Review of Daredevil #1

by | Jul 20, 2011 | Ongoing Reviews | 10 comments

This review contains mild spoilers. Also, in case you’re a longtime reader who’s wondering about this, I’ve decided to stop numerically grading my comics when doing these reviews. I simply ran out of room in the high range of the scale!

Cover to Daredevil #1, drawn by Paolo Rivera

For the last few days, I’ve seen people with early access to this premiere issue of the third volume of Daredevil – such as Marvel staff – praising it on Twitter. All day long today, this has been followed by fan reactions along the same lines, and it’s true – this issue is really something very special. It’s not perfect, mind you (more on that below), but it did manage to meet my very high expectations and get me even more excited for next issue and beyond.

What Mark Waid does here is something only a writer with a clear vision can do: He boldly goes all out in writing Daredevil as he feels the book should be written. In doing so, he manages to tap into the core of who Matt Murdock is while at the same time being refreshingly disrespectful of every rule currently in existence for how the character should be handled. Because there is no doubt about it, the tone of this first issue really is shockingly different from everything we’ve seen in the last ten years.

This issue is divided into two parts. The first, at 20 pages with pencils by Paolo Rivera, is the main event and the first chapter to the story that will continue in the next issue. The second part consists of a 10-page back-up story with art by Marcos Martín whom we won’t meet again until Daredevil #4 when he takes over the art duties for the second arc.

The main story impresses me the most. First of all because it covers so much ground. Friendly to seasoned fans and newbies alike, Waid and Rivera succeed in squeezing in a lot of action, plenty of legal drama, as well as more private moments were we get to spend time alone with Matt and his thoughts. The old conflict stemming from Daredevil’s secret identity being revealed to the world is brought to the surface again and drives much of the issue and supplies the source material for much of the humor which shines through in many of the scenes.

The way Waid takes Daredevil from the action-packed opening sequence with The Spot to the more subtle legal and personal drama and then back into harm’s way is supremely elegant yet seems completely effortless. There is something for everyone to enjoy here and all the pieces of Daredevil’s life fit together in a way that lets us know that Mark Waid truly understands the character and is well equipped to handle all areas of his life. He also gets plenty of help in the elegance department from artist Paolo Rivera. This is a great looking book where the art really adds an extra dimension to the story itself, whether it’s in the form of Rivera’s unique take on the radar semse, the dynamic action sequences or just the way Matt carries himself throughout the issue.

Matt point of view shot of Kirsten McDuffie, from Daredevil #1, art by Paolo Rivera

We’re also introduced to a couple of new characters, first and foremost in the form of assistant district attorney Kirsten McDuffie (whom I mistook for Michele Gonzales, though the latter is mentioned as well and it appears that she’ll definitely show up down the line). Whether Stu, the guy who supplies our fearless lawyer with his cup of java before court, will make a return appearance remains to be seen, but I really enjoy Matt’s interactions with these new faces who come fully equipped with their own assumptions about who he really is.

I was surprised by just how little mention there was of the events that saw Matt leave town months ago, though it’s clear that the repercussions of his past actions are about to catch up with him as early as next issue. At the same time, this first issue clearly appears to be more determined to pick up new fans or reach out to those who stopped paying attention years ago than to make sure to that every last dangling plot thread is neatly tucked away. This seems like a wise decision to me, from both a creative and business standpoint.

The back-up story is an off-beat tale which sees Matt drag his skeptical law partner on a trek across town to show his respects for his dead father on his birthday. It is at once moving and whimsical and certainly put a smile on my face.

Clearly aimed in part at educating new readers, this aspect of the story is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. For the most part, it succeeds, but there are a couple of places where I felt the necessary subtlety was lacking and the fourth wall seemed just a little too thin for comfort. We know that Matt and Foggy are having their long conversation for the readers’ benefit, but I would have preferred that this state of affairs had been a little less obvious (see below). As far as the art goes, Martín is clearly a very strong storyteller and his way of portraying the characters moving across the canvas that is New York City really pulled me into the story.

