Following the events of “Shadowland,” Matt Murdock has left Hell’s Kitchen – and Daredevil – behind. But as with all superheroes, he’s not out of costume for long before he stumbles across a good reason to get back into it. Andy Diggle, the latest Daredevil author and writer of “Shadowland,” teams with Davide Gianfelice for his swansong – and Matt Murdock’s as well?
Taking Daredevil out of costume and out of his usual setting gives us a chance to spend some time with Matt Murdock, the character, as he reflects on what happens next. It’s a particularly welcome approach, because “Shadowland” seemed like a Daredevil story that accidentally span out of control in an attempt to encompass the scale the story warranted. With the big events behind us, we can get back to the core of what Murdock has been through.
That said, as the start of the story, there are no big revelations regarding Matt’s feelings or status here. He’s just drifting through the backwaters, trying to make sense of his situation and come to terms with what he’s done. It has the feeling of a western, the 70s Hulk TV series, or even some of stories we saw following the “Lost Years” of Spider-Clone Ben Reilly: a mysterious, haunted stranger comes to town, and drama ensures. As a framework, that’s fine; We know what to expect, and Diggle can concentrate on the character journey as a result.
The artwork from Davide Gianfelice reflects such a Spartan approach to the story. The line work is tentative and tumultuous, the landscapes so desolate you half-expect dust to fall from the pages as you read. In these ways, the visuals perfectly evoke Murdock’s inner conflict in a way that the character’s stoicism alone wouldn’t. Gianfelice’s grasp of emotion and body language is perfect for such a story, and the final page leaves us with a classic image in the making. It’s a reminder that even without the costume, Daredevil and Murdock are never far apart.
We can reasonably assume that as a series, “Daredevil Reborn” will server two functions: an epilogue to the character’s current incarnation (which began with Kevin Smith and Marvel Knights all those years ago), and a prologue to whatever comes next. The afterword suggests that this is a “last” Daredevil story, but when the title contains the word “Reborn” it’s fair to suggest that he’s not going to be entirely off the table by the end of it.
Either way, it’s a strong start, and pleasingly character-centric following the wide strokes of “Shadowland.” Diggle’s run has had its ups and downs, but if the rest of Reborn is as good as this, it’s sure to end on a high note.