“Chapter One: Fathers’ Day”
Writer: Joe Quesada
Artists: Joe Quesada (p) Danny Miki (i)
There’s a heatwave on the way in Hell’s Kitchen, a murderer on the loose, and Daredevil looks like he’s going to get caught up in it. And a lot more besides…
This comic hasn’t hit the newsstands yet (marvel.com has it listed for release this Wednesday), but - as part of an interesting marketing policy that Marvel is pursuing – the comic has been released online in its entirety. Don’t read on if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled…
The story begins with a monologue from a direct, first-person perspective which really lets us get inside Matt’s head. Along with the nostalgic, watercolour-effect artwork, the comic is reminiscent of Loeb and Sale’s excellent DD:Yellow series, giving it a high pedigree to live up to. As the story progresses, we get a quick recap of DD’s history which is more than a little influenced by the Frank Miller and Movie retellings, sometimes going to even greater lengths – Jack Murdock as a child-beater? – to convince us of the tough ride Matt has had in his life. Essentially, this first issue is a set-up: Longtime DD fans will find no surprises here, save for the effective and heartfelt prose which seems to cut to the heart of the character, especially in the opening prologue. Quesada sets the tone for the miniseries from the off: as the title implies, this is going to be an exploration of the concept of fatherhood. From here, the book proceeds to set up a good mystery – Matt’s new client that he feels like he’s met before (why wouldn’t his supersenses let him identify the “stranger”?), a character who seems to have his sights set on becoming Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, and a mystery killer on the loose.
I’m definitely a fan of the artwork in this book. The painted effect has been popularized recently by the likes of Loeb and Sale, along with Gabrielle Del’Otto’s excellent paintings and David Mack’s unique look that he has applied to Daredevil as well as Alias. Here the colouring is more subtle than many comics manage and even if the standard drops off by the time we get past the opening few pages there is enough on display here to please comic fans who buy for the art as much as for the writing. Quesada’s work here is more pleasing than his previous runs on Daredevil, and much of this can be putdown to the new “painted” colouring style. If there is any criticism, however, it is that his Daredevil is a steroidal hulk of a man who doesn’t even match up to his civilian identity’s bodyshape in this series, let alone the way DD appears in his own title. Some experimentation with a character’s look can be a good thing, but here DD looks almost deformed. It’s a minor criticism, and one that can be overlooked if the rest of the story proves to be up to scratch.
This book offers a more traditional portrayal of DD’s supporting cast than has been seen in his main title of late: the bumbling Foggy Nelson, the charming and well-balanced Matt as a lawyer as well as vigilante (an element that has been missing from the majority of Bendis’ run), and Hell’s kitchen as a steaming, urban pressure cooker of criminal potential. Some refreshingly adult moments are sneaked in (the final two pages are as explicit a sex scene as you’ll get in non-adult comics, even in Marvel Knights territory) and the storyline looks to explore a mature theme of fatherhood, with some nice parallels on the cards between Matt’s own father, the mysterious father of Maggie Farrell, and the father-son relationship between Nestor and Hector Rodriguez.
A promising set-up for a story which looks to take a markedly different tone to its main title counterpart, giving us a more straightforward DD tale which for the most part escapes the continuity shackles of Bendis’ run. Some beautiful artwork is matched with an interesting story, the strands of which will hopefully tie up well in future issues. I’ll definitely be picking this issue up: and for a comic which is published in full on the internet to also be worth a subsequent purchase is surely a stamp of approval.
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