The Good: Beats me . . . concept?
The Bad: Weak prose, Light on character development, Story does not resonate.
The Basics: Daredevil: The Cutting Edge is a pretty shoddy novel that pits Daredevil against a corporate villain that is more conceptually interesting than the execution.
As my Daredevil Year continues, I find myself strangely bored with the Marvel superhero Daredevil. While the graphic novels I’ve read of late have been marginally interesting, none have truly captured my imagination the way many of the graphic novels I was reading last year did. But, just like during my Wonder Woman Year, my Daredevil Year has yielded a novel about the superhero. Last year, I was subjected to Wonder Woman: Mythos (reviewed here!). This year, I was shocked to discover there was something even worse in Daredevil: The Cutting Edge.
Daredevil: The Cutting Edge is a novel that is set in the Marvel superhero universe with Daredevil as its protagonist. Under the pen of Madeleine E. Robins, Daredevil does not grow, change, develop or even have a particularly interesting adventure, which begs the question of why the conglomerate of publishers needed to put this book out even bothered. This is not to say that I do not enjoy a good mystery or a story where the protagonist does not develop much; Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice (reviewed here!) and my appreciation of it illustrates that. But the difference between Robins and Pynchon and their respective stories is all the difference.
In Hell’s Kitchen (New York City), Matt Murdock is asked to look in on a man accused of vandalizing a RenanTech office. He easily determines that the man did not do what the security of the firm claims he did and in his pursuit of common justice, he finds himself going toe to toe with Quayle-Partido Financial. The developers are moving in on a pretty sizable chunk of real estate in Hell’s Kitchen and are muscling the residents out in order to secure the land cheaply. Matt finds himself in conflict with the ambitious and manipulative Belinda Quayle, who has big plans within the firm.
While the lawyer struggles with beating back the incursion into his community, his alter-ego, Daredevil, goes to the streets to rescue citizens who are being attacked by a new adversary. The Cutter is so nicknamed because of how he slices up his victims and the fear he is creating on the streets is only rising. Daredevil quickly discovers that this new villain is one that he might be powerless to stop as his radar sense does not accurately read the Cutter’s location. As Daredevil tries to formulate a plan to stop the villain who is not all he appears to the blind superhero, he begins to find connections between the assaults on the street and the machinations of the corporate boardroom.
Unfortunately for readers, Daredevil: The Cutting Edge is much stronger on the concept than the execution. The story meanders and includes an inordinate amount of melodrama between Matt Murdock and Karen Page. Their relationship reads like a soap opera in this volume and a particularly poor soap opera at that. So, on the humanizing element Robins fails. The reader is not at all invested in the protagonist.
The lack of investment is particularly troubling because the book is written to appeal to fans of Daredevil, but includes so much backstory about Daredevil that new readers can get right into the book. But the problem is, the readers most likely to enjoy the story are ones who know that Daredevil is a blind superhero with a radar sense and how he fights crime, much like Batman in the big city. The reiteration of the basic characterization throughout the book comes off as filler and it slows down the narrative.
This leaves the plot of Daredevil: The Cutting Edge to engage the reader and, unfortunately, it does not. Because the reader gets – very early in the book – conversations where Belinda mentions her pet project, it is no surprise that the Cutter, RenanTech and Quayle-Partido are all related. The process by which Daredevil discovers the relationships is more tedious than intriguing.
Moreover, the writing is not thrilling and the fight scenes leave the reader more in the dark than feeling like they are witnessing the conflicts. Bland characters, stilted fights and a mystery that is pretty much explained on the back of the book make Daredevil: The Cutting Edge a novel worth passing by.
For other science fiction, fantasy or super hero books, please check out my reviews of:
Star Trek Avenger by William Shatner
Neuromancer by William Gibson
The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.