Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 Puts Matt Murdock In Prison And Foggy Nelson In The Ground!

The Good: Decent story, Good artwork, Most of the character elements
The Bad: Not the whole story, Foggy Nelson subplot is not written convincingly enough.
The Basics: Returning to Daredevil, I discover Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 is an engaging superhero story.

Having had some time today to read new (to me) graphic novels, I had a chance to return to my Daredevil Year in style. I found Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1, which would continue the story from a point my Daredevil Year had, before now, been neglectful of. Curious about the Marvel Civil War arc, Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 fills in Matt Murdock's role in part of that crossover and it stands up remarkably well on its own. Lauded as the start of writer Ed Brubaker's run on Daredevil, Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 is a compilation of comic books that follow half of Matt Murdock's incarceration for the vigilante actions he took as Daredevil.

Remarkably easy to follow, Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 does not require much of a previous knowledge of Daredevil comic books. Brubaker has a decent understanding of Matt Murdock and his role in the Marvel Universe and the only real initial gripe I had with the book is that Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 is not the entire story of Matt Murdock's incarceration. Having found both Volume 1 and Volume 2 today, the story could easily have been told in one larger volume, but Marvel opted for greed as opposed to the full story by making two comparatively more expensive volumes.

Matt Murdock is in prison, awaiting trial for the crimes he might have committed as Daredevil. Even so, the vigilante is holding things together while incarcerated and denying that he was Daredevil. That assertion is made easier by well-publicized articles in the Bugle that have Daredevil on the outside still fighting crime. Kept in solitary confinement for his own protections, inmates like Wilson Fisk and others continue to fight amongst themselves, knowing that Murdock is nearby. But while Foggy Nelson uses his clout to keep Murdock out of the general population, a note makes Murdock believe that Nelson's life is in jeopardy. Helpless to save him, Foggy Nelson is killed while leaving the prison.

With Foggy dead, Murdock is moved into the general population and there he is attacked by the criminal who had been The Owl back in the day. Easily thwarting him, Murdock looks for a way out while on the outside Daredevil tries to keep Hell's Kitchen from falling to organized crime. When an opportunity arises, Murdock is in a place to exploit it and discover who has taken up his mantle while he has been on the inside.

Daredevil: The Devil, Inside And Out - Volume 1 succeeds for the most part because of the interesting characters and the great artwork. More than any full Daredevil volume I have read of late, this book actually has impressive and consistent artwork. Michael Lark has sharp lines and realistic coloring that is dark and faded, creating a dingy look that makes prison seem grim and real. Matt Murdock is now a depressed-looking man in a prison cell who does not have the means to calculate his way out of his predicament and with the loss of Foggy Nelson, he is left without a panel where he smiles. For a character who is blind, Lark is one of the few artists to present Murdock as a visually interesting man without much in the way of an emotive core to his visualization. Murdock looks depressed, but he is still interesting to watch panel to panel in this book. Lark gets a decent depth to the artwork that few other Daredevil artists ever have.

Ed Brubaker has a decent start with Daredevil with this book. The Devil, Inside And Out has Matt Murdock as a fully realized character, attempting to understand the full weight of the consequences of the way he has lived his life up until now. What reads in Brubaker's voice for Murdock as very true is the way Murdock continues to deny his involvement as Daredevil, while still bristling that there is a Daredevil still out on the street.

Where Brubaker falls down is with the death of Foggy Nelson. Foggy Nelson has been around since the very beginning and when Kevin Smith killed off Karen Page, a year of subsequent comics had Murdock dwelling on that murder. Matt Murdock was mired in loss and in The Devil, Inside And Out the death of Foggy Nelson is not treated with a similar weight. That was a glossing over of Matt Murdock's character that does not read as true. Similarly, Murdock shows a decent level of trust in his new lawyer after Foggy's death, which does not seem right for a character who is usually so paranoid.

Even so, Volume 1 is an interesting start to the story and the idea of so many characters converging on Matt Murdock in disbelief of his blindness and his denials of his status as Daredevil makes for a surprisingly strong character study that Brubaker succeeds with. There is certainly enough to make readers want to see what comes next, even if it is not as compelling as this setup.

For other Volume 2 Daredevil books, please check out my reviews of:
Guardian Devil
Parts Of A Hole
Daredevil: Yellow
Batman/Daredevil - King of New York
Daredevil Noir
Daredevil: Golden Age
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 1
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 2
Daredevil: Shadowland


For other book reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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