For a while, Chip Zdarsky was best known as co-creator alongside Matt Fraction of Image Comics’ critically acclaimed book, Sex Criminals. That’s how I first heard of him, and it was an auspicious book to hang one’s hat on. Over the past five years, Zdarsky has been writing and illustrating for Marvel Comics, and in 2019 alone he’s been at the helm of two diverse books featuring some of Marvel’s biggest characters.
Invaders Volume 1: War Ghosts
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Butch Guice, Carlos Magno
The Invaders first made their debut in 1946 as the All-Winners Squad and were a team consisting of Captain America, the original Human Torch Jim Hammond, Bucky Barnes, and Namor, The Sub-Mariner, with stories set during the days of World War II. 70 years later, Bucky has become the Winter Soldier, and Namor, the king of Atlantis seems to have gone right mad, with a goal to bring about World War III. It’s up to his former teammates to stop Namor’s plans, as they uncover the king’s secret life and his connection to one Charles Xavier.
Namor has long been one of Marvel’s most conflicted characters, often working on the side of the angels, but always willing to sacrifice friends and lives for the sake of his own kingdom. In War Ghosts, which compiles the first six issues of the new Invaders series, Namor is dealing with losses of the past (specifically a friend from the war) which have come back to haunt him. Zdarsky juxtaposes flashbacks and current timelines well, demonstrating the real relationships between the Invaders and why they would be determined to help a clearly insane king.
War Ghosts read like a bit of a slow burn to me, but by the end of this first collection, the payoff is absolutely stellar and could have ramifications on the greater Marvel universe. I was disappointed when I saw the book had come to its conclusion. I wanted more, which is how every comic should leave you feeling.
Daredevil Volume 1 (2019): Know Fear
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Marco Checchetto
I wound up getting more Zdarsky, as the first collection of his new Daredevil run was released the same day as his first Invaders collection. Here, Matt Murdoch is recovering from a near-fatal accident, where he was hit by a truck and nearly killed. Though he’s back in Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil, Matt is more tentative and still dealing with his injuries. In a battle with seemingly simple bank robbers, one of the men is killed. Matt believes he’s been set up. But who did it – the new Mayor of New York, Wilson Fisk? Someone else?
Daredevil has long been one of my favourite Marvel characters; Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run on the book is, in my estimation, the most consistent series I’ve ever read. While it’s too soon to put Zdarsky’s series in the same boat, I will say that with his first five issues, he’s been able to capture the street-level vibe that always makes Daredevil worth reading. Matt Murdoch has always been a mix of arrogance and self-doubt, characteristics on display here. There’s also a lot of genuine emotion; Matt cries more in Know Fear than I can recall seeing any anywhere else.
Chip Zdarsky is handling two very different books in Invaders and Daredevil. For my personal tastes, Daredevil is the stronger of the two, because there’s nothing like seeing Murdoch put through the wringer. That being said, I’m anxious to see where the writer takes both series in the future.