It has been barely a year since I read my first Daredevil comic, the first arc of Mark Waid’s series on the title that recently ended and was relaunched for All-New Marvel NOW!. I read it for an online course on gender in comics that I did last year and it proved to be quite a bit of fun. I’m familiar with the character through some of his animated appearances, and the Ben Affleck-starrer movie of course, but I still don’t know a whole lot about him. He’s a very interesting character though, one of the very first disabled superhero characters I believe (I could be wrong on this), and that’s a big part of his charm as well.
Daredevil #1.50 is an anniversary issue commemorating 50 years of the Man Without Fear. It seems like a lot of characters are celebrating anniversaries recently, and just as with all the others, Marvel has done something special. Although this issue is extremely oddly numbered (in keeping up with Marvel’s trend of other such weird numberings of late), the stories inside are truly something else. The first one is a Matt Murdock of the future, another features Mike Murdock, and then we have a tease for the upcoming Elektra. The art in all of them is pretty damn good, and so are the stories.
First of all, that cover is really good. It shows all the different variations of Daredevil’s costumes over the years and how he has been drawn by a number of different artists. It is a really nice composition overall, and I really like it, with all the different styles mixed in and all the different creators credited all over the image, and sometimes you have to go read the fine print as well. I love covers like this, they are really something else I feel.
The main story in this issue deals with a 50-year old Matt Murdock; it takes up the bulk of this issue and it shows a married Matt who has long given up his Daredevil identity, and who now has a kid of his own as well. Mark Waid’s story here deals with the legacies of fathers as we see the relationship between Matt and his son, and also get some commentary on how Matt’s relationship was with his own father. This is a very heartfelt story, deeply emotional that deals with issues of family and going to any lengths to save your family. Mark Waid is one of the best writers in the business right now and this story proves just why that is.
Then we have an expository first-person story by Brian Michael Bendis which shows how Stana Morgan met Daredevil and then later married Matt Murdock. It is a fairly-faced paced story that covers a lot of ground and brings the reader to speed on the context for Mark Waid’s own story, in a nice bit of tie-in, which I really liked. The story is less visual and more words, which again offers a nice counterpoint to everything else in this issue.
After that we have another short story, by Karl and Kurt Kesel, covering some time from Matt’s days as Daredevil when he invited a twin for himself, Mike Murdock, to throw people off his own scent. Instead of Matt Murdock as Daredevil, we had his twin brother Mike Murdock who publicly came out as the costumed, disabled hero. This was a very self-indulgent story in that the Kesels write something with a ton of humour and the character himself knows that what is happening is all humour. This was an odd but fun piece.
Finally we had a splash page story that introduces us to the new Elektra as she’ll be in her upcoming solo book. It is a brief intro though, just something to get you excited, and that’s it. But I liked it. It is a nice teaser and is an approach that I wouldn’t mind seeing again at some pint in the future.
The main story is illustrated and coloured by Javier Rodriguez along with inker Alvaro Lopez and letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna. Javier is part of the current Daredevil creative-team and it is nice to see that kind of continuity here. If there are any words to describe Javier, Joe and Alvaro’s work they are “breathtakingly gorgeous”. Every panel, every page, is pretty much a masterclass in visual storytelling. The big page in the beginning with an overwhelming majority of the citizens of San Fransisco walking around blind is perhaps the best page in the entire issue, excepting of course for (I believe) Mike Del Mundo’s Elektra splash-page at the end. Can’t wait for that comic! Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth do the art for Brian Michael Bendis’ story and that is largely a noir-inspired simple visual design that seems to rely heavily on the inks and colours to do its job. I didn’t like it quite as much as some of the other art in this book, but it was all still fairly good. And then finally we have the Kesels returning for the illustrations on their story with inks by Tom Palmer and colours by Grace Allison. Some of the characterwork in this story was a bit weak and the reds and blacks on Daredevil’s costume flowed together too much so that it was tough to make out is details, but this was a fun visual too overall.
Taken all together, Daredevil #1.50 proved to be quite a satisfying story. It doesn’t do anything major, but it offers up some nice cool-down moments and serves well to introduce the character and a measure of his supporting cast as well. If nothing else, get this issue for the awesome artwork alone.