Daredevil #1

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m rereading one of my  Valentine’s Day presents from last year: Essential Dardevil. What makes this so much fun for me is the artwork from Bill Everett. Over the years he has become one of my favorite pencilers and the black and white format really makes his art pop so much.

On the story side, Stan Lee presents a typical origin from this time. We start off with a brief flashback before going back and presenting Daredevil’s history. His origin is very straight forward; Matt Murdock was raised by his boxer single dad. Eventually Matt winds up losing his vision albeit in a noble fashion, and his dad’s life is ended by an evil boxing promoter–appropriately named the Fixer. Matt winds up training to confront the Fixer and winds up becoming the super hero that we know and love called Daredevil.

The funny part of this story is the fact that there’s a blind guy sewing together the costume, developing a spring loaded grappling hook weapon and becoming a master gymnast/fighter. Matt became much more talented once he lost his vision. The other is that Matt’s best friend, co-lawyer Foggy Nelson and their secretary Karen Page both notice that he’s been disappearing frequently. But they never confronted him once during the issue.

Daredevil #1 really wasn’t the best written first appearance of a character especially when you compare it to some of the other stuff Marvel was putting out at the time. But what makes this great, again, is Everett’s artwork. It’s really strong.

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Remembering Michael Clarke Duncan

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away at the age of 54 this weekend. For a lot of people, he will always be remembered for his role in The Green Mile. But as a comic book fan, I would say that my favorite part of his career was his work as Wilson Fisk in Dardevil.

When it was announced that he would be playing the role of the Kingpin, there was a lot of fanboy concern about why they would change the race of the character. That wasn’t an issue for me. What I was more concerned about was how anyone could bring this immensely massive–in both size and emotional presence–to life.

 

And Michael did just that. His take on the Marvel Universe’s biggest crime lord was extremely menacing and sophisticated at the same time. His portrayal became what Kingpin was in my mind, more so than the original. It’s a lot like Mark Hammill’s Joker or Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine…they’ve become the voice of the character when I read it. With all the talk of a Daredevil relaunch, I would have loved for them to keep Duncan on board and taken it into that retro/grimy direction.

Outside of his work as the Kingpin, Michael was in a bunch of other comic book related projects. He was in the Sin City movie and voiced everyone’s favorite poozer Kilowog in Green LanternYou can look at his full career here.

 

I Wish We Were Getting Joe Carnahan’s Daredevil

Did you know that director Joe Carnahan almost was in charge of a new Daredevil adaptation? The mastermind behind the recent A-Team movie and Smoking Aces (one of my favorite movies of the last decade or so) put together this sizzle/teaser to Fox for a reboot of the Daredevil franchise. So how did he do it?

Combining classic comic art with seventies crime/gang films like The Warriors and Serpico, this is amazing. It’s the gritty, sleazy New York that was just as much a character as it was a setting in Frank MIller’s Daredevil comics.

Unfortunately, Fox has to start filming the movie by October 10. If they do not start by then, the rights to the character revert back to Marvel. It looks that this film will be relegated to what could have been status.

After seeing this, I have to say that this is the Daredevil movie that I want to see. Or a Power Man and Iron Fist picture. It’s gritty, it’s dark but at the same time cartoonish, just like those great urban martial arts films of the seventies.

As a fan, I’m really glad that this pitch was made public. You can follow Joe on Twitter.

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Daredevil

Let’s look at the many–well not so many–costumes Marvel’s blind super hero Daredevil has worn into battle over the years. Matt Murdoch first donned his devil inspired costume in  April 1964’s Daredevil #1. He wore this red and yellow costume, which was designed by co-creator Bill Everett (of Namor creation fame) and Jack Kirby.

That costume only lasted for six issues. The Daredevil book was now being drawn by the great Wally Wood who switched him to his iconic all-red look. It works; Daredevil looks like a red devil, functional yet intimidating enough to evildoers in Hell’s Kitchen.

As a result of 1994’s “Fall From Grace” story line, Daredevil decided it was time to get a new more protective look. He came up with this black and red costume that features plate armor alongside over-sized shoulder and knee pads. It was the 1990s, what did you expect?

What I did like was that his billy clubs/attack poles condensed into his gauntlets. This look seems to get a lot of hate, but I thought it looked cool.

During last year’s “Shadowland” crossover, Daredevil was possessed by a devil, took over the Hand ninja clan and attempted to take over Manhattan. To show how evil he was, Daredevil took a cue from Darth Vader and went to an all black look. Either that, or it has a slimming effect on him. Once exorcised, he went back to his traditional look.

I kind of liked this for two reasons:

  1. In the made for television movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil pretty much sported this look.
  2. In 2004, I met Marvel legend John Romita at the Baltimore Comic Con and chatted with him about a few things. We discussed how he thought that the Daredevil costume should have been all black, but no one else agreed with him. That said, it was cool seeing how right he was once I found out about this.

Oh and let’s show a bonus Daredevil costume. The D-lister D-Man (a shortened version of his name Demolition Man) is a professional wrestler turned metahuman super hero.

