Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Clowes
Editor: Devin Lewis
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A review by Cameron Kieffer
Just when you think Matt Murdock’s life couldn’t get any worse, someone comes along, punches him in the face, pushes him down the stairs and then records over his favorite hockey game with episodes of Floribama Shore. And that someone just happens to be Chip “Yes, the artist of Sex Criminals” Zdarsky. Like many Daredevil writers before him, Zdarsky picks up where the previous run left off and not only maintains the status quo but ups the stakes, much to our hero’s chagrin.
When last we saw him, super-powered lawyer Matt Murdock was on the road to recovery, having suffered grevious injuries after being hit by a truck (see Charles Soule’s last arc Death of Daredevil and the subsequent The Man Without Fear miniseries). This first issue picks up with a weakened Matt, still tending to his wounds and attempting to resume his nightlife as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Even without his injuries, this is no easy feat as his archenemy Wilson Fisk aka “Kingpin” is now the Mayor of New York and has labeled Daredevil a vigilante that must be brought to justice. But as with any Daredevil story, as bad as things are, they are about to get so much worse.
Zdarsky is mostly known for his offbeat, comedic flair but he’s proven many times that he has the chops to write compelling character drama (Howard the Duck #8 still brings me to tears). He weaves an intriguing narrative here, shifting from Matt’s current turmoil to flashbacks of his youth. It’s in these flashbacks that Zdarsky demonstrates how certain small moments in our past can put us on the path to the person we grow up to be, in this case highlighting Matt’s sense of justice and ultimately his penchant for violence. Zdarsky has a great grasp on Matt Murdock and what makes him tick, and clearly wants to knock him down a few more pegs rather than build him back up. At least for now.
Fortunately this book isn’t just a great read, it’s also a beauty to behold. The art team of Marco Checchetto and Sunny Gho knock it out of the park, delivering a book that immediately evokes memories of previous artists such as David Mack and Alex Maleev. It’s definitely a return to the darker, grittier days pre-Waid/Samnee and manages to feel like both a noir story and a superhero yarn. The first time we see Daredevil in costume is in a gorgeous splash page that demands you stare at it like a fat kid eyeing his birthday cake. It’s truly spectacular. Zdarsky also provides his own, very different brand of art for a back-up story that really tugs at the heartstrings.
The only downside to this issue is that it may not be the best jumping-on point. While you don’t have to read the previous run or the most recent mini that wrapped last month, it does follow up on those stories with very little explanation as to Matt’s current situation. Having skipped most of Soule’s run, I still considered this issue oddly accessible but found myself having to fill in some gaps, thanks to Wikipedia. The tone of this first issue also seems to have some things in common with the recently wrapped Netflix series but does so without modifying the character’s entire history to match.
The Verdict: Buy it!
The latest Daredevil relaunch is off to an great start, thanks to a smart, occasionally funny script, incredible art, and a new, yet familiar direction for the Man Without Fear. It’s a pretty accessible read, though you may wanna brush up on the character’s recent history to fully appreciate his current state of mind and body.