With a highly anticipated new take on Daredevil arriving to Netflix, many are starting to wonder if they would enjoy the comics as much as what looks to be Netflix’s newest hit. From all the promo shots and video clips I’ve seen, the show seems to be based more on the tales of Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker’s take on the comic about a dark hero fighting crime on the streets just as often as he’s fighting to hold onto his sanity in his personal life. As amazing as these runs are, the book is now in the very capable hands of Mark Waid who has put his own vision of our Horn Headed character to paper.
Waid’s Daredevil is different in that it’s no longer a noir infused book about a hero lurking in the shadows, in fact it’s the exact opposite. The art of Chris Samnee even conveys that we’ve moved on to a different era for Matt as he tries to create a new life for himself first in New York and eventually San Francisco. Murdock himself has even decided to have a more positive outlook on life and tries to spread his new found attitude causing trouble for Murdock and his long suffering legal associate Foggy Nelson, who isn’t sure about these changes on both a professional and personal level, as Murdock attempts to help Foggy get his health in order. The world is already convinced that Matt Murdock is Daredevil, despite his pleas otherwise and this definitely makes things difficult for the law practice.
So what sets Mark Waid’s run on the past two volumes of Daredevil worth your read?
1. A dark character living in a dark world trying for a bright new start
Like Batman, Daredevil has always been a dark character who was able to hide from his personal problems in darkness and release his demons by brutally punishing those who deserved it. Things have changed now that the jig is up and everyone knows DD’s true identity. It’s hard for him to cling to the shadows as he has in the past on both his heroics and personal life. It’s also different to see Murdock embrace his alter ego rather than using it as a place to hide from his real problems.
2. A real character who has real flaws and has to deal with them
Matt Murdock isn’t rich like Iron Man, he’s not a national symbol like Captain America, nor is he an international spy with ties very few ties like The Black Widow. He is the son of a poor boxer who lost his sight in an act of bravery, who worked through law school and now who also happens to go out at night and tries to make things better in his neighborhood. In previous volumes Matt takes personal blame for the bad things that happen to the ones he loves, even if he wasn’t directly at fault, and it takes him down a dark road. In Waid’s run on Daredevil, Matt is trying to let himself off the hook for the crimes he didn’t commit and the pain his lifestyle has brought others who have become close to him. Rather than dark and brooding he tries to be happy and even has a relationship with a woman that so far hasn’t turned into a weakness for him and by my account has turned into a very major positive in his life.
3. Currently dating a girl who is a positive influence
Speaking of Daredevil’s love life, Kirstin McDuffie appears to be his equal on a variety of levels. She might not be out kicking ass on the roof tops, but she’s got skills on her own. She is a very talented lawyer who moves with him to San Francisco and plays a crucial role in helping a blind Horn Head get his bearings. She’s also someone that he trusts and turns to for emotional support in times of need. Matt is def always watching out for her, but she’s still a force to be reckoned with.
4. Throwbacks to older characters
In previous stories about Daredevil it’s almost always been the same villains over and over again. Even when it seems like there’s something else going on it almost always felt like the stories tied back to Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) or someone in his family causing DD some sort of pain. In the previous volumes of Daredevil something that continued to plague him was having his secret identity outed in a tabloid. Despite it having felt like that plot line was wrapped up, it kept coming back. In Waid’s Daredevil, we have some of the same Iconic villains, such as The Owl, Klaw and even Killgrave (aka The Purple Man) coming back in fresh and inventive stories rather than the tired old ways. Additionally, Waid even finds ways to borrow other villains within the Marvel Universe, from C-Grade Spider-Man villain The Spot to the big 5 mega-crime organisations. These give new and interesting challenges to Daredevil and shake up the usual formula.
5. Changes in art over the years
The art of the previous versions of Daredevil were always dark and noirish giving the comic a dark and gritty feel to it and that worked then for the stories being told. With Waid’s new Matt Murdock looking for a new lease on life with an upbeat attitude, the art had to change with a style which is a modern equivalent to the Silver Age. Having handled most of the art duties for the past two volumes of DD, Chris Samnee has created a new world for Matt and Company that reflects Matt’s new attitude on life. Also along for the ride in short bursts in the first year were Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin who were added their own style and excitement to the title. In the end I feel like this style of art appeals to a new reader of comics than the last one did.
6. Willing to face past and move forward
When you put it all together: new writer, new art, new way of telling stories and a character that’s changed as much as Matt Murdock has you’ve made a recipe for new readers to catch up on the story as it stands (maybe even go back to the older stuff if so inclined) and for older readers to see a different side to Matt that’s hasn’t been explored in the past. This recipe has also given us an inside look at a man with a dark past who is trying to move on with his life in the most positive way he possibly can, while still trying to protect those with and without the mask, giving us a man truly without fear.
I can tell you myself, having gone back and reading over a hundred old daredevil comics, that Mark Waid’s version of Daredevil stands out greatly from what all the others have done before him. I most definitely respect the older books, but I can honestly say I enjoy Mark Waid’s take on Daredevil more than I have any other writer (except for that Ben Affleck movie, which was amazing! Just Joking!). I hope that you too will take the leap and check out these books.