When I first heard Brubaker and Lark were leaving Daredevil, I was sad to see them go since I felt they had done such a great job with the book. Granted, they had turned it into an incredible depressing book, but the stories were well-crafted and beautifully illustrated, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been a hardcore fan of their work. However, I always try to approach change with an open mind, and decided to put my faith in Andy Diggle from the start. Daredevil is a great character who often seems to bring out the very best in his creators, and Diggle had the kind of resume that suggested he might be a good fit.
Still, I must admit that I let out a deep sigh of relief after reading Daredevil #501. The Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil one-shot that effectively bridged the gap between the events of Daredevil #500 and the current issue of the monthly series was good, but it didn’t leave me fully convinced. But, as of right now, I’m comfortably seated, buckled in and along for the ride. Daredevil #501 is gorgeous to look at, features characters that sound like themselves, and gets the ball rolling nicely with a final scene that I would best describe as interesting in that things-are-not-what-they-seem sort of way.
The issue begins with a scene that may initially seem like yet another instance of the main character chastising himself over a personal failure – whether real or perceived. But there is a new factor at play here. With the events of Daredevil #500 and the most recent changes in the larger Marvel Universe, both the world and Daredevil’s place in it are drastically different. And, because of the fallout of last month’s The List tie-in, we see the main character asking himself all the questions we might expect from someone whose entire existence is based on rules when faced with a world where rules have lost their meaning. When is it okay to break them? Is killing ever justified and is it right to sacrifice one life to save many? This is a question that has been touched on before, though it has always been rapidly dismissed. With his treatment of Daredevil here, and in the final pages, Diggle doesn’t take the easy way out, but explores this issue and takes the character in an interesting new direction. At the same time, we’re left with a final scene where much is hidden from the reader, arousing curiosity and and just the right amount of suspicion.
The middle portion of the issue is devoted to many of the familiar faces of the Daredevil cast. I, for one, am very grateful to see Matt’s colleagues still be a part of the book. It is also nice to see them written in a way that is pitch perfect. Diggle gets their voices just right, and the interplay between them clicks. I saw one reviewer comment that he wanted less of this and more of the ninja action, and I couldn’t disagree more. The ninja action is fine, but I will always appreciate the elements that keep the book and its main character grounded, and that includes his civilian life or, in this case, the people associated with it.
The art is stellar, and I couldn’t be happier with Roberto de la Torre as the new artist. After having read the entire issue, it doesn’t seem right to compare his work here with either that of Michael Lark or Alex Maleev. This is a look that manages to be both refreshingly unique and comfortably familiar, and makes for a smooth transition. Still having Matt Hollingsworth on colors certainly helps too. All of the characters have distinct faces that are easily recognizable, and my only complaint would be that Foggy appears to have gained a bit of weight. (On the other hand, eating donuts and worrying about your best friend leading a band of ninja assassins could certainly explain that.) With just the right balance between rough and polished, I think this is a look I’m going to get used to very quickly.
All in all, this is a very promising start for the new creative team!