Monday, 10 November 2014

Describing Daredevil #9

Or a look at a super effective page from Daredevil #9
by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson, and Joe Caramagna; Marvel Comics

Daredevil continues to be this consistently great comic that I read. The stories are always interesting and the book is always technically and visually dynamic. And  it always feels fresh, despite having a fairly a consistent creative team and being involved in a prolonged storyline. It's a comics work horse.

(Also how great is this cover? It sells the peril Daredevil faces from the mind-controlling Purple People in a way that tells you everything you need to know about the Purple Children and their relationship to the Purple Man. I don't like most comics covers, but I love this one.)

One of the strongest aspects of Daredevil is it's thoughtful approach to storytelling. Team Daredevil create some really compelling and really smart pages in their comic that are frequently worth taking a longer look at. Daredevil #9 has one of those great pages and I want to take a longer look at it.

There will be *SPOILERS* for Daredevil #9 below.

The story of this page is that The Purple children, with their mental powers, are leaking their own traumatic pasts and affecting everyone around them. Daredevil, who has his own tremendously dark history, something he has been striving to work past, finds this mental leak overwhelming and finds himself succumbing to his own despair. It's basically a weaponized empathy. It's a strong story beat that I'm definitely interested to see play out in the series. 

This page here makes this story element really come alive, and I feel like every single compositional element of this page is perfect to sell the experience of traumatic empathy. From a layout perspective we have stacked panels depicting parallel events with half faces placed along the inner edges of the panels. What this does is directly tells us that the Purple Child and Daredevil, whose half faces are pressed together, are remembering the similar events in the background, simultaneously and experiencing the same negative emotions. This effect is reinforced by the colours, which depict the two parallel panels with swapping analogous colours: red Daredevil with purple backgrounds, Purple Children ad red backgrounds. The analogous colours harmonize with each other to create a similar mood, and the use of the same two colours in both panels help emphasize that the characters are experiencing the same emotions. Yet, at the same time, the fact the colour palettes alternates helps to subtly differentiate the two panels: Daredevil and the Purple Children are all feeling anguish, but each specific memory is personal to the character remembering them, one is red and one is purple. And then there is the lettering which also helps with this effect by alternating sides down the page and dropping only one caption per tier of paired panels. What this does is it makes the reader treat each paired tier as a single story unit that takes place in the same moment, and that the "pain" and "loneliness" being narrated is true to both sides of the page, to both the Purple Children and Daredevil. The caption placement also forces the reader to scan back and forth across the page to quickly take in the events and faces on either side of the page to reinforce the association. It's every aspect of the comic working to create this feeling of terrible empathy.

But this page has even more worth looking at. Like, the gradual zoom in on the faces as the page drops down helps sell that the emotions are intensifying in Daredevil. Or the choice of purple for the colour of Daredevil's painful memories maybe insinuates that is an effect of the Purple Children's mind powers. And I absolutely love how Daredevil raises his fist in the last panel, creating the sense that he is getting ready to fight off the emotional weight and be heroic, before this is dispelled dramatically as he crumbles on the following page. This is just such an excellent page of comics.

Daredevil is a feat of collaborative comics, and I am still really enjoying it.

Post by Michael Bround

Describing Daredevil 3: onomatopoeia 
Describing Daredevil 34: before and after
Describing Daredevil 33: condensed motion
Describing Daredevil 30: the vectors of artwork
Describing Daredevil 29: A great page

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