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Devil may care
on 3 February 2013
In this revamp Mark Waid rejects the popular version of Daredevil as this overly dark and gritty character and returns him to his 1960s roots with a carefree attitude, smiling as he takes down bad guys, and basically being an upbeat and cheerful sort of chap who enjoys being both Matt Murdock and Daredevil. This is a refreshing take on the character especially as dark and gritty is really something that's run its course in superhero comics and is generally something I'm sick of reading about.
Daredevil's usual nemesis Kingpin is entirely absent from this book, instead the baddies he fights are long-forgotten villains only someone with an encyclopaedic mind of classic comics like Waid could remember and resurrect for his run. Villains like The Spot, a guy who uses spots to teleport about the place, or The Klaw, a guy who manipulates sound and would prove a challenge to someone like Daredevil who relies heavily upon sound to operate. There's also a villain who likes to hit people called Bruiser. These villains are so-so. It's not that I'm against Silver and Bronze Age creations, I like the silliness of them, their garish costumes and strange motives, but they're very forgettable and insubstantial. Colourful obstacles but nothing more. It'd be good to see, not Kingpin, but at least a villain that can be built up over the series for Daredevil to fight, rather than these goofy guys.
As this is a first volume, Waid does his best to familiarise any new readers jumping onboard with Daredevil/Matt Murdock and his abilities. So there are a number of scenes where Matt is telling Foggy about his powers but the amount of times he talked about echolocation and how it enables him to be Daredevil became too many. It did lead to a good scene where he demonstrates how his superior hearing allows him to master a complex instrument like a violin almost instantly but, come on Waid, stop repeating yourself!
How the echolocation is represented through the art of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin is the best aspect of the book. Through innovative panels showing figures made up of a particular sound to illustrate how Matt "sees" them or through a kind of pop-art version of a street scene where words representing a sound or smell replace objects, they provide the reader with a unique and clever perspective on Daredevil. All this despite drawing Matt to look like Val Kilmer.
Waid does make a couple of questionable decisions that I felt were missteps. He takes Matt and Foggy from the courtroom and puts them in their office, coaching people who can't afford their counsel to represent themselves in court. So while the defendants are in court, Matt and Foggy are sat in an office waiting for the phone to ring with the verdict. While morally admirable, I felt it detracted from a key image of the character, of Matt standing in court looking like the real life version of the statue of justice. Removing him from that setting feels wrong.
Waid also decides to keep to Brian Michael Bendis' storyline of Matt Murdock revealing that he's Daredevil and then tries to retcon it. So there's a lot of "No I'm not Daredevil" dialogue from Matt throughout the book that I felt could've just been ignored. It was an idea that was explored but Marvel have clearly moved on so they should just pretend the storyline never happened and that, for this new run, everyone doesn't know.
Despite these criticisms, this is a pretty decent take on Daredevil, it's just not the game-changer I thought it'd be given the overwhelmingly positive response it's received. Maybe it's just because I'm not all that crazy about Daredevil as a character, but I thought this was a pretty average outing for the superhero. I might check out the next book in the series but the first book hasn't impressed me as completely as it has so many others.