It has been nearly 30 years since I genuinely liked Daredevil. As a book or as a character. Everyone since Frank Miller has either tried to be just like him, be the exact opposite of him or outdo him. None of the writers seem to have wanted to tell a great story as the first priority. Some managed to tell good stories, but upon reading them initially, I was always struck by “event-itis”, that need to shake things up. This need has seemed to be more important than just making the book good. Then the need to essentially rape the character seemed to rule the day. Destroy Matt Murdock in every way possible. Miller always liked the idea that Daredevil was one of the more flawed people in a costume at Marvel, but he never went as far as some of the writers that followed him. By the start of the 2000’s, he was unrecognizable as the Matt Murdock I remembered, more so even that many other Marvel heroes that went through the mill in the 1990’s. There were bright spots, but never more than a few short arcs. This is not to say these were bad comics, they just weren’t really Daredevil comics. Many of the arcs were quite good, but the guy in the red outfit was just some guy. The heart of the character was gone, at least as I knew it. The need to tear him down stripped away everything that made him work for me.
Now Mark Waid is on the book. I was very skeptical at first. I have really enjoyed Waid’s work, particularly in the last decade or so, but I really didn’t think that anyone could save this character or the book believably. At some point the damage is just too great. Was this going to be a hard reboot, ignoring all that had come before? Would he have to spend the entire first arc unraveling the previous mess? There is reference to the mess that was Matt’s life previously. The really stupid Shadowland events are mentioned. The outing of the secret identity is handled beautifully. Done like more of a tabloid story or internet rumor, and it works very well. In all, the past is mentioned and handled as though the crisis was over but not forgotten. Like a recovering alcoholic might always have to live with his past, but keep moving forward one day after another as though each day is the most important day so far.
Marvel re-launched the book with a new number one and gave him world class artist Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera to play with him in the sandbox. This book is beautiful. It handles the difficult angles and vertiginous shots of Daredevil above the city’s rooftops as stunningly as I have ever seen. The trickier villains’ powers are done with a visual style that is amazingly clever. Dealing with how Daredevil “sees” the world was something Miller and Mazzucchelli always handled well; here it has been taken to another level. The villain The Spot is a really creepy idea in concept and a fairly stupid idea in actual execution depending on who is doing it. The visual here for the Spot is done so well, the only word I can think of is trippy. There are the prerequisite “blind guy in the streets” scenes that are done with a nice flair that actually keeps the flow of the story.
This is the best book Marvel is doing right now and easily one of the best books in the field regardless of company. The first collection (issues 1-6) is out now with the second arc due to be collected in June. If you have ever liked Daredevil, this book is wonderful. If you are like me, and have not cared much for anything about him in the last quarter of a century, this book brings back the hero that you have missed all these years. Like Hickman’s FF, this is the book I have been wanting since the last time I loved these guys.