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During his recent run writing the character Daredevil, Mark Waid sought to inject some lighter plots and super-heroics into the series. Since Frank Miller established himself on Daredevil in the 1980s, the character has mostly been associated with street crime and dark themes. Waid was successful in authoring two volumes of the series that pushed Daredevil more towards a superhero and gave the stories a wider thematic feel. There were still really dark moments in Waid’s Daredevil run, but it wasn’t constant. Now, there is a new creative team on Daredevil – writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney. In Daredevil #1, the team looks to return Daredevil to the arena of crime.
Things are different for many reasons since Waid left the character. There was Secret Wars, which essentially ended and restarted the Marvel Universe. Although that series hasn’t been concluded, we are starting to see the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe and series beginning in its story aftermath. Daredevil #1 starts with some big differences. I assume that some of the connection from old Daredevil to the new one will be revealed as the series progresses. So far, Daredevil is trying to take down a crime organization run by Ten Fingers, with the help of a sidekick, a new character named Blindspot. He has the ability to become invisible and is also a skilled fighter. However, his loyalties may not be as simple as Matt Murdock initially believes.
It is a bit difficult to get a feel of a series in one issue. As such, I don’t want to make too many snap judgments about the new Daredevil #1. My initial reaction is mixed. After a run as lauded as Waid’s, it is necessary for the next writer to forge his own ground. Soule makes the interesting choice to turn Matt Murdock from a defense attorney to a prosecutor. One of the central aspects of Murdock’s character was that he defended criminals as a lawyer but hunted them as a vigilante – and that was a fascinating contradiction. Turning Murdock into a prosecutor seems to be a fundamental change in the character. I think there are some interesting story possibilities with that change, and I hope they are explored.
Soule has an advantage that previous writers on Daredevil have not had because Soule is an actual lawyer. Writers sometimes struggle to write Murdock’s work in a way that is as interesting as his time as Daredevil, but this seems to be an area where Soule could (hopefully) shine. Another bold choice made by Soule is to create the character of Blindspot. He seems like a complex character with different motivations. Plus, it is great to see a new Asian-American superhero in Marvel Comics. By contrast, the villain Ten Fingers is so far unexciting. The name is promising, but it turns out that he actually has ten fingers, which is weird, not that threatening, and a somewhat goofy visual. He may turn out to be amazing, but it’s not anywhere near that point so far.
Overall, the visuals on Daredevil #1 are solid. Garney is a comic industry veteran, having worked on Amazing Spider-Man and many other books. His style in Daredevil #1 is more drastic than I’ve seen before. It’s very bold and impressionist. Visually, it is a striking look, and there are some panels that look great. However, the style Garney employs on this issue isn’t the clearest one, which makes some scenes and character expressions a little confusing. I think there is potential with the look Garney uses here, especially if he fine-tunes it a bit. Conversely, the new Daredevil costume doesn’t do too much for me because I think black costumes are usually somewhat boring (and it’s pretty similar to the one he wore in the “Shadowland” storyline), but it’s not terrible.
On one hand, it was always going to be hard for Soule and Garney to follow Waid and Chris Samnee. So I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt on Daredevil, by being open to departures and giving the series a few issues to establish the new status quo. However, I wish the new team had released a really compelling comic out of the gate. Daredevil #1 is a good issue, but not one that grabs a reader and makes him/her feel like the month until the second issue will be an eternity. Soule and Garney should get a chance to show us their Daredevil, but I think they will also need to elevate the comic as well.