And so the day finally came, the all new Daredevil #1 is here! And all I can say is that Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javíer Rodríguez, Joe Caramagna, and Ellie Pyle completely hit it out of the park.
This first chapter of Matt’s adventures in San Francisco was so outstanding that after I’d read it, I simply tweeted an image of the Cookie Monster grinning from (non-existant) ear to ear. That was somehow the best I could do to express the sheer giddiness I felt while reading this story. This issue was so good, in fact, that I don’t quite know where to start. Part of me would feel content to just yell “COOKIE!!” and let that serve as my review, but I think this issue deserves a better treatment than what you’d get from a Sesame Street character.
So, here’s what I’m going to do: At the very end of this post you’ll find a list of some of my absolute favorite moments from this issue. For the proper review portion, I’m just going to start with the gorgeous two-page spread you see below, and work my way up from there!
The actual review
These two pages above took my breath away. This is what happens when Mark Waid’s words, and Chris Samnee’s line art make a love child that they dress up in the Eye-Popping collection by Javier Rodríguez (and don’t you wish that were an actual collection?). Not only am I vividly reminded of the collaborative nature of comics and the way each part of this spread, down to Joe Caramagna’s fantastic lettering, can give rise to something that is so much more than the sum of its part. It is also a testament to what it is about their run that has made it such a fan favorite.
From the technical side of things, there’s the intriguing balance of the two sides. The circles are clearly meant to evoke Daredevil’s famous radar sense, but looking at the two pages next to each other, they also look a little like a pair of eyes. The first page, featuring Daredevil – as we see him – allows us to look into his past, as Waid and Samnee together manage to put together a recap page that feels truly fresh and innovative. On the second page, we move to the present day and to Daredevil’s perspective as it is superimposed on an absolutely breathtaking and intricate view of New York.
When the people in my life who don’t know anything about Daredevil ask me why I feel so strongly about this character, I can now point to this spread. This is the essence of Matt Murdock. Yes, I’m gushing here, but these pages alone are worth the cost of admission, many times over.
Through his writing, Mark Waid reminds us of why he gets Daredevil like no one else. He pulls us into Matt’s way of thinking and perceiving, and in so doing provides the perfect starting point for Matt’s new life in San Francisco: “New York was my home nearly all my life, and I know every inch of it in ways no sighted person ever could.” For Matt, moving to a new city isn’t as simple as just relocating. In many ways, he is starting over from scratch, tasked with having to build a new understanding of his surroundings.
Daredevil’s relative unfamiliarity with San Francisco runs like a common thread through the entire issue, as he dedicates himself to a complicated kidnapping case which requires the attention of both his costumed and civilian identities. This is the first time Matt is able to act openly as Daredevil, but this is not where the emphasis for this issue lies, although I’m sure we will return to the complications of Matt’s new status in the coming months.
The story at the center of the issue – the rescue of a young girl, the daughter of deputy mayor Charlotte Hastert (whom I’m certain we’ll meet again) – is interesting in and of itself. The interplay between Matt and little Chelsea is quite touching, whereas Kirsten provides both assistance and comic relief. As has been the case since day one with this creative team, they also never pass up an opportunity to add meaning and important character moments along the way.
I’m almost always impressed with the pacing when reading an issue of Daredevil, but this issue was exceptionally good in this regard. I even had to double-check that it wasn’t longer than a standard issue, because it felt like such a solid, jam-packed read. Samnee’s story-telling prowess contributes a great deal to this general sense as he is both economical in his approach to a panel yet highly skilled at loading it up with just the right kind and amount of information.
I could certainly go on, but instead I’ll just cut to some of my favorite moments, which highlight different aspects of this phenomenal start to a new exciting chapter in Daredevil’s history.
Little things that made Daredevil #1 just that much better
Did you guys notice that Chelsea has two moms? And that they didn’t make a big deal about it because it shouldn’t be a big deal? And that I am now inadvertently making a big deal about them not making a big deal of it? Hmmm… Joking aside, I loved this. To everyone involved, thank you!
This doll is just too cute. And there’s nothing to add to that really.
Damn, this is so cinematic and a great riff on something I can’t quite place. Either way, a great way to sneak the credits in there.
Kirsten is quickly becoming the perfect comic relief character. In the sense that she is so much more than that, and also because I just love her sense of humor and dry “everywoman” observations. She may be in over her head in Matt’s world, but she certainly isn’t afraid to step up. To the keyboard, in this case.
Kirsten mocking Matt
Yup, another Kirsten moment. This one made me chuckle.
Matt comforting this little girl (NEW)
For some reason, I forgot to post this yesterday. Anyway, I thought the way Matt comforted Chelsea was really sweet. We don’t get to see him interacting with children that often, but it’s usually pretty heart-warming.
Everything about this scene
From Kirsten’s expression on the left, to the perfectly choreographed acrobatics on the right, this was just one of many panels Chris Samnee nailed this issue.
Kirsten is absolutely shameless when it comes to pulling a fast one on her blind boyfriend and I, for one, love her for it. Besides, someone has to keep that man’s ego in check.
That’s it folks! What did you think of this issue?
— Christine (@Chris_TOMP) March 19, 2014