Non-Doomino Effect: Savage Avengers #1-4 and Daredevil #6-10

Because of work trips and other general busyness, I fell behind on virtually every comics series I was buying, which then impeded my ability to get back on a weekly schedule. These Non-Doomino Effect entries will be an attempt to chip away at the stack so I can get back to the normal routine. Today, it’s Savage Avengers 1-4 and Daredevil 6-10.

Much like DCeased, I’m not really sure why I picked up Savage Avengers in the first place. As someone who lived through, read comics during, and gave up comics during the worst excesses of the ‘90s, I do not experience ‘90s nostalgia. Yet a book called Savage Avengers that features not only Wolverine, but Venom (!) and The Punisher (!!) just reeks of the worst type of ‘90s nostalgia for over-the-top violence and grittiness for grittiness’ sake.

Oh yeah, and David Finch covers! David Finch obviously didn’t make his career in the ‘90s, but his overly-muscled, overly-hatched Kubert-esque (and not even Adam or Joe, but Andy!) style harkens back to the indulgences of the Image days. I mean just look at the size of the Punisher’s gun on the cover to issue #1 (but in fairness to Finch, he’s at least consistently getting better at what he strives to be good at).

Oh you know what? I now remember exactly why I took a chance on this — Mike Deodato, Jr. He’s evolved into the one of the best artists in comics today, and I would probably read anything he illustrated. Here’s proof!

In spite of the clear call-backs to those ‘90s excesses, though, I’ve found this series pretty enjoyable so far. It’s got a plot that — while making room for violence and slashing and shooting — has its own purpose and doesn’t feel like it exists just for those excesses. Circumstances have drawn this otherwise unrelated hackers, slashers and shooters to the Savage (hence the name) Land, where a cosmic cult attempts to summon a being from the outer edges of the solar system. It’s nothing too special, but the weaving of each character’s path — including the bad guys — is believable enough to feel like the characters are part of the story vs. the story just being there to see Wolverine stab and the Punisher shoot.

The one thing I really don’t care for are the contrived attempts at humor. Fish-out-of-water character contrasts can make for natural laughs, but Duggan’s attempts to leverage Conan for those situations do not work at all. I appreciate the effort to make this something other than dark, gloomy violence, but it’s not working.

Speaking of ‘90s comics, that leads me to Daredevil #6-10, the “No Devils, Only God” arc that follows the supposed death of Daredevil.

There is absolutely nothing overtly ‘90s about this series, but whereas Savage Avengers adopts some overtly ‘90s elements for this otherwise timeless story, this arc of Daredevil reminds me of some of my favorite elements of the less-flashy comics of the ‘90s — somewhat bright and mismatched art adorning earnestly gloomy stories. The inability to really hit the mark on the gloom — in spite of trying so hard to be heavy — sometimes comes off as charming, and this is one of those times.

Matt Murdock is grappling with what it means to leave Daredevil behind, and consequently, so is Mayor Fisk. The parallels are interesting, with much of the action and drama revolving around the story of how _the police_ are reacting and adapting. It’s sort of pulpy but just so committed to telling its story — even though the story just isn’t all that great — and I really admire it for it.

Coming up with new stories for Daredevil has got to be so hard; really since Frank Miller deconstructed the guy, I feel like every writer has had to essentially react to “Born Again,” either by embracing it (Bendis, Brubaker) or pushing hard against it (Waid, and to an extent, Diggle). Zdarsky’s take manages to be familiar without feeling overly constrained by what came before, and I respect it for that.