REVIEW: Daredevil Vol.1 Hardcover

Writer: Mark Waid

Artists: Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin

Publisher: Marvel Comics

By: John Gillooly

Tell any reader of Daredevil — from Frank Miller’s character defining run in the late 70’s all the way to last year’s psycho-Daredevil story “Shadowland” — that a book featuring a happy and optimistic Matt Murdock would be not just be a financial and critical success, but an almost unanimous book of the year for 2011, I’m sure that person would not believe you.

And yet, here we are in 2012 and it’s a new era, unlike any seen in Daredevil history. Our hero, Murdock, the blind lawyer by day, and vigilante by night, for once is letting loose and the results are probably one of the most entertaining super hero comic books in quite sometime.

Daredevil has never looked this happy, or been drawn this well, and it’s all thanks to the creative team of writer Mark Waid and his rotating art team of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Waid relaunched this book as part of Marvel’s highly publicized “Big Shots” initiative, stringing together big time creators with B-list titles. Knowing Daredevil to be a very noir, very dour book, it’s somewhat surprising to see a writer like Waid take on this project. After all, Waid is a guy who is known for his take on big shiny heroes like Captain America and Superman. But the match works surprisingly well, Waid is more than happy to get Murdock out of the shadows and into the spotlight, and seems to have a grip on continuity knots like his one-time devil possession and his somewhat outed alter-ego. Waid deftly handles these issues and weaves them beautifully into the story he wants to tell without feeling forced. Waid gets past some of the sadder supporting characters in Matt’s life, electing to only keep around Matt’s bumbling yet endearing law partner Foggy Nelson, and even gives the law office of Murdock and Nelson a new direction that works incredibly well for his situation.

Of course, the biggest reason to crow about this reboot is the just plain gorgeous art of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Rotating on different stories, both artists have similar pencil work, thus not making the book feel very jarring, but both bring special strengths that make their respective stories a complete treat. Rivera brings such an emotionally expressive look to his characters, unlike much I have seen before in comics. Just seeing Daredevil/Murdock smile is such a treat — as he’s a man who has been frowning for decades.

This rendering of Murdock’s echolocation powers is probably the best I’ve ever seen in a Daredevil comic before. Martin is already known for his page and panel composition thanks to his previous years on Amazing Spider-Man, and he uses that talent in Daredevil in a special way. A two-page spread shows Murdock and Foggy as they walk through a block of New York, and he highlights all the noises and sounds Murdock process into his “sight” and it just pops off the page and needs to be seen to be believed.

I’ll be honest, I’m at a loss of criticism for this book. This comic is the complete package, likeable characters, enticing storyline, veritable villains and just some of the best art in modern day comic books. If you like comics or superheroes this is a must read, must buy for your collection.

Story 5/5
Art 5/5
Overall 5/5