[26 July 2011]
PopMatters Comics Editor
If anything, that brio is back; that devil-may-care, that launching into danger while laughter cuts the air. It’s the sense of unfettered-ness to the character that might be hard to recall, because for the past decade or so, Daredevil has been reeling from one body-blow after another. Stan Lee really knew what he was doing when he named the book Here Comes… Daredevil; that energy that runs like a freight train really is captured in the book’s original title. And it is a title that newly minted DD scribe-in-chief Mark Waid does more than enough to pay homage to.
Here Comes… Daredevil #1 comprises two stories. The main- and the backup-piece are both scribed by Mark Waid, with art by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin respectively. The main story is a robust superhero procedural. DD has followed down a trail of clues (before the book opens, of course) which has led him to staking out to the wedding of a mafia princess to interdict would-be kidnapper, The Spot. The second act sees Matt Murdock’s attorney alter ego complicated by his being Daredevil. Is there really more to the attack on Matt’s immigrant client than meets the eye? Is there something behind the Assistant DA consistently haranguing Matt during the trail about the latter’s superhero identity?
Even as the questions multiply for Matt’s attorney identity, Waid is able to maintain that animated vitality of a man whose joy comes from danger. There’s no sense of the lurking dark that has haunted the pages over the last decade on the title. Rivera’s art certainly does much more to capture that carefree energy of the character and his world than Joe Quesada, who was perhaps the last artist (all the way back in 2001) to espouse the character’s joie de vivre. To be fair to Quesada though, the problem was not particularly his art, but its marriage with the word-heavy writing of Kevin Smith that made “Guardian Devil” read as clunky and plodding.
Marcos Martin does even more push the boundaries of the character’s pure joy that Waid has once again found. In the backup story Matt Murdock takes a walk through New York, bathed in the sounds and scents, awash in the wonderland of it all. The emerging darkness that appears at the grave of Jack Murdock, where a dutiful son lays a keepsake for a passed father only emphasizes Waid’s skill at scripting the psychology of superheroes. Matt Murdock is teetering on the edge, he’s been bowed, but he’s not yet broken. The cresting exuberance is brio, not confidence. It is only a defense, and perhaps one wholly insufficient at that. The only line that seems to fit is from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land; “…these fragments have I shored against my ruin”.
Waid’s, along with Rivera and Martin’s handling Here Comes… Daredevil, and even of the Daredevil character itself is just perfect. It’s hard to read this opening issue and not recall Wally Wood, the notable DD creator who had recolored the character’s costume the daring red it is today. Wood’s genius was often frustrated by the limitations imposed by industry Top 2 Marvel and DC. What kind of Daredevils could Wood have brought had his talent truly been unleashed?
Waid’s story reminds us that the story Daredevil is also the story of its creators. That the relish with which DD throws himself into danger is the smallest possible defense against that danger. And that similarly, our ongoing brush with creations like DD is the smallest possible defense against commercial imperatives that often hamper the true art these characters should be.