefore totally enjoyable to the reader, who is me, although I don't know how often that's really happened, since all this time has passed and the only thing I've willingly stuck with has been a little bit of a comic called Powers and a manga series called Nana. I've liked stuff, sure, but except for those two, I haven't chosen to seek any comics out.
I guess the thing is that, well, Daredevil was so good last time--a month ago--that given the choice, I wanted to read it again.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I picked it first, forgetting that I’d read it last month. And then once I remembered I decided to stick to my choice and find out what happens next. So I guess that's not just "not entirely true", it's not true at all. I liked that last issue. But I didn't remember that I'd read it until I looked at this one and asked. I'm not stupid, I have an okay memory. Oh well. It was good though, so don't assume that my forgetting it reflects badly on it. It's just a comic to me, it's not something I memorize. Sorry.
If I’d read this issue of Daredevil on its own, I’d probably just comment on how well drawn it is. The darkness of the underground bar and the tension in the air is captured so well. There's a way this dark and relatively quiet crowd all turns when someone says, “The Kingpin’s back", a way that the whole room just seems to have the air sucked out of it. That's impressive. I could comment on the whole scenario with Daredevil and the private investigator, or on his financee’s parents, etc. No, I don’t entirely know what the situation is. But I love that it’s complex enough to have Daredevil mess with the private investigator that his in-laws hired to black mail him. I don't understand it completely, no--but I liked it anyway. I love that we got to see a full page of Tai Chi. I could see how in some circumstance I’d have found that lame, but for some reason, here, it’s totally enjoyable. It’s more interesting reading someone’s thoughts while that person is doing Tai Chi than it would be to read the thoughts of someone drinking at a bar. Am I right?
Oh, big applause for the outdoor scene in the snow. Very cool.
I really felt like I picked up a novel this time. It’s that well developed. But you know, the coolest thing was to be caught up enough on the story "thus far", and to have read enough to feel moved by the very sight of Kingpin, having just read about what he's recently gone through, and get to experience feeling…..well, psyched up for a team up. (Of sorts.) I bet no one saw that coming. I imagine that's what makes it feel so cool and seem so smart. That it's unexpected for Dardevil to shake hands with this guy.
I guess the argument could be made now that one can’t really judge a comic book series on one issue alone, an argument that's been made before in the comments on these little columns. That one might not find immediate enjoyment out of just one issue, and that is more my fault than the fault of the comic itself. A small investment might need to be made to reap the benefits. Does that mean this all been a trick to just get me to read comic books? Well, I’m still not sure that I’m going to go on Wednesdays and pick up some comic books. I have things to do. I like those things more.
But there are some stories that I’ve definitely become a fan of. And although the first time I read it I panned it, that might have a little to do with that terrible Spider-Man comic I read on the same day. Either way, for now, I'm Nina, and I'm a Daredevil fan.
-Nina Stone, 2009