Daredevil #33 Review: The Ghoul Squad
When Mark Waid came aboard Daredevil
, one of his objective was to shake the character out of the niche with which he’d become associated. Mostly, the series had primarily become a street-level crime series. That’s usually a pretty good type of series, but it was starting to feel old on Daredevil
before Waid came aboard. True to his word, Waid has taken Matt Murdock in many different directions, none weirder than his latest foray that introduces him to a gang of monsters.
Daredevil, in pursuit of the hatemongering cult The Sons of the Serpent, is seeking a book called the Darkhold. He’s been directed to a man named Jack Russell, who turns out to be a werewolf. In his crew are a Frankenstein’s monster, a mummy, a vampire and a zombie. They also seek the Darkhold because it is supposedly the first source of sorcery and contains the ability to do them harm. So an uneasy alliance is formed between Daredevil and the ghoul squad.
I don’t know if the original impetus for the monsters was that they appeared in the last issue, which was published near Halloween, perhaps as a nod to the original MGM monster movies. Now that they’re here, Waid has to do something with them. The monsters don’t really get to do too much here, though, as it’s ultimately Daredevil who invades the realm of Lucien Sinclair, a member of the Sons of the Serpent who possesses the Darkhold.
It is unusual to see straight old-school monsters portrayed in the contemporary Marvel universe, especially in Daredevil
. Murdock himself makes comment on this during the book when he says “I’m so far out of my wheelhouse that I might as well be on the moon.” However, if you grant that Daredevil is part of the same universe as Dr. Strange and other magic, then it really shouldn’t feel strange to see him with some monsters. Daredevil has also not been traditionally associated with space, but Waid recently brought the Silver Surfer to meet him.
So the question isn’t so much whether Daredevil can
meet mystical or supernatural elements but does this happen in an interesting way. That’s a trickier thing to answer. Since this is a Mark Waid story, it’s pretty damn good, but I did feel little disappointed that the monsters were not a bigger part of the story’s conclusion. It seems that if you’re going to go to the trouble of introducing five new characters who are going to give your readers pause, they could go more than stand around explaining things and looking cool.
They do look pretty awesome, though. Chris Samnee has established a pretty fun vibe on the art in Daredevil
during his run and guest artist Jason Copland pinch-hits very well here. Honestly, it wasn’t until my second reading that I realized it wasn’t Samnee doing the art. The look is very consistent with previous issues. Copland renders the monsters (who I assume were designed by Samnee) nicely and each has interesting distinguishing traits like the mummy’s bug eyes or Satana forked collar that looks like devil horns.
Although I felt the main story could have incorporated the monsters more, there is an opening passage to this issue that is incredible. Essentially, it takes place while Murdock is unconscious recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the previous issue. However, it is essentially a dream. In it, a man who is Foggy Nelson (though in a nice bit of dream logic he looks like a grocer Matt’s father frequented) and Matt are on a beach. Foggy starts to walk out into the water while Matt is stuck motionless, crying for Foggy not to go. Since Foggy is currently battling cancer, this sequence is somewhat foreboding. It’s also beautifully emotional about Matt’s feelings towards Foggy.
Combining this introduction, the fantastic artwork, and the fun and often funny vibe of the story, Daredevil
#33 is a very enjoyable issue. It’s not perfect, but it does continue Waid’s bold explorations of Daredevil.