I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get this up! My excuse? I got caught up in the last few episodes of the second season of House of Cards. Seriously. I’m weak, and that show is freaking addictive. My tardiness is not, however, a reflection of my enjoyment (or presumed lack thereof) of Daredevil: Road Warrior #1, which was a great read. More on that below!
What struck me right away about this issue (episode?, chapter?) was how personal a portrayal of Matt Murdock it was. It starts off with Matt’s perspective – as he, as Daredevil, fights Man-Bull in a sewer pipe – which takes the reader through a series of layers, starting with an all black panel and graduating through various blends of radar and real world, from Matt’s view to our own. The scene is narrated by Matt who tries to find the words to explain what being him is like. The futility of the exercise is illustrated by caption boxes with the discarded ideas marked by strikethrough text. When used by teenage girls on LiveJournal, the trick can come across as annoying, but as a tool for digital comics, and particularly for this situation, it is a clever and efficient way to communicate a stream of thought. You can almost hear Matt’s voice – whatever it sounds like to you – throughout these panels, and the script and art come together perfectly to give us a very intimate understanding of who Matt is. If this were someone’s first encounter with the character, I could easily see them being immediately drawn in.
After dealing with Man-Bull, Matt joins Kirsten McDuffie onboard an airplane. The segue between the two scenes is one of very few weak points in this story. Peter Krause efficiently communicates the rush Matt was in to even make the plane in time, but the quick change of scenery is a little confusing, and at first I thought perhaps the pair were on a train. That very minor quibble aside, the scene which follows features a very entertaining back-and-forth between Matt and Kirsten, and provides us with even more details for our “life as Matt Murdock” folder. Clearly, Matt doesn’t love flying, even pestering Kirsten about her apparent refusal to drive him to California, and we get a real feel for how intrusive it might seem to have 360 degree sense of everyone around you, including the sounds of their heartbeats and conversations. The panel below (which I stitched together in Photoshop, in the comic itself we pan through it in six clicks of the button), sums it up nicely, and provides a really innovative example of visual storytelling for a digital medium. Peter Krause mentioned the challenge this panel presented in the interview I did with him recently, and it was a real treat to see it on the “page.”
Next, a new set of circumstances derail Matt and Kirsten’s journey across the country, and the story quickly spins out in a new direction that sees Matt zero in on a mysterious fellow passenger, and we are left with a juicy cliffhanger for next issue, out in a just a few days!
Daredevil: Road Warrior #1 is a solid and engaging read that takes full advantage of the digital medium. The pacing is great, the story is entertaining and engaging and Mark Waid is incredibly successful in conveying Matt’s voice and personality. Peter Krause’s artwork is equally impressive, and I was particularly struck by the opening scene, as well as the exotic extreme widescreen shot of Matt’s surroundings. His is a lighter touch (for lack of a better word) than regular artists Chris Samnee’s, but the artwork balances perfectly between being representative of Krause’s unique style and the look of the main title. John Kalisz’s colors are just a tad less saturated than what we’re used to seeing from Javier Rodríguez, and they complement the overall look of the story really well.
I happily recommend this story to all who consider themselves fans of the character. While the $2.99 price point might scare off hesitant digital comics newbies, what we get it a sizeable chunk of story that should entertain anyone who has enjoyed Mark Waid’s work on the book thus far, presented in an innovative way that is a perfect fit for the digital medium, thanks in great part to artist Peter Krause’s creativity and skills as a storyteller. Go get it, guys!