Hello all! I’ve had a lot on my plate over the last month, but all that’s behind me now, and it’s time to get back to blogging. To catch up, we’re going to start with this review of the first issue of Dark Nights. Tomorrow, I will tackle last week’s issue of Indestructible Hulk – which featured Daredevil as a prominent gust star – and on Wednesday it’s time for Daredevil #27!
Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 is the first part of a three-part story called Angels Unaware (the series itself spans eight issues), by former Daredevil artist Lee Weeks. Weeks pencilled more than a dozen issues in the early 90’s (as well as #380 which capped off volume 1), and did an excellent job of it. His art in Daredevil: Dark Nights more than lives up to the high standard he set for himself during his last stint on the character, but in this case, he handles the writing as well.
My overall impression of the first issue of Dark Nights is that it is a well-crafted story in a vein of storytelling that can best be described as “classic Daredevil.” As such, it hits a number of key notes that should be easily understood and recognized by any longtime Daredevil fan. For me, this first chapter of Weeks’ story was enjoyable, and certainly served to whet my apetite, but I will also admit to finding it a bit on the safe side. The scenes that I found to be the most emotional were those that focused on characters other than the amnesiac Matt Murdock, particularly the ones that follow a family of four on their fateful journey to tragedy.
When Matt first appears in the story, it is as an unconscious stranger at a hospital. When he first comes to, he has no real recollection of who he is. This gives Weeks’ the chance to explain to both reader and protagonist who it is he is supposed to be, which makes Angels Unaware easily accessible to new readers. On the other hand, Matt’s amnesia also makes him a little less relatable than we’re used to, as the seasoned Daredevil reader will look for confirmation of whether the character as he’s seen here is the same guy we know and love.
The first chapter of Angels Unaware is steeped in symbolism, and it does come across as heavy-handed at times. The religious symbolism in the description of a young family “sacrificing their only son” has the right kind of impact on me, but Matt literally sleeping on top of his Bible (which he’s apparently reading in his office…) seems like a strange choice for the character. Again, it becomes a case of pushing one of those buttons that one might expect to find in the “classic Daredevil story” and thus seems both formulaic and a little pretentious.
Another thing I can’t really let slide is the depiction of Matt being able to hear everything. I will never understand why (some) writers find it necessary to have Daredevil hear things happening six floors up. It is not necessary for the sake of the story (if the little girl Matt had been focusing on had been down the hall, that would have been impressive enough, and his hearing a nearby helicopter is significantly more believable), and it gives Matt a little too much of a godlike quality. Perhaps this is what Lee Weeks’ had intended, but it keeps me from feeling as immersed in the story as I would have had Matt been depicted as more grounded, in body as well as spirit.
By far the biggest strength of this issue is the artwork which is fantastically rich and detailed. Aside from the panels where Matt’s hair looks more brown than red, I am also a big fan of the work of colorist Lee Loughridge. You can literally feel the cold of the snow and the warmth of the indoors.
I am absolutely interested to see where this story goes next, and something tells me that the next two chapters will give Weeks’ more room to find a more distinct voice than what we saw in the first issue. Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 was beautifully and effectively told, but wasn’t quite a home-run for me.