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Review: Daredevil #1

The time honored rule that Daredevil is a sure bet to be a quality Marvel comic continues with his latest volume from Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho. Charles Soule’s previous run on Daredevil left him a mess as he recovered from being hit by a truck while he pushed a kid out of the way in a dark mirror of his Stan Lee and Bill Everett crafted origin story. Zdarsky and Checcheto’s Daredevil has lost a step and is taking more risks, such as casual sex with a side dish of almost torching buildings to stop shopliftters. And this is in a world where Wilson Fisk is mayor, and the NYPD has a new top cop that loves arrests, and collars, especially of vigilantes.

Marco Checchetto’s tortured artwork matches the plotline, and Sunny Gho spends a lot of time muting and keeping colors in the shadows even Daredevil’s red costume. The exception is the flashbacks to Matt’s visits to Mass as a boy because there’s a little light beaming through the windows. But Matt is in pain throughout Daredevil #1 as he writhes in bed, pops pain pills, hits the side of the rooftops he’s leaping, and has trouble with petty criminals, which is the sure sign of a rusty criminal.

And this rustiness doesn’t mix well with the fact that Zdarsky and Checchetto show that Daredevil enjoys beating on criminals. This is set up in the flashback when a priest tells a young Matt Murdock in a more professional/spiritual leader manner that it’s okay to break the law in the service of justice as long as he isn’t caught. This becomes a slippery slopes that starts at stealing back his friend’s baseball cards to beating men with his bare hands.

Zdarsky and Checchetto don’t rush these confession sequences showing Daredevil/Matt’s reactions to what he has done and giving the priest soliloquies. (The final one implies that Daredevil is playing God.) Even if he doesn’t even smell a church in the present day, Zdarsky and Checchetto do an excellent job of showing how Catholicism and an absent father influenced Daredevil. They craft scenes between the “big” events of young Matt’s life, namely, his accident and his father’s death that informs his character in the present day.

Although, Chip Zdarsky has written and/or drawn many comedic comics, like Sex Criminals, Jughead, and Howard the Duckhis fairly recent work for Marvel like Daredevil and Invaders has taken on a darker bent. Not in an edgy way, but in a “Never underestimate the propensity of humans to commit violent acts” way. Matt can be charming when he flirts with a stranger at the bar (Checchetto makes him quite attractive too), but all that charm is out the window as a red devil scampers the roof of Hell’s Kitchen purposefully putting himself on display to strike fear.

And this is where the arc title comes into play, “Know Fear”. Zdarsky and Checchetto have replaced the inward part of feeling no fear with the outward part of striking fear into everyone around Daredevil. He isn’t trying to sneak back into his life as life, but wants to make headlines even in a world where his worst enemy is the most powerful man in New York City. It’s the shadow child of the openly confident Daredevil of Mark Waid’s run. After what Daredevil went through at the end of Soule’s run and the tortuous Man Without Fear mini, it’s an earned darkness.

Daredevil #1 concludes its powerful exploration of Daredevil’s use of violence and life after a dangerous accident with Chip Zdarsky written and drawn backup story that’s a real treat. It’s a bit of a riff on the hallway fight sequence from Marvel Netflix’s Daredevil where the hero successfully cares a child to safety while being involved in a single take fight scene. Zdarsky uses grids to keep up the rhythm of the fight as well as strategic uses of overwhelming lettering and claustrophobic panels to show how he sometimes overwhelmed by loud noises. The entire exercise shows that Zdarsky is a formalist with heart, who can get to the essence of an iconic superhero.

Daredevil #1 is the dark, tortured, Old Testament God take on the Man without Fear that we deserve from Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho. You should read this comic instead of signing those silly petitions to bring the Netflix show back.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Marco Checchetto
Colors: Sunny Gho Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.8 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review