Comic Review: ‘Daredevil’ #1

The devil fights again…

Written by:  Charles Soule / pencils by:  Ron Garney / colours by:  Matt Milla

What’s it about?

Blind lawyer Matt Murdock has returned to the streets of New York to fight the criminal underworld as masked vigilante Daredevil…

In review

Daredevil #1 is the latest addition to Marvel Comics’ All-New, All-Different initiative and a relaunch for another of their long established characters.  Taking over the reins from Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney reset the world of Matt Murdock post-Secret Wars and return him to New York after relocating to San Francisco during the latter part of the Waid/Samnee run.  Fans of Mark Waid’s (generally) lighter, happy-go-lucky take on the character may find this relaunch a little jarring at first as Soule and Garney bring back the grit and darkness of the days of writers Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker (perhaps partly instigated by the success of the Netflix series launched earlier this year?) and as refreshing and fun as Waid’s approach was, it’s a welcome return to form for the Man Without Fear.

Given his experiences as a lawyer, Charles Soule is an ideal fit for Daredevil and seems to have a good handle on the established character of Murdock whilst deftly weaving new elements into the status quo.  Whilst Murdock is now acting as prosecutor for the state, as Daredevil he must contend with the lurking threat of new villain ‘Tenfingers’ but it looks like he won’t have to face this alone as Soule introduces us to Blindspot, DD’s new crime-fighting partner/vigilante-in-training.  Early on, Soule rightly relinquishes much of the narrative focus to this new partnership as Murdock (donning his new, darker Daredevil suit that’s befitting of the title’s overall tone) trains his ‘sidekick’ as they conduct a brutal face off with a street gang that has links to Tenfingers.  With reference to Murdock’s own training by Stick, there’s a pleasing sense that the pupil has now become the teacher with Murdock’s Daredevil playing irascible sensei to Blindspot’s misguided protégé.

Ron Garney’s rough and inkless pencils matches Soule’s writing perfectly and complemented nicely by Matt Manilla’s subdued colour palette that (the odd effective highlight aside) allows only hints of washed-out crimson and cool blues to seep through, bringing the violent, grimy and decaying underbelly of New York to life.  A far cry from the clean lines and vivid colours of Waid/Samnee’s tenure to be sure and a welcome visual refresh that’s more reminiscent of Alex Maleev and Michael Lark whilst establishing a look that’s still of its own.

As with the rest of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different relaunch, a leap of faith is required by the reader as we know nothing of what has transpired in the eight month gap following the conclusion of events in Secret Wars (which still has two issues left to go) but no doubt that in good time the missing details will be fleshed out.

The bottom line:  Marvel’s ‘Man Without Fear’ makes a welcome return to darker and grittier times that only serves for greater dramatic and artistic potential, courtesy of a promising new creative team.

Daredevil #1 is published by Marvel Comics and is available in print and digital formats now.

Cover art for Marvel Comics' 'Daredevil' #1 by Ron Garney.

Cover art for Marvel Comics’ ‘Daredevil’ #1 by Ron Garney.

First Impressions: ‘Daredevil’ (Netflix Original Series)

Yesterday saw the long awaited worldwide release of the Netflix Daredevil series and having viewed the first two episodes, titled “Into the Ring” and “Cut Man” – both written by series creator and executive producer Drew Goddard (who exited as showrunner to pursue Sony’s now defunct Sinister Six feature film) – I can safely report that, so far at least, it’s yet another hit for Marvel.  Being a huge fan of the horned defender of Hell’s Kitchen there is a level of bias (there’s even a place for the maligned Ben Affleck film from 2003 in my books) yet beyond the series perfectly capturing the essence of the character and drawing heavily from the very best of the source material, viewers will find that Daredevil is well scripted, well cast and beautifully realised.

Drawing heavily on iconic and fan favourite comic book runs by writers Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker (working with legendary artists Klaus Janson, David Mazzucchelli, Alex Maleev and Michael Lark), Daredevil is exactly as it should be – dark, gritty and brutal yet not without heart and a smattering of humour (reminiscent of Mark Waid’s current tenure).  Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox looks, sounds and feels the part as blind attorney Matt Murdock  – a tortured soul whose tragic back story is presented through a series of flashbacks and is ably supported by law partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and secretary Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who provides ‘Murdock and Nelson’ with their first case.  “Cut Man” also introduces us to another citizen of Hell’s Kitchen – Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, the woman who will patch and dress the wounds Murdock sustains in his fight against the criminal underworld.

Murdock’s night time pursuits (beautifully shot by cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd) as the vigilante who will become known as ‘Daredevil’ fulfil the brutal element of the series.  Not being hindered by the constraints of television censorship, Daredevil is not family entertainment and handles the bone-cracking violence (and general adult themes) appropriately.  It’s certainly not gratuitous, but, appropriate.

I’m very much looking forward to the full reveal of Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk (aka ‘Kingpin’), who is teased during the premiere episode and the further development of the Murdock/Nelson/Page ensemble and the evolution of Murdock’s Daredevil persona – especially the costume that Murdock teases is “a work in progress”.

Daredevil is the first of five Marvel/Netflix Original Series with A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist due to follow, culminating in a crossover for Marvel’s street-level heroes in a Defenders limited series.  If the quality of Daredevil is anything to go by then these are exciting times to be a Marvel fan and indeed, a Netflix subscriber.

All thirteen episodes of Daredevil season one are available to stream now worldwide exclusively on Netflix.

Charlie Cox is perfectly cast as the defender of Hell's Kitchen in the gritty and brutal Netflix Original Series 'Daredevil'.

Charlie Cox is perfectly cast as Marvel Comics’ defender of Hell’s Kitchen in the gritty and brutal Netflix Original Series ‘Daredevil’.