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February 21, 2006


Kevin J. Maroney

I actually can't tell much difference between Brubaker's writing here and Bendis's--he's definitely echoing Bendis's dialog, and the story (so far as it has been revealed) is very much a continuation of what has gone before--in no way a radical change.

And you can't seriously lay the "fear of the reset button" at Bendis's feet. Even if Bendis didn't shake up the status quo as much as he could conceivably have, he took a single, very un-Marvel story idea (Daredevil actually gets outed) and ran it for nearly five years. Every opportunity Bendis had to hit the reset button was resisted, even as he left the book.

(You certainly didn't miss much in the demon baby story--it seemed to wander in from a different title, maybe Powers. But "The Murdoch Papers" was more clever and better-motivated than your capsule dismissal would indicate.)

Peter Hensel

And while on the subject of Brubaker reverting the status quo in a Marvel book, or at least appearing to do so, in the Winter Soldier's conclusion,

spoiler warning

The Red Skull was revealed as not actually dying, but merging with Lukin before his death, encasing them in the same body. While a less affecting change than Bendis' outing of Daredevil due to Red Skull's recent negligence in the Marvel Universe, Red Skull converses forebodingly that he will escape.

But there is much reason for faith in Burbaker because he brought back Bucky and, in all likelihood, will remain a supporting character in Captain America. Along with your resistance to Brubaker's arc appearring like a reset button, I was dissappointed with Brubaker/Lark's first installment. (http://amazingcomics.blogspot.com/2006/02/couple-impressions.html)

Good reviews all around, and your deviation from Morrison is an unexpected surprise ;)


I like to keep you guessing, dear readers.

Kevin--you seriously can't tell much difference between Brubaker's dialogue and Bendis's? Set aside for a moment all the tics of idiom and repetition that quickly passed into self-parody. Brubaker mercifully curtails them, but even more importantly than that he writes dialogue-driven scenes that are built around actual dialogue. I mean that in the dramatic sense, not the naive, imitative realism that always led Bendis astray: in Brubaker's dialogue, information is exchanged, feelings are expressed, stances are revealed, all fairly economically. He doesn't grind his scenes to a halt so his characters can throw speeches at one another, explaining their own wafer-thin characterization or blowing smoke up each other's asses. He gives the former maybe a line and the latter nothing at all. He doesn't write that sprawl over multiple issues. There's no tendency for characters to interrupt their own interminable talk with (and you know I mean this) pointless digressions and empty place-markers that serve no purpose, no purpose other (and there is no other way to say this) than to prolong the agony of their talk until it's




Yeah. And don't even get me started on the one-sided conversations, the monologues that are, you know, dressed up as conversations through the most minimal interruption of secondary voices that

sound just like the primary ones.

That would be it. So I would have to say that Brubaker cannot, by definition, echo Bendis's dialogue, since Bendis left precious little genuine dialogue to echo.

Maybe Brubaker does what Bendis was trying to do, and failed at so spectacularly. I don't know if the Tarantula's "you aint got a lotta options left, dawg" is that much better than Bendis's many attempts to write thugalicious lines, but it only lasts one panel and it isn't preceded by three pages of the Tarantula talking about his favorite kung fu movies or some special he saw on the Discovery Channel.

As to the plot, Bendis's outing of Daredevil's identity is not only not very un-Marvel, it's right in the tradition of Daredevil stories since at least "Born Again." It was the single interesting idea Bendis actually followed through on and I give him full credit for that, but he never pursued its consequences or let it distort the comic's status quo nearly as much as perhaps it should have--to the point I left (and apparently to the end of his run) Daredevil was still jumping around fighting the Kingpin and Bullseye, even after he nominally became the Kingpin.

Where can we ultimately lay the blame for that traditionalism? At Marvel, or more properly at the model of unending, unchanging corporate properties, since we all know Daredevil is reverting back to normal sooner or later. It might take a massive universe-devouring continuity reset (unlikely, since it's Marvel) but eventually he's going to be fighting ninjas again.

