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Daredevil #11 Review

"Oldie But Goodie"

Something that comic book creators seem to like to do occasionally is dust off a character from way back in the vault, perhaps from the time when they were first reading comics as a kid. On one hand, this move really strengthens the sense of Marvel Universe continuity and history. Plus, in the right hands, these old characters are given new and more interesting roles. However, it does run the risk of alienating newer or less hardcore readers who will see the character and feel like “Who is this guy and why should I care?”

 

Daredevil #11 cover

 

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee use this trope in Daredevil #11, bringing back the character Stunt-Master, who originally faced off with Daredevil in his series in the late-1960s. However, this is an updated Stunt-Master, and Waid has a particularly interesting angle on him. The original Stunt-Master, after reforming, has had to retire due to injuries sustained during his various stunts. He now wants Matt Murdock’s help in suing the new Stunt-Master, who is a young, showy braggart, for using his identity.

 

The problem is that George Smith (the original Stunt-Master) sold his rights to a company, which was then purchased by a pharmaceutical giant, who are not bound by any verbal promises made by the original company. These elements of business and globalization are the small kinds of smart touches that Waid adds to stories that bring in just the right level of real world commentary and verisimilitude in order to make these more than just comics about people punching each other.

 

Daredevil #11 - Daredevil #58 (1969)

 

It turns out that the new Stunt-Master may have a more sinister side to his death-defying stunts beyond disrespectful appropriation. After he begins using the tagline “Man without fear” (DD’s signature phrase) and drives Smith to apparent suicide, Daredevil decides to confront the new Stunt-Master. He begins to figure out some of the terrible secrets going on behind these stunts and also realizes that Smith may in fact still be alive.

 

Daredevil #11 is very much a first chapter in a new arc. It introduces new characters and establishes the main conflict. However, Waid and Samnee are very economical in their creative choices, covering a lot of narrative ground in one issue. So even though this is a story that’s clearly part of a trade-based arc, it is not really an example of decompression writing in comics whatsoever. Daredevil #11 is actually much more similar to the older comics style of covering a good chunk of story.

 

Daredevil #11

 

Chris Samnee has been working with Waid on Daredevil for quite some time now, and their creative choices seem very much in simpatico. Samnee’s light and almost comical illustrations of character expressions works well in an issue that also features his ability to showcase action sequences, such as the Stunt-Master’s driving up one of the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge while heading right for a standing Daredevil.

 

Despite the fact that many (if not most) readers will be unfamiliar with the Stunt-Master, I don’t think that is really a hindrance for Daredevil #11. Waid and Samnee don’t really rely on past knowledge of the character the way some creative teams do when bringing back an old character. Everything a reader needs to know about Stunt-Master is right there in Daredevil #11. So I think Waid and Samnee have made a good choice here, bringing back an old character while adding a new and enriching element to the Stunt-Master, setting up a new and interesting story arc.

Rating
8.1
Pros
  • Mark Waid and Chris Samnee inject a lot of story in one issue
  • They've returned Stunt-Master in an interesting way
  • Samnee's art is again very strong
  • The real world details make the story feel more real
Cons
  • Stunt-Master isn't exactly one of the top adversaries, so hopefully the new one will test Daredevil

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