Matt and Foggy enter the subway, from Daredevil #1, art by Marcos Martín

Where most people will read this issue and come away from it feeling that this represents a new and refreshing take on an old character, there is no doubt in my mind that the change in mood will be too jarring for some. There were a couple of instances in the back-up story where it was for me as well. At the same time, Waid’s very firm grasp of the character made me enjoy this issue a great deal, and I’m very excited for the future.

More than anything though, I enjoy the feeling of reading Daredevil and really not knowing – or even being able to guess – what will happen next. This new take on Matt Murdock represents a much-needed shake up that should have both old and new fans nervously biting their nails.

Congratulations to the whole creative team on what is, at the end of the day, a very successful and highly enjoyable start to what I hope will be a long journey!


  1. Robert

    Great review. Agreed on most everything especially the back-up story which was nice but just didn’t have the same feel as the main. Enough good things can’t be said about the artists.
    One thing about the story that stood out to me, was the courtroom scene. I’m not that educated about legal proceedings beyond DD and Law & Order, but, and this is reaching back a few years. Wasn’t the case against Matt thrown out after the FBI guy scandal/”suicide”? Yeah everyone “knows” Matt Murdock is Daredevil, but legally no one ever proved it. My point/question is wouldn’t or couldn’t the judge order the prosecutor not to bring up DD like he did as it is irrelevant/speculative/heresay/unsubstantiated? This is a minor minor gripe about a very great book, but it was the first thing I thought of when I read the scene. Why is the judge allowing this?
    The spread of Matt and Foggy crossing the busy street is one of the finest pieces of comic art I’ve seen in years.

  2. Jeremy

    I like how more and more of my visted comic book blog sites are doing away with review scores. They feel so crude for single issues…I always liked the Savage Critics scale myself.

    And on that Savage Critic scale, I can safely say this was EXCELLENT. I’m a fan of the Bendis/Brubaker runs as much as anybody, but man it feels so good to get out of that dour decade, doesn’t it? We get to see color again! Life! Smiles! Jokes! Daredevil being a daredevil! All with some incredible artwork, I seriously hope Rivera/Martin stay on for years to come, I love their work so much.

    I got a really feeling about this run, Christine. This feels like the start of a run that won’t soon be forgotten.

  3. Ryan

    Well Said, I agree on all points but I will say this. This is what Daredevil needs to move into now as a series and I’m going to enjoy the ride.

  4. Ian

    I love the flavour of this issue, bright, bold, clean with the clinging subtext that Matt is massively overcompensating for the darkness of his past.

    A great comic.

  5. AP

    I loved it. A few things that stuck with me after the first reading (lots of spoilers):

    The return of the more overt confidence Matt displayed in the 60’s. I loved the humor too. I laughed out loud quite a few times and I rarely do that with a comic.

    The page where Matt considers not going after The Spot because the girl is safe and then follows up that thought with “Yeah, right” and dives in after The Spot.

    The Daily Bugle page. The bottom panel showing what DD did to The Spot was hilarious. The Bugle page also makes me wonder if he kissed the bride because he figured it would make the paper and be good PR for him. Help clean up/change his image a little and show the public he’s not the monster he was during Shadowland. The act is over the top, hilarious and also telling of how he’s coping and compensating with his recent struggles.

    The idea that in the 24 hour sensationalist news reporting we get now, the only people that would still be pursuing the DD secret identity thread would be gossip rags, bloggers and shyster lawyers whose only hope of defeating Nelson & Murdock would be to pursue the secret identity angle.

    Matt tapping his “cane” while all the confetti was dropping and dulling his radar. Is Waid implying the tapping helps clear his radar? Interesting since there has been some contention among us fans as to whether he would need to do such a thing.

    How Waid described his radar in the back-up story. He doesn’t really think in yellows and rectangles anymore, that it’s like echolocation and that it’s not an optic substitute….interesting.

    Making Foggy take up a better diet because Foggy eating that sort of junk food leaves a strong scent in the air akin to the powerful smell sawdust leaves.

    I listed a lot, but there was a lot to take in. Really great issue and a great new beginning. If he keeps this up, he will surely earn back the title “Man Without Fear.”

