Daredevil Season One


By Antony Johnson, Wellinton Alves, Nelson Pereira & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5643-7

Much as I’d love to believe otherwise, I accept that the Cold War era, transistor-powered, pre-cellphone masterpieces of my youth are often impenetrable to younger fans – even when illustrated by graphic gods like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett, Joe Orlando or Wally Wood.

Perpetual renewal – or at least the constant tweaking of the background ephemera which passes for it in our business – is the irresistible force driving modern comics. There must be a constant changing of the guard, a shifting of scene and milieu and, in latter times, a regular diet of death, resurrection and rebirth – all grounded in relatively contemporary terms and situations.

Even for minor or secondary stars the process is inescapable, with increasing supra-comicbook media adjuncts (films, TV, movies, games, Films and FILMS) dictating that subjects be constantly updated because the powers-that-be believe goldfish-minded consumers of today apparently can’t understand or remember anything that’s more than one week or three cinematic releases old.

Alternatively, one could argue that for popular characters or concepts with a fifty-year pedigree, all that dogmatic back-history can be a creative deadweight and readership-daunting deterrence, so radical reboots are a painful but vital periodic necessity like a conceptual thinning of the herd…

Publishing ain’t no democracy, however, so it’s comforting to realise that many of these retrofits are exceptionally good comics tales in their own right and anyway, the editors can call always claim that it was an “alternate Earth” story the next time the debut saga is modernised…

Released in 2012, Daredevil: Season One was part of an all-new hardback graphic series intended to renovate, modify and update classic origin epics (accompanying Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-Man): all clearly intended as background story-bibles for newer, movie-oriented fans and readers.

Written by Anthony Johnson (Dead Space, Wasteland, the Alex Rider graphic novels) with competent, workmanlike art from Wellinton Alves & Nelson Periera (Nova, Incredible Hulks, Red She-Hulk) it was far more of an in-filling exercise than radical restoration or reconstruction, leaving most of the canon untouched, and using signature battles against super-foes as background to tell a more contemporary story of City Hall corruption, as young lawyers Matt Murdock and Franklin “Foggy” Nelson fought to save a place of worship from civil malfeasance and racketeering depredations.

Young Matt grew up in the slums, raised by his father Battlin’ Jack Murdock; a second-rate prize-fighter. Determined that the boy would amount to something, Jack extracted a solemn promise from his boy never to fight. Mocked by other kids, who called him “Daredevil”, Matt stuck to his vow, but secretly trained his body to physical perfection.

One day he saved a blind man from a speeding truck, only to be struck in the face by its radioactive cargo. His sight was burned away but his other senses were super-humanly enhanced and he gained a sixth, “radar-sense”.

He told no-one, not even his dad…

Key events are all visited in swift, economic manner before jumping to Daredevil’s first night when the adult Matt donned a distinctive mask and costume to hunt down his father’s killers…

Battlin’ Jack was a boxer in dire financial straits. As his career declined he signed with The Fixer, knowing full well what the corrupt promoter expected from his fighters. Yet somehow his career blossomed. Never aware that he was being set up, Murdock got a shot at the Big Time, but when ordered to take a dive, he adamantly refused. Winning was the proudest moment of his life and when his bullet-riddled corpse was found, the cops had suspicions but no proof…

Heartbroken Matt graduated college with a law degree and set up in business with his room-mate Foggy. They hired a lovely young secretary named Karen Page and opened an office in Murdock’s childhood-home district of Hell’s Kitchen. With his life on track Matt now had time to resolve his father’s murder.

A old promise and his new limits as an officer of the Court stopped him from acting as Murdock…but what if he became “somebody else”…?

In the climactic clash the Fixer perished and the fresh revelations begin here as Daredevil lights a candle in St. Finnian of Clonard Catholic Church. Now that his mission of vengeance has concluded, serious doubts begin to bedevil him, but unbeknownst to the neophyte Man Without Fear, his accidental midnight meeting with the new priest are the start of a critical new relationship.

Just how much so he doesn’t realise it until after meeting the Fantastic Four and defeating high-voltage villain Electro. The next day Father Mullen hires Nelson and Murdock to save St. Finnian’s from being closed down by the City’s corrupt Land Board…

A further distraction occurs when Karen is kidnapped by Leland Owsley – the infamous Owl – and the city almost succumbs to the pheromone-fuelled mental-domination of Killgrave, the Purple Man

Daredevil still feels he hasn’t got to grips with his superhero persona and is oblivious as diligent Foggy proceeds with the case, uncovering an odd connection between Mullen, the Land Board and golden boy Mayoral candidate Councilman William Doyle. Whilst Daredevil and the media are distracted by the Mysterious Masked Matador, a hitman starts making Doyle’s problems go away, and, finally forced to use his brains instead of his fists, Matt finally starts connecting the dots of a criminal tragedy that goes back decades and spans the continent…

Despite pressure mounting from all directions to drop the St. Finnian’s case, Matt and Foggy persist, until Daredevil is again diverted, this time by the mighty-muscled Ox and electrified bandit the Eel, working for mad menace Zoltan Drago in a Fellowship of Fear…

After that climactic battle Matt finally realises his true place in the city’s superhero pantheon and makes some drastic changes to his modus operandi, but it might be too late as Foggy, Karen and Mullen have vanished. With no time to spare Matt swings into action, ready to give the Devil his Due…

Also included in this enticing, compelling hardback is the lead story from the then-latest reboot of the Man Without Fear: (Daredevil #1, 2011, by Mark Waid, Paulo Rivera & Marcos Martin), returning the grim Avenger to his swashbuckling roots in a bombastic battle against teleporting terror The Spot plus ‘A Bonus Tale’ by Waid & Martin, charmingly detailing how his super-senses work.

Fast-paced and action-packed, this entire package rips along like a TV show recap, spartan, on-point and tantalising, and despite poor response from comics aficionados remains a solid primer for newcomers looking for a little brief background to the history and the characters.
© 2011 and 2012 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.