Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Daredevil [2016] #1 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 1, February 2016
Having somehow placed “Matt Murdock mysteriously back in New York City, his secret identity once again intact and practicing law” Issue One of “Marvel’s All-New, All-Different” “Daredevil” undoubtedly proved a rather unsettling read to some of its 84,500 strong audience in December 2015. Indeed without any explanation whatsoever, except that Charles Soule’s infinitely more seriously-toned narrative is set “eight months after the events of Secret Wars”, this twenty-page periodical depicts a superhero utterly unrecognisable from the titular character who had made “a home for himself in the Golden Gate City” under the creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee.

Such a dramatic change in direction for the ‘Man Without Fear’ doesn’t take too long to accept however, as the title’s new writer immediately throws the masked vigilante into a no holds barred fist-fight with a gang of ‘tooled-up’ criminal heavies, and simultaneously introduces the fact that ‘his’ version of Hornhead is accompanied by a new partner; the “illegal Chinese immigrant” Sam Chung, also known as Blindspot. This ability to merge pulse-pounding action with the Milwaukee-born author’s rather edgy alterations to Murdock’s mythos is undoubtedly one of Soule’s greatest strengths and even allows him to be forgiven for ‘reverting’ Foggy Nelson back into a rather tiresome, somewhat self-centred bore, who refuses to help Matt ‘ever again’ “just because you let me remember” who Daredevil really is…

Arguably though any storyline which crams so much drama into its first half, including a wonderfully tense underwater scene where the superhero uses a wrecked car littering “the bottom of the East River” to help his radar sense pinpoint a drowning criminal, was always going to struggle not to run out of steam... And sadly the “New York Times best-selling comic book” writer’s script falls into just such a trap, with a decidedly wordy final third which dwells far too long upon the blind lawyer’s new role as an assistant district attorney; “You might know me as Matt Murdock, Defence attorney, here to help. That guy’s gone. I’ve changed sides.”

Possibly just as difficult to become accustomed to as Soule’s changes to Daredevil’s circumstances is Ron Garney’s “very dark” highly-stylized artwork. Strangely reminiscent of some of Frank Miller’s drawings of Hornhead, the motion picture costume illustrator undoubtedly provides this magazine with a very unique-looking “Film Noir” style to its panels. But whilst this artistic panache definitely manages to imbue his fights scenes with raw dynamism, it does prove somewhat disappointingly bland when portraying the more sedentary aspects of the narrative, such as Murdock’s lengthy ‘office-bound’ conversation with Ellen King.
The 'Action Figure' variant cover art of "DAREDEVIL" No. 1 by John Tyler Christopher

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