Hello, dear readers, and welcome to the first edition of COMFORT FOOD COMICS Presents: DECONSTRUCTED DAREDEVIL.
“Deconstructed dining” is a modern culinary trend in which the chef interprets a dish’s core idea and serves up a dismantled version of it that they feel best reflects that idea in their eyes. I feel like that is essentially what we try to do as critics, and so to that end, I plan to look at runs of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil, dismantle them issue-by-issue, and serve up what I see as the core ideas – the best tastes – of those comics, in my eyes.
When I broached this idea to CFC EIC Dave Shevlin, I told him the biggest obstacle was deciding which Daredevil run to write about – the current one, by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and friends, which is amazing so far; my favorite run, by Ann Nocenti, John Romita Jr., Al Williamson, and friends; the underrated run, by DG Chichester, Scott McDaniel, and friends; the legendary run, by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and friends?
Maybe I’ll get to all of those eventually, but before reading any of them, Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee, and Javier Rodriguez opened my eyes to the world of Matt Murdock, and so it only seems right that before I write about any of those other runs I dig into the one that started it all, for me.
The year was 2011. That’s a lame way to start a paragraph, but it’s true. I had been going to the same comic book store since 1997 and I still had one of the same series on my pull list there – Thunderbolts. In fact, that was the only series I still had on my pull list. I had dropped every other title I was collecting and sold my entire comic book collection (save Thunderbolts) over a year earlier to drum up a little extra money for my wedding, after having bought a house the year before that. The comic book store was also out-of-the-way to visit from the new home address, and so monthly visits became bi-monthly, and then every 3 months, and so on.
I was still into comics, and followed news, announcements, etc., but it was much easier to collect TPBs and hardcovers of them than it had ever been before, and they were easier to read and store, so I saw that as the future of my collecting habit. And although I say Mark Waid and co.’s Daredevil run was the gateway for me, I actually had the Omnibus collections of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run, and Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s as well. If Marvel had released hardcovers of all of Andy Diggle’s run, I would have bought those too. But I had no interest in buying the new issues every month. These were good comics, and I enjoyed them, but I wouldn’t have called Daredevil a favorite character.
But in 2011, after teasing the relaunch as part of their “Big Shots” initiative, Marvel announced that Mark Waid would be the new writer of Daredevil, launching with a new #1, with artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, following the conclusion of Andy Diggle and Davide Gianfelice’s Daredevil: Reborn mini-series. I knew of Waid primarily from his seminal 1990s run on DC’s The Flash, a run I greatly enjoyed, and his great run on Fantastic Four, with artist Mike Wieringo (one of my all-time favorite artists, who also collaborated with him on some issues of Flash), and although I didn’t really know of Rivera or Martin at the time, the main first issue cover (by Rivera) blew me away.
Daredevil’s pose is good. It’s relaxed, not aggressive, and complimented by a big, genuine smile. I love the playful way the baton dances in his fingers on his raised hand. The mix of heavy blacks and solid colors reminded me of Bruce Timm-style art from Batman: The Animated Series, standing out from the art that DC was promoting their upcoming New 52 titles with or that was appearing in other Marvel books at the time. But more than any of that, the background awed me – every element of it intricately lettered with the sound effect it would make, from “flap” to “whoosh” to “screech” to “bump” and hundreds more, but with all of that lettering sculpted and colored to fit into the shape of the city around Daredevil.
If this was how the artist was going to depict Daredevil’s radar sense – if the entire comic was going to look like this – then I had to see it.
There was also one more factor for me in deciding to pre-order this comic: in the early months of 2011, a new comic book store opened up in my city. Instead of having to make time and travel to get to the other one in the next town, I could easily stop at this one on the way to or from work, any day of the week. And the owner was my age, and actually read and could talk about comics, unlike the older owner of the other shop who made his money off card games and paid way more attention to the year’s new hockey cards than to which comics he should order. (He also over-priced back issues based on mint-condition prices in the Overstreet Guide, which had actually prevented me from getting into Daredevil earlier in my life, when my parents talked me out of buying a copy of 1998’s Daredevil #1 by Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, and Jimmy Palmiotti because the store wanted too much for it.)
So, seeing Marvel promoting the comic online, being a moderate fan of the writer, having been blown away by the cover art, and wanting to support this new shop and its owner, I stopped in one afternoon and asked to have a pull-list, starting with Daredevil #1.
And with that said, in the next edition of this column, you’ll hear what I thought of it, and more about the road it set me on as a comic collector.