  6. Nathan Aaron

    I was torn on this issue. I know, I need to just let go! Ha! But Marvel is taking my beloved grit and grim from not only Daredevil, but also Captain America. All the sudden everything has to be shiny and bright. But I’ll try…

    The first storyline was great, the art was extraordinary! Wow! The second story was just alright (though the art was still great!) My BIGGEST beef with this book is, Stephen Wacker is now editor (was he editor before?) He’s also editor on Amazing Spiderman, which used to be one of my favorite titles – a book that is now nothing more than random fill-in artists of the bi-week, and every issue gets a main story, and then two or more back up stories. And I hate them. Hate them! Remember when writers would just write it all into the main story? “Meanwhile…” set up done. Now they feel the need (at least in Spiderman) to do little two page stories that go no where, and do nothing. Maybe Marvel thinks if they break down the stories into multiple back ups in an issue, people will think they’re getting their $3.99 moneys worth, but NO, Marvel, it doesn’t work that way. It’s just sloppy. So I pray this was a one time thing with Daredevil, and we don’t get lots of little back up stories every issue. Cause they suck. Rant over, and I apologize. But Wacker on this title has me really nervous!

    Last thing, we get it, Daredevil is blind. I mean, I know it’s a first issue, but how many times were we told via visuals, words, banter, sounds, that Daredevil is blind. It was like “Hey, Daredevil is blind! This is how he sees blind stuff! Did you know Daredevil is blind? Oh, just in case you didn’t know, Daredevil is blind!” We get it. Hopefully, this is a one time thing since it’s a first issue, so new readers would know. Cause otherwise, wow will that get old fast.

    Man, I’m not usually this bitter. Ha! I just love Daredevil, and I hope they do him proud! So far, I’m in wait and see mode. It was a good start, but definitely not superb. (And I miss Dakota so much… I hope they bring his old cast back at least for a bit, seems mean to just write them off after Matt treated them like crap. They at least deserve an apology. I can’t believe he hasn’t yet told Foggy “Oh yeah, sorry I tried to kill you back there.” 😉

  7. Christine

    @Nathan Aaron: Stephen Wacker has been the editor on Daredevil for a really long time so I don’t think you have to worry that his being on the book is going to change anything in one direction or another. The back-up story was just for this issue so that they could have an oversized first issue and also give us a glimpse of Marcos Martín’s art since he won’t be back until issue #4.

    As for the blind thing, I think you might have to get used to it, though I suspect there will be more “showing” than “telling” in future issues since the entire creative team has talked a lot about getting inside Matt’s head, so to speak.

  8. Joshua

    Christine – I wanted to thank you for helping me bridge the gap from the 2nd edition to this new story… I agree with the bulk of your review and hope that you keep up the excellent work!

  9. Bee Clayton

    Seeing DD smile, smirk….multiple times….in the same issue?! Darn skippy, this was a great issue! 🙂

    You’re right about the tonal change though Christine. Fans expecting some form of carry-over or consequence of Shadowland will likely be disappointed with this issue. But I think Waid made the right decision in this regard. Despite it’s stated goals, Shadowland received a lot of flak from fans as well as critics.

    Instead of picking up from that spot, Waid has taken a totally different route in dealing with it. It hasn’t been forgotten, instead Matt has reached a personal decision in how to respond to this latest of seemingly unending personal tragedies. By doing this, Waid has brought humor and wit back into the book (which was sorely needed)and set up possible drama later on if this ‘new’ outlook of Matt’s is just another form of denial for him.

    Which is why I think the second story is equally as important as the first story. The walk-about was fun (with the two-page spread in front of me, I noticed some blocks of ‘radar sense detection’ that I’d previously missed in shots seen on-line. Incredible detail, blew me away, loved it) but the last page was the kicker. Matt telling Foggy how this is his new outlook, love it or leave it. Foggy’s subtle reply (which you KNOW Matt had to have heard) about not being sure if he approves. To me, this only means Waid is just getting started. 😉

    Cover to cover, an excellent first issue, full of wit and fun. (Loved the initial splash page. Everything you need to know about DD in ONE page, terrific) The dialogue had me giggling at certain points and the art was amazing. By the time I was finished, I felt good after reading a DD story. And really, isn’t that the point?


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