I love Daredevil, he’s one of my favorite superheroes, along with Iron Man and Spider-Man, because he’s a man who chooses to be a hero, not a hero who has no choice but to be a hero. He chooses to put on a costume and fight crime, he’s not an outcast, a mutant with a tail or wings who can’t live a normal life, he wants to protect people, he doesn’t have to protect people. That’s what makes these characters special to me.
Good ol’ hornhead has been through a lot of changes over the years. My favorite takes are the ones where he’s out helping others, just to help others. My least was the age of Catholic guilt and religious symbolism. Love Frank Miller, not a fan of his run on Daredevil. Recently, Mark Waid has been doing an excellent job making the character fun again. Less angst, more action. They’ve just rebooted the book and moved Matt Murdoch from Hell’s Kitchen to San Francisco. Does Daredevil work just as well on the West Coast? Let’s find out as we examine the first three books in the new Daredevil series.
After Matt comes to San Francisco to join up with his “partner” Kirsten McDuffie, he gets embroiled in a kidnapping case where only his super senses can lead to the little girl’s location, but things are not as they seem, the kidnappers are terrorists who have implanted an explosive device in the little girl and plan to set it off where it can do the most damage. Daredevil puts her into an elevator, a natural Faraday cage, and takes out the pursuing kidnapper so he can get some answers. Doctors save the girl, but the kidnapper refuses to talk and the Deputy Mayor asks Matt about his old partner in New York. Foggy Nelson, for those who haven’t kept up, is dead. Or is he? Not long after, Deputy Mayor Hasert comes to ask Matt for his help, there’s a new criminal kingpin in town but Matt laughs when he hears. The Owl? What a joke! But there’s someone else, a psychopath called the Shroud, who is yet another Marvel version of Batman, right down to his origin, who thinks that he’s doing good. Shroud also has a very strong Cloak vibe, of Cloak & Dagger fame. He offers to help Matt take down the new criminal kingpin and Matt agrees, mostly because Shroud has four low-level capos prisoner and they’ll starve to death if Shroud goes to prison. However, it’s a trap, the new boss turns out to be Shroud himself. Meanwhile, The Owl confers with an informant and confirms that Shroud is making a move on his turf. When the informant knows where Matt Murdoch lives, a bit of secret information, Owl takes him out. Hornhead and Shroud fight and Matt beats him easily, it turns out that killing Daredevil was supposed to be an easy way into Owl’s good graces and get an audience. Shroud suggests that even though he didn’t beat Daredevil, they should work together to take down Owl. Back at the lawfirm, while McDuffie and Hasert are talking, a man in a wheelchair comes in, claiming he has an appointment. He reveals himself to McDuffie as Foggy Nelson and she hastily gets rid of the Deputy Mayor so she can yell at him. She says lots of people went to a lot of trouble to fake his death and he ought to be ashamed of himself. Matt decides to take the direct approach and knocks on the Owl’s gate, saying he has a subpoena for him and gets escorted inside. Better than fighting your way through, I guess. It’s all a ploy though and while Matt distracts Owl, Shroud sneaks up on him and holds a knife to his throat but Owl has another card to play, he’s located Shroud’s long-lost girlfriend, Julia, and if he’s harmed, he’ll take that knowledge to the grave. Shroud’s resolve weakens and this allows Owl to dump Matt into a room of flames…
It does feel a bit weird to see Daredevil outside of New York, he’s become so attached to that location for so many decades, but change is good and taking Matt outside of his comfort zone works very well. That’s one thing that these first couple of issues have kept reminding us, that Matt is uncomfortable swinging his way around a new city, where the familiar smells and sights and sounds are missing and he’s not acquainted with it as he was in his old home. I think that being on the opposite coast is going to give Daredevil a chance to encounter a lot of new villains, there are those he’s been handling in New York for decades and he needs a new and different rogue’s gallery. In fact, I think that most of Marvel’s stable of heroes could use some shaking up now and then.
As with the previous series, Mark Waid takes up the writing chores and he’s doing an amazing job. I’ve always loved Mark Waid, you’d be hard pressed to find much that he’s written in his career that I haven’t enjoyed so it’s no surprise that, as much as I loved the last series, I equally love this one. My one sticking point, as some might assume, is the art. I’m just not a fan of a lot of the stylized artwork that some of Marvel’s comics are using recently. It’s not bad, I think Chris Samnee is a fine artist, it’s just not something that appeals to me personally. I much prefer more realistic artwork, but I’m not going to count the series down because of it. Overall, I love the book, I love the writing, I love the characters, there’s enough comedy in all the right places, enough action in all the right places and I couldn’t recommend the book more to anyone, Daredevil fan or no.