The problem with Bendis's run is that he never really stopped fighting ninjas. We know the dramatic changes can't last forever--that they've lasted this long is impressive--but that sort of permanence isn't the point of a continuity-bound run on a long-standing corporate property. The point is what happens while we're along for the ride, and Bendis avoided every possible scenic route, detour, or side road save one.

The real reason I fear the reset button is that Bendis insured there would never be as much to reset as there should have been. Underneath the posturing surface he wrote a deeply timid, even traditionalist Daredevil comic. And to the extent that Brubaker continues Bendis's plots, even when those plots are laudable and worth continuing, the worry will always persist that he'll maintain that timidity as well.

Kevin J. Maroney

You have a gift for backing me into defending things I don't feel like defending all that strongly; but here I am, at it again.

I don't, for an instant, dispute that all the flaws you identify in Bendis's work are there in his worst stretches--I think I've agreed with you before on how bad Bendis got in Ben Urich's monotone (er, monologue) at Matt's wife (whose name eludes me).

Even that wasn't as bad as the fairly recent issue of Powers--I think it was #2 of the new series--which I accidentally skipped and didn't realize until I checked my reading list notes; on returning to it, I discovered the entire issue was a series of inconsequential conversations which served only to keep the covers apart.

But Bendis isn't always Bendis at his worst. At its best, his dialog has zip, wit, and substance all together; when it goes wrong, it becomes glibness and superficiality.

I think you're right that Brubaker's dialog is more focused than Bendis's worst, but it's different enough from Brubaker's other superhero writing that it clearly feels like his take on Bendis's style.

I can see your point about the storyline overall being timid. I think he set up unreasonable expectations for himself--no one's fault but his--and then failed to deliver.

But to focus on what he did right: In many ways, he was writing a Daredevil comic that was a sequel to Lee's original run, a comic explicitly obsessed with secrets and dual identities and constructed realities. And I think he deserves credit for putting a substantiality behind the threat of "outing" that really is the difference between his book and the standard Marvel storyline. More, he deserves credit fro never lettin the characters or the reader forget that when Murdock failed to maintain the fiction that he wasn't Daredevil, he was going straight to prison (because of the willfully stupid and incredibly illegal things he'd done immediately before Bendis's run).

On the other hand, he should probably have at least one finger lightly broken for each of the following offenses:

* the aforementioned Urich Monolog;
* the "I'm the Kingpin now" moment, which even he seemed to realize was nonsense once he had to actually grapple with it; and
* having Cage, Strange, and Parker show up and basically explain to the reader how badass cool Matt "Bendis" Murdock now was, at tedious length. Man, I can smell that issue across the room even now.


Yeah, you just listed the three main reasons I dropped the book, along with the other scripting problems. The timidity was more a problem when Bendis did something right and then didn't follow through--even more frustrating as it arose from the book's good points.

And while the various scripting problems are, to my mind, pretty much indefensible, I can see how Murdock becoming the Kingpin could have led to some terrific stories. (It could have come from them too, for that matter, but obviously it did not.) Murdock slowly giving in to the Kingpin's methods--or at least considering them--in the service of improving Hell's Kitchen could have had a sick fascination akin to the third season of The Wire. Instead all the interesting stuff is condensed into Urich's monologue and we get drug-popping ninjas.

(On reflection, I'd say the book went wrong when the Kingpin resurfaced to bring the libel suit to a premature, cop-out conclusion, but the next Bendis storyline killed it dead.)

Kevin J. Maroney

Yeah, you just listed the three main reasons I dropped the book, along with the other scripting problems.

Well, you danced up and down on the "Ben explains to Milla things that Milla knows better than he does" in your original post, and also pointed towards the awfulness of the "line up to smootch Matt's butt" scene in comments to that post, though you didn't single out that scene. I pointed out the problem of the Kingpin declaration also in comments. So at least we're consistent across the years.


If it's consistency you're looking for, I have some great material on Transmetropolitan and Sandman...

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