Monday, November 7, 2011

Selling The Movie And The Closest Things To It, The Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation Is Origin And Advertising Only!

The Good: Moments of artwork, Essential story elements.
The Bad: Poor repetition of information, Degenerating artwork, Pointless/incomplete additional stories.
The Basics: Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation sought to exploit the anticipated cinematic phenomenon with a glossed-over comic book version and additional side stories that ineffectively sell the franchise.

I suppose it is hard to guess at what will be a success at the box office and what will flop entirely. I know that I am one of the few critics who actually thoroughly enjoyed the cinematic Daredevil (reviewed here!). And yet, after almost a fifty year publishing history, didn't Marvel Comics and Marvel Pictures have a reason to believe the film would be a success from its built-in audience? Daredevil was released cinematically with a comparatively underwhelming amount of swag, but as my Daredevil Year speeds toward its inevitable conclusion, I have begun to get some in. The first and foremost piece of Daredevil (the cinematic version) swag that has come my way is the graphic novel Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation.

Unfortunately for those either who depend on titles to be accurate or those looking for something that was substantively greater than what was in the film, Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation is a surprisingly glossed-over version of the film in comic book form. In addition to the comic book version of Daredevil, the trade paperback anthology for the movie story includes three additional stories, one each focused on Elektra, Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk. Sadly, the anthology falls dramatically shy of being even remotely essential for Daredevil readers and the additional stories seem more like advertising tools for other works.

The first chapter in this anthology is the adaptation of Daredevil. As in the film, the origin story of Daredevil is explained, this time with artwork that puts Matt Murdock growing into a man who resembles Ben Affleck. The story leaps forward to replay the film's version of the meeting of Elektra and Matt and the death of Elektra's father at the hands of Bullseye. With a black Wilson Fisk - who bears only slight resemblance to Michael Clarke Duncan - putting the squeeze on Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil must overcome his feelings, Elektra, Bullseye and ultimately, the Kingpin.

The fundamental problem with this Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation is that it does not fully commit to its own premise. Writer Bruce Jones was likely working with an early script, as the scene where Daredevil takes a cop for a joy ride is included in the book . . . in an altered form. In the film, this was a scene cut out as part of a subplot involving a criminal who appears to be telling the truth and a cop who provides testamony against him where the police officer also seems to be telling the truth. In the film version, Daredevil comes to realize that Murdock did not get an accurate "read" on the officer because the officer was using a pacemaker and he gets him to recant through the driving scene. In this book version, the scene is slightly different and Murdock is using the pacemaker-equipped cop to try to find out the Kingpin's identity. In addition to the mild story changes, the book fails to deliver on the artwork. It is as if penciler Manuel Garcia had only two pieces of concrete information for the adaptation: Matt Murdock would be played by Ben Affleck and the Kingpin would be black. None of the other characters - notably an Elektra who looks nothing like Jennifer Gardner for most of the book - resemble the actors playing them.

The second story in the book is a rare dud from one of the authors of graphic novels I tend to like. The "Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra" story from Greg Rucka reminds me of the poorly-premised Star Trek Academy ideas that used to be presented with stories involving Kirk and Spock at StarFleet Academy. This brief story has Elektra arriving for her first day of college and meeting her dorm roommate Phoebe McAllister. After showing off a little bit of her martial arts moves and disagreeing about music preferences, the two run into a man who is bullying a female student. After Elektra stops the abuse, she and Phoebe start visiting the gym where they run into Matt Murdock training! Unfortunately for Elektra, her intervention on behalf of Mel has some horrible consequences . . .

This section features art that is remarkably comic strip-like. The characters look like animated versions of actual people and this is somewhat disappointing when one considers the story has surprisingly adult turns. Sadly, the story is not even a complete story; it is the setup for issue #2 and as a result, readers are likely to feel like they are just being advertised to.

The issue that follows that is even worse! Daredevil #32 is the story "Out." In it, the police and reporters finally piece together that Matt Murdock is Daredevil and release that information to the public. Having read the story in-context, this chapter is very much an advertisement for where Daredevil was at the time the film came out. Unfortunately, the artwork is very sloppy and most of the panels look like they are sketches that were then colored in. Outside Foggy Nelson in the last pages, the story does not include and major characters and it is a lot of people telling readers what they already know . . . with poor illustrations.

The final story of the book is a Spider-man's Tangled Web story that includes Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. In "Severance Package," Tom Cochrane, a thug for Wilson Fisk, tries to leave the organization. Having a meeting with Fisk proves predictably horrible and the story is bereft of interesting characters or anything resembling a real plot. The artwork is generally fine, but nothing superlative. In fact, the only noteworthy aspect of this story is the lack of any noteworthy characters! Outside Wilson Fisk, there are no recognizable Marvel characters and the story lacks emotional impact or surprise for anyone who actually knows Fisk's character.

Ultimately, Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation is barely that. It is a single comic book adaptation that is added to to try to sell readers on the rest of the franchise. Unfortunately, the henpecked stories work poorly out of context or are not all they ought to be to intrigue readers, making for a very poor "sampler platter" anthology.

For other Daredevil books, please check out my reviews of:
The Essential Daredevil Volume 1
Daredevil Vs. Bullseye
Daredevil: Visionaries Volume 1 - Frank Miller
Born Again
Typhoid Mary
Guardian Devil
Parts Of A Hole
Daredevil: Yellow
Batman/Daredevil - King of New York
Daredevil Noir
Daredevil: Golden Age
The Devil: Inside And Out, Volume 1
The Devil: Inside And Out, Volume 2
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 1
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 2
Daredevil: Shadowland


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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