Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

24 October 2008

Spider-Girl Presents The Buzz & Darkdevil

Collects: The Buzz #1-3 and Darkdevil #1-3 (2000-1)

Released: August 2007 (Marvel)

Format: 112 pages / color digest / $7.99 / ISBN: 0785126015

As you might guess from the title, Spider-Girl Presents The Buzz and Darkdevil is neither flesh nor fowl nor good red Daredevil.

This is what happens when you join together two three-issue miniseries starring third-rate characters, even if the minis have the same creative team and they both appear as supporting characters in the same low-selling title. The good news is that with writer Tom DeFalco and penciller Ron Frenz (the two co-plotted both minis), you know what you’re going to get, and while I doubt DeFalco / Frenz will ever rival Alan Moore / Dave Gibbons (or Dave Lloyd or Gene Ha or …), the collaboration isn’t going to be bad either.

Spider-Girl Presents The Buzz and Darkdevil coverSo that leaves the question of whether Buzz and Darkdevil is forgettable or fun, and it’s a split decision. This digest is meant to appeal to hardcore M2-Universe fans, what few there are: the kind of people who have been curious as to what Darkdevil’s deal is. (Until I read this, I never really considered the Buzz to have much of a mysterious backstory.) The usual caveat is M2 stories appeal to those who enjoy old-school comic-book stories, but that’s not really the case here. The Buzz is that sort of story, a fun little bit of fluff full of team ups, mistaken identities, and a classic villain using his only pseudonym. It’s not going to get written up as one of the great stories of the decade, but it is an enjoyable example of the genre; it would fit into the ‘70s / ‘80s Marvel output with no problems.

Darkdevil, however, clashes with that. DeFalco uses the old Daredevil vs. Kingpin battles as a reference, but then he throws in Clone Saga characters from the ‘90s and supernatural elements grafted onto Daredevil and scientific equipment out of the origin of Spider-Woman. It’s an uneasy fit, at best. DeFalco has a habit of trying to hammer the Clone Saga into M2 continuity, and I think that’s misguided. I know DeFalco put a lot of work into the Saga when it came out in the ‘90s, but now it’s reviled, and for those who don’t remember the story, it’s needlessly complex. You get Scriers, clones, Kaine, and the sons of clones … and then you throw in Zarathos, the Spirit of Vengeance from Ghost Rider. It ends up being a bit of a mishmash, and a forgettable one at that.

The good news is that at the former digest price of $7.99, it’s still a good deal. Frenz’s clear pencils and old-school inks from Sal Buscema (Buzz) and Al Milgrom (Darkdevil), combined with bright colors (even in the supernatural / dark themes of Darkdevil), hold up well in the smaller size.

Still: this is mainly for those who follow the M2 universe. Or if you like What If? / Elseworld titles. Now, if you want to go through the Spider-Girl titles to build an appreciation for Buzz and Darkdevil, well, I can recommend that.

Rating: Marvel symbol Marvel symbol Half Marvel symbol (2.5 of 5)

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