Serials for 12-14-11: Daredevil + Ultimate Comics Ultimates

If you look at the new releases for this week, you'll notice that Marvel's releasing their Holiday Special, a 40-page print comic with 4 different stories. It collects the 4 digital shorts that were originally released, for free, on comiXology.com. They're no longer free on comiXology though: you'd have to have read them on the week they came out.

If it makes you feel any better (it makes me feel better), IDW's Hack/Slash also released a Christmas Special, and it's a short freebie meant to introduce you to the slasher killer known as Cassie Hack.

I was hoping to get my hands on the new Chew (#22) from Image Comics, but my store was out! I'm not sure what I'm gonna do about that, but today I have two titles for you.

cover by Marcos Martin and Muntsa VicenteDaredevil #6
by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente
$2.99 Marvel Comics

Issue 6 concludes Waid's three-issue arc with Marcos Martin, and it's Martin's last issue for a while. Which sucks, because this is some great stuff with Daredevil. Issue 7 will be a done-in-one with Paolo Rivera, so try picking that one up this month. At best, you'll see for yourself that it's a great comic. At worst, you'll have a full story in one issue and see that it's not for you. Since I'm already two weeks late with this, I really have nothing to add that the blogosphere hasn't, so here are some quotes:

Caleb over at everydayislikewednesday has some comments on the coloring in Daredevil, and you'd do well to look at it:
Martin’s designs are simple enough that the color is allowed to reinforce the lines rather than bury or otherwise obscure them. Later, for example, representatives of five different Marvel villain organizations assemble to witness an execution, and each has a different color or set of colors, sharply defining who they are and, more importantly, that they are different from and in opposition to one another. 

Daredevil#6 was highlighted with a moment on iFanboy.

Comicvine gives it a 4 out of 5, with one complaint:
The continuity between books (i.e. where one book ends and the next one begins) has been a little bit off.
I'm gonna have to disagree here: issue 6 literally picks off where issue 5 ended, with Daredevil getting thrown into the water.

Newsarama gives it a 7 out of 10:
I found myself wanting more of the moments when Matt Murdock's unique talents take the spotlight. That said, it's still light years ahead of most of what's on the stands today, so don't take that criticism too harshly.
One last thing: I'm loving the "Letters without Fear" letters column, where readers get to chime in. Particularly moving was one letter in issue 1, that had one reader coping with the loss of his father,  inspired by how Matt Murdock handled the death of his own father. Issue 6 has a similar letter: P. Yap writes in about his partner who died from breast cancer. To see Matt Murdock handle the grief around him so resiliently inspired this Yap fellow to face the joy in life.

Check out issue 7 when it's out, which'll be. . . next week! Awesome.


Ultimate Comics The Ultimates Must-Have
collecting Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #1-3
by Hickman, Ribic and White
$4.99, Marvel Comics

When Mark Millar took on the Ultimates in those first two volumes with Bryan Hitch, everything seemed fresh. The two were forging a new, edgy path in Marvel comics. Captain America was the man out of time, dealing with problems the only way he knew how: with his fist. Thor was a political activist with possible God delusions. Hulk really disliked Freddie Prinze Jr.

Hickman's recaptured that feeling. The "Children of Tomorrow," a group of genetically-enhanced humanoids incubated and raised in a "The Dome," lay siege to the world and Asgard, claiming it for their ownership. I don't recall any Children of Tomorrow from the proper Marvel U, so I think this is a new idea. Even if it isn't, it feels fresh and modern with the way our heroes deal with it: Iron Man, Thor and the EUSS (European Union Super Soldiers?) in conjunction with S.H.I.E.L.D. try to repel them from the world and from Asgard, and they fail.

They've taken some heavy design liberties in order to fit the films, and that's fine. Thor has a rectangular hammer, then loses it for an axe-hammer. The curves on Iron Man's ultimate armor are gone, replaced by Robert Downey Jr.'s armor. He even has a suitcase model!

Esad Ribic is killing it on the pencils. The Ultimates is a wide-screen action title, and Ribic draws with a wide-screen sensibility. This might be the only other title with hand-drawn sound effects too (the first being Waid's Daredevil), and yeah, sound effects are a small thing in a comic book, but it's a lot more rewarding to read a hand-drawn SPA-KOW than a digital SPA-KOW.

My one complaint would be the colors. With the way they're muted, everything blends into each other. A lot of times, I had trouble distinguishing one panel from another, and two individual pages would look like a two-page spread simply because the colors blended (there were no spreads in these issues).

Look at this panel of Spider-Woman kicking a Child of Tomorrow in the face (I love that they're doing something with Ultimate Spider-Woman by the way). It looks better after I put it through my dated scanner, unfortunately, but why is the sfx orange, when Spider-Woman is red? What's it doing BEHIND her? The Ultimates is a loud action title, and the colors should be loud to match. There is no call to be this subtle.

All other comments aside, Hickman and Ribic have returned some much-needed class and relevance to The Ultimates. I'd like to read issue 4, if not to find out where Captain America is, and if not to conclude the storyarc, at least to thumb my nose at the people who bought this title month-by-month and say, "Suckers! I paid $9 for a story that you paid $16 for."

But then, those torrenters will still have a leg up on me.

Stats a-go-go