Last Week, the true man without fear made a welcome return to the comic racks with Daredevil #1. Good Old Horn-Head has had a rough go these past few years. After a near decade of breakthrough storytelling from both Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker respectively, Matt Murdock was plunged into a deep pit of mediocrity with the tales provided by one Mr. Andy Diggle. Diggle took a dark character and let him be enveloped by the darkness until there was no hero left to speak of. So dark in fact that the fans needed a break from Daredevil before he could rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and take his place once again as one of the greatest street level heroes in the Marvel universe. Enter Mark Waid and the new Daredevil series.
Before we get into the issue, let me start off by saying that Daredevil is a tricky character to get your head around. He runs a fine line between vigilant hero and self-indulging madman. He’s got a strict moral code (one that Diggle seemed to throw out the window during his run) but he’s also a man of vices and can be lead astray at times. He’s always found his way back to right path thanks to his belief in justice and his hope for humanity. The key is to balance this character just right on a narrow tightrope and bring him to the point of slipping without falling off. You can’t let him fall into the darkness. On the other hand, you can’t let him always stay in the light and be a daring do-gooder. If you do that, he ends up becoming a poor man’s Spider-Man – something I was afraid Mark Waid might do when given the book. After reading this first installment, I’m happy to say that my fears have been undone for now.
After a one page retelling of Daredevil’s origin, the story begins with the crimson crusader staking out a mafia wedding. He’s been tipped off that a possible hit might take place on this day. What it turns out to be is an attempted kidnapping by the Spider-man second stringer, The Spot. In a thrilling six-page action sequence, brought to life by the beautiful pencils of Paolo Rivera, Daredevil is able to best the Spot and make the front page of the papers with a little theatrix involving stealing a smooch from the bride to be. We then are treated to what’s happening in the life of Matt Murdock as he is now once again practicing law in New York with his old pal, Foggy Nelson. How Nelson and Murdock, who when we last saw them had been disbarred, got their licenses back is not disclosed. This may probably be fodder for a later issue. While in court, Murdock comes across a problem that has been plaguing him for some time now – the accusation that he is in fact Daredevil. The opposing attorney in the case argues that Murdock cannot properly defend his client, a muslim shop-owner who’s suffered a beating at the hands of Police, and the Judge seems to agree. He recesses the case and suggests that the shop-owner get new counsel. It’s brought to Matt’s attention that there’s more to this case than meets the eye as no other defense attorney will touch it, and this causes Daredevil to once again go into action. As The Man without Fear makes his way across the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen, he walks right into an ambush. Judging by the last panel, it appears that some people still remember the Shadowland Event from a year ago. But that’s for next issue. For now, courage.
Overall, this book is exactly what Daredevil fans have been waiting for. It’s a great setup book with the right amount of action mixed in with some strong character re-establishment. Waid does a good job at making Matt Murdock feel like a real person again. His “devil-may-care” attitude has returned, but he’s also got a definite understated need for redemption. Where I do feel the opening sequence does ride that borderline of going into Spider-Man territory closely, it doesn’t cross it. And the last panel has Waid’s patented “jump off the cliff” moment, but it’s not too outlandish and flows nicely with the rest of the story.
The art is fantastic. Rivera’s art is charming and classic-looking and has great narrative. Inker Joe Rivera and colorist Javier Rodriguez also do their part to make everything about the presentation of this book pop.
The backup story – dealing with both Matt’s relationship with Foggy and the memory of his father is perfectly scripted by Waid and has great pencils courtesy of Marcos Martin.
While this is not the greatest Daredevil comic I’ve ever read, it has started on the right foot to what could possibly be another classic run for the Man without Fear. Pick up a Copy of Daredevil #1 today at your local comic shop.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!