It might seem strange to many that Daredevil is being “Reborn” so soon after hosting an event without without even dying, and you’d be right to question the existence of this comic. Andy Diggle is adding a violent coda to his “Shadowland” tale by ending his run with Matt Murdock on the run. Of course, crooked cops from a small town have a secret they’re willing to kill to hide.
The story moves along in this issue, so that should be applauded. However, where it moves doesn’t exactly make for sterling comics. Everything feels like you’ve remotely been there before. There’s a wash of generalization and cliche on every surface and person. There is one moment, however, that is of note because it’s possibly the best call back to “Shadowland” to be in a comic yet. While fighting some crooked officers of the law, they mention that Murdock doesn’t want dead cops on his hands. This causes Murdock to flee the scene; Clearly, a nerve is touched. This moment proves Diggle knows how to put emotion into a scene. Unfortunately, he doesn’t replicate this level of nuance anywhere else.
My main gripe with Diggle’s run on this character has been his inability to write the character from the inside, something that is nearly always used so effectively for Murdock. Diggle mentioned this was on purpose throughout “Shadowland” to keep the Beast aspect uncertain. When this mini launched, one of the big reveals was the return of the internal monologue. Here, Diggle keeps the flow of thoughts for one page and one panel. Then he’s back to a silent hero with muddied motivation and actions.
I understand we are supposed to care about this new blind boy character that is forcibly shoved in our faces. I just don’t understand how that’s supposed to happen when he’s just one of the more unseemly moments in “Forrest Gump’s” origin slopped over a steaming “My Name Is Earl” base. Read those pages with the thick Jaime Pressly accent and tell me it’s not bad dialogue. It’s rarely consistent and it hasn’t seen subtlety since 1963.
Davide Gianfelice is a great choice for the style and setting of this book. His deeply set, sketchy lines make this book feel like it’s on the peripheral of the Marvel U. This world is a little more ugly and weathered than any locale within New York City. It’s a shame that he then draws one of the worst Matt Murdocks, purely because of the disastrous beard. If you can overlook that one monstrosity of Amish proportions then you’ve got plenty of great art to appreciate.
This doesn’t feel like a classic, or even good, Daredevil story in the making, even if it is building to Murdock getting back in the horns – something I’m sure Diggle will save for a majestic reveal. Also, don’t be fooled by the fact this is better than “Shadowland,” maybe, and so mistake it for a return to form. This comic is closer to a bad episode of “Walker: Texas Ranger” than it is any of the classic Daredevil runs throughout history. Hyperbolic stereotypes and tropes might play for some but others will see the airy thinness of the tale and the shallow characterization and wonder why they’re supposed to care at all.