My…it’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? For my first column back I thought I’d talk about something near and dear to my heart when it comes to comic books: Daredevil. The final issue of Daredevil Reborn dropped last week, and depending on your stance relative to a particular fence’s side, you either love or hate the Diggle run that culminated in last year’s “street level” crossover, Shadowland.
From the time the character was relaunched by Kevin Smith in the late 90s under the Marvel Knights banner, the book has consistently been tremendously successful and more importantly has been a great read. With writers ranging from Smith to Bendis and Brubaker to Diggle, the book has continued the long-standing Daredevil legacy of throwing everything at the (true) ‘Man Without Fear’ whilst having him come out on the other side standing tall in spite of it in the end. Those have been remarkable stories to have read, going as far back as the Miller runs with the original Elektra stories and Born Again. Last year though we saw the Murdock character reach the culmination of his road down a dark path as Diggle took Matt Murdock further than anyone ever had in killing Bullseye as violently as Murdock did; a hero committing murder in cold blood is rather taboo. Was the larger story damaged by the Beast’s possession of him? Yes and no. Murdock was responsible for the action itself nor has he been absolved of his crimes by himself or society in the slightest. I would also argue that the Beast character is a metaphor for the darkness in our hearts waiting to show itself with but a push. Shadowland in effect was a commentary on this, using Murdock as the tragic archetype in the scenario. Is the Beast dynamic a cop-out to a degree? Certainly. It’s still a great story regardless.
As Reborn wrapped we find Murdock coming to terms with his actions, but more importantly I feel his road to redemption began here. Despite being mentally shackled by the Beast, his true nature shone through in the end. He shows remorse for his actions and knows he should not be absolved of his crimes, but the heroic heart of the character burns bright in Diggle’s Reborn bringing the character back to basics in fighting for the disadvantaged who can’t defend themselves from run-of-the-mill hooligans and thugs. Here we find Murdock reborn as the resilient hero we know, additionally reminding us why we call him the ‘Man Without Fear’ in the series’ final confrontation.
Reborn was a bit of an oddity. It took a fallen hero and placed him into a small town setting on the other side of the United States where he rediscovers what it means to be a hero. That component of the journey was essential and although strange, I feel Murdock needed to be grounded in this way to bring him back to the mentality of why he dons the red tights. Even more importantly it highlights the point that no matter how hard we fall, it’s our responses that define who we are and the people we can become. Diggle’s run on Daredevil communicates this. Personally I enjoyed Andy Diggle’s run on Daredevil from start to finish. It is ultimately a complete story of a man’s fall and his re-ascension towards the man he can be. There’s no better story than that, and I don’t feel Mark Waid will be able to do the character justice in this regard. Diggle left larger shoes to fill than mainstream comic fans are giving him credit for.
Agree? Disagree? The comments section is below.
Until the next episode,
Over and out.
I have heard mixed reviews on the Shadowland story arc. I was thinking of picking it up, since Daredevil is becoming one of my favourites. Like everybody, I love Born Again and Kevin Smith’s initial Marvel Knights run.
After reading your “Pro Diggle” article, I think I will pick up Shadowland, and grab Reborn when a collected edition comes out.
If you do, pick up the Shadowland and Daredevil trades as they’re the most important to the story. As for the tie-ins, go with what interests you. The best tie-in though as far as I’m concerned was the Elektra one-shot. The rest are okay to fill out the story, but I feel like the Elektra story is essential.
Other than Diggle, you can’t go wrong with anything from Bendis onward.
I picked up Shadowland on Sunday. I am glad I took your advice, I really like this book. There is lots of action and the story flows well. I do like the idea of Daredevil being possessed . I read the interview with Andy Diggle in the back of the book. I really dig Andy Diggle and was glad to see how much work he put into developing the story for Shadowland, and bringing back elements of The Hand and Daredevil that were forgotten (ie: The Beast).
Daredevil’s fight with Bullseye was one of my favourites in comics. It was so brutal.
I was also excited to see John Cassaday’s covers were included in the collected edition. He is one of my favourite artists as well.