The X-Axis by Paul O'Brien (

Daredevil #54

DAREDEVIL #54 - It's a rather thin week for new titles, so let's have a look at DAREDEVIL, which fits vaguely with the X-Axis theme by virtue of guest starring Wolverine.

This is part four of the five-part "Echo" storyline by David Mack. The first thing which needs to be stressed is that no matter what it may say on the cover, this is in no way, shape or form a Daredevil story. In fact, he's not even in it. At all.

"Echo" is a sequel to Mack's earlier Daredevil run, in which he introduced the eponymous character. This arc shows every sign of having been conceived as an Echo miniseries, showing what she got up to after she was finished in this book. It will, of course, sell an awful lot better as five issues of Daredevil, because miniseries generally sell appallingly unless they're big event comics. That doesn't alter the fact that it's not a Daredevil story, and it's completely out of place halfway through a Bendis/Maleev run.

Lacking direction now that Matt Murdock is occupied elsewhere, Echo has decided to go on a visionquest, because she's a native American and that's the sort of thing native Americans do when they're depressed. It says so right here in my Big Book of Ethnic Stereotypes. At the end of last issue, she stumbled upon Wolverine, which apparently is meant to satisfy her requirement to encounter an animal. This issue they do the obligatory mistaken fight and then chat for a bit. As the issue ends - and get this for a cliffhanger for the penultimate chapter - Logan offers to tell her an inspirational story.

Now, look. I know the orthodox wisdom is that David Mack is fantastic. Certainly, I do enjoy his warped, highly subjective art, where he uses the panel layouts, border designs, art style and so forth to convey an impression of how his characters are feeling. Okay, those little scrawly notes get a bit precious on occasion, but for the most part I really quite like the way this arc looks.

But as a story? I mean, come on. This is just dull, isn't it? There's nothing wrong with Echo as a character, but she's not so compelling that she can carry five solid issues of nondescript moping. (One of which, incidentally, consisted almost entirely of recapping the previous storyline.) I want to like this storyline, because it's certainly trying something completely out of the norm for Marvel, and in principle that's to be applauded. But Mack has produced a shapeless story where all the tension, such as it is, stems from the question of whether Echo's going to cheer up. And call me a hardened dead soul if you like, but I couldn't give a toss.

Yes, Mack is doing something very different here, and so far as it goes that's a good thing. But it doesn't provide an exemption from writing stories where something actually happens. However much I applaud the attempt to push Marvel's boundaries (I hesitate to call it innovative,

Grade: C-

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