Marvel Knights was a comic book renaissance of the ’90s. Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti gave readers superhero comics they wanted to read for an audience that was growing older, featuring more serious topics, an edge, and stories that felt meaningful. That continues in Parts of a Hole after Kevin Smith, Palmiotti and Quesada made waves on Guardian Devil. Their success continues here.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Matt Murdock dwells in a world of eternal darkness, forever shut off from the visual world by a blinding childhood accident. Maya Lopez suffers from a sense-depriving condition all her own: deafness that shrouds her in silence. Two individuals dealt unlucky hands, they have both transcended their disabilities in ways that defy reality. He is Daredevil – and she is Echo. Though seemingly kindred souls, their secret identities are very much at odds. Maya seeks out her father’s killer – a man that the Kingpin fingers as Daredevil! Can Matt clear his name before his new love becomes his executioner? Acclaimed writer/painter David Mack and artist Joe Quesada weave a tale of dangerous liaisons and forbidden romance that will change the Man Without Fear forever.
Can I jump in easily?
Quite easily. This is the second arc in the Daredevil Marvel Knights line so you know it’s back to basics for the character. All you need to know is Daredevil’s main girl has died. She left him lots of cash. Now he’s trying to move on.
Reason 1: Great Kingpin origin storytelling.
It seems all great Daredevil stories involve the Kingpin. This story is no exception. I was actually surprised to see the focus on Kingpin in this collection since it seems on the onset to be more about Daredevil building his new law firm and a mysterious woman who enters his life (more on that next). That’s all present of course, but Kingpin’s journey from small child to crime boss is detailed in a few scenes throughout the story arc. We see him as a child with a neglectful father, later in life defending himself against bullies and later still making his way in the crime world. These scenes are written beautifully by David Mack, getting into Kingpin’s head and making his psychosis interesting and believable. Throughout this story, Mack infuses bits of psychology that help back up what is being told while also giving readers a bit of knowledge in the process.
Reason 2: Fascinating antagonist love interest.
A new character is introduced in this collection and she calls herself Echo. Well, she’s actually Maya Lopez, who is a friend of Kingpin. Mack slowly unveils a mystery of manipulation and power so that Kingpin can use her as a weapon. You see, Maya is deaf, but her ability to mimic what she sees is basically superhuman. She has an ability like Daredevil to do the amazing even though she is basically human. This power is used to box, play magnum opuses and, later in the volume, fight Daredevil. The work Mack and Quesada do to develop the character is genuine and believable.
That’s in part thanks to a well-rendered sequence with Maya and Matt when they go on a date. Technically it’s just a meetup, but it soon becomes lunch, dinner, a movie, and so on. Quesada and Mack write this sequence efficiently, getting across their love for each other in just a few pages. That makes the conclusion all the more meaningful and dramatic.
Reason 3: Exceptional art that draws you in.
The art in this volume is incredibly creative. Take the opening pages, which mix in Matt playing the piano with sheet music explaining in great detail Matt’s ability to play and his relationship to music. There are impressive pages, using Daredevil’s shadow to symbolically show he’s coming for the baddies pushing the visuals so they are telling a story in a different way. In another scene, Maya Lopez is learning the moves of Bullseye and Daredevil that’s conveyed almost like a dance. Ribbons flow around her and her form is incredibly beautiful. In the foreword written by David Mack in 2001, Mack says this is Joe Quesada’s best work at the time. He’s not wrong.
Reasons to be wary?
Daredevil fighting Echo gets a tad repetitive. He doesn’t want to hurt her, he hits her nerve spots, and he doesn’t ask for help. Come on Matt, you have so many super-friends. A little back up would fix this issue, not to mention using your words could calm things down. Echo is a character you’ll fall in love with, but her blind obsession to kill Daredevil is a bit much.
Is there a rationale to the reasons?
Mack, Quesada, and Ross knock this story out of the park. They’re added with an excellent side story by Quesada, Palmiotti and Rob Haynes too. You’ll fall in love with Echo, get new insight into Kingpin, and a great visually focused story too.
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