Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spoiler Saturday--Why Mark Waid Isn't Allowed To Work At DC Anymore

From this week's Daredevil #34:


Wow. Can it really be that simple?

For nearly 3 decades post-Frank Miller, Daredevil writers seemed locked into a never-ending cycle of one-upsmanship, a continuing game of chicken as to who could make Matt Murdoch the most miserable (I'll see your "have his wife driven insane by super-villain so he can never see her again" and I'll raise you "possessed by a demon and heading a murderous ninja clan.").

And then along comes Mark Waid, saying "enough is enough, folks."

So, yeah, it really can be that simple. Bad stuff can happen to your hero. He can face trials and struggles. He can acknowledge all of the stuff that has gone before. But he doesn't have to be a broody nimrod 24-7.

No wonder DC didn't want Waid around. He's the anti-nu52.

11 comments:

SallyP said...

I can hardly contain myself, except to say, that you have hit the proverbial Nail on the proverbial Head.

I've been enjoying the heck out of Daredevil. I don't mind a little bit of angst or pathos, or violence...but a steady diet of unrelenting misery and pain and blood and gore and death...has given me a fit of the queasies.

A little joy in comics would be greatly appreciated.

Tony Laplume said...

But...what the heck is Matt Murdock otherwise? Just some blind vigilante? Maybe I have to read this stuff for myself, but it just seems as if it's instantly pointless, no matter how entertaining it might be. I read Mark Waid because he understands the mythology of a character better than anyone. So what's Matt Murdock's mythology now?

snell said...

Tony--Matt Murdock had a mythology before Frank Miller; and as good as Miller's run was, the near-constant need of following creators to continue--and increase--the Catholic guilt/emotional torture porn had obscured and lost that mythology.

So Waid--without retconning away any of the prior stuff--put Dardevil back on track to some of that mythology. He's a lawyer who helps those who can't otherwise find justice. He's a smart guy who is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, which gets him into trouble, but also allows him to get out of it. He constantly comes up against the limits of his powers.

And he probably goes through as much crap--if not more--than previous creators put him through, but the attitude is different. Let's not wallow in self-pity, enough with the "woe is me;" let's just push up our sleeves and deal with these problems.It's an approach that, after 30 years, is a breath of fresh air.

Do read it.

Aaron Martinez said...

Yeah, the Waids's Daredevil it's a lot like the Stan Lee era, with a lot of drama but also a lot of crazyness, trips to Latveria, encounters with The Silver Surfer and the impossible love story of a woman who sees right through him. Waid is doing an impresive job remainding us of those great Daredevil stories

Amanda Hobbs said...

While I agree that Waid's approach to a happier Matt is nice, I do have a bit of a problem with the two panels you posted. Specifically the implication that depression is something people can just "get over it" if they try hard enough. Society in general already treats depression as though it's synonymous with being sad, like it's not a real problem; it really doesn't help when it's reinforced in popular media.

Oculus Orbus said...

Amanda, get over it.

Tony Laplume said...

Fair enough. Matt's adventures as a lawyer are something I knew about, so that's good Waid's exploring that. Although Matt constantly running into limitations is a little on the nose for a blind guy. I understand that every creator since Miller hammered the Miller material, but there's also such a thing as breaking new ground by exploring old if forgotten territory.

What Waid's Daredevil sounds like to me is the same thing he always does at Marvel, which is to try and have a good time rather than doing what he does best, like a cleansing ritual. He doesn't do his best work there. But perhaps the difference between how Marvel fans appreciate him and how DC fans do is another way to distinguish these fan camps.

Although to be fair, a lot of his most recent DC material was exactly like his Marvel work (Wild Wests, Brave and the Bold). Clearly he's always going to be first and foremost a fan of superheroes. But I like him best, and think he does his best work, when he steps beyond his fan tendencies and actively grows the characters he gets to write.

notintheface said...

I remember a brief period where Karl Kesel and Cary Nord TRIED to restore a lighter pre-Miller-style atmosphere complete with jokes, but their run got cut short in favor of Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada putting DD back on the angst train again.

Waid's run strikes up just the right balance, acknowledging Matt's past history, both the light and the dark, but then moving the character FORWARD. We get the lows AND the highs.

Plus, he reverse engineers some interesting puzzles for our hero to work his way out of.

