Welcome back, Dare readers! (Get it? Instead of “dear.” I’m hilarious.) You have once again found your way to COMFORT FOOD COMICS Presents: DECONSTRUCTING DAREDEVIL – a column where I break down runs of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil piece-by-piece to identify the best tastes and core ideas of them, starting with Daredevil Volume 3 (2011).
I broke down Daredevil vol 3 #1 in the last column, identifying the core elements as a new tone and attitude that focuses on smiling and daring over grimacing and brooding, while maintaining that the mistakes and darkness of the past will still haunt Matt Murdock, our titular Daredevil, and challenge his new outlook on life.
In this column I will look at Daredevil vol 3 #2, written by Mark Waid with artwork by Paolo and Joe Rivera, colors by Javier Rodriguez, and lettering by Joe Caramagna, to see how these core elements are carried forward and if any new ideas are introduced.
The cover is a great image by the Riveras of Daredevil and Captain America battling it out over the rooftops of New York, picking up on the cliffhanger of the last issue that showed such a fight about to start. Little details like the wing from the top of Captain America’s cowl falling in the foreground, the characters using each other’s weapons, and the tears in the costume help bring the image to life instead of looking like a posed pinup, and also fits the cover into the comic nicely, as all of these things happen within the issue as well.
After the cover is a recap page, framed as a front page of the fictional Daily Bugle newspaper. I think it’s a very effective recap that doesn’t feel too expository, and works well as a unifying element across the line of Spider-Man/street-based Marvel titles. Little touches like this help bring the reader into the world – making them read the recap in the same way a citizen of the Marvel Universe itself would read about the events.
From there, we get right into the action and page 1 immediately blows me away.
I want to call out 2 specific things from this page – the colors and the sound effects.
The colors are gorgeous. Javier Rodriguez is an amazing artist in his own right, but worked for Marvel as an amazing color artist first. The hot pink and red tones behind Matt contrast perfectly with the cool blue and purple tones behind Steve, and if you follow the action these color choices give away the twist that will be revealed on the next page – they caught each other’s weapons.
The coloring of the sound effects also pops nicely, but more than that, the use of them is important. A lot of writers try to create a more serious atmosphere in their “dark/gritty” comics by omitting gimmicky things like sound effects, but for a character like Daredevil, whose world is largely sound-based, I think it’s fantastic to use sound effects as they do here – tracking the action and movements through sound at the same time as doing it visually.
So, as promised on the cover, one of Cap’s little wings has been taken off and Matt and Steve have traded weapons, and as promised in the last issue, we learn Captain America is there because Matt can’t escape his past. The creative team continues to use sound FX to great effect to compliment the action they are depicting visually as Matt and Steve fight and talk it out, and in the end Matt invokes what he calls “the Bucky defense” – he was mind-controlled. Cap agrees to trust him, for now, but promises that they will return to talking about what Matt did during Shadowland, re-confirming that even though Matt may be done with the past, the past isn’t done with him.
Now it’s interlude time!
Foggy has lost something and Kirsten shows up, acting all playful again and slipping Foggy some new information about his and Matt’s client that might be helpful to them. She also reveals she has what Foggy’s looking for – his lucky tie, because he “left it last night.” Is something going on between Kirsten and Foggy? Wasn’t she just flirting with Matt in the last issue? Once again, she is a highlight of the issue, even for just these 2 pages, as the creators build more intrigue around her and what role she’ll play in the series.
She also embodies the more lighthearted tone of the series, and the past haunting Matt – both of the core elements we’ve identified so far – in one character, because of her insistence to play with and joke about the commonly held knowledge that Matt is probably Daredevil. At the time that was revealed to the public, in Daredevil vol 2 #32 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, it threw Matt’s life into a deep, dark spiral as he tried to regain control. Kirsten re-asserts that he can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube once it’s spilled, but that it is still possible to have fun in spite of it.
From there the story comes back to Matt with a panel I’ve loved since I first saw it in 2011 – Daredevil hiding in the shadows of the architecture of New York, using his billy club line to hold himself in place as he approaches the man he wants to question.
He uses his super-hearing and radar sense as a lie detector – a classic Daredevil tactic – to try and figure out why other lawyers had turned down his client’s case, and once it becomes clear they were intimidated by ghost phone calls, he tries to figure out why, leading him to his client’s former business and property, which he would buy back if he won his lawsuit.
As Matt discovers the building has been occupied by echoes of the sound-based villain Klaw, the reader is again privy to see the world though Matt’s radar sense, and how it limits his perception of the world. A sighted person may have recognized the physical representation of the echoes right away, but Matt’s radar sense and hearing can’t parse what they are.
And as he lashes out, we are once again shown how important sound effects are in Daredevil’s world, and how effectively the creators use them to augment the visual storytelling, as the loud sounds of the Klaw-echoes exploding overwhelms him and eventually knocks him out, with the final sound effect being cut short as unconsciousness hits Matt suddenly.
Matt comes to and tries to figure out what is happening around him with his radar sense, as the Klaw-echoes fit him with equipment, using his body as the centerpiece of a device that appears meant to recreate the original form of Klaw himself, again, the storytelling being used effectively to show us that Matt can’t form the whole picture with his radar sense, showing us both how he is trapped within his senses in contrast to how we can see he is trapped in the story.
Our core elements from the first issue do carry through: the lighthearted, adventurous tone being showcased in how Matt approaches the fight with Captain America and in Kirsten’s playful banter with Foggy, and the past being ever-present on Matt’s heels, demonstrated by Captain America coming to arrest him because of Shadowland and Kirsten picking at his secret identity.
I feel the issue also firmly establishes a 3rd core element for the series as well, which I’m going to call “immersive storytelling,” meaning the techniques and tools the creators use to put you in Matt’s world and behind his eyes – whether it’s using sound effects to track the actions or showing you how Matt sees things with his radar sense. Despite the fact Daredevil was created with these powers, abilities, and disabilities in 1964, few other creators have made such an effort to immerse the reader in Matt’s world through his own senses. In the first edition of a new newsletter, former Daredevil writer D.G. Chichester talks about taking his camera to the Port Authority to visually choreograph the fight from Daredevil vol 1 #300 for artist Lee Weeks, walking around and taking photographs to illustrate how the characters would move through the building, and for Weeks to use as reference. And this makes sense, as comics is a visual medium, but he never mentions audibly choreographing the fight – taking stock of what sounds and other experiences Matt himself might experience during the fight. For other creators, Matt’s experience and limitations often seem like an afterthought, only brought out when they can be used as a convenient plot device.
On a collector’s note, there weren’t any variant covers for this issue, although it did go to a second printing, so you had better bet that I bought that as well. Paolo and Joe Rivera’s art in the inked stage with no colors is just as gorgeous as the final product, and if I could afford a piece of original art or an Artist’s Edition is ever released, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to add it to my collection.
Next time in DECONSTRUCTING DAREDEVIL we’ll see how this first arc concludes in issue 3 and if the core elements that I’ve seen and called out from these first two issues continue to be the main flavors, as Waid and Rivera add more to the recipe of Daredevil volume 3.