Review of Daredevil: Reborn #3 (7.5/10)

Mar 24, 2011

Review of Daredevil: Reborn #3 (7.5/10)

Mar 24, 2011

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.

Daredevil Reborn #3, Matt driving a truck

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.

Daredevil Reborn #3, Calavera shows up

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.


  1. Robert

    Solid issue compared to Diggle’s DD work pre-Reborn, though no one will remember this series years from now. I’m really trying to be optimistic about issue 4, but honestly I’m expecting the ending to just kind of end without any real emotion depth or character development. Maybe its the Shadowland aftertaste still lingering combined with the upcoming work of Waid that looks great, but this whole mini seems utterly pointless now. This easily could have been compressed into a 48 page one-shot to cap Diggle’s run and not missed a beat. Best thing about the series has been the art, which has been great and a refreshing change in tone for a little bit.

    I’ve given this a lot of thought and something you said in your “Daredevil’s New Direction” article stuck in my mind: “With Brubaker I felt that, as much as he probably quite enjoyed writing Daredevil, it was just one of his many gigs and likely not his favorite. Diggle, on the other hand, was placed in the rather awkward position of inheriting a storyline that may not have played to his strenghts as a writer and may not have been one he’d pursued otherwise.”
    I realize that the story Brubaker left maybe wasn’t what Diggle wanted to write, but Diggle’s whole run in retrospect, come across like it was a homework assignment that he really didn’t want to do. I’ve said this before, the only issues that came across like the writer was really invested in Matt Murdock and his world were the ones co-written by Antony Johnson.

  2. Aaron K

    I’m saddened to say that I found this issue boring until Calavera showed up. That’s 3/4 of the issue just wasted on a fight between nine morons and Daredevil, a man who fought the Hulk and survived. I wasn’t too worried. And then I was just confused by Matt claiming that glass disrupts his senses. That was a surprise; I’m pretty sure I remember Matt sensing about a billion things through glass. Silly, little mistakes like that stay with me when I don’t have something worthwhile to distract me.

  3. Christine

    Actually, I’m with Diggle on the glass here. Not that it should completely dull his sense of what’s outside, but it should most definitely affect it. Glass is transparent to visible light but not to all forms of electromagnetism (if we believe that’s what the radar is, though I don’t personally). If the radar is sound-based the same thing goes as if it were any other obstacle, as anyone who’s ever tried talking to someone through a window will testify to. He should be able to hear things on the other side, but not as well as if there was nothing in the way.

    In my opinion, Daredevil’s radar is a complete case of having your cake and eating it too. We expect it to reflect everything useful, yet pass through anything in the way. Radio-waves pass through cement walls, but also through people (making it useless for “seeing” anything except dense metal objects), high-pitched sound lose almost all energy if you put a wall in front of it (meaning very little gets to the other side), but allows for greater acuity. The reverse goes for low-pitched sound which penetrates walls, but with a loss of definition. My point though, is that just because we can see through materials that are transparent in visible light, it doesn’t mean that whatever medium Matt uses should be able to do the same, regardless of whether it’s been portrayed that way in the past. Though I’d disagree that he’s never had problems with this before since I’m pretty sure Frank Miller brought up the windshield problem in Born Again when Matt was driving then. Then again, this is me being anal. Sorry about that. 😉

    As for the first 3/4 of the issue, I couldn’t agree more. The entire fight scene was much longer than it should have been given the length of the mini-series. Yes, you see many things happening, but very little of it actually moves the plot forward.

  4. Christine

    Hey again, Aaron. I found that Frank Miller panel I mentioned (I knew I’d seen this before):

    “Radar’s useless, what the windshield let’s through, the rain tears to bits.”

    Daredevil driving in born again

  5. Aaron K

    I don’t think the issue is whether he *should* be able to do certain things, but whether he has been able to in the past. I would love a consistent and reasoned treatment of what Matt can and can’t do, but we’ve never really had that in the comics themselves.

    I can’t remember Matt driving other than in “Born Again” (excluding spaceships), but that’s really not that important. How many times has Matt been aware of people outside his apartment? Of things going on just outside? This is the guy who smelled saline solution in reporters’ eyes and heard them down on the street below from inside his home. (DD Vol. 2 #33) While it’s been acknowledged that Bendis liked to stretch Matt’s powers, Diggle has done similar things. In #501, Matt listens to a sermon from on top of a cathedral in the rain. He fought ninjas (and won!) with “no sound, no scent” in #506. My point is not that it makes sense or that I would prefer such a powered Matt, but that he’s been seen to do such things before. Why make a big deal out of a relatively minor thing like a windshield now? Afterall, our attention was specifically drawn in this instance.

    I’m against the notion of an independent radar sense, but it seems to me that Diggle is not. If so, why seemingly limit it in certain settings, but use it to extremes in others?

