When you look deeper, subtle aspects of the artwork come to life, making you wonder how you didn't see it at first glance.
Daredevil Volume 8Publisher: Marvel
Subtitle: Echo -- Vision Quest
Contributors: David Mack (Artist)
Writer: David Mack
Item Type: Comic
Publication Date: 2004-10
Even if you don't know what sounds clouds make, you could feel my stories.
This book, contrary to the title, is not about Daredevil. Vision Quest is about Maya Lopez. Known as Echo, she fell in love with Matt Murdock in an earlier Daredevil storyline. A relatively new character in the Daredevil mythos, Echo is a beautiful hearing-impaired woman who has the ability to perfectly mimic any action or skill that she sees.
One of my first reviews for PopMatters was a review of a sizable chunk of Daredevil issues in which the main crux of the storyline was the Kingpin falsely blaming Daredevil for the death of Maya's real father. By the time Maya out the truth, both about the Kingpin and about Daredevil, Maya was in no mental shape to try to salvage her relationship with Matt. Maya left Matt and New York to "find herself". In this volume, we see the next chapter in Maya's life.
In the interim between storylines, Matt's life has fallen apart and while putting it back together, he became involved with someone else. Echo does not know this when she first sees Daredevil again. Mack uses the colors rather than dialogue to create tension between the two. Maya lashes out verbally at Matt after he tells her he cannot be with her. Mack successfully creates an uncomfortable moment that many readers can probably empathize with.
In her attempt to find peace, Maya goes on a vision quest. During this time, she encounters Wolverine or maybe not. It's never entirely clear whether this is a "real" encounter or all within Maya's vision quest hallucination. Either way, it is easily the best Wolverine guest-appearance ever. Mack's version of Wolverine is visually based upon Hugh Jackman's portrayal in the X-Men movies. When we first see Wolverine, arms outstretched, we are waiting for that "snikt" sound effect that accompanies his claws. But Mack has the sound emerge through the artwork, and places the sound effect "off-frame", adding believability and realism to the scene, putting us in Maya's place, who is deaf she couldn't hear the sound anyway. As we read the sound effect, in its rough hand-lettered font in another panel, it has more power than if it was a 26 point typeface next to his outstretched hand.
When a comic book is done well, the art supports the writing by eliminating excess prose, allowing you to "watch" the character's actions. The beauty of David Mack's artwork is hard to describe. At first, it seems like painting and collage. When you look deeper, subtle aspects of the artwork come to life, making you wonder how you didn't see it at first glance. Between the color schemes and the many different art techniques, this book is a visual feast. Don't let that lower your expectations for the story. Besides this being the most interesting Wolverine appearance ever, the idea of the story, how to get over anger and disappointment in your life, is particularly poignant. It is also broadly resonant, dealing with the universal thread of blaming others for your own lot in life.
David Mack is an incredible artist. From his original work in the Kabuki series, to his stints working on Daredevil, his artwork and especially his writing are deceptively powerful. I never before thought about what things like clouds sound like and how I would describe those things to someone hearing-impaired. Mack breathes such life into Maya that you want to just look at her and smile and say "clouds don't make sounds, silly".