Thursday, 1 January 2015

Daredevil #1 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 1, May 2014
The first issue of a new volume is usually always a good place for an uninitiated reader to ‘join’ a long-running title, especially when the character has such a complicated and convoluted history as that of Stan Lee and Bill Everett’s co-creation Daredevil. Tightly linked to endless tales set within Hell’s Kitchen battling Wilson Fisk and the Maggia, such a fifty-year depth of backstory could easily intimidate even the bravest of curious comic book fans. 

Fortunately this particular ‘Man Without Fear’ edition appears to have really pulled out all the stops in order to make it a phenomenally accessible ‘entry-level’ comic. Indeed it truly is a fresh start for Matt Murdock, as the blind lawyer has not only turned his back on New York in favour of San Francisco (once again) but in addition no longer carries the burden of a secret identity. Even long-time business partner Foggy Nelson has been replaced by ‘new’ attorney-at-law Kirsten McDuffie.

As a result much of the need to know what has come before for such an enduring and iconic “Marvel Worldwide” super-hero has been removed and writer Mark Waid is free to develop his very own ‘unique’ chapter in the extraordinarily varied life of Hornhead. The temptation to either hurl the street-level super-hero into the first part of an intricate multi-issue adventure or plot an action-less insight into the domestic life of the blind lawyer, must have been palpable for the Eisner Award-winning comic book writer.

Fortunately instead, the former Editor-in-Chief of “Boom! Studios” has crafted a complete twenty-page story, involving the kidnap and rescue of a young little girl, which not only depicts Daredevil’s enhanced senses at their Holmesian best but also begins defining some of the contributions of the title’s supporting cast; such as McDuffie as his ‘google-maps’ comm-link companion. There’s even a last panel hook involving Murdock’s long-time friend Foggy Nelson which certainly makes me want to purchase and read the next issue.

Sadly the illustrations by American artist Chris Samnee leaves a lot to be desired most of the time. Admittedly there is a sort of naïve charm to his pencilling which harks back to the simpler artwork of the mid-Sixties. There are also a couple of single page composition drawings, such as the one showing all the different landmarks of New York as Daredevil’s radar sense ‘sees’ them, which are extremely well done. But for the vast majority of the comic book his rough, almost child-like scribblings, woefully over-coloured by Javier Rodriguez, are more off-putting than enticing.
The variant cover art of "DAREDEVIL" No. 1 by Skottie Young

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