The Man Without Fear is Yellow!

Daredevil Yellow

Marvel Comics

2002

$15 trade paperback

This is one of the books that is considered by many to be essential reads for all comic readers that I have never gotten around to reading.  It has always been on the list, just never got around to it.  To be fair, it is a big list, varies by who is making it, and I HAVE read a lot of it.  What has always slowed me down on this one, Like Spider-Man Blue and Hulk Grey, is that I am not much of a fan of Jeph Loeb or Tim Sale.  Loeb has never been a favorite and Sale is a very talented artist that I have always been lukewarm on.  I really enjoyed his run on Matt Wagner’s Grendel, but since then I have struggled to find something in his work for me.

This book has given me reason to rethink that for both of these creators.  The volume I read was the slightly longer Hardcover version from 2002.  It is getting very pricy to find in HC so I recommend finding the still in print trade edition.  This volume reprints the six-issue series from 2001 and is a really good read.  Like many books that seek to revisit/re-tell the origin story in a modern context, this could have just been revisionist, but there is very little that is actually changed here.  Like all the best retellings, this book is more interested in the color behind the static story we all know.  The origin has been more fleshed out than changed in any meaningful way, and the story is told in the form of a letter to Karen Page.  A letter that will never be sent.  The covers of the individual issues are a clue to the story structure.  They show DD looking in or looming above the main focus of the story.  This is entirely a flashback story, and is never meant to be something new to the myth.  It tells a story we mostly know, and does it in a fresh way.  We care almost immediately about Matt and Foggy.  Anyone that has never read DD or only knows the Miller stories will be fine here.  The Elektra thing is avoided completely as it should be.  Those familiar with the Bendis and the more modern “Matt has a gun barrel in his mouth” (borrowed that line from Mark Waid) type hellscape that Daredevil’s life had become before Mark Waid revitalized things last year, may have a harder time. More modern readers used to the darker stories tend to forget that even under Miller, DD was not in constant misery.  If you have enjoyed Waid’s run, this is a book more your speed.

Tim Sale’s art here is the bonus I didn’t expect.  While I don’t always care for his faces, as they are quite heavy and iconic rather than more realistic, the art as a complete work is beautiful.  There is a delicacy to his line that is not immediately obvious and it is only really evident when you look at the entire page as a unit.  I often gripe about artists that are all about pin ups or cramming a panel and page with as much detail as possible to the detriment of the storytelling.  Here the storytelling is effortless and seems organic to the art.  Loeb and Sale have worked together a lot and it shows.  The meshing of the 2 aspects of the story is seamless.  The words are a part of the visuals and the art never distracts or confuses the narrative.  Sale has been doing this a while now, and he is a master storyteller.  Any complaints I may have about his drawing style tend to be entirely on my side.  It has just been my personal tastes.  These tastes may be changing.  It looks like I may have to give the other two “color books” a try.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Man Without Fear is Yellow!

  1. I’m really glad you wrote a post about my favorite Marvel character.
    Bendis wrote a Daredevil arc full of flashbacks that showed the man without fear with his yellow costume: read it, it’s the best arc Bendis ever wrote on DD.
    I usually don’t like prequels (if we know how the story ended, who cares what happened before?), but I really, really loved Daredevil: Yellow. As I loved all the Loeb’s works I read (this one + all his Batman works), but you’re not the first blogger writing he’s gone awful.
    Matt Murdock has always been Marvel’s Batman in a lot of ways (psychological deepness of the character, costume design, dark atmosphere, and so on): since Loeb worked so well with Batman, making him work on DD was a logical and very good choice. Maybe he’s born to write about characters like Daredevil and Batman, and, when he tried to do something different, he failed. Or maybe he simply lost his magic touch.
    It looks like it’s not a great period for writers, since some others I used to love got worse as well. I could give you some detailed examples, but I’ve already written way too much, so I’d better stop myself. : )
    P.S.: As you probably remember, I’m a big fan of John Henry Irons, aka Steel. I just found out he’s going to make a guest star appearance in Animal Man # 13. A character like Steel written by a writer like Lemire… wonderful!

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