  6. Christine

    You’re absolutely right, and I couldn’t agree more that the one consistent thing between writers is the inconsistency, the tendency to play up his senses when that’s needed for the story only to turn the dial way back down again just because it’s convenient. They all do it and I, for one, think it’s annoying as hell.

    One thing I think is sort of relevant to what Matt can and can’t do “through walls” (at least ideally, and in trying to make some kind of sense of it all) is to separate simply hearing through walls and thus being able to get a pretty good idea of what’s going on, and being able to use this information to create a pseudo-visual image to fill in for sight. I have no problem buying into his hearing many things through walls (heck, I can usually hear people walking or even talking on the street outside and I live in an apartment on the third floor). I have a harder time buying into this information giving him the same understanding as he would from echoes (whether radar or sound) in the same room that he’s in. I know that with how erratic all of this usually is, this is simply my personal preference, but I don’t think he should be able to “see” through walls in the real sense of the word. Draw inferences from what he’s hearing and where these sounds are coming from? Sure, but not the same kind of thing as if he were actually on the right side of the wall.

    As for why Diggle would make a big deal out of this? Well, I think that simply putting Matt in a car and having him drive it without introducing some kind of complication might be interpreted as taking things too far. The funny thing is that while I was talking to Diggle back at the Thought Bubble festival in Leeds in November, we talked a bit about what was coming up in Daredevil: Reborn and I actually joked “as long as you don’t have him driving.” I can’t remember why this came up, but it did. Pretty funny in retrospect.

    I have no idea what Diggle’s take on the radar is supposed to be, but I’ve noticed the recap page is now back to the radar being the sum of his senses so one would have to assume it’s primarily sound. Whether the writer himself had anything to do with the wording on the recap page, I wouldn’t have the faintest clue.

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject, smelling saline in other people’s eyes through walls? That… just makes my head hurt so badly. 😀

  7. JP Nguyen

    Well, I don’t want to be mean but I think this issue (and the mini as a whole) suffers from big flaws.
    Opening scene : “Nine of them. One of me”. Matt took down more than a dozen of armed and trained guys in “Man Without fear”, the mini by Miller and JRJR. And it was the beginning of his career.
    It’s not that I want my DD to be the ultimate badass. I’d read Wolverine, otherwise. It’s only that I would like the authors to have a certain consideration about the character’s history. I want them to do him justice.
    What can I say about Calaverra ? He has plot device written all over his face. But at least, he’s got a name, not like the blind kid.
    No, frankly, no matter how great the finale might be (which I doubt), this mini won’t rank very high in my DD list : bad plot, wrong pace, lame characterization.

  8. marc

    Yeah when he said 9 of them 1 of me I figured he’d say something like almost fair for them or something. When he started having trouble with it I was like, wow, this sure is a step down from 100 armed yakuza.

    As for Radar sense and the windsheild ugh… Either way it kind of nags.
    Radar sense that is a combination of senses… There is no way he can’t hear through his windshield.

    Independant radar sense… For the window to be an issue, that infers the radar sense has a wave of some sort.

    If the summary says his radar is a combination again… how does scent, sound taste and touch produce waves. If you are going to go with an angle stick with it.

  9. Rick

    I own and have read every issue of DD (except vol. one number 1) and everything else DD has ever appeared in the Marvel universe. I also was momentarily angered by the scene with the windshield; thinking to myself “what, come on?”. In retrospect, I think, as others pointed out, I was similarly dissatisfied with the story (i.e. trouble fighting that number of non-superpowered enemies; extended fight scenes that did not lend depth too the plot). As Christine stated, I really loved the feel and potential of the first issue of this mini-series and felt let down. I think the timeless Gilgamesh/Odysseus hero leaves, deals with trials/tribulations and returns was needed.

    I “feel” the conundrum with the radar consistency (and for that matter, all consistency in every character). Yes, it is comforting “to know” consistency. I think in strict anthropological terms, it makes order out of chaos. And we need that to navigate through our existence. On the other hand, as in any art form (e.g. music), variation, or better yet, derivation, is expected. It is the process of evolution. Another example that springs to mind (and one which I think is analogous to comics) is myths. In any culture, the stories have variations and even inconsistencies, but as a body, make a complete, coherent image. I suspect (I am an atheist) some religious documents are interpreted in this same way. For me, the conclusion is balance. It seems to be my answer for most things in life. In the end, I think because I didn’t dig the gestalt/zen/feng shui of the story, I was less forgiving of the windshield radar deal. The Miller panels (as usual for me) just flowed, never gave them a second thought.

    I apologize if this is a long tangential mental masturbation on a minor point or inappropriately too philosophical for this forum.

    Anal retentive academic footnote: I remember DD driving (in a snowstorm) in a graphic novel with Black Widow titled Abattoir by Jim Starlin and Joe Chiodo. If I remember correctly, he claimed the snow was interfering with his radar.


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