(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Mark Waid
Pencils/Color by Javier Rodriguez
Inks by Alvaro Lopez
Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil has reached near legendary proportions; it is mentioned along with such names as Miller, Bendis and Brubaker. He has redefined the character for a new generation of readers; in fact hordes of new comers to Daredevil have been introduced to the Man Without Fear through Waid’s dynamic writing and are now delving deeper into the history of the character to discover some of those early iconic runs. Among a laundry list of changes to Matt Murdock’s status quo Waid has uprooted the lifelong New York resident and relocated the attorney and his partner, Foggy Nelson to San Francisco but dwarfing any other modification to Murdock’s existing state of affairs is that his long guarded secret identity is now public. In a dramatic courtroom disclosure, Murdock confessed from the stand that he is and has been for quite some time, the vigilante cum super hero known as Daredevil. This is the kind of game change event that Waid is known for and perhaps no one does it any better than the prolific scribe of such renowned fare as Kingdom Come, Superman: Birthright as well as legendary runs on The Flash, JLA, Captain America and Spider-Man, not to mention his creator owned titles such as Irredeemable and Incorruptible. Mark Waid is the consummate comic book writer because he is the consummate comic book fan; his knowledge of the continuity of both DC and Marvel is mythical. He handles these beloved characters with respect and imagination, always building the future on a firm foundation of the past.
The current run of Daredevil is no exception; Waid has taken what has come before and crafted engrossing stories that flow organically from Matt Murdock’s history, building on the events that have come to define one of Marvel’s most iconic characters. In this Original Sin related issue, Matt’s childhood takes center stage as the events of Original Sin have created fallout all through the Marvel Universe. Murdock begins to question his recollection of his father’s personality particularly his relationship to his mother and his treatment of her both physically and mentally. Could it be that Matt’s remembrance of his dad are flawed? Certainly there is something afoot, when he starts to dig deeper into the mystery surrounding his mother Matt discovers some legal irregularities in the treatment of three protesting nuns, one of whom is Sister Maggie.
Waid does such a fantastic job of pacing the narrative in this issue; the plot is engrossing but Waid’s precise timing and methodical building upon events deepens the intrigue and draws us that much deeper into the plot. Matt serves as his own advocate through much of the story, searching for answers to his own conundrum before becoming the proponent of Sister Maggie and her comrades. This could very well be my favorite issue of Waid’s run; its complex and multi-faceted, there is a lot going on here however Waid presents the premise clearly and doesn’t bog the story down with needless details, everything is pertinent to the plot. This is truly a solo mission for Matt who allows Waid to focus on the character and the task at hand; a streamlined cast, a hyper-focused protagonist on a single-minded mission and a mystery that deepens by the page, this is a perfect Daredevil story and I cannot wait for the next issue.
Series artist Chris Samnee is absent from this issue but fear not because Javier Rodriguez does a stunning job here calling to mind Romita Jr at times. Rodriguez turns in some seriously eye-popping panels and pages. His cinematic sense of storytelling is a perfect fit for Waid’s meticulously detailed mystery. The pace is rhythmic, there is a driving force to the tempo of this story that carries you through from cover to cover and Waid and Rodriguez takes you along with Murdock on this trek of discovery. It’s visceral, organic, and alive! The artwork is clean and precise yet there is a viable kinetic energy to the visual storytelling that is exciting and emotional. This is a perfect comic book True Believers.
Daredevil has long been one of my favorite characters, particularly because he has attracted so many great creators. Matt Murdock is a tragic hero, a man who has been dealt a tough hand but he plays it and finds ways to win. He is inventive, intuitive and imaginative, much like this current creative team. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez have created one heck of a comic book with this issue and I would make it a priority to grab a copy and enjoy it from cover to cover, speaking of which Chris Samnee does a fabulous job on the cover of this issue. It almost has an M.C. Escher-like feel to it in its repetitive approach, very dramatic imagery executed with precision and technical aplomb.
If you have been reading Daredevil since Waid took the reins you know that the book is consistently entertaining and visually stunning, this issue takes it up a notch. Don’t let the Original Sin banner on the cover scare you, if you haven’t been following the big event you can still enjoy this issue without missing a beat. (5/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.