God bless Chip Zdarsky. When so many modern mainstream comics are content to jingle shiny keys in our faces, Zdarsky has already proven to be a breath of fresh air. When you read one of his comics, you’re not just getting a “superhero comic” — you’re getting a solid story, period.
There’s a lot to unpack in Daredevil #1, even by first issue standards. First issues always have a lot of heavy lifting to do. They need to establish the lead, side characters, themes, and tone. Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto do that and more, jumping through time and narrative threads with ease.
Charles Soule left Matt in a horrible accident, and Zdarsky takes that nugget and runs with it. Like the season 3 pilot of the Netflix show, we see a Matt Murdock struggling to physically recover, as well as deal with his resentment of god and need(?) for violence.
Ever since Frank Miller, Daredevil has been a title where writers could use the titular anti-hero as a springboard for a multitude of themes. He may be relatively new to writing comics, but Zdarsky is exceedingly smart about using Daredevil to his full potential.
Also like the Netflix show, this issue jumps back in time to parallel young Mattie with the current iteration, revealing the penchant for “justified” rule breaking runs through the man’s entire life.
Here’s where things get a little more complicated. To establish these themes, Zdarsky has his characters clearly enunciate the moral quandaries in borderline stilted dialogue. Should I severely dock this issue for that? Well, to be honest (and I feel the same way about Zdarksy’s first issue of Invaders), I’d rather have slightly clunky dialogue to establish themes than none at all.
Too many writers these days are attempting to resurrect ’90s excess, validating every skeptic about the trashy nature of mainstream fodder . So when a comic like Daredevil #1 comes along, I welcome its sincerity. The emotion on display here is completely sincere. And in today’s post-modern, ironic culture, stabs at pathos are nice to see.
I feared Marco Checchetto’s art might be too clean for this title, but he’s a stunning fit. His figures embody a sexy confidence, even when they’re emoting fear. His backgrounds are tightly controlled, with just the right amount of details to give a strong sense of the surroundings without going overboard.
There’s so much more to talk about. The ingenious tie-ins to Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s Daredevil The Man Without Fear, the introduction of Detective Cole North, and the game-changing ending. Needless to say, you get your money’s worth with this introduction.