It’s not uncommon for people to claim that Matt Murdock is the Marvel Universe’s foremost “player” with the ladies. Clearly it’s a concept Brubaker is comfortable with, as this issue sees Matt add another notch to billy club in the form of Dakota North.
While the sexual tension between the characters comes almost from nowhere, it feels immediately believable under Brubaker’s skilled writing, and seems like fairly natural progression of the story. With Matt’s wife Milla still a presence in the book (if not actually appearing) it plays directly into the Catholic guilt that is such a large part of Matt’s portrayal.
The appearance of Lady Bullseye adds just the right external element to counter-balance Matt’s soap opera personal life. Brubaker sensibly opts to give us little ambiguity in her origins and methods, rather than draw out a mystery that could yield no satisfying answer. With Bullseye tied up (often literally) in “Thunderbolts,” her appearance provides a credible threat on a similar level, without being too close a character.
Marvel are pushing this new arc as a jumping-on point for the character, and if the quality of the first issue is anything to go by, they’ve made a good decision doing so. For the first time in a while, it feels like a clean break from what has come before. There’s a greater focus on actual superheroics than the title has seen in some time, with cameos from Iron Fist, and a plain-clothes Matt leaping into action.
Clay Mann fills in for Michael Lark as penciller, and while Gaudiano’s inks and Hollingsworth’s colors keep the look quite consistent, there’s a definite, welcome change in the artwork — not because Lark is flawed in any way, but simply because Mann’s take is an interesting, previously unseen one, full of beautiful imagery and choreography.
The first couple of years of Brubaker’s run on “Daredevil” felt largely like fallout from Bendis’ epic tenure, so it’s both surprising and pleasing to see that this one issue appears to define, quite quickly, a new (if not radically different) tone for the series which makes the series feel, for the first time in a while, like Brubaker has plans to leave his own distinctive mark on the series, rather than just end up as the footnote that followed Bendis.