“Daredevil: Dark Nights” #4 rotates the creative team of this anthology title for the first time since it began. Gone is Lee Weeks, and in his place stands another writer/artist: David Lapham, most recently seen at Marvel on the recently cancelled “Age of Apocalypse” ongoing.
Lapham begins a new story, and the new arc — “A Man Named Buggit” — carries nothing over from the issue previous, save the lead character. Where Weeks’ story was influenced more by Miller’s run, with themes of religion and street-level characters, Lapham has gone with something far closer in tone and execution to Waid’s version of the character: light-hearted, swashbuckling and with some depictions of the character’s radar-sense that are a close visual approximation of the parent title.
Tonally, it couldn’t be more different. In a way, this almost seems like Lapham’s attempt to demonstrate the versatility of the character and the Marvel Universe in general. In any other medium, it’d be tough to do a story about a mobster killing that involved a gnome escaping with the murder weapon and 200-foot high monster interrupting that chase, but here it makes a kind of sense. It’s great fun, not for the wider events, but for the small moments. Daredevil attempting to sweep every woman he meets off his feet is hilarious. He’s the man without fear (of rejection).
Lapham’s writing is certainly offbeat in a way that might grate with some readers, but artistically he’s undeniably on excellent form. It’s down to his visuals that the strange concepts he’s illustrating have any measure of coherence, and he’s near-masterful when it comes to the moments of subtle interpersonal moments.
For all Lapham’s quality, one can look at this story and wonder what, precisely, a gnome is doing in a Daredevil comic, but presumably readers will get a clear answer at some point, but it does seem at the moment as though Lapham had a premise that needed a character, rather than a Daredevil story to tell. Still, in a way that makes it a good fit for an anthology series, and there’s still time for that theory to be proven wrong.
You wouldn’t naturally think that Daredevil was a character who could sustain two ongoings, but between 8 issues of “End of Days” and now four issues of “Dark Nights,” Daredevil has essentially had a year’s worth of a second series. It’s hard to say why it’s working. Perhaps it’s the quality of the creators, but perhaps it’s just because it hasn’t been tried before. Whatever the reason, Daredevil fans are spoiled for choice with two top quality titles on shelves.