Mark Waid and Chris Samnee waste no time getting Matt Murdock back into action with the relaunch of their beloved “Daredevil” run, which picks up right where the last arc ended: with an outed Daredevil trying to settle down in San Francisco; of course, if by settling “settling down,” we mean Daredevil’s method of assisting and solving a kidnapping case. “Daredevil” #1 bursts back on the scene with a healthy dose of adrenaline, fun, and lively artwork, proving itself to be a great jumping on point for new readers while keeping the intense yet buoyant tone of its previous run.
(On a side note, I ended up showing the bulk of this issue to my blind roommate and he thought all the blind jokes were hilarious. Touche, Waid.)
In its debut issue, “Daredevil” manages to accomplish several important narrative feats: an appropriately slow build towards Murdock’s reveal, a quick but succinct recap of his life, an engaging action sequence, an emotionally-charged plot, and laugh out loud humor. However, although this is certainly enough to orient someone picking up the book for the first time, it doesn’t feel at all like a departure from the other run, in that the book maintains its former atmosphere and builds upon Waid and Samnee’s last arc. This balance does great credit to Waid for his phenomenal use of pacing; the book gets more and more intense with every panel, propelling the reader toward the issue’s effective and satisfying climax. What’s more, he manages to incorporate a twist that is truly shocking, regardless of meticulously he set it up.
Despite the plot’s mounting ferocity, Waid works in well-timed humor to keep the story light and fun. A lot of this humor falls back on his conversations with his partner, Kirsten McDuffie; the two characters have fantastic chemistry that evolves out of their conversational banter, even though the two aren’t even in the same room for the bulk of the issue. Additionally, McDuffie provides a natural outlet for Murdock to vent his frustrations with his unfamiliarity of San Francisco. Indeed, without their hilarious back-and-forth, a good half of the book would have been far less engaging.
Samnee’s style continues to be eye-catching and atmospheric in all the best ways. However, in this particular issue, it’s the full page scenes that truly wow. The first two pack in a lot of information, both narratively and visually; the first, providing slick exposition on Daredevil with his figure in the foreground and a detailed wheel of events in the background, and the second, developing how Murdock “sees” New York by layering Daredevil’s vision over key sections of the city. Samnee does an incredible job capturing Daredevil’s senses; working with a protagonist that can’t rely on sight, he manages to pin down the complexity of Murdock’s superpower in this particularly visual medium with stunning clarity. He also slips humor into the story with subtle cues, such as Daredevil’s audacious wink to his assailant and his reactionary facial expressions. Likewise, Javier Rodriguez lends the book a great favor with his vivid red and purple overtones; it’s truly his coloring skill that really brings to life the bizarre, extraordinary way that Murdock’s senses work.
Fans need not fear: “Daredevil” continues to be one of Marvel Now’s most vibrant, spectacular books. With distinct symmetry between Waid’s writing and Samnee’s art, this issue comes together in a burst of thrilling sensation. “Daredevil” #1 is storytelling at its finest.