Born Again (Again)

All the way back in August (man, was it really that long ago? It feels like it was yesterday), I was impressed by Jock's cover to Daredevil Reborn #1, but nonplussed by the mini's upcoming existence. Daredevil had, for years, quietly been one of Marvel's best books, and I was worried that, with the upcoming (and ultimately disappointing) end of Shadowland, we would also see the end of Matt Murdock, of Daredevil, and of Marvel's best (read: only) crime comic.

Shadowland ended, the Black Panther took up the mantle of the Man Without Fear and began protecting Hell's Kitchen (and you can read how I feel about that here and here, but let me tell you: my fears about Marvel giving up on crime comics were... unfounded), and Matt Murdock headed west. Way west: New Mexico, where he encounters a mysterious town, with a secret, a diner, a corrupt police force, a gang of miscreants and one poor blind kid, stuck in the middle of the whole thing.

If you think you've seen something like it before, you probably have; it's about as straight up a "stranger comes to town" story as has ever been told. Cliches pile upon cliches, too- Matt leaves the poor kid to fend for himself! He lets himself get beat up by the miscreants! He's on his way out of town and smells trouble at the last minute!

If we can accept that there's nothing groundbreaking about the plot and get past the fact that there's a half dozen Twilight Zone episodes with plots resembling this, though, there's something worthwhile here: maybe, every once and a while, a straight up redemption tale is good for the soul.

It helps that David Gianfelice draws the hell out of the book. There's some odd, otherworldly clarity to his compositions, something remarkable given how sketchy and fuzzy Daredevil art has been over the last decade or so. Not that that's a bad thing- Alex Maleev, Michael Lark, and Roberto de la Torre are some of the best artists in the business and they were perfect for the way ol' Hornhead was being portrayed back then, but Gianfelice's clear pencils and inks are a refreshing change, and I think it really does signal a brand new Daredevil on the horizon.

That's not to say I don't have complaints about the art as well as the story: sometimes the faces get a little squishy, particularly when the figure is at a distance, but I think this is a symptom of the mid-width black line that serves him so well everywhere else. There's something so appealing about this inky definition that it's easy to forgive that little issue, particularly when the whole thing is served so well by Matt Hollingsworth's colors, which really do make the book feel like it's set in the Southwest, but not at the expense of having some fun and making it look like a comic book. Together, Gianfelice and Hollingsworth are working on something great and, if you aren't convinced by page 21, the final, thrilling, splash will seal the deal.

This move away from a grim 'n gritty style for DD is a good sign; maybe there's something to this rebirth other than just a marketing ploy, something worth sticking around for. I certainly hope there is; despite my adoration for the last half-decade or so of Daredevil, maybe it really is time for something new.

1 comment:

  1. Marvel's "Sneak Peek" pamphlet had the scene where he meets the little boy so that's all I've read.

    I thought it looked good!