[1 June 2009]
PopMatters Comics Editor
Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark expose the simultaneous and contradictory feelings of fearlessness and self-reproach in Daredevil.
This is classic “DD” territory. Even before adopting the Daredevil identity, Matt Murdock displayed an unremitting fearlessness. It was this fearlessness, some might say recklessness, that led him to be blinded in an act of boyhood heroism. Since that accident, confronting and overcoming fear has been how Matt Murdock enters the world.
As Daredevil, Matt Murdock has always had an almost primal connection with the city streets. The so called Hero of Hell’s Kitchen, DD has seen it both as his right and honor to protect the streets he grew up on. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, up streetlamps, down fire escapes to reach street level again and across vast urban chasms, DD has become definitive of how superheroes move through the cityscape. Superheroes move using parkour; efficient, dynamic movements to navigate urban obstacles.
Protector of the weak and tormentor of criminals, DD has always relished in his rash “devil may care” attitude. What makes writer Ed Brubaker’s panel so singularly engaging, is his exposition of the “daredevil” confidence as a finely-crafted facade with which Matt Murdock meets the world. Far from being a crazed risk-taker, Matt Murdock finds his true heroism by confronting his fears head on.
Moreover, Brubaker shows the supererogation of Murdock himself. Murdock holds himself responsible to the point of being guilty. These are his streets to protect, and after being arrested and tracing down a conspiracy in Europe, he has lost control of the streets.
Brubaker makes excellent work of writing himself free of the cliffhanger ending the Bendis/Maleev run which saw Matt Murdock arrested and formally disbarred as officer of the Court. For the year preceding issue 95 (the opening chapter of “To the Devil, His Due”), Brubaker wrote Murdock free from prison, then free in Europe chasing down players in the conspiracy to have him imprisoned and his legal partner assassinated. But “To the Devil, His Due”, Brubaker puts DD back on US soil, back on the streets.
But more importantly, this opening page, where DD makes his first appearance on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in more than a year, marks the conflict at the core of both Daredevil and Matt Murdock. Murdock is someone who risks great danger not to masquerade, but to confront great fear.
Hanging In the Air