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Underrated: Daredevil: No Devils, Only God

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event Daredevil: No Devils, Only God

Daredevil is one of those characters that I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t really delved into his history and stories on a consistent manner – the one miniseries I own is Daredevil: End Of Days, which is good, but probably not a solid indication as to what to expect when starting to get into the character. Indeed, most of my exposure to Daredevil probably comes from the Netflix TV show rather than the comics, and so I didn’t delve into this run for quite some time – it wasn’t until a couple of friends effectively forced me to read it that I finally did (and if you listen to Those Two Geeks, you’ll know Joe has been insisting I read this for awhile).

As I said, the Daredevil I’m most familiar with is the one from Netflix, and so for me this was a perfect starting point. No, I had no idea what came before – and it didn’t really matter – but the series, written by Chip Zdarsky, seems to be geared toward those more familiar with the live action series rather than with a deep knowledge of the character. Again, I could be wrong, and maybe the comics had been more closely aligned to what I’m familiar with before the first issue of Zdarsky’s run.

So welcome to the second part of my read through of Zdarsky’s Daredevil. I’m told it’s excellent as far as Daredevil comics go, and while I can’t speak to that, I can say that I didn’t want to stop reading after the final issue in this volume to write this column.

No Devils Only Gods, drawn by Lalit Kumar Sharma (issues 6-9) and Jorge Fornes (issue 10) and coloured by Jay Leostan (issues 6-9) and Jordie Bellaire (issue 10), picks up where Know Fear left off with Matt Murdock having hung up the mask and focusing on his normal life. The snyopsis for the arc, taken from Comixology, reads “the Man Without Fear is missing! Daredevil has disappeared from Hell’s Kitchen — and in his absence, the real devils are starting to come out to play. Detective Cole North may think he’s stopped Daredevil, but there are bigger problems coming his way! Meanwhile, Matt Murdock has emerged from his recent ordeals a changed man — but has he changed for better or worse? As he faces up to the choices he has made, Matt grapples with who he is and who he wants to be. Can he truly live a life without the suit?”

Zdarsky uses this arc to explore what happens after a hero hangs up the mask. What happens when he still has the drive to do the right thing, but doesn’t want to be the vigilante he once was? We see Matt Murdock questioning his faith quite a lot over the course of this arc, and as in life, he never gets an answer. Rather, he has to look for and interpret the signs he sees around him to find the answer he seeks, much as I imagine you would do in your daily life if you were going through the same crises of faith (as an atheist, this was an interesting part of the story to read, because while I couldn’t relate on a spiritual level, it did resonate to me on a mental health scale as I’ve had some skirmishes with depression over the last couple of years).

It’s the internal conflict and struggle that really elevates this chapter in Zdarsky’s run, because there’s very little Daredevil appearances in costume, and I think the arc is stronger for that. There’s no clear cut ending to this arc, either, with Zdarsk’s writing leaving you in a moment where you’re not sure if the chapter is over or if you should be picking up the next issue – it’s a very fitting ending for a story that doesn’t offer any black and white answers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got the next volume of this underrated gem to check out. Whether Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil will be held in the same esteem as Bendis, Nocenti and Miller, well only time will tell. But I bloody love it.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.