Saturday, November 13, 2010

Daredevil Noir (comics)

Writer: Alexander Irvine
Artist: Tomm Coker
Collects: Daredevil Noir #1-4

This book kind of confuses me. Not in a sense that I couldn't understand the story. More in the sense that I can't understand why it exists.

I know, odd statement; why does any story exist? But seriously, this book didn't exactly feel too far removed from the norm for Daredevil. I admit I'm not a regular Daredevil reader. I've only read a couple scattered stories. I'm not overly familiar with noir either, aside from enjoying a couple classics. But what I have read of Daredevil already felt immersed in noir - or at least to my admittedly limited understanding of it - which kind of makes the choice to do a book like this an odd one. If the main book dabbles in the genre semi-regularly, why bother creating a standalone alternate continuity story based around it?

I guess one could say they just felt like hitting all their icons with this noir line; actually, now that I think on it, that's probably it.

Still, it makes for an odd read. What little noir I've read tends to have a nihilistic view of the world; and to some extent, that continues here. But in trying to suss out what's different, I couldn't really find anything. This book has Matt Murdock as a blind PI with partner Foggy Nelson and Matt moonlights as Daredevil. The typical dame shows up, Matt's drawn into her world, including a coming gang war and everything just goes to hell for him. But, you know, isn't that more or less what happens to Daredevil Classic? Seems like every five minutes you hear about one of his love interests overdosing and his life literally being broken down piece by piece. Maybe it just seems that way because I don't read the book much. Regardless, that's how it comes off. I guess the biggest difference with this book is that instead of being dredged in noir like the regular Daredevil, this is soaked in it before being sauteed in the proverbial noir juices.

Regardless of all that, it's quite competently written. It read about as I expected and I generally enjoyed it, so I suppose in some regards it's a success. The inner monologues can get a bit purple, but as I understand that's pretty much how noir is done and such is done well enough that I didn't feel like it was a distraction. I suppose I could fault it for being so much like what I expected that little it did was a surprise, but there's something to be said for getting what you want out of a book. Still, I'm not sure there's anything in this story that made it a completely worthwhile exercise.

The art looks great and fits the story perfectly, but it too has its problems. I understand that a noir story is supposed to be pretty dark - lots of shadows, muted colors and so on - but there are times where I think this book goes a bit overboard. There are a couple fight scenes that contained panels where I just flat out could not discern what was going on. Did the Bullseye killer just stab him with a piece of wood in the water? Does that character have Daredevil in a headlock? Why do the limbs seem kind of off in that panel? Why does this panel look more like they're having a dance-off than fighting? What the hell is coming out of that pipe? How did that building suddenly set on fire? And so on. It's really the fight scenes that are the problem. For the most part, the book has solid storytelling through art, but it seems that when a fight scene comes about the books very genre gets in the way. I guess if nothing else, it proves a noir comic can be a bit too shadowy.

The Score: 7 out of 10

When you get down to it, I'm still not sure this book justified its own existence. It was a fairly enjoyable read, however, so it's not a total waste. It's not something I'd jump to recommend, however. I guess it depends on how much noir you like on your Daredevil. For me, it didn't dissuade me from trying others from the Noir line, but... well, it doesn't exactly inspire me to go out of my way to read any more either.

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