Marvel is expanding the Daredevil Universe with a focus on Daredevil’s supporting cast. This week the publisher kicked off Running with the Devil via an enjoyable look at a revived contract killer! We also check in with Monsters Unleashed #2 and the X-Men tie-in released this week to see if we can make sense of this monster-focused event.

Bullseye #1

Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Guillermo Sanna
Colors: Miroslav Mrva
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Alec Morgan
Colors: Frank Martin

Marvel is giving Daredevil break out characters new solo titles. Bullseye is the first to get the treatment with a brand new ongoing series with a feature written by Ed Brisson with art from Guillermo Sanna. Brisson’s take on the hero is every bit as nihilistic as I expected it to be based on his previous projects at Image and the extremely violent lead character. The writer channels some of his darkest thoughts into Bullseye, who is well-characterized but not charismatic enough to carry the issue. This debut is impressive, but Marvel is flooded with solo titles featuring great art and nuanced writing. The bar for launching an ongoing that really excels in this tough market calls is impossibly high.

There’s still plenty of fun to be had between the covers of the issue as Bullseye gets wrapped up in an unconventional contract. The issue begins to falter in establishing a concrete opposition for the character. Currently, there are other comics in Marvel’s line where the lead is an anti-hero with the government or S.H.I.E.L.D. actually serving as the series’ antagonist. However, there’s no one agent who proves likeable or distinguishable enough for me to really get invested in this book. Bullseye’s own motivations are also paper-thin, as he’s just seeking adventure after coming back from his most recent death.

I never though a Bullseye series could look like this, but Sanna proves that this new minimalistic, bright setting can be applied to even the most bleak narrative. Sanna’s interior art shows lovely restraint when called for as juxtaposed by a couple complicated backgrounds. One really nice touch in the issue is all the subtle detail that went in a specific yellow blazer. The final card trick in the last page of the lead feature was a particularly impressive idea that wasn’t quite explored to its fullest potential as the idea is executed in a tiny box, capping off the issue.

Unfortunately, the second story in the issue fares even worse as Marv Wolfman tells a story taking up few pages with a plot twist visible from several miles away that’s seemingly meant to be hidden deep undercover. The construction of the story is nice in theory, but Bullseye only has a few tricks. Artist Alec Morgan’s pencils are a treat in this tale, building up some nice tension to get to the big reveal.

This comic is bursting with potential and could be great a few months from now. However, there doesn’t seem to be a enough of a niche for this comic with so many great books currently published. There are lots of comics with anti-heroes flooding the pages of Marvel, Kingpin #1 is launching next week, you’re great or you’re gone! I’ll admit that I possibly would have been excited about this series had I read this issue a few years ago, but the marketplace right now is loaded with more great books than ever before. There’s a plethora of Marvel solo titles that make this comic seem behind the curve.

Verdict: Browse. Bullseye almost nails the landing with a solid, but not perfect debut issue.

Monsters Unleashed #2

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Greg Land
Colors: David Curiel
Inker: Jay Leisten
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham

Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t go much farther beyond the initial premise or introduce many new ideas. The story shows readers a global threat with heroes wrapped up in battling huge monsters, but the fun ends there. The amount of page space wasted on establishing fight scenes makes this issue feel like filler. There’s a definitive sense of awe when looking at how big the scope of this event is, but when Cullen Bunn tries to weave the disparate threads of the story together at the end of this issue, he doesn’t find a strong entry point. Greg Land draws a few pretty things in this comic, but widespread criticism regarding his artistic style still applies here. Faces are too similar to each other, the poses on individual characters feel a little too stiff. The artist has a great knack for detail and draws the Monsters of the series with Confidence.

Verdict: Pass. This comic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon!

All-New X-Men #1.MU

Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Carlo Barberi
Artist: Ron Lim
Inker: Walden Wong
Colors: Chris Peter

This comic is flawed in execution, featuring an entirely likeable premise and framework muddled by on-the-nose dialogue. Caption boxes weigh the narrative down, telling readers what to think and feel. A forced moment with Gambit and All-New Wolverine towards the end doesn’t feel earned, making this comic fall flat on its face during the big finish. Also, the tangential Monsters Unleashed-ties don’t add anything to this issue. Carlo Barberi and Ron Lim’s pencils lack the technical proficiency that other comics have delivered on this week. Some of the figure work on the characters are inconsistent. Several character faces are too similar and distracting to really invest in this narrative. This issue uses continuity to inform character, which is my favorite way to write a long-lasting comic book character…that is unless the continuity becomes a shorthand for character personality traits lacking any depth beyond the surface.

Verdict: Pass. All-New X-Men #1.MU can’t rise above the issue’s low production value.

Next week we’re going to take a look at Kingpin #1 and Uncanny Inhumans #1.MU! See you then!