It seems that every superhero has his or her own inner demons to wrestle with. Batman has the death of his parents. Superman his alien nature versus his love of humanity, Spider-Man his sense of duty to Uncle Ben, the list goes on. Daredevil, at least since Frank Miller reinvented the character, has been consumed with guilt.
For the last several years, the emotion of guilt has driven the man without fear to make all his decisions, both good and bad. The pinnacle of Daredevil’s choices came with the events of Shadowland, which, while not a great story, did rattle the crimson hero to his core. Since then, Daredevil has stepped back into his roll of Matt Murdock and, after leaving Hell’s Kitchen to Black Panther, is walking the Earth trying to leave his past behind him. It is like Marvel’s version of Kung Fu with David Carridine.
In Daredevil Reborn #1 we are brought into the new world of Matt Murdock several weeks into his soul searching journey. Again Matt Fraction is handling the writing and again it seems like what he is doing is just short of what he could be doing. Daredevil Reborn #1 is easily the most clichéd and formulaic comic I have read in a long time. The dark stranger blows into a troubled town and is chased out by redneck bullies and local lawmen that do not seem to be on the up and up? Really? That is what we have been given to kick off this new era of Daredevil, the formula to First Blood and Cool As Ice? There is even a blind kid that Murdock commiserates with, a kid who forces Murdock to ignore his desire to not play hero.
Fraction tries to shake the plot a bit by hinting that what is going on in the troubled town is sinister and bigger than just a batch of rednecks and pissy locals, but it does not work. The issue is simply a re-tread of every “loner in town” story from Shane to Pale Rider. Granted I do not know where this four issue series is going, or how it will effect Daredevil on the whole, but issue #1 is a lackluster piece of work that limps to the end as opposed to sprinting.
The worst part is I know Fraction is better than this, I have read work in his cache that is quite brilliant. I cannot believe that he opted to write this kind of story instead of digging deeper into the psychological scars that Murdock carries with him. Why is Marvel so scared to have Daredevil just go off the deep end and really challenge himself in his inner war between good and bad?
As for the art, well, I have had massive problems with Davide Gianfelice’s style for a long time now. The work he did for Wolverine Weapon X was just horrible, some of the worst art of 2010. The art for Daredevil Reborn is not as atrocious, but it is not very good. Gianfelice draws all of his characters as if they were about to melt into puddles of nothing.
Too many squiggly lines, too little definition and a love of bizarre angles combine to make Gianfelice’s pencils some of the most irritating to witness. They definitely do not do much to save the already ho-hum story being spooned out to us. If this is really the series that is going to be a massive rebirth of the Daredevil mythos, it is off to a pretty shoddy start.