Mark Waid’s run on “Daredevil” revitalized the character, taking him out of the shadow of Frank Miller and re-examining his powers using artists who can offer fresh, original visuals. However, “Daredevil Annual” #1 isn’t by Mark Waid or his collaborators. It’s by Alan Davis, who has written and drawn this comic as the second in a series of annuals featuring his own Marvel-owned creations, the ClanDestine. Unfortunately, the results aren’t really up to the standard of the parent series. In fairness, few books can reach the standard of Waid’s “Daredevil” at all, but does this annual work on its own terms as a stand-alone feature-length Daredevil story set against, rather than as part of, the parent title’s run?
Again, not really. Davis frames the issue as a night in Daredevil’s life as his patrols criss-cross events involving the various members of ClanDestine, but these characters aren’t half as interesting to the readers as they are to Davis and the story itself never really transcends that hook. Even an appearance by Doctor Strange does more to confuse rather than enhance, not least because such overt mysticism feels out of place in a modern Daredevil story.
It’s unquestionably an out-dated and technically average piece of writing, but Davis’ artwork is worth viewing, with a classic, sleek appearance and detailed environments. It’s a shame that Rodriguez’s coloring is also a little uninspired. Good enough, but never great. It’d be interesting to see how a slightly heavier stylistic approach might be able to transform Davis’ rather dated visuals into something more modern. As it is, it just looks like a decent Alan Davis comic and we’ve already got decades’ worth of those.
Ultimately, it’s hard not to find this a little forgettable. Perhaps fans of ClanDestine will get a lot from the appearance of these seldom-used characters, but ultimately it feels like Daredevil — and the readers — have taken second place to their appearance. There isn’t a satisfying story here, nor is there a solid enough hook to justify following it into the “Wolverine Annual,” as is the intention.
Perhaps “Daredevil Annual” #1 is merely suffering from its role as the middle part of a trilogy. Perhaps the standards of Waid’s run are just impossible to live up to. In any case, there’s nothing here that justifies a feature-length story or the extra cost of such. Only die-hard completists and ClanDestine enthusiasts need apply.