Celebrated comic book scribes have come and gone on DAREDEVIL, and call it the Frank Miller influence but they'd all pretty much bestowed ridiculous tough love on Matt Murdock. The Man Without Fear has been thru some bleak times. To quote Matt: "It has been a miserable last few years. And every time I thought I'd finally hit bottom, God somehow found me a bigger shovel."
Off the top of my head, there are two veteran comic book writers whom I absolutely respect: Ron Marz, the Top Cow's main architect who's demonstrated longevity on WITCHBLADE, and Mark Waid who's been doing big things with BOOM Studios' IRREDEEMABLE and INCORRUPTIBLE. And I loved their run over on the defunct CrossGen company. But here's Mark Waid now to kick dirt on what Frank Miller has wrought on DAREDEVIL, and maybe it's time someone did that, do away with the nonstop doom and gloom. Daredevil's fall from grace during the Shadowland arc had me wondering in what direction they would take our blind vigilante. Waid aims to let in some sunshine on Matt Murdock's corner of the universe. The result is perhaps 2011's most unexpectedly successful comic book title.
Remember those early, pre-Miller years when Daredevil actually exhibited a sunnier disposition? This was back in the day before the comic book medium got all post-modern and started focusing on depicting gritty, realistic stories. Mark Waid brings back the Silver Age sensibility. He reintroduces Daredevil's zest for life and his swashbuckling demeanor. He makes him into a more lighthearted adventurer. And so what if it's Matt Murdock purposely wallowing in self-denial? Criminy's sake, dude was just possessed by a demon and forced into performing heinous deeds. He's entitled to a break.
Matt's back in New York City, back from who knows where. He and Foggy Nelson are intent on reestablishing their law firm. But Matt's step back into the court room is confounded by opposing counsel's constant mention of his crimefighting alter ego. Yes, plenty of people still believe Matt is Daredevil. This compels Matt to come up with a new way to practice law. But is it completely above board?
There's optimism now, and brightness and a renewed sense of adventure, and you get a whiff of all this from the opening moments of the revived series' first issue, as Daredevil crashes a mob wedding and foils an abduction attempt by the Spot (and then plants one on the bride). Waid is such a solid storyteller; he knows pace; he writes sharp dialogue. He has a way of presenting his protagonist as heroic without being pompous. That opening sequence is Waid's gambit in a nutshell. Lighten up the ol' hornhead.
Foggy - who's in on Matt's devilish alter ego - isn't sure he's down with Matt's suddenly carefree philosophy. He's waiting for the other shoe to drop (maybe we all are). That doesn't happen in this volume. Instead, Matt's civilian job has him taking on a police brutality case and a wrongful termination case. This last one presents Matt and Foggy with a blind client who had inadvertently uncovered a sweeping conspiracy connecting five superterrorist organizations. That makes him a desperately wanted man.
It's no coincidence that both cases have Matt more directly involved as Daredevil. As such, he ends up tangling with Klaw, Master of Sound, and with a paid assassin called Bruiser. Bruiser is a metahuman who can shift his center of gravity to any part of his body. Bruiser is interesting in that his ultimate goal is to fight the Hulk. As such, he's steadily working his way up the ranks of superhumans, each adversary more powerful than the last. Bruiser has a check-off list. He even writes a blog about it. In their first scrap, he wipes the floor with Daredevil. Matt, hey, easy on the hubris.
The tandem of artists, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, brings a vibrant and dynamic aesthetic. Rivera handles the first three issues, with Martin picking up the three after that (Martin also draws the backup story in issue #1). These two cats complement each other perfectly, both favoring delicate yet lively line works. Credit Waid for a lot of this series' newfound success, but don't sneeze at Rivera and Marcos's contributions. I particularly love how they visually translate Daredevil's radar sense. This allows us a peek into how Matt's enhanced senses interpret the world for him. Pages 4 & 5 of Martin's issue #1 backup story transforms Matt and Foggy's simple neighborhood walk into an exquisite visual treat, partly because we get to see what Matt "sees." It's a joy nowadays to read this title, sir. There's that sense of escapism again. Next thing you know, Waid'll have DD back in nostalgic black and yellow threads.
DAREDEVIL collects the first six issues of the relaunched series. This volume also reprints two interviews with Mark Waid (one of which concerns his return to Crossgen's old RUSE series). Added bonus features present several variant covers, a sketchbook by (and interview with) Paolo Rivera, and a two-paged layout in which Paolo walks us thru his illustrating process.