Well, the eve of the release of the new Daredevil #1 is a perfect opportunity to return to the blog after an intense period of traveling and moving into a new apartment. In between stuffing most of my belongings into moving boxes, I did manage to squeeze in watching Jessica Jones on Netflix though, and will return to that in my next post. The short version? I thought it was really impressive.
For now, let’s get to the first issue of Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s Daredevil! While I’ll try to keep outright spoilers to a minimum, I recommend that you read the issue before reading further.
My first thought when I saw the preview for this issue a few days ago was that it had a distinct retro feel to it. We see a crowd of up-to-no-good thugs watching Daredevil dive off a bride in pursuit of their latest victim, and they reminded me of the kind of bad guys you’d find in an old issue by Miller, or even Chichester. The script – and the artwork, for that matter – has a classic feel to it that in no way feels derivative, but appears to draw its inspiration from a very different era than the one we’ve grown used to over the last few years. Of course, as you read the issue to completion, you realize that the “standard thugs” are anything but, and you instantly know what Soule was talking about in his blog post regarding the villains of his coming run. “Creepy” seems an apt description. I’ll admit to being very intrigued.
Retro elements aside, this issue brings plenty of news that will probably take a while for longtime readers to make sense of. New characters abound – Blindspot makes for an interesting addition thus far – and the only character (aside from Matt himself) that we recognize from previous runs is Foggy, though his relationship with Matt is clearly not what it once was. In their conversation, there are hints to some kind of large-scale mindwipe (though it may be something else entirely) that I suspect will worry some readers, and as far as I’m concerned it’s too soon to tell, or even try to guess, what’s going on here.
This is part of what makes this issue so difficult to review. It’s one thing to judge the merits of a single issue or story – and in this regard, the creative team does a fine job (more on this below) – and quite another to decide how you feel about events and developments that are still shrouded in mystery, but will ultimately decide how the story is meant to be understood within the bigger context of all that has gone before.
I’m not actually the kind of fan who obsesses about canon, and for that reason I actually prefer something that comes closer to a clean reboot which requires less “magic” (I’m using the term loosely, there may very well be no actual magic at play here). This could very well be the beginning of something truly magnificent – and I absolutely loved Charles Soule on She-Hulk and have a lot of faith in him – but one issue is not enough for me to decide how I feel about this new direction. I’m happy to keep an open mind going forward.
What about the merits of this particular issue? Well, I do think Soule really nails Matt’s voice and general behavior. Whatever else is new, this definitely feels like a Daredevil story. Matt may come across as exceedingly harsh when putting the pressure on a particular client, when compared to the somewhat gentler take on the character during Waid’s run, but this is not out of character in my book. Longtime readers will also recognize Matt’s dry wit, and Daredevil’s character-defining fearlessness. The fact that Matt sounds like Matt is a very good sign of things to come. There is also nothing weird going on with Daredevil’s senses, which is always a big one for me. In fact, I think this aspect of the character is handled really well in this issue.
The artwork is stellar overall, though I have a preference for Garney’s depiction of Daredevil in costume (see below) over his take on the civilian Matt Murdock. The third page, which shows Daredevil looking for Billy Li in the water is amazing to the point where I’d like to blow it up and hang it on the wall, and the details on the bridge on the opening page are mind-blowing.
I’m a little confused by the coloring though. During the night time action scenes, at the beginning and end of the issue, the red hue seems like a stroke of genius on behalf of Matt Milla (a perfect name for a Daredevil colorist, by the way…), particularly over Garney’s distinctive linework. In a daytime office setting, however, it has the same effect as purposely marking a particular scene as having happened in the past, which I think creates some unnecessary distance between the reader and the characters on the page. Either way, it will be interesting to see both the art and writing evolve over time.
With that, I’m going to round things off. This is a strong first issue, but for me, the jury is still out when it comes to the overall direction of this new series (volume 5!). Which is probably as it should be. I’m very interested to hear what you guys think though, so please put your thoughts in the comment section below!