Here He Comes, In A Suit Made of Swagger and Red Spandex

Once, a long time ago, people thought of Matt Murdock as a swashbuckler. Hot shot blind lawyer by day, man without fear by night, he was Errol Flynn, protecting Hell's Kitchen (and, briefly, San Francisco) from villains and criminals of all spots. And then, one day in 1979, a man named Frank Miller put his pencil to paper and drew Matt Murdock, and then, later, Miller started to write Murdock, and the character went from romantic lead to ninja, and his stories hit the grim n' gritty gutter. That's the way he's been ever since, through last year's wacky Shadowland event.

For a lot of that time, and certainly since I started reading comics, Daredevil was the best Marvel book that no one was reading; Ed Brubaker's run was a heavy crime story, with the tights almost gratuitously drenched in a noir sensibility and the long standing Daredevil-as-Job motif stretched almost to the breaking point. Andy Diggle would, after Brubaker, take the punishment too far, managing to break Matt Murdock, but his stories were pretty good and they resulted in a silly-yet-satisfying mini drawn by David Gianfelice at the beginning of the year. Now, finally, Matt Murdock is back in New York and, satisfyingly, he's put his throwing stars back on the wall and picked the foil back up. Daredevil, the man without fear, is back. And boy I hope he stays.

Mark Waid apparently pitched this reborn Matt Murdock as having been to the brink and back, and so as a man with nothing left to fear. For Waid, the character lives entirely in the moment, and, from the comic's opening pages, nothing could be clearer. Brubaker's Daredevil (and certainly not Diggle's) never would have taken pride in being able to discern a perfume from a hundred yards; he never would have cracked a joke about it, either. But there's Matt Murdock, on page two, doing just that. And that the villain in the prologue is not the Godfather whose daughter is getting married but, instead, is a goofy cape like the Spot? Mark Waid's goal is so well telegraphed, so unsubtle, that heightened senses are hardly required; for the first time in years, Matt Murdock is having fun, and his comic is all the more exciting because of it. This doesn't mean that Waid has given up on nuance, though. Even though the first scene climaxes with DD (in costume!) locking lips with a mob princess, the cavalier mask hides a deeply concerned attitude. This Murdock, though self-assured, knows he's made mistakes, and he's out to fix them, but with a sense of a humor and little bit of a smile.

It helps, of course, that the deeply cross-hatched and dark look of the last volume of the book has been replaced by the clean and clear, almost European, lines of Paolo Rivera and the flat, bright colors of Javier Rodriguez. If Marvel wanted to clarify that this was new #1 was a throwback, I'm not sure there was a better way to do it than this; Rivera's art is retro and he has a penchant for visual puns, so the form follows the function. The old Daredevil is back, but in a brand new way, and that the art is as much fun as the writing is nothing but a boon.

With intrigue, and the promise of an old school superhero clash in the next issue, I'm left only with the words of Stan Lee: 'nuff said.


  1. This issue is on my short list for inclusion among the best comics of the year.