Friday, November 10, 2006

The Devil Takes a Ride Part 2 of 5 (Marvel comics)
Daredevil #90 When: December 2006
Why: Ed Brubaker How: Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano

The story so far...
Having escaped jail, Matt Murdock is on the trail of the mysterious Alton Lennox in an effort to discover the identity of the person who has been toying with his life, and is responsible for the near-fatal attack on Foggy Nelson.

His travels take him to Europe, specifically Portugal, where DD finds himself sidetracked into helping a damsel in distress with a familiar scent.

When Tombstone intervenes, DD is stretched to the limit, but things may not be as they seem.

Previous Form:
Daredevil (#5): Daredevil has faced Wolverine, Hulk and Bullseye in one-on-one competition.
Tombstone: Tombstone has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Tombstone 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Daredevil 3 (Straight A)
Speed: Daredevil 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Daredevil 5 (Marathon Runner)
Agility: Daredevil 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Daredevil 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Tombstone 2 (Projectile Weapons)

I'm just going to say it straight up. Yes, Tombstone's mugshot looks kinda crummy compared to the usual, but damned if I didn't go straight for that issue just to scan a John Sal Buscema Tombstone. Nobody does it better than JB!

So anyway... Tombstone V Daredevil.
Well, it's probably at least worth noting that in this particular circumstance, Daredevil is carrying injuries relating to earlier confrontations with Iron Fist and more specifically, an unnamed Matador.
Not that injuries are exactly strange for Daredevil...

Tombstone hasn't gotten a great deal of respect over the last decade or two, but at the very least his purpose remains constant. He's a high-rating street level bruiser, who can take as much as he dishes out -- and as a kicker, is fast.
I wouldn't go so far to rate him in Daredevil's league in terms of speed and agility, but he has been known to give even Spidey a good run for his money.

Daredevil certainly can't match him in strength, and as a hand-to-hand fighter, Tombstone's physical strength poses a significant obstacle. The equalizer is DD's maneuverability, and generally broad skills in fighting, and fighting logistics.

Tombstone's greatest chances lie with blunt and immediate attack.
Time gives Daredevil the edge to familiarize himself with the scene, and develop a logistic attack. Likewise, though formidable, Tombstone is not invincible, and even a duke-out could swing DD's way given the nature of Daredevil's technical skill.

Overall: Daredevil 26 (+5)
The Pick: Daredevil

What went down...
With Alton Lennox dead, DD follows Lily Lucco's scent to the street, where he spies a car that contains Lily. The car swerves hard, and heads straight for the costumed crusader. The driver is an unlikely foe to come across in Portugal.

Tombstone wastes little time throwing the first punch, and though DD avoids it easily, he follows it up with a clubbing polish hammer. It puts the rain soaked hero down on the wet ground.

Tombstone tells DD to stay down. That he hasn't been paid to deal with him -- but Daredevil doesn't back down.
Clutching his billy club, he throws a left that hits hard.

Tombstone takes it and dishes out his own fists of fury, knocking Daredevil around like a ragdoll. "Maybe I'll just do you for nothin'!!," he says.

DD kicks back, springing into a defensive whilst using his trusty billyclub for an offensive.
The red fighting stick ricochets off a chimney, the car, and... Is caught by the surprisingly agile and quick Tombstone. Possibly a little too agile for my tastes, but fair enough.

Tombstone further menaces the out-of-town hero, slapping him around with another right as DD tries to hit a pressure point on the concrete stomached villain.
Still silly from the punch, Daredevil falls into Tombstone's arms, and he repays the close quarters situation with a headbutt. DD goes down hard again.

Lily Lucco comes at Tombstone from behind with a tyre-iron, but it has little effect on the stoney bulk of Tombstone's mighty shoulders.
He backhands the girl, knocking her stupid. Daredevil watches from the cobblestone road, unable to intervene.

The hammer...
Well, though a site favourite, we've discussed before Daredevil's penchant for loss. Continuing the Spidey kick, I'm just kinda glad the defeat goes to Tombstone.

