Writer: David Hine
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Now since this is the first part of a Marvel miniseries, it has to follow Marvelís current editorial policy, which is that nothing at all must happen for four or five issues. So it pleases me no end that the creators have resisted thatÖ to a point. Itís still a bit slow, but some stuff does happen, and most importantly, we know what the bookís about by the end of the first issue. The key here is that the story is about a mystery, not that the story itself is a mystery. If anyone at Marvel is reading, please take notes.
Itís a good mystery too. Itís both a whodunnit and a didtheguytheythinkdunnitdoit, and there are big stinky chunks of ambiguity all over the place. Matt Murdock canít rely on his lie detector abilities due to the suspectís heart condition, and the suspect is belligerent and vague about the truth surrounding his crime, making things even more difficult for our hero. His mother, who initially calls Murdock in, also has a secret or two surrounding her, as does the mostly-unseen father. Personally, my guess is that the plot is going to mimic that of The Wicker Man (if youíve not seen it, then your filmic education is incomplete), but that might just be because both Hine and Gaydos do a very good job of making the mother come across as creepy. Iím a bit ashamed that most of this creepiness is conveyed via, and because of, her religious beliefs, but I put that down to pop culture brainwashing, so I suppose that I can only congratulate the creators on pushing those buttons and playing off those stereotypes.
At first, some of that stereotyping of the religious south seemed a bit heavy-handed to me, but I suspect that itís quite deliberate, and will actually be an important feature of the story to come. My guess is that such an emphasis on southern ďvaluesĒ is misdirection, but nonetheless, thereís a great deal of interest in seeing Daredevil, an urban Catholic, uprooted and plonked in the evangelical countryside, and I hope to see some of those tensions played up in future issues.
The visuals are wonderful; Michael Gaydosís art is perfectly suited to this dark and sinister tale, and itís good to see Lee Loughbridge on colouring duties, as his work is always marked by an intelligent compatibility with the tone of the book.
Not everything is so successful, however. Some of the symbolism and parallels used are as heavy-handed as I thought the stereotyping to be. The thematic links between the abused boy in New York who Daredevil couldnít help and the defenceless boy in Alabama who Matt Murdock might yet save are nice and neat, but theyíre also a bit obvious, and I would have preferred a bit of subtlety there. Iím also less than impressed with Hineís portrayal of Foggy Nelson in this issue. Foggy has his faults, but heís always tended towards the bumbling sidekick type, rather than the ignorant arsehole he comes across as here. I find it very hard to believe that anyone who so easily believes what he reads in the newspapers could be such a respected and successful lawyer; it strains belief and is a transparent and clumsy method of putting across the central dilemma that Murdock must deal with within himself.
That said, I enjoyed this issue a great deal, and rather more than I thought I would, too. Iíve got a couple of Frank Millerís issues, a handful of the Ann Nocenti/JRJR comics, and Kevin Smithís storyline, so Iím by no means an enthusiast, but this seemed like a pretty good Daredevil comic to me. In this issue we have an effective set up for a compelling mystery, and lots of interesting tensions and ambiguities. As long as Marvelís editorial department havenít kludged up the pacing of future issues, this could be a considerable success, and certainly proof enough that sometimes it is worth producing miniseries starring characters who already have their own ongoing title.
First off, I am not a big Daredevil fan. I got into Daredevil after the release of the Man Without Fear mini-series penciled by John Romita Jr. In fact, Iím interested in anything Johnny does! I even went back and bought the ďFall of the KingpinĒ and found the deep psychology something to be delighted in.
Well, I thought that the Redemption storyline would be at least something to read through and deeply contemplative, but I was sorely mistaken. I couldnít get past page 9. I found the artwork to be bland and distracting from whatever spark of story might have been present in this issue! Iím all for giving a story a chance, but Iím out for the rest of themÖ
Bottom line: poor artwork, uninteresting story, totally unappealing to meÖ.
I tried to read this comic, and maybe if I try again I might actually manage to get through to the end. I lost interest about half way through and itís not because the writing is bad (well it might be, I just ending up looking at the pictures), no Ė itís just the comic book presents something we have all seen before: Daredevil hitting his fist against a brick wall because a boy who he ďsavedĒ from his abusive father didnít want to be savedÖ droll. I do like the mystery that has been set up, but I question the reason why it is not set in New York. I also question the reasons for the mini series when there is so much going on in Daredevilís own title. Do we really need a mini series at the moment?
I like the art by Michael Gaydos, bold use of lines and shadows. There are some great atmosphere shots.
I didnít like the cover by Bill Sienkiewicz. I felt it was too wishy washy. The shoe was a nice touch though. The cover just doesnít match up with the interior art.
In a nutshell: Ö because I like the interior art. I am sure if I read the comic again I might get more from it, but on first reading not my bag baby!
Iíve been a big fan of Daredevil for a good few years now, so it was with interest that I picked up the first issue of this new miniseries. Michael Gaydos has done enough good work in the pages of Alias (and more recently Powerless, amongst other things) to make any comic featuring his work a definite worthy purchase, and he turns in more good moody work here. His work suits this more slowly-paced and talky style of story, as Ė truth be told Ė his action sequences face the same difficulties experienced early in the run of current Daredevil artist Alex Maleev: namely a stiffness and lack of kinetic energy that many superhero fights demand. However, the one sequence of a costumed Daredevil in action here is written as a stilted, uncomfortable encounter which owes a fair debt to a similar scene in the Daredevil movie, and so Gaydosís style works well. More notable are his renditions of Matt, Foggy and the new characters Ė all of which have a sense of realism and definite character to them (even if Matt does feel a bit like Bill Gates at times), and a lot of what we learn about the plot involving child murder and a group of (misunderstood?) satanists is carried by the visuals rather than the text. Itís effective art and if you like the dark, moody adult take of the current Daredevil then youíll probably find this an easy transition.
The writing, however, doesnít quite live up to the standards of the art. The concept of Daredevil seems lifted more from the movie than from his own title, and there are a few parts of the story that weíre expected to take for granted: why a woman from Alabama has come to New York to seek Mattís help specifically is never really explained, and the abandon with which Matt dons his costume in an unfamiliar locale is surprising for a superhero who wants to keep his alter ego under wraps. It also took me a second read to grasp the timeline of this issue, as whilst the look and tone of Matt, Foggy and the Nelson & Murdock offices feels very in keeping with current continuity, the book is actually set around seven years ago. These issues aside, I enjoy Hineís take on the concept of Matt as a lawyer as well as a superhero, and it looks like this series isnít going to shy away from exploring the shades of grey that are inherent in any legal system or moral issue. Thereís also a rounded representation of Hineís southern American characters, with murder suspect Joel Flood in particular sounding like a very real person talking, rather than the sort of walking clichť that the concept could have thrown up. The plot strand involving the boyís mother also takes a few unexpected twists, and Iím keen to see this develop in parallel with the story of Mattís defence of the accused child. The cliffhanger also sets up an interesting development in the plot, which (through the use of a convenient plot device regarding an irregular heartbeat) seems determined to keep us guessing as to the culpritís identity.
However, if it seems like Iím giving this issue a little more flack than it deserves in terms of my final score, then maybe itís because Iím becoming tired of the first-issue-syndrome that affects this sort of miniseries. Whilst I have no doubt that thereís a well-crafted larger plot being set up here, this issue doesnít exactly thrill me in its own right, although it crafts a good sense of atmosphere and intrigue. Iím sure itíll read well as part of the completed story (and eventual trade), but with another month from now until issue #2, ďRedemptionĒ hasnít totally grabbed me yet.
What did you think of this book?
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