Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Resurrecting Vigilante Heroes: Daredevil Reborn

The Good: Decent story, Good character arc
The Bad: Painfully predictable, Artwork is blasé
The Basics: After Shadowland, the return of Matt Murdock to form comes in Daredevil Reborn, which is a pretty necessary (though unincredible) arc.

Back in the day, I had a brief time managing a comic book shop. That wonderful few months came during my Daredevil Year. I was quite a few issues back at the time, so I did not actually know how Shadowland was resolved when I was selling issues of Daredevil Reborn. So, there was a nice sense of nostalgia for me today as I picked up and read Daredevil Reborn. Daredevil Reborn was a pretty necessary story considering that the vigilante crossover event following Civil War focused on Daredevil. The storyline was Shadowland and unlike a number of major crossover events, Shadowland did not try to fake out readers by leading to the death of the protagonist. Instead, Shadowland left Matt Murdock a broken man, fleeing Hell’s Kitchen and leaving the vigilante superhero community in a lurch.

Daredevil Reborn is the necessary return story of Matt Murdock to the role of Daredevil. While Black Panther was in New York City assuming the responsibilities of Daredevil, Matt Murdock disappeared from the superhero radar. Daredevil Reborn fills in the blank of how Murdock would be going from afraid of himself and refusing to continue his vigilante activities to return to the work of being Daredevil, as fans of Marvel Comics would expect. Unfortunately, while the business sense of continuing Daredevil as a monthly comic book made sense, the story of Daredevil Reborn is a pretty obvious one. While it is good, it lacks sophistication, depth or subtlety. The graphic novel is just an explanation story that makes a sensible character arc without incredible lines, artwork or complications.

On the road for weeks, Matt Murdock ends up in the American Southwest where he walks through the desert. At the other side, he finds a tiny, burned-out town. There, the local thugs kick the crap out of him and Murdock is surprised when the Sheriff, Cole, refuses to help him. Told to get out of town the by the next morning, Murdock is hunted by two cops. After discovering a mass grave near the town, Murdock is captured by Cole and his flunkies. Cole is working for a mysterious gangster named Calavera, who has him smuggling guns.

Escaping using the illicit weaponry, Murdock muscles his way into meeting Calavera. Calavera is more than just rumored to tear out his victims’ souls. When Murdock encounters him directly, he is given the chance to look into his own soul where he wrestles with all he has done and all that was done to him. Refusing to accept Calavera’s comparison of him to Bullseye and mentoring a young blind boy in the town, Murdock finds the strength to return to New York.

Daredevil Reborn is a very basic story. The inclusion of the boy Murdock protects is an interesting angle that makes Daredevil Reborn more than just a typical “defeat the villain” story. The four-issue book has Matt Murdock being both spiritually and professionally reborn. But Daredevil Reborn is nothing more than the very basic story; Murdock is not given the chance to reflect on the magnitude of his possession in Shadowland. He just stops running in Daredevil Reborn.  Moreover, the character arc is not exceptional; Murdock empathizes with a blind child and wants to get back into righting wrongs in the world.

The artwork in Daredevil Reborn is mediocre. Matt Murdock and all of the other characters are very squarely drawn. Davide Gianfelice creates a Daredevil book that looks much more like a colorized version of The Walking Dead than Daredevil Reborn. Usually, Daredevil books use the muted colors in the artwork as a commentary on the City and Daredevil’s role in Hell’s Kitchen; in Daredevil Reborn, the book just looks sloppy, but brightly colored.

Ultimately, Daredevil Reborn is good, but not timeless or absolutely incredible or complicated.

For other Daredevil books, please check out my reviews of:
The Essential Daredevil Volume 1
Daredevil Vs. Bullseye
Daredevil: Visionaries Volume 1 - Frank Miller
Marked For Death
Born Again
Typhoid Mary
Guardian Devil
Parts Of A Hole
Daredevil: Yellow
Daredevil: Father
Batman/Daredevil - King of New York
Daredevil Noir
Daredevil: Golden Age
The Devil: Inside And Out, Volume 1
The Devil: Inside And Out, Volume 2
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 1
Daredevil: Hell To Pay - Volume 2
Lady Bullseye
Return Of The King
Daredevil: Shadowland
Daredevil: The Official Comic Adaptation


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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