Marvel Comics’ Daredevil is back in New York with a return to his dark, gritty best as Charles Soule and Ron Garney take Matt Murdock back to his roots.
Introducing a new ongoing series which will review, critique and comment on current comic runs and new titles hitting comic book shelves. Some will be advance reviews, others my thoughts on what I’ve been reading lately.
Beginning in March 2014, the previous eighteen issue run of Daredevil comics was an unlikely victim of the success of Netflix’s dark and violent on-screen portrayal of the ‘Man Without Fear‘. Writer, Mark Waid, had sought to dramatically reinvent the character without compromising his origin story but wound up with a book straying far from the beaten path and completely out of synch with a new tone for a long established character.
With his hero identity now public knowledge and preventing him from practicing law in New York, Matt Murdock relocated to San Francisco, started a new failing firm with his girlfriend whilst his long term business partner and friend Foggy Nelson, presumed by all to be dead, recovered from cancer away from the limelight whilst ghost writing the Matt Murdock / Daredevil memoirs. Setting the spotlight more on Matt Murdock than his alter-ego Waid’s concept initially worked perfectly well with a fresh perspective on a familiar story. As the run progressed, however, the storyline began to move further away from the Daredevil canon comic fans had become accustomed to with a dramatic misjudgement on the writer’s behalf when the trademark scarlet costume was retired entirely in favour of a regular suit and tie combo. The thinking being, why would a hero whose identity was known by all need a costume at all? A fair point, but somewhat missing the point of the appeal of a superhero comic book.
Although well presented with a modern sense of style to it, the bright, clear artwork of Chris Samnee coupled with the generally ‘chipper’ feel of Waid’s writing presented a very different Daredevil to that which comic fans were accustomed to and to the one that hit Netflix in April 2015. Graphic, violent, gritty and realistic, the television show quickly gained traction with existing fans whilst bringing in a whole new audience attracted by both critical and public acclaim. In the blink of an eye the comic run looked very soft in comparison and ultimately came to an end in September this year.
This week saw the return of the Man Without Fear in the all new Daredevil #1. A fresh ongoing series written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Ron Garney promptly brushes the events of the previous run under the carpet and returns the titular character back to Hell’s Kitchen. From the opening page we find Daredevil thrust into the murky underworld of the New York gang scene and an uncompromising fight scene depicted with violence.
Now donning a black costume with red accents there’s a return to the seriousness of Daredevil whose glowing red eyes set a sinister presence. Garney’s comic noir style of art accentuates the tone of the comic perfectly. The duality of Murdock’s livelihood is akin to classic Daredevil with the hero presenting the opportunity for the professional to uphold justice. One change to the familiar story for Murdock is his role in the law. No longer a defense attorney Matt Murdock is now a prosecutor for New York City giving the opportunity to show a more aggressive side to his personality. With a new protege by his side readers are left guessing whether Daredevil‘s trust in Blindspot is misguided as he appears to be working alongside gang leader Ten Fingers.
Daredevil #1 hits all the right spots for me and shows a great deal of promise if the run continues in the same vein as it has begun. As with most Marvel titles this one is no exception in taking it’s own path, independent of other mediums. What it does very well is maintain the tone of the television show whilst never losing its comic identity. It’s dark and uncompromising in its portrayal of the criminal underworld and remains faithful to the source material. Definitely one for the pull list.
Daredevil #1 is available from comic shops and online now. Keep an eye out for the collectable Hip-Hop variant cover of this title and other top Marvel comics.