Comic Reviews: Daredevil and Undertow!
The “final” issue of Daredevil has arrived, and just like any other month, it’s stellar. At this point, writer Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee can do no wrong, as they’ve consistently put out one of the finest superhero books on the stands month in and month out. Issue 36 is no exception, as it closes the door on one chapter of Matt Murdock’s life, and opens the door to a brand new one.
Under threat from the serpent society, Matt Murdock must clear a guilty man. If he doesn’t, then the world will know a truth that Matt has struggled long to keep hidden: his identity as Daredevil. Matt’s plan to get out of his situation is spectacular, and no, I won’t spoil it. I will spoil, however, the fact that this does not end on the super down note that I was expecting it to. In fact, Daredevil #36 is one of the most fun comics I’ve read so far this year. Waid’s script keeps you guessing as to how the issue will play out, and the art from Chris Samnee is absolutely stunning.
Speaking of Samnee, he’s on fire here. Just like he has done time and time again, Samnee delivers some top-notch action this issue. From the giant splash page of DD punching out a serpent goon, to the awesome call back to issue #1 in the last panel, there’s not a bad image in the book here. Samnee and Waid are an absolutely perfect pairing, and work so well as a team that you’d think they’ve been making comics together for decades.
While this issue is being touted as the “series finale” of Daredevil, it’s really not. No, ol’ hornhead is being put into the “All-New Marvel NOW!” machine and being given a brand new #1 next month. However, unlike the other relaunches, after reading this issue I understand the new #1. Despite having the same creative team, there’s a major shift in Matt’s life that happens here, and the fallout of Matt’s actions in this issue guarantees that I’ll be picking up the new volume next month. A must buy.
Whatever happened to the underwater city of Atlantis?
That’s the main drive behind Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov’s Undertow, which tells the story of the ancient civil war that destroyed the city. Sounds pretty cool right? Well, it is, when it gets out of its own way.
The main focus of the story is on Ukinni Alal, an Atlantean soldier who defects and joins Redum Anshargal’s rebels. We’re introduced to the war quickly, and the reasons behind Anshargal’s disdain for his fellow Atlanteans. However, we never get a whole lot of background on Alal. Other than the fact that he was born into a life of privilege and feels more excited during war, there’s not a whole lot to him. There’s cool settings here and there, and I really like that Anshargal’s men all live above ground in special “reverse submarines”, but Steve Orlando’s script spends a lot of time explaining the technology and history of the this world, and that really slows the book’s pacing down.
Artyom Trakhanov’s art is pretty good, but it definitely gets pretty muddy at times. The opening battle was very disorienting, which may have been the point, and it took me a few pages to really figure out if I was looking at Alal or Anshargal. Another distracting piece of the art is the fact that there are small asterisks throughout that translates the different signs on the buildings in Anshargal’s ship. I completely understand why they are in there, but they’re extremely distracting and in the end weren’t all that necessary.
Undertow is a pretty cool concept, and the first issue had some interesting moments, like when Anshargal’s men visit the surface world to hunt and see prehistoric moments. Unfortunately, moments like this are very few and far between in this issue, which spends too much time explaining the back-story of the warring cultures and the science behind their technology instead of letting the story play out. Perhaps now that all of the introductory matter is out of the way, issue 2 will be better, but a better balance of exposition and story would’ve made this a stronger debut issue.