Not only has the current run rebuilt Daredevil the character, it’s rebuilt the title into what I have absolutely no problem saying is the best super-hero comic being published today. And the fourth issue — out this week from Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Muntsa Vicente and Joe Caramagna — is an absolutely perfect example of why.
Thanks to the long, dark shadow cast by Frank Miller, which influenced equally grim runs from folks like Ann Nocenti, Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker and others, things have been pretty terrible for Matt Murdock. For the readers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — and in fact, it’s led to some truly great stories — but from a character standpoint, there’s only so far you can go with a guy who has been suffering almost constantlyfor thirty years now.
Just look at the guy’s life: Matt Murdock has had two girlfriends killed in front of him, a wife that was driven insane (leading to a lawsuit from her parents to have him forbidden to ever come near her again!), and, most recently, was possessed by an actual demon from Hell. And for those stories, that’s fine. Heroes have to suffer in order for their victories to matter; it’s the essence of conflict. But when it’s constant, and when every new creative team brings new and exciting ways to make Daredevil’s life worse, you start to wonder, as Waid said in an interview on War Rocket Ajax, why this guy just doesn’t go ahead and put a gun in his mouth.
That’s one of the many brilliant things about the way that this run is unfolding. As much as it’s a departure from the book’s usual style, it feels like the next logical step in Daredevil’s life. With the exception of the highly underrated Karl Kesel/Cary Nord run from the late ’90s, misery has been the status quo for a long time, but after you manage to get through demonic possession, I imagine that everything else starts to look a little easier to get through. In other words, they’ve broken Matt Murdock down to the point where he just can’t get any lower, and as we know from the best of those brutal crime stories that Miller & Co. wrote, that’s when Daredevil starts to build himself up again.
This issue in particular was drawn by one of my favorite artists working in comics, Marcos Martin, but it’s worth noting that the first three were by Paolo Rivera, and he’s not exactly a slouch either. Both Martin and Rivera were part of the rotating art team for Amazing Spider-Man, and while they killed it on that book — Rivera drew one of my all-time favorite fight sequences in #577 — they take it to the next level with this book.
Martin especially is just phenomenal in the way that he represents Daredevil’s powers, especially in that he’s doing it in a way that you could only do in comics. The panels above are a great example — the cries for help manifesting themselves as shadows on the wall that loom over Daredevil as he runs towards a wall of screams. And that’s not even the best example — Martin does panels where he isolates certain elements on a page and, along with Vicente’s coloring, changes the way that he represents them to show how Daredevil perceives them. I hate to keep dropping the word “beautiful,” but there’s no other way to describe it, and with Martin integrating sound effects and Caramanga — no stranger to lettering tricks, like the ones he pulled off so well in Shed — building his lettering around them, the overall effect is just staggering in how good it is.