His costume is an intentional knock-off of both Daredevil and Wolverine. And for whatever reason, I think Daredevil’s costume works better on him than on Murdock.

When I first started paying attention to comics, this confused the heck out of me due to him looking like two different characters. D-Man is still popping up in the Marvel Universe, currently taking up the role of the villain-murdering identity Scourge of the Underworld.

Mark Waid’s Daredevil

After reading the first volume of Mark Waid’s Daredevil series, I was left with this question: why haven’t they made Daredevil this much fun before?

Let’s look at the character…he’s a blind lawyer (get it, cause justice is blind) who only takes out cases where he thinks the defendant is innocent with his practice partner and best friend Foggy. When not in the court room, he dons his devil costume to fight crime and find the real perpetrator of the cases he takes on.

I think the problem with the character was that Frank Miller’s run on the title worked so well. Everyone wants to imitate Miller’s stories, putting Daredevil into a darker and darker world. Waid decides to take his approach differently: he makes Daredevil fun.

How does he do it? In the opening scene, our blind hero crashes a mafia wedding to prevent the Spot from collecting a bounty on a mobster, all the while taking the time to get photographed kissing the bride.

What Waid has done is put together a new status quo in the Daredevil theme. Matt Murdock has certainly had a rough few years, between being “outed” as a being the Daredevil and taking control of the villainous ninja forces known as the Hand. Allegedly being both a super hero and super villain has certainly taken its toll on his reputation. The first story arc has him trying to coach an Arab American who was the victim of racially motivated police brutality while stopping the living sound energy criminal Klaw.

The second story has Murdock taking on a case of a young blind man who feels he was unjustly terminated. Unfortunately, this was because he overhear his supervisors organizing a money laundering scheme for super terrorist groups like Hydra and AIM. Needless to say, Daredevil has to take his client into more than just regular protective services! This was the better of the two plot lines, with Daredevil plotting methodically against the crime organizations. It also sets up future stories, with him coming in possession of a database of all their activities and accounts hidden into the moving particles that  make up the Fantastic Four’s uniforms.

Foggy Nelson is an excellent supporting character in this, trying to help out Murdock as much as he can, both professionally and through the constant criticism of his “secret identity”. Waid also introduces a new character, New York assistant district attorney Kirstin McDuffie who flat-out accuses Murdock of being a vigilante as well as seeming to be attracted to him at the same time. She’s also vaguely connected to him, as she is roommates with Foggy’s girlfriend.

Art on this book was handled by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin and it looks so different from anything in super hero comics. The lines are very thin and the color is very bright. It doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of being overly rendered or detailed. It looks like something more fitting for an indie graphic novel, but completely works.

I give this book the highest recommendation. Marvel has a winner on its hands, with great storytelling and a unique look. Check this out today.

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula

Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula brings up a dilemma for vigilantes in the super hero community:  is excessive force acceptable? Obviously, for a law abiding and respecting super hero like Daredevil, it never is. But for newcomer the Black Tarantula anything goes.

Tarantula was introduced as a Spider-Man villain back in the 1990s. Carlos LaMuerto is the latest of a long line of crime lords calling themselves the Black Tarantula. This title (as well as some super powers) is passed down from one generation to the next. Carlos decides that its time to do something different; use his strength and talents to protect the neighborhood.

Unfortunately for Carlos, a lot of his old tendencies are still there, and he’s a pretty violent protector. Obviously, this doesn’t make Daredevil comfortable. Things only get worse for Carlos, as his cousin is upset that he’s disgraced his family by abandoning a life of crime, and goes after his wife and son. From there, our two heroes have to put aside their philosophical differences to save the LaMuerto family.

Writers Ed Brubaker and Ande Parks (who I knew as Phil Hester’s inker on the Green Arrow books, as well as a super all around guy due to some conversations we had at comic shows) put together a very compelling character in Carlos, and I can’t help but wonder if this was a pitch in the hopes of getting a Black Tarantula series at some point.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#9 Frank Miller’s Daredevil

A lot of people are partial to 300, Sin City and his Batman work, but my favorite Frank Miller material was his run on Daredevil. We’re talking about his nearly three-year run from issues 158 to 191.

To call this story an epic is an understatement. Miller’s Daredevil reads a lot like a modernized version of Will Eisner’s the Spirit, filled with shady criminals, detective work, strong touch broads, and tons of twists. This is something that can take a bunch of posts to explain but the general story involves Daredevil trying to stop NYC crimelord the Kingpin. Things only get more complicated as the Kingpin sets assassins Bullseye and Elektra–Daredevil’s former girlfriend–after him. Throw in investigative reporter Ben Urich figuring out Daredevil’s secret identity, Daredevil saving Kingpin’s wife, and a healthy dosage of ninja gangs, this all builds to a huge tragedy for the Man Without Fear.

This movie was loosely adapted into the Ben Affleck film, but that pales in comparison to the original. Go out and get this NOW.

What are you waiting for?