Finally, he doesn't confine the guest heroes & villains to just the street level variety. DD's faced the supernatural AND the cosmic when necessary.

Simon Dyer said...

"Fair enough. Matt's adventures as a lawyer are something I knew about, so that's good Waid's exploring that. Although Matt constantly running into limitations is a little on the nose for a blind guy."

But...what the heck is Matt Murdock otherwise? Also if you don't like on the nose metaphors you probably shouldn't be reading
superhero comics.

Plus you don't seem to have read the books, so how sure are you that you know what those limitations are?

Both your posts are EXACTLY this dismissive all the way through.

"I understand that every creator since Miller hammered the Miller material, but there's also such a thing as breaking new ground by exploring old if forgotten territory."

Which is what Waid is doing, so what's your problem exactly?

Beyond some sort of need to HAVE a problem. With a comic you haven't read.

"What Waid's Daredevil sounds like to me is the same thing he always does at Marvel, which is to try and have a good time rather than doing what he does best, like a cleansing ritual. He doesn't do his best work there."

In the time since Waid took the reins Daredevil has;

Explored the pros and cons of the 'Fake it 'till you make it' strategy

The difference between vigilante justice and legal justice and how to keep on going when both aren't fair

How to empower other people to help themselves

Why Matt and Foggy are friends beyond just the standard hero and bumbling best friend shtick

Introduced some almost Silver Age DC puzzles into the Marvel formula

Pitted Matt against a corrupt hate group that's infiltrated his beloved legal system

All the while helping his best friend deal with cancer.

Plenty of fun, grit, social commentary and, most importantly, heart there.

"But perhaps the difference between how Marvel fans appreciate him and how DC fans do is another way to distinguish these fan camps."

Why do there need to be fan camps at all?

"Although to be fair, a lot of his most recent DC material was exactly like his Marvel work (Wild Wests, Brave and the Bold)."

If it was the same quality as Daredevil and his Fantastic Four, which are good times WITH plenty of moments of family and basic human decency that has become so rare in superhero stories, then it's all the better for it.

"Clearly he's always going to be first and foremost a fan of superheroes."

And if more superhero fans who became superhero writers took the time to become writers like Mark Waid, the industry would be in a better place.

"But I like him best, and think he does his best work, when he steps beyond his fan tendencies and actively grows the characters he gets to write."

How do you, and just who the hell are you to decide what constitutes Mark Waid's growth as a writer or a person? How do you even know that's going on?

Simon Dyer said...
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Tony Laplume said...

I'm not really sure why you're taking this so personally. I admit, I'm talking about a comic I haven't read. The whole reason I haven't read it is because it just doesn't seem like a comic I'd particularly care to read. And I've considered some of Waid's previous work to be my favorite comic book material of all-time. I'm not dismissing Waid or Daredevil, but in terms of relevance, I've simply been puzzled that there has been such a strong critical buzz over something that doesn't actually seem to be anything at all except Not-Miller.

Yes, you can tell me everything you love about it. I'm glad you love it. You simply haven't told me anything about it that makes it sound anything more than what I originally thought it was. To me, you make it sound like the comic book version of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini Batman. I loved the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini Batman. But no one ever argued that the comics based on those cartoons were the best comics being published at the time.

This is a much-needed break in a tired tradition. I think whatever comes next will perhaps interest me. The last time I read a Daredevil comic, I think it was Ed Brubaker, following the Bendis run that more or less duplicated Frank Miller, to great acclaim at the time I might add. I liked the Brubaker Daredevil just fine, by the way. The most consistent I ever saw Brubaker on an extended run.

To argue, also, that there are not clear DC and Marvel camps among the fans only baffles me.

In the end, we're not going to advance this discussion. I'm not going to read Waid's Daredevil. When I talk about character growth, I'm referencing Waid's Flash, his Wally West, which was the defining touchstone of his career. If you're not familiar with that, I suggest you have a look. It may give you an idea of what I'm talking about. If you read that and tell me that his Daredevil work in any way compares, then we might have a real discussion here. I've read people gushing over his Marvel work for years, but no one has ever argued that it was anything like his Flash.

To me, a Mark Waid who isn't interested in doing something to that level again is not a Mark Waid I particularly care to read. That's exactly where I'm coming from, to be perfectly clear. Nothing you've said about his Daredevil approaches that.