The Doomino Effect for Sep 24, 2008

I’ve been going on for months about how I’m ready to ditch Daredevil. The book has become decreasingly interesting to me, following an inverse relationship with my sense that Brubaker has been dragging out the formula of “A Daredevil villain wants to get at Matt Murdock by way of his personal life, which is continuing to unravel, and that is manifesting itself through an increasingly violent and unstable Daredevil.” I’m glad that events that took place in the first arc of Daredevil Vol 2 are still resonant, but that resonance was becoming a drone.

I was only picking up two other books last week, so I decided to take a chance on Daredevil #111, part 1 of the Lady Bullseye arc. Not only did Daredevil have everything I said in the opening paragraph going against it, but the lead villain is a female knock-off of Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, which seems more appropriate for a dwindling and desperate 1990s reinvention attempt (I’m thinking Lady Octopus). But Bullseye is a good guy now, so if you want someone to kill people by throwing things quickly, what are you gonna do?

So in this particular issue, we don’t see much from Lady Bullseye, but what we do see counts: 1) her “origin” stems from admiration for the original Bullseye as he tore through her Yakuza captors; 2) she’s pretty ruthless and digs the carnage; and 3) she’s on a mission for the Hand that actually doesn’t include targeting Daredevil. So right off the bat, we don’t have a villain going after Matt Murdock. Hooray!

Yet Murdock’s personal life continues to get complicated as he has sex with Dakota North. In a classic “torture myself with guilt over things I’ve done to screw up my life even more” Daredevil moment (and don’t get me wrong — I love these moments and I think they’re crucial to the Matt Murdock character), Matt slips out of bed with the hot naked ex-model, pulls up some pants and thinks “Oh … dear God in Heaven … what have you done, Matt? You just cheated on your wife … Your wife, who’s in a mental institution because of you…”

Hot dog, I’m back in love with this book. The art, as always, is an editorial feat, as Warren Simons (I assume) continues to assemble a creative team that maintains a cohesive visual feel. I won’t belabor the point because Fin Fang Doom has already covered it well, but bless the interchangeability of Daredevil artists and the tribute they pay to Alex Maleev by doing their best to continue the atmosphere he helped create over dozens of issues.

Speaking of both Brubaker and books with consistent visuals by way of interchangeable artists, that leads me to Captain America #42, the conclusion to “The Man Who Bought America,” act 3 of “The Death of Captain America.”

The purpose of this issue, much like the purpose of the 41 issues that preceded it, was clearly to establish Bucky as the new Captain America. The physical transformation was done, but by thwarting the Red Skull, stopping the dastardly third-party presidential candidate, saving a bunch of lives and winning over the public, he finally accepted his role as the man with the shield. And I have to say, it’s been a pretty fantastic run so far.

Several long-running issues came to a close — Lukin is dead. The Red Skull no longer possesses his body. Sin is locked up. Senator Wright is done. Sharon lost her baby. But then there are all kinds of new doors opened — that clone Captain America is on the loose; Falcon and Black Widow have become an indispensable part of the Captain America team; the Red Skull is now trapped in Arnim Zola’s robot body, presumably on the hunt for a new host.

Brubaker has done a fantastic job of building a new status quo for the character and the book. It clearly draws on the decades of Captain America history, but there’s a well-defined Captain America universe that these stories operate in that is so perfectly suited for this character in the 2000s. I don’t know if this was part of the underlying plan or just a natural consequence of great storytelling, but this book has made a potentially outdated character undeniably relevant.

Hey, speaking of relevance, that leads me to New Avengers #45. I had been looking forward to this issue since I saw it solicited several months ago. This was our glimpse into how the Skrull Invasion intersected with House of M. I was pumped for seeing how this issue illustrated the sinister plot that had been slowly growing for years.

There was none of that! All that happened in this issue was that Skrull Spider Woman and Skrull Hank Pym saw House of M start and watched it end. THE END. The only point of this issue appears to be that Wanda Maximoff’s decision to end all mutants reassured the Skrulls that they were on a mission from God, since that was very convenient for them. THAT’S ALL.

You know what might have been cool? Seeing that Skrulls manipulated Wanda to make that decision. That would have cast the House of M ending into a completely new and less arbitrary light, giving some strategic significance to those now infamous three words. But no. It just happened like it happened, just like we all read it to happen. The big reveal is that A SKRULL WAS SECRETLY LISTENING AS IT HAPPENED.

Retcon city, baby.

The only thing I saw in this issue that made me think was the fact that Skrull Spider-Woman changed into Skrull form to go puke in the toilet. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but I thought the key to remaining hidden from the various forms of human detection was to never change form. Maybe that means that they’re always undetectable when in human disguise, and only detectable in Skrull form, but I took it to mean that it was sort of like a shape-changing form of latex body paint — it works as a body covering until you take it off, but once you take it off, it’s off; it’s not like you can put it back on.

In other words, I took it to mean their total genetic doppelgangery would work until they changed into Skrull form; they would never be able to shift back into a disguise that could work on the telepathic, scent-based and mystical levels after ditching it that first time.

So maybe I interpreted that wrong.