Review of Daredevil: Dark Nights #1

by Jun 24, 2013Ongoing Reviews3 comments

Hello all! I’ve had a lot on my plate over the last month, but all that’s behind me now, and it’s time to get back to blogging. To catch up, we’re going to start with this review of the first issue of Dark Nights. Tomorrow, I will tackle last week’s issue of Indestructible Hulk – which featured Daredevil as a prominent gust star – and on Wednesday it’s time for Daredevil #27!

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 is the first part of a three-part story called Angels Unaware (the series itself spans eight issues), by former Daredevil artist Lee Weeks. Weeks pencilled more than a dozen issues in the early 90’s (as well as #380 which capped off volume 1), and did an excellent job of it. His art in Daredevil: Dark Nights more than lives up to the high standard he set for himself during his last stint on the character, but in this case, he handles the writing as well.

My overall impression of the first issue of Dark Nights is that it is a well-crafted story in a vein of storytelling that can best be described as “classic Daredevil.” As such, it hits a number of key notes that should be easily understood and recognized by any longtime Daredevil fan. For me, this first chapter of Weeks’ story was enjoyable, and certainly served to whet my apetite, but I will also admit to finding it a bit on the safe side. The scenes that I found to be the most emotional were those that focused on characters other than the amnesiac Matt Murdock, particularly the ones that follow a family of four on their fateful journey to tragedy.

Panel from Daredevil: Dark Nights #1, by Lee Weeks

When Matt first appears in the story, it is as an unconscious stranger at a hospital. When he first comes to, he has no real recollection of who he is. This gives Weeks’ the chance to explain to both reader and protagonist who it is he is supposed to be, which makes Angels Unaware easily accessible to new readers. On the other hand, Matt’s amnesia also makes him a little less relatable than we’re used to, as the seasoned Daredevil reader will look for confirmation of whether the character as he’s seen here is the same guy we know and love.

The first chapter of Angels Unaware is steeped in symbolism, and it does come across as heavy-handed at times. The religious symbolism in the description of a young family “sacrificing their only son” has the right kind of impact on me, but Matt literally sleeping on top of his Bible (which he’s apparently reading in his office…) seems like a strange choice for the character. Again, it becomes a case of pushing one of those buttons that one might expect to find in the “classic Daredevil story” and thus seems both formulaic and a little pretentious.

Another thing I can’t really let slide is the depiction of Matt being able to hear everything. I will never understand why (some) writers find it necessary to have Daredevil hear things happening six floors up. It is not necessary for the sake of the story (if the little girl Matt had been focusing on had been down the hall, that would have been impressive enough, and his hearing a nearby helicopter is significantly more believable), and it gives Matt a little too much of a godlike quality. Perhaps this is what Lee Weeks’ had intended, but it keeps me from feeling as immersed in the story as I would have had Matt been depicted as more grounded, in body as well as spirit.

By far the biggest strength of this issue is the artwork which is fantastically rich and detailed. Aside from the panels where Matt’s hair looks more brown than red, I am also a big fan of the work of colorist Lee Loughridge. You can literally feel the cold of the snow and the warmth of the indoors.

I am absolutely interested to see where this story goes next, and something tells me that the next two chapters will give Weeks’ more room to find a more distinct voice than what we saw in the first issue. Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 was beautifully and effectively told, but wasn’t quite a home-run for me.


  1. Gordon

    Christine, great synopsis of Dark Knights. I’m never quite sure how much I like some of these stories, including the Waid run, at times because I’m just happy that Daredevil is still getting play at Marvel. For some reason, I’m always afraid that he will get canceled. I did just notice that Marvel is finally allowing full annual subscriptions to Daredevil again.

    For this particular story, I like the overall plot and the sad tale of the dying boy is gripping. However, I have a problem with the amnesia element. First, it took Matt quite a while to adjust to his hyper senses as a teen and the amnesia should have prevented him from adjusting so quickly. Also, if he has amnesia, how does he know about his Daredevil abilities if he doesn’t know his first name? He seemed to jump off the building at the end of the story with full confidence of his abilities but failed, apparently due to his lack of his fully developed skills? Just doesn’t quite jibe that he’d have some memories but not all.

    I just don’t think we need the amnesia for this story to work. If he has amnesia, then he shouldn’t know of his powers or his Daredevil identity, which would make this a harder story to write. As I tell my wife, I bat about 50% in being right on things so I could totally be off here so I’d love to hear different or similar opinions by others. Thanks, Gordon

  2. Dan Without Fear

    Just read this issue and was surprisingly impressed. As i’m so adjusted to Waid and Samnee’s take on Daredevil I thought i’d end up finding this series a little flat for my tastes. But I actually thought it was great stuff, having an almost 80’s vibe to it (i’ve since learned that Weeks had a fair run on the book back in the early 90’s).

    I didn’t get the impression that the amnesia angle is something that will be continued through the story going forward. I know Matt screwed up the jump off the rooftop at the end of the issue, but I don’t think that had anything to do with amnesia. Don’t forget he wasn’t operating at the peak of his powers anyway, which was why those three thugs were able to get the best of him in the first place. If anything it was the religious elements that seemed kind of superfluous to me. But I imagine it will serve as a nice thread across the whole of the three issues.

    I gotta admit, Matt’s brown hair towards the end of the issue did throw me a little though!

  3. Elizabeth

    The fact that the girl was so far away in the hospital didn’t bother me as much in that Matt could hear her, but in that his doctors knew who he was talking about. What is the likelihood that someone on the ground floor in the trauma area knew what was going on upstairs if that wasn’t their patient?

    Otherwise, I did enjoy the issue. I’m a sucker for the amnesia plotline because it allows the character to figure out who they are outside of their memories. Despite that, the amnesia seemed to be fleeting because by the end of the episode he seemed to know who he was. I took it for a very brief disorientation due to trauma.


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