I was very impressed with Daredevil: Reborn #1 and then somewhat let down by last month’s issue #2. The story seemed to shift gears completely, turning what initially seemed like an introspective redemption story into a straight crime and mystery tale. The final scene in Daredevil: Reborn #3, when Matt finally comes face to face with the villain Calavera, seems to take us a little closer to where I thought this mini-series might go from the start.
Calavera possesses certain abilities (that I’d better not go into for fear of spoiling the issue for those who haven’t read it yet) that finally puts a metaphorical mirror in front of the main character and forces him to deal with his past. Judging by the ending, I think the final issue might actually deliver the catharsis that this story promised from the start.
However, the way issues #2 and #3 have unfolded, it has to be said that Daredevil: Reborn has some obvious pacing issues. The thing is, Andy Diggle is great at writing action sequences – as anyone who has read The Losers will know – and Davide Gianfelice is pretty darn good at bringing them to life. It doesn’t surprise me that the middle of this miniseries (beginning last issue and carrying over well into this one) consists of a drawn out fight scene, complete with a car chase(!) since it plays to both creators’ strengths. The only problem is that while action scenes are a vital ingredient in superhero comics, they can’t usually stand in for actual plot development, at least not in a “more is better” sort of way.
This would not be much of a problem if this were part of a longer ongoing that didn’t have as its stated goal to reconstruct the main character, but in a four-issue story arc even a well-written action scene feels like padding. More to the point, it feels like the overall story would have had a lot to gain by having Matt face his nemesis at the end of the last issue or at the beginning of this one. It may be that Reborn will read better in one sitting when we have the full story, but for now the biggest (only?) reward of this issue is the final third. I’m still hopeful this will pay off in a big way at the end, but I worry that certain plot threads might be left dangling or unproperly dealt with due to the constraints of having to do it all in the final few pages.
I know lots of people have been complaining about Matt’s “Abe Lincoln beard,” but I still do quite like the art of this mini-series. I’m not sure I’d love to have Gianfelice be the regular artist on the main series, which is usually set in the middle of New York City, but with the backdrop of the great outdoors, he definitely delivers some very dynamic art work that can afford to spread out a little and forego the minutiae.
With one issue left, what we get here is quite the cliffhanger paired with the sense that next issue might bring us right back on track for some much needed character work. The strength of this issue lies in the promise of what’s to come, not in the journey we made to get to this point. The mid-arc dip from last issue continues, but it still has me optimistic for what awaits us next month. With the conclusion to Andy Diggle’s run on Daredevil on the horizon, I’m rooting for him to finish on a high note.