Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daredevil by Mark Waid Vol. 1

Here Comes....DAREDEVIL
writer: Mark Waid
Paolo Rivera & Joe Rivera (1-3)
and Marcos Martin (4-6)
editor: Stephen Wacker

Daredevil was always one of those super-heroes who I liked, but didn't love. I enjoyed him whenever he guest-starred with The Defenders or The Avengers, and I bought a few issues of his series when I was a kid trying out everything to see what I liked and what I didn't. Then a few years later I jumped back on board his series when Frank Miller was working on it. I stayed a little while at that time. But mostly, I just liked the idea of him but not the actual stories.
I don't know why this is. I guess part of it was the costume. Red is my least favorite color, so I just never liked looking at him on his own. And Daredevil (for those of you who don't know) is a blind super-hero. However, although he can't actually see he has ultra-advanced super-senses that he uses to maneuver through the world. It's a long story. He has acute hearing (he can hear your heart-beat) and "radar" vision, where he can "see" shadows of objects in his way but not the actual details. So another part of me not liking him was the sheer fantasy of the character. In a world of aliens, Atlanteans, and super-serums, I still found it hard to believe in a blind super-hero. Yeah, I know that's arbitrary. Sorry! Daredevil just never "clicked" with me.

My Fire & Water pal Shagg disagrees with me. Daredevil is evidently one of his favorite characters. When I told him that I had no love for Daredevil, he strongly recommended two Daredevil stories to me, of which this is one. I have two reasons I chose to read this collection. First of all, this was written by Mark Waid. I generally like his stuff, so I thought I would enjoy this. The major reason I picked this book up, though, was the cover. Take a good look at it: the pigeons and all the buildings are composed of words! I LOVE this! I love the idea of it and the execution of it, and when I glanced through the pages I saw that the same creativity was present in the stories themselves. I was intrigued.

Like I said, though, I haven't read any Daredevil comics in quite a few years. I had no idea who was who or what was what when when I started reading this book. Luckily, the story starts with straight-forward action, as Daredevil breaks onto a large palatial mansion in order to prevent a mob-related assassination at a wedding. This turns into a battle between Daredevil and the super-villain named The Spot (I'm not kidding), whose ability is instant teleportation. This whole prologue is dynamic billy-club-tossing while lie-detecting via his radar-sense fast-moving fantastically choreographed Daredevil action at its finest. I began to remember exactly what he could do. It's a great start.
Then we slow down, moving to a court-room in New York City, where we meet Matt Murdock, attorney-at-law. That was something I had forgotten: Daredevil's secret identity is a defense lawyer. Long-time Daredevil readers would already know the details, but I slowly figure out that in a previous story arc Matt had been "outed" as Daredevil. The circumstances were such, however, that he can plausibly deny it. Still, the NYC legal establishment believes it to be true.

As Matt and his law partner, Foggy, try to represent their newest client in a wrongful arrest suit, the prosecutors object to a known vigilante bringing charges of police brutality. Eventually the judge insists that Matt excuse himself from the case, suggesting that Matt's client find himself another lawyer. Matt racks his brain for a way for him to continue as a lawyer under these circumstances, and eventually comes up with a very clever plan. I will not go into detail to spoil it here, but Mark Waid was faced with a sticky problem and solves it with style.
After closing the police brutality case, Matt becomes involved in several other cases, including representing another blind man in a wrongful termination suit. This case is especially interesting and well-plotted.

Besides Matt Murdock battling in the court-room, Daredevil must battle Klaw, master of sound, as well as representatives of Marvel's most evil organizations: AIM, Hydra, and three others I've never heard of before. Daredevil also meets up with Captain America, who wants to bring him to justice for some actions from a previous story-line. It's good to see them together, and their conversation sounds true to life for two very good but very different costumed vigilantes.
There is nothing to say about the art other than that it is gorgeous. Not being a regular visitor to the Marvel Universe any more, I was not familiar with either Paolo Rivera (penciller of the first half) or Marcos Martin (artist of the second half). Both have crisp, clean styles that make it look like a man in a red suit really is dropping off the side of a skyscraper. And in most Daredevil stories that I've read there is always a scene showing Daredevil's "radar" sense. This time, however, the artists illustrate his abilities like what is shown on the cover, or like this, which you have to admit is beautifully done.
Suffice it to say that this collection is a nice mix of super-hero action and court-room drama. Imagine if Perry Mason was also the Flash, and you'll get an idea of how much fun these stories are. In fact, Daredevil has started to appear in his own live-action television on Netflix. I haven't seen all of the episodes, but the ones that I have seen make me think that THIS is Daredevil done right. Those episodes I have seen actually remind me of *this* version of the character. So if you like good comics and haven't read this collection yet, I can heartily recommend it. Thanks, Shagg!


  1. Glad you liked it!! If you keep going, the series keeps getting better and better! If you aren't sure if you want to continue, you can probably find them at your local library. That's a great way to sample a comic without the upfront investment.

    Thanks for giving it a try!!

  2. Thanks for making me get it! I *will* try the next one, either at the library or at a Half Priced Books.