Review: Daredevil #1

The real Man Without Fear is back with a smile on his face.  Can that end well?

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Daredevil #1

Daredevil’s back and there’s gonna be trouble!

I won’t lie – I had massive reservations about the return of Daredevil. The complete fall from grace that was Shadowland had me fearing that the man without fear would be lost forever. When I heard Mark Waid was taking over as writer, I got a bit more excited because I love what Waid does, have for years. My reservations creeped back when Waid explained how he was going to make this a happier Daredevil. Happy Daredevil? That’s like having a jokester Hulk, or a gigolo Captain America. The days grew closer and Daredevil #1 was suddenly here. Would this be a bright new horizon or would it be another mess of a story like the one at the hands of Andy Diggle?

I am happy, or at least cautiously optimistic, to report that Daredevil is actually back and, in the words of Freddy Prinze, looking gooooood! After the fourth read of Daredevil #1, it clicked with me what Mark Waid meant by a happier Daredevil, or at least what I think he meant. It’s not that Daredevil the character is as much “happy” as it is Daredevil the comic is being written like an actual comic book. Remember when comics were adventures, when they weren’t so dedicated to being “realistic” that they got depressing? Better yet, remember when comics weren’t those silly things publishers used to fill in between big (and usually pointless) event series? That’s what Daredevil #1 feels like.

The story is simple. Daredevil is back, as is his alter ego Matt Murdock. Murdock is trying to practice law but with so many people convinced he’s Daredevil, it’s becoming impossible. Murdock tries to deny these claims, but nobody is buying it. At one point, a defense attorney convinces a judge that it would be in the best interest of the accuser to hire another lawyer because Murdock can’t uphold the law as an active vigilante.  On the heels of that, the horned hero discovers his client may be the target of a deeper conspiracy, one only Daredevil can figure out. Just as our hero leaps into action, Daredevil is attacked by a whirling disc that will leave all comic nerds breathless for issue #2.

What makes Daredevil #1 so enjoyable is, well, just how damn enjoyable it is. It’s fun, it’s bright and for the first time in over a year it isn’t melodramatic. Waid’s dialog crackles and his story moves along at a brisk and exciting pace. I love the opening battle between Daredevil and The Spot; it’s a classic old school comic book opening. You can tell Waid is having a great time writing this and that he feels Daredevil deserves some fun and adventure after years of being the sad sack of Marvel Comics. I’m hoping Waid stays on for a while because it could become some of the best work done on Daredevil since Frank Miller or Ed Brubaker.

Pablo Rivera’s art is a bizarre misstep. I say bizarre because his work on the opening battle with Daredevil and The Spot is perfect, as is his ending with Daredevil on patrol. Everything else, the little scenes in-between, is where Rivera loses me. There’s no life to those scenes, they just lay there looking more like basic colored pencils than a finished product. I must also come clean that I so wanted Neal Adams, John Romita Jr. or some other icon to be handling the art. If Rivera is going to continue as the main artist for Daredevil, he needs to raise his game just a bit. I haven’t forgiven everything Marvel did to Daredevil, and I still have the sour taste of Andy Diggle’s abysmal work in my mouth. That being said, Daredevil, however cautiously, is exciting me for the first time in a while.