When people talk about the success of Marvel stuios in the past several years, they tend not to use Daredevil as an example of that success.
I liked that movie. I’m not defending it since it had numerous giant flaws, but I enjoyed it nonetheless . Daredevil is my favorite comic character you see. (After maybe Nightcrawler, but he is currently dead.)
I liked the Daredevil in the movie as he showed the aspects of the character I thought were my favorites. But lately the comic book has reintroduced some of the fun swashbuckliness to the Man without Fear and I am reevaluating what I like about him.
For those of you who don’t know, Daredevil is Matt Murdock. Lawyer by day and crimefighter by night. As a child, Matt saved a man from an onrushing truck filled with toxic waste. The waste spillage blinded him, but he found his other senses greatly enhanced and he is even able to use a 360 degree radar sense. Now he fights crime while swinging from buildings with his billy club.
Daredevil is a study in contrasting character elements that make no sense. That is the fun of the character. Let’s look at some of them: vigilante vs. lawyer, disabled vs. super-hero, blind vs. enhanced senses, religious vs. dresses like the devil. The most renowned storyline, Born Again, rationalized these contradictions by supposing that Daredevil is teetering on the brink of a mental collapse. Basically, when forced to confront both sides of his identity it forces Daredevil to to implode psychologically.
That has led to some pretty nifty stories in the 25 years since Born Again was published. But not a lot of fun stories. Before Born Again Daredevil was also known as the Crimson Swashbuckler. He had fun while fighting crime and often quipped in a similar fashion to Spider-Man. That aspect was not in the movie and only a few creators since Born Again have tried to show it again. Karl Kesel and Joe Kelly both tried it a little in the 90s, but after the reboot in 1998 to Marvel Knights it was almost entirely the tortured Daredevil.
In the last year Mark Waid has gone back to a lighter, funner Daredevil. Now, I’d say that most of the comics success is due to the awesome art, but in part it works because Waid makes the funnier Murdock work without sacrificing the paradoxical complexities of the character.
(A word on art – Marcos Martin is one of the best artists working in modern comics, IMO. I’d follow the book just for his art. Paolo Rivera is exchanging arcs with Martin and has upped his game to compete with his contemporary.)
So that is what we have now. All the complexity, add in fun and some of the best art of the over 500 issue run.
This book is currently kicking it. Yay!