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COMICS: I have to be what seems like the one and only comics weblogger to stand up for David Mack's recent run on Daredevil (#51-55). Brian Bendis has been doing some work on that book recently that matches up to everything I've read of the character from the Holy Revered Godfather of Daredevil, Frank Miller. The end of Bendis's most recent arc had Daredevil soundly defeating the Kingpin, tearing off his mask, and announcing himself as the new Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. That's a natural stopping point and if Bendis had just continued with the next issue it would have much less emotional impact. The preview Marvel released for the start of Bendis's run shows that the book has skipped forward a year and Matt Murdock is firmly entrenched as the new Kingpin, albeit without the crime part of that title. Giving us a break from the Matt Murdock/Kingpin story and doing this pretty unrelated story in the mean time is a great editorial decision. Mack's story focuses on the personal journey of a character called Echo that I'd never heard of (not having read any Daredevil before Bendis and Maleev took over) and uses a very different art style. The journey she takes is very believable and beyond a Wolverine that seems a tad tacked-on (but still mostly works in context of both character's backgrounds) I very much enjoyed getting to know this character on a deeper level.

Beyond people not understanding the need for a break in the main story between what are essentially two very different chapters, Mack's art seems to be the main sticking point. What people miss, I think, is that the story essentially takes place entirely in Echo's head. Mack uses a very odd panel placement and fills the page with dreamlike images of sign language, small dialogue asides, and images seemingly drawn by Echo as a child. It's undeniably beautiful painted work but the seeming randomness of the images is throwing people for a loop. I don't know if people are just more used to normal, grid style comic art than I am or what but this fit the story perfectly in my mind. Since it takes place in her head, standard art would be very out of place (as it is with most comic book stories that take place internally to a character instead of externally). It's a big risk for Bendis to hand over "his" title to this different of a story and for Marvel to allow this story into one of it's most popular titles and I applaud them for it.

I think once people see the Mack story in context of the main Murdock/Kingpin story it will make more sense but for me, it's perfect. Sometimes you need the calm to appreciate the ferocity of the storm.