To any mystifyed readers, I'm typing up this update December 28. I'm still kinda bouncing around based on interest. With Christmas just passed, I figured it was a good time to go with a new issue that I'm into right now.

I mentioned Sal Buscema earlier, and no doubt an issue of Spectacular will show up with Tombstone in the near future. That run in the eighties is one of those things that is comics to me. Sal Buscema is probably to me, what Mark Bagley now is to a lot of people through Ultimate.
I was a big Erik Larsen fan too, and McFarlane's Spider-man is very important to me, and even Romita Sr is a very familiar Spider-artist for my eye. But Buscema just has a special little corner. Something about his characters really popped, and I'm not sure anyone has ever drawn Tombstone with as much menace and personality as Buscema.

Tombstone's a character I have a great affection for, too.
I kinda feel silly claiming all these characters as my own. I can't really do that, because they're not really obscure characters. They've just been a little down on their luck lately.

The last time I saw Tombstone he was a pawn of Hydra, and for the decade before that he's pretty much been relegated to whipping boy of guys like Punisher and Luke Cage, getting thrown off bridges and generally being a schmuck.
It's perhaps this that makes Brubaker's respectful take on the character a little jarring. He almost goes too far, making Tombstone a very impressive threat.

I love that he's gotten a solid treatment like this, though.
I've alluded in the past to various ideas here and there, and I have to say a lot of those street level characters, and assassins, and hired thugs just haven't gotten the world they deserve. They really do deserve to occupy their own world.
I think we've seen ideas like this in Daredevil stories of the past, and certainly Joe Kelly's early Deadpool and the recent mini-series Underworld, too.

It's great to see a Tombstone show up in the super-hero action epic like Enemy of the State, but at the same time, these guys aren't quite like Dr. Octopus or the Mad Thinker. These guys feature in a similar villain-of-the-month format, but their characters depend more on having an on-going life.
Guys like Tombstone don't go back to the drawing board to cook up their next big scheme. They lick their wounds, and then go back to the dives to look for jobs.
Presumably these characters would be involved in street crime and gang conflict far more regularly than we ever get to see.

In this respect Ed Brubaker probably writes catered to me.
His is perhaps a more subtle, less overtly superhero take on the formula than say, Judd Winick's Batman run. It's playing an on-going reality, but doesn't reveal itself through cut-scenes, or co-feature more superheroey obstacles.

A similar style of story can be seen in Captain America, and I actually think, as great as it is, it's why I lost interest in the Cap book, and haven't enjoyed this second storyarc as much as Bendis' work.
I think Brubaker has a tendency to meander, focusing a little too tightly on very small moving parts. This perhaps falls most notably in an issue like this, where there is an indulgance in more gratuitous superhero action.

I think even with five-issue storyarcs, Brubaker's stuff just gets a little lost in itself. It was this subtlty that I found most surprising in Gotham Central, which was a book that came heavily recommended, but did not, in my opinion, live up to the hype.
It has a suitable grounded nature, but unfortunately doesn't marry that to the paced of fiction we're perhaps used to otherwise reading.

Obviously a lot of people are enjoying it, and Brubaker's star continues to rise with titles like Daredevil, deservedly so. I just hope his subdued style will sustain my readership on Daredevil.
Perhaps most telling will be Brubaker's management of story beyond this current period, which is filtering on from Bendis' run, and centered by a constant reference. I think the next big story will be where Brubaker sinks or swims for me.

Though sometimes a little vague, Lark is Lark, and that's okay with me.

EDIT (Nov 26, 07): Well, it only took a year to catch the mix-up of John/Sal Buscema. Which tragically undermines my credibility, but has been corrected for all you info hounds! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go lash myself fifty times with a car battery tied to a power chord...

The Fight: 5 The Issue:6


Pedro Cruz said...

I think you're refering to SAL Buscema, right? At least, as far as I know, he was the one doing Tombstone originally in Spectacular Spider-Mam, not his late brother John.

Mike Haseloff said...

Guh! Thanks for pointing that out. Remember I kept doing this when we were talking about him?

This completely undermines the credibility of my knowing the difference between the two. :-p