Daredevil By Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection – Book 1 (Marvel)
Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano & David Aja
Collects Daredevil #82-93
About a month or so back I decided to give Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run a full read-through. While I’ve been enjoying that experience, there have been a few gaps which I decided to fill with more Brubaker comics from the library.
Up first is this collection of his first 12 issues of Daredevil. If you’re not familiar, Bru picked right up where Brian Michael Bendis left off which involved a story element that saw Matt Murdock being outed as the vigilante and a case being built against him. That of course meant he had to go to jail, but how would that work?
Brubaker’s first arc deals with Matt’s slow descent into madness in a place where such things are common. Believing his best friend has been killed because of him, Matt plunges headlong into prison fights and unlikely team-ups with Kingpin and Punisher. After using a prison riot to mask his escape, our hero then heads out of the country to find out who had his friend murdered.
As I mentioned when I read the following books in this run several years ago, I read these issues when they came out and I wasn’t completely sold on them. I liked how Bru handled the crazy baton he was handed by Bendis and even enjoyed the International Man Of Mystery aspects of the second story, but DANG, this is one depressing story. From what I remember of Bendis’ run, things were tough for Matt already and then you add on his friend getting murdered (but not really), going to prison and the terrors that come with that, teaming with his enemies and the reveal at the end of the book about who was behind all of this and why and it’s just a lot to take in. In fact, I found myself enjoying this book on a craft level, but not feeling great about picking it back up. I should note that I’m not saying it’s a bad story because it’s sad. This is clearly the route he wanted to go down and he did it incredibly well as did collaborator Michael Lark whose slightly angular, sketchy style work incredibly well especially with the colors first by Frank D’Armata and then by Matt Hollingsworth. In other words, it looks as dark and angry as it feels.
This is an interesting case where I’m not sure if reading this story worked better on a monthly basis or in the trade. The former gets points for spreading out the sadness. Smaller doses over more time can be easier to swallow. On the other hand, Brubaker’s crafting one of his dense, detailed stories that are only enhanced by more speedy doses (at least in my case). I noticed a lot more crumbs he put throughout the story by reading it this way.
X-Men: Deadly Genesis (Marvel)
Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Trevor Hairsine with Pete Woods
Collects X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6
A year or so after Brubaker started writing Captain America he shifted over into the world of mutants with X-Men: Deadly Genesis. This 2006 miniseries not only introduced the world to the super mysterious third Summers brother, but also altered X-Men history by revealing that there was actually an X-team between the original group and the ones who debuted in Giant Sized X-Men #1.
This story started coming out when I was still relatively new at Wizard. I remember this because I did a Wizard Insider on Vulcan and also became the de facto X-Men beat reporter for the magazine. Because of that I got far more invested in this franchise than I’d ever been. However, it had been a while since I read Deadly Genesis and maybe never did, which is funny considering how much I love Rise & Fall Of The Shi’Ar Empire and Supernovas.
Anyway, I was a little disappointed with this story because there’s not much re-readability here. If you go in knowing the big details — Vulcan’s real identity, what Professor X did with the fill-in team and what happened to them — there’s not a whole lot else to sink your teeth into. In a way, it felt like the last time I read Alan Moore’s Top 10 where, the first time around, the stories really packed a punch, while the second time felt like I was going through the motions a little. I also wasn’t a big fan of the art which felt muddy and unrefined much of the time. However, personally, this was a trip down memory lane because it reminded me that I did another feature in Wizard that we referred to as “Professor X Is A Dick,” though I’m not sure if that final title stuck.
Fantastic Four: Books of Doom (Marvel)
Written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Pablo Raimondi
Collects Books Of Doom #1-6
I’ll be honest, I read this book about a month ago and returned it to the library so my memory of it is a little foggy. However, I do remember enjoying this tale of how one of Marvel’s all-time best villains became the most feared world leaders around. It follows Victor from his early days as a Gypsy all the way up through his takeover of Latveria. There’s even an appearance by his eventual super-foe Reed Richards, but this story is all about Doom.
Sometimes these expanded origin stories can feel a little played out or boring, but that depends on how many stories revolving around that character you’ve read. As it turns out, I’m not super well versed in the world of Dr. Doom, so I was engrossed with this origin story.
For some reason, I thought this limited series tied into Brubaker’s run on Captain America, specifically the part of the story where Red Skull talks to Doom about him existing in the past somehow, but as far as I remember, that wasn’t the case. Ah well.