There are characters that are bright and hopeful like Spider-Man or Captain America, and then there are darker, more brooding heroes like Daredevil. He’s a character who has had a crisis of faith, a major handicap, and generally stayed in the shadows. It’s why Chip Zdarsky’s new series has flourished and found an audience and why the first issue of his run is collected in the Fearless Origins collection.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Here comes Daredevil…the Man Without Fear! Meet Matt Murdock, one of New York’s finest attorneys by day – and swashbuckling crimefighter by night! Discover the dark secrets behind Matt’s first days in the costume, as the man without sight became a man without fear – and one of the greatest heroes in comic history. Daredevil faces off against the Owl, the Purple Man and Mr. Fear for the first time…but it’s not how you remember it! Plus, Charles Soule puts Daredevil back in black in the first issue of his critically acclaimed, award-winning run!
Why does this matter?
Originally published as Daredevil Season One in 2012 this series written by Antony Johnston with art by Wellinton Alves was part of a line of graphic novels introducing readers to mainstay characters. Considering this is a good primer on the character it’s certainly a great way to enter Zdarsky’s series which is added to the back of this book.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I never read this story when it came out but maybe that’s because it was written for folks unfamiliar with the character. As it stands it serves as a good primer on the character, recapping his origin and giving readers a taste of what Daredevil was about when he was still rather new to the superhero thing. That means this version still has a very secret identity and continues to pretend he has no powers at all even with his closest friends. If you’ve never read Daredevil this is a fine start, plus it gives you the first issue of Zdarsky’s run so you can dive right into the current series.
A few things stood out while reading this. The first is the colorful characters Daredevil fights many of which don’t pop up anywhere else. Folks like the Owl, Killgrave, and the Matador all pop up to give Daredevil a run for his money. Another element is how Daredevil is honestly worried about how he’s perceived by the average joe. Early on Johnston introduces the idea that Spider-Man is much more famous and much more powerful. Later on Daredevil takes a licking and worries about how this will affect his image with the public, but also thugs. It’s an honest thing to worry about considering the fear he strikes in his enemies is so important. The third and final big takeaway is how this reads since it was written to be read in one sitting. There isn’t an episodic feel to this collection as when a potential cliffhanger drops the story simply keeps moving. It gives this book an interesting pace and makes it stand out as a longer taste of the character. There’s no recap either so it moves at a faster clip than most.
The art by Alves with inks by Nelson Pereira and colors by Bruno Hang is clean and well paced. It’s not hyper-detailed, but the layouts and framing always keep things moving. The style feels a bit like it’s for a younger audience too.
As far as Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto’s first issue Alex Curtis did a good job breaking it down. It drives home the pathos of Matt Murdock at a troubling time while establishing a conflict he may not be able to escape.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Two things stuck out as far as gripes, one of which is the simplistic way it portrays relationships. Again, it’s almost as if this was written for a younger audience. Foggy, for instance, doesn’t seem to be hitting it off with Karen (they certainly aren’t physical by any means) and yet he’s going to propose to her? What is this the 1920s? Then you have Daredevil, who out of the blue proclaims he’s already in love with Karen and from what we have to go on it’s only because she works with him and he saved her once. Grow up Matt!
The only other gripe is the art, which at times can be too simplistic, reducing the quality of the book to a more C-lister read. It’s not bad, but here and there it can look half-baked.
Is it good?
Marvel Comics had a good idea on their hands when it came to the Season One books and this one is no different. It does its job establishing the character and proving they’re well worth your time and energy. Daredevil has a ton of pathos to get through and plenty of colorful villains to beat up on to get there.