About four years ago, in a commentary entitled Where’s the Daredevil Love? (thoughts on sales numbers), Christine, creator of The Other Murdock Papers website (I just discovered Christine’s site; check it out!), wondered why non-Daredevil readers weren’t reading the book.
I suspect this is a question you could ask during pretty much any time in DD’s history. It’s too bad, too, because Daredevil has had some great runs from Stan’s original work to Steve Gerber’s quirky stories to Frank Miller’s magnum opus (okay, everybody was reading DD when Frank was doing it) to Ann Nocenti’s underappreciated reign to the recent thrill rides courtesy of Kevin Smith, Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker. I read and enjoyed a lot of these and I’ve heard that Mark Waid’s current stint is one of the best reads around, so why am I one of those non-Daredevil readers? Well, I’ve only so much reading time and I’m reading so many other things already. And then Daredevil fell into “event hell.” You know what I mean. All those things that are done to try to counteract low sales numbers; things that usually have the opposite effect on me.
First Daredevil “died,” then his book’s numbering got taken over by the Black Panther, then a mini-series came out that, I presume, brought him back to life, then the book was rebooted to issue #1. I read none of these. I can see why Marvel did all these things. They are well-established techniques to draw in readers. Reverting to #1, in particular, is usually a sales winner but it never works for me. I like the high numbers (and DD was up over issue #500). Plus, a reboot gives me an excuse to quit. So, I quit. This doesn’t mean I won’t start up again or won’t pick up the issues I have missed. By all accounts, I should. Except…in a recent attempt to snare Spidey readers, the Daredevil book has had two recents crossovers. Daredevil (Vol. 3) #8, March 2012 continued the story begun in Amazing Spider-Man #677, March 2012 while this issue finishes up The Omega Effect storyline and I wasn’t too thrilled by either.
So, Daredevil is on the Grand Central floor getting mauled by A.I.M. guys and Hydra guys and other guys when Spidey steps in and pulls him out. DD tells Spidey he didn’t fall but was “shot from behind.” The Punisher, busy rubber-bulleting members of the various criminal groups tells the heroes that Rachel “ambushed Daredevil, grabbed the Omega Drive for herself and took off.” (Which explains the confusing conclusion to Part Two.) We also learn that the device that Spidey gave to DD last time was a “gun…to obliterate the Omegadrive” but that’s it’s now been smashed in the “stampede” of villains. (So, this was a McGuffin but not much of one, since we were never told what it was before it was obliterated.)
While Frank keeps the crooks busy, Spidey and DD split up, looking for Rachel. DD uses his hyper-senses to track her but loses the trail. Stopping to reason it out (“She knows the Drive isn’t plug-and-play. It has to be read by special equipment…she can’t get into the Baxter Building…but there’s one other place close by…”), he goes back to Matt Murdock’s home (at least I think that’s where he goes) and finds Rachel there. She is looking for the “special equipment,” which is only at the Baxter Building but, apparently, DD said something (last time?) that implied the equipment was here (wherever here is) because he “heard a familiar hum” of Rachel’s something-or-other that gives off a hum. DD then tells Rachel that he was luring her all along. (To do what? Steal the Drive? Take it back to his apartments? This doesn’t even seem to jibe with the search for her just a few pages before.) The reason for the lure is to prevent her from following the Punisher’s path of revenge. So, the big climax of the story is Daredevil confronting Rachel, telling her he knows how she feels but that murder is not the answer. Rachel finally listens, hands DD the Drive, and is then shot in the back by invading Hydra agents. Spidey and Punisher arrive and help DD subdue the bad guys. They then discover Rachel is gone. (“She was armored. Unlike some idiots,” says Frank.) After Punisher leaves, Spidey reminds Daredevil that they were going to smash the Drive. DD replies, “That was for theater, remember? And we just pummeled the last of our audience into submission.” (I’m not sure we were let in on the fact that that was “for theater” but I am pretty sure that we are part of that audience that got pummeled into submission.) And that, my friends, is that.
Okay, so, since when did redeeming Rachel become the whole point of this story? If it was there all along, Mark and Greg concealed it pretty well. After all we’ve been through, it would have been nice to have some resolution concerning the Drive but we can’t have that because then we wouldn’t have any reason to come back next issue. That’s how these crossover things work…and why I don’t like them. Come to think of it, DD didn’t even really redeem Rachel. She’s still out there. All he did was get her to give up the Drive, which she couldn’t access anyway. So, what satisfaction was derived from reading these three issues? None. I never even learned why the Punisher’s head is bandaged and he’s working with only one eye.
Marco’s artwork gets high marks again, though. My favorite moment is the full-page look at the villains attacking DD from his on-the-floor perspective (shown in radar-sense style) on page 2 to page 3 panel 1’s flip-flop to the same scene from (perhaps) Spidey’s perspective (in normal sight style) showing DD being attacked. But when the big climax is Daredevil talking to Rachel, just how innovative and explosive can you be?
A crossover is as unfair to the series it’s highlighting as it is to the reader trying to feel that series through the crossover. It postpones the subplots, it disrupts the flow, it features a straightforward guest-star-filled storyline. So, it’s not fair to judge the current acclaimed DD on its crossover issues. The new reader is probably not getting the best of the series. On the other hand, the whole point of the crossovers is to get me to want to read the series. It’s unfortunate if the crossovers don’t provide the spark that makes the series what it is. I suspect that’s the case here. Still, there’s not enough in these crossovers to get me to pick up the next issue and see.