Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Man Without Fear Returns

The last Daredevil #1 was a pretty major relaunch. Kevin Smith of Clerks and Mallrats fame teamed with Joe Quesada for the "Guardian Devil" storyline under the brand new Marvel Knights imprint. The art was beautiful and the storyline was wild (even if it doesn't completely hold up over 12 years later). It was one of the story lines that got me back into comics after a clone saga-induced hiatus, so I have a soft spot for that book and it's protagonist.

While that storyline wasn't the cheeriest (Karen Page AIDS hoax, anyone?), it wasn't until Brian Bendis took over the title with Alex Maleev that the title became really dark, gritty and noir. For a while, that approach was fantastic. It was very serious, adult storytelling, and I owe it to myself to go back and reread those arcs. Alas, after many years, that tone got a little old. No fun at all. Bendis and Maleev left the title, Ed Brubaker kept the title's head above water quite well, but then the title eventually tanked after the seriously bad "Shadowland" crossover. It looked like Matt Murdock was going to be a full-blown villain after taking control of the Hand. To be honest, that concept really had me interested. Ultimately though, Marvel copped out and decided that the man without fear was possessed or something - explaining his new bad boy persona. Lame.

Hence the need to relaunch. This time, super-writer Mark Waid lightens the mood considerably as Matt Murdock dons his red uniform to fight crime again as a light-hearted, swashbuckler - swooping in to save a little girl from being kidnapped by the Spot at a mob wedding. After he saves the girl in dramatic fashion, he even lays one on the bride-to-be when the smell of her perfume "drives him wild." Bendis' Daredevil this is not.

The rest of the book lays the groundwork for future story lines. People still believe that Matt is Daredevil and it's affecting his law career. A sexy new assistant D.A. shows up to suggest that there may be more to a case Matt's working on - something that could maybe use DD's help. She probably won't become a love interest or anything. An unlikely, big Marvel character shows up at the end to kick his butt. Overall, I feel that the book served to strike a new tone for the character and his supporting cast - to let us loyal fans know that it's going to be more fun than it's been in a long time. This I like.

In the end, it didn't knock my socks off, but it seems like it could shape up to be something good. The art by Paolo and Joe Rivera gets the job done, but I found myself wishing they picked a more colorful artist like Romita for this relaunch. I'm in for now, but it hasn't made my pull list just yet.

How about that cover though? Freaking beautiful. If you find it available as a litho, just remember that you didn't get me a present for my birthday this year.

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