I’m generally a “glass half full” kind of person and that extends to comics as well. I try to approach a new story with the expectation that I’ll enjoy it and I choose to put a higher emphasis on the positives than the negatives. Even though Shadowland left me cold, I had been eagerly looking forward to Daredevil: Reborn for months, sensing that it had the potential to be a very good story. I had high expectations going in, and I’m happy to say that my expectations were met, and even surpassed.
While Reborn is presented as Matt’s road to redemption in the aftermath of Shadowland, it is also disconnected from the controversial storyline in ways that should appeal both to people who enjoyed Shadowland – and who are looking for answers to the question of what happens next – and to people who, like me, have been yearning for a change of pace and a different, more grounded tone.
After months of seeing Matt Murdock play the role of supporting character in his own book (and in his own body), it is incredibly rewarding to see an issue that not only centers on Matt, but works in large part because Andy Diggle does an amazing job of channeling our main character. I guess this shouldn’t come as a shock when Diggle’s been the main writer on the book for over a year, but after Daredevil took over the Hand, it seems as if circumstances have conspired to keep readers from really being able to connect with Matt Murdock – the man, as opposed to the increasingly disillusioned vigilante – and the lack of internal monologue has shielded us from his thoughts.
Following Matt as he emerges from the desert of New Mexico and wanders into a hostile town represents a complete one-eighty in this regard. Not only is the internal monologue back (and well written), the setting helps strip Matt Murdock down to the core of what he represents. There is no costume, the terrain is inhospitable and the townspeople he comes into contact with are terrifyingly sinister, with the exception of a young blind boy whom Matt decides to play mentor to.
This particular scene is really quite sweet without being sappy and it feels genuine and very much in character. It also further brings home the point that it’s not the costume that makes the hero, in this case it’s not even the heightened senses. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of being a role model. Naturally, it also serves as a reminder to the reader of Daredevil’s unlikely beginnings and adds to the feeling that this story is very much about bringing the character back to basics.
The rest of the issue reads a bit like a Western horror story, with Matt making the acquaintance of some very violent locals and an obviously corrupt police force. It is clear that everyone but the young boy is eager to see Matt get on his way and leave town for good. If it weren’t for his acute sense of smell (and I give extra points here for good use of Matt’s heightened senses), they would have been successful in that attempt. Instead, Matt makes a shocking discovery that gives us a nice cliff-hanger for next issue.
Davide Gianfelice’s art provides a bit of contrast to the detailed and murky realism of other recent Daredevil artists. It really is quite nice though and the more streamlined visuals even fit thematically with story being told. There is no unnecessary clutter and the action scenes are really strong. Matt Hollingsworth is back on coloring duty and the palette is a radical and welcome change from the gloom and doom of Hells’s Kitchen.
I know that comic book fans are good at holding a grudge, and that there are one or two of you out there who have sworn off Daredevil after Shadowland. If that’s the case, then there isn’t really much I can say except that any Daredevil fan who decides to forgo this mini-series is absolutely missing out on a great story. I enjoyed this issue tremendously and am very much looking forward to next month. If Daredevil: Reborn #1 is anything to go by, this is shaping up to be a great ride!