Friday, May 23, 2014

Daredevil by Mark Waid HC vol. 1 (comics)

Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Emma Rios, Kano, Khoi Pham
Collects: Daredevil #1-10, #10.1, Amazing Spider-Man #677

About two years ago I reviewed Daredevil Reborn for Collected Editions. You can find it here. Since it was meant to clear the deck, I read it in preparation for this relaunch, which I believe was just beginning to hit the shelves in collected form at the time.

The fact that it's been two years since I've read a single thing involving Daredevil ought to tell you how well that worked out.

Part of that can probably be attributed to a lack of love or tolerance for the character. While he's enjoyed a solid decade of critically acclaimed, well loved stories, the end result is a character that is cripplingly depressing. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating; the three runs prior to Waid did everything in their power to keep things interesting, but in the process didn't pay enough attention to the consequences. Bendis - and later Ed Brubaker - left the book after some big, status quo shattering events, leaving the pieces for whoever was next to work with. Usually, said writer would break them into smaller pieces.

Eventually, they wrote themselves into a corner. The biggest events in the past ten years of Daredevils publication history were not the type you could easily undo. Even attempting it backfired. Daredevil Reborn, meant to get the house back in order, only served to make things worse. Every character in that book was a moron that made one monumentally stupid decision after another. Given the fact that Reborn seemed to want to handwave away some of the bigger issues to get to a familiar status quo, logic be damned, I didn't expect much.

Well, apparently Mark Waid is a wizard, because he found a way to fix things without getting too contrived. Not everything works the way I think they hoped - Matts way out of his blown secret identity is steadfast denial, letting the skepticism of others do the rest, even though we should be way past the point that would work - but in a world where Iron Man can just say he isn't in the armor anymore and everyone buys it, it's good enough to get you to suspend your disbelief. The Nelson and Murdock situation - a major, major issue with the end of Reborn - is addressed almost immediately. Waid managed to find a clever way around the elephant in the room with a delightfully comic book-y solution that doesn't insult your intelligence; impressive, especially considering I genuinely expected the whole situation to be glossed over.

Better yet, he manages to inject fun back into the character without sacrificing what came before or veering out of character. Murdock has his smile again, but it's abundantly clear that it isn't entirely honest; he's forcing clearly forcing it to some degree, which fits with his pattern of refusing to deal with things properly. His life isn't a series of devastating personal blows anymore, but a lot happened to him and he still isn't exactly the guy best equipped to handle the weight.

Another good idea centers around the choice to keep it brief. Most of the book consists of one or two issue stories with an overarching plot in the background. It makes for a nice contrast to many modern comics, where the four to six issue arc was adopted as the standard a long time ago. As a bonus, it feels like a lot happens in this one hardcover.

One thing did puzzle me, though. Matt comes into possession of an artifact mid-way through the book that has enough info to bury the five major crime organizations in the Marvel Universe. The book does have the decency to explain why Matt doesn't just hand it over to the Avengers or the Fantastic Four - other than the fact that it's his book, so he obviously needs to deal with it - but events at the end of the book did leave me confused as to why he doesn't just use the info to blow them all in. You'll see what I mean. It isn't a deal-breaker, though. Just odd.

I can't end without mentioning the art. It's easily the cleanest, brightest work Daredevil has been graced with in years. Alex Maleevs influence has been all over the franchise since his days working with Bendis; only now do we truly break away from it and it really, really works. It complements the tone of the book well and it's a good part of why the new direction works. Without Rivera and Martin, I'm not sure it would have the tone Waid was looking for.

Just good, good work all around. Assuming the quality keeps to this level, I may be in for the long haul. Highly recommended.

My Opinion: Buy It


  1. The artwork really pushes this book above and beyond, in my opinion -- this will be a run that people are still talking about in 10, 20, even 30 years (you know, if people are still reading comics at that point). The way Rivera and Martin render Daredevil's senses is inventive, intuitive, and somehow exactly the way I (and many other readers, I'm sure) have always imagined it, even if we've never quite seen this depiction of it before.

  2. I think the coloring may be what puts it over the top. It lacks the grimy feeling Daredevil's been stuck in for the past eight years or so. I'm sure the book would still be good, but had the colorist opted to go with something similar to Daredevil from Bendis on, I don't think the book would be quite as good.

    A fine example of an entire creative team coming together perfectly and making a great comic.