Review: Daredevil: Reborn hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[Continuing our trio of Marvel guest reviews, Damien Lockrow has some strong feelings about this one ...]

It’s interesting to compare and contrast Marvel and DC’s takes on the "Rebirth/Reborn" story. While DC typically uses it to denote the start of a new status quo, if not necessarily a completely fresh start -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, Flash: Rebirth, Batman Reborn, etc. -- Marvel seems keen to use the “Reborn” moniker for the end of long-running storylines. Or in the case of Daredevil: Reborn, the end of an era.

Daredevil has been immersed in crime noir for so long it’s almost difficult to think of a time when he wasn’t. Certainly seems like it’s been forever since we haven’t seen him falling into dark depths, clutching dead lovers; Murdock’s record of dead love interests nearly matches Mobile Suit Gundam, a series known for the rule of “you hook up with a Newtype, you will die in the next few episodes.” You can’t destroy your main character's life forever -- I’m amazed they managed it this long -- so Andy Diggle is left to clear the deck for a more optimistic take on the character.

After the events of Shadowland -- where our hero “lost his nut” and killed a villain or two -- Matt’s wanted by the Feds, so he does the logical thing: grows a beard and leaves New York for the mid-west on your typical “quest to rediscover himself.” Inevitably, he blunders into some trouble. Seems a town he runs across had a nice arms trafficking thing going on. Cue lots of angst about how he shouldn’t get involved due to royally screwing things up with that whole “leader of the Hand” business. It goes without saying that he finds himself involved anyways.

It’s all fairly unremarkable. The story is meant to get Matt over his hangups before Mark Waid takes over, but I’m not sure it needed to be quite so generic. It seems like it’s copied right from the “reluctant hero cannot walk away” playbook; while it’s perfectly fine to start with that, you expect something new. Here, we’re pretty much going through the motions; despite Murdock's inner monologue telling us otherwise, he only half-heartedly tries to keep his nose out of this mess.

But man, even if he was making a concentrated effort to keep out, it’s not like they gave him much choice. The town itself has to be populated with the most rock stupid criminals I’ve seen in a while. It’s like they’re trying to arouse suspicion. Random stranger blowing through town? Have the local good-ol'-boys rough him up; it’s not like it will throw up any red flags or anything. Send him on his way out of town before he’s suspicious? Good plan, until the sheriff finds out he was a superhero once and decides to send a couple normal, small town cops to stop him. That’s not going to come back to bite them in the ass or anything; I’m sure they can handle Daredevil. Find him trying to put a stop to your drug running? Knock him out and throw him in the back with all the guns; nothing to worry about, it’s not like he killed Bullseye recently or anything.

The villains are incompetents of the highest order. It’s amazing that the Murdock -- complete with his own variation of Ghost Rider's "Penance Stare" -- looked twice at these guys, much less decided to work with them. Then again, it’s not like Matt is the sharpest knife in the drawer either: he’s wanted by the FBI -- who know his real name -- and his superpals are kind of sore at him for Shadowland, so clearly the intelligent thing to do is waltz right back to New York City -- superhero central -- and re-open Nelson and Murdock. That won’t raise any eyebrows at all! Unbelievable

As dark as Daredevil's adventures got over the long years, they were still of high quality, so this is kind of a cruddy way for that era to go out. Reborn is not out-and-out horrible, but even given how lenient and forgiving I can be, I can’t really find many reasons to recommend this book to you. Not even for the art, which is admittedly pretty damn good. It’s all fairly disappointing.

But hey, it does have some pretty spiffy covers by Jock, so that’s something, right?

[Contains full covers and cover concepts, half the script for issue #1 included]

I’m not particularly fond of being down on things or overly negative, but Daredevil: Reborn is sadly not worth your money. It’s far from the best and far from the worst Daredevil story, meaning it’s probably destined to end up forgotten. Feel free to skip this and jump right into Mark Waid's Daredevil if you want. I doubt you’ll miss much.
Collected Editions 2014 Comic Book Gift Guide
Get the Collected Editions scoop before anyone else -- on Facebook!

11 comments:

  1. It's probably best to just skip Diggle's run altogether and just go straight from Brubaker to Waid. Personally I like the crime noir aspect that Daredevil has been on. Yes Mark Waid has been doing a great job with a lighter take, but I always thought that the crime noir is what differentiated Daredevil from Spider-man. If Daredevil is swinging around cracking jokes what makes him anything other than a blind Spider-man? Daredevil has really never had a strong supporting cast, never really had a strong rogues gallery, so the crime noir has really been what has made the book worth reading.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Seems I've pissed off the Feds; BRB gonna go open a law office in New York City using my real name.

    I wonder if Mark Waid is going to even bother explaining this or just move on. I wouldn't blame him for taking the latter route at all. The last ten years or so of Daredevil, good as they may have been, essentially wrote the character into a corner they couldn't explain their way out of. Reborn solved none of it; not that I'm convinced it could be effectively done in four issues anyways, but they don't even try.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And this is why Daredevil remains my second-least-favorite Marvel character. Like my least favorite--the Punisher--there's just nowhere for him to go, and the stories rely on moronic villains.

    (The above is also my Five Second Review of "Welcome Back, Frank", because I couldn't write a full review of that book without ranting.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Clearly we have very different opinions about The Punisher.

    I think that Daredevil can work - even if I don't typically care about him - but the trouble is that Bendis and Bru kind of thoroughly destroyed him in a way that is difficult to come back from. I'm pretty curious as to how Mark Waid handles it without resorting to some mindwipin'.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've enjoyed much of Diggle's work elsewhere, but his Daredevil run was a huge disappointment. However, I agree that his predecessor Brubaker didn't do him any favors, saddling him with a depressing, constrictive status quo for the character.

    Bendis kind of did the same thing with his last arc, but Brubaker did a very convincing job undoing all of that. In fact, his second arc was what Bendis' last should have been, in my opinion. However, after that, he did nothing but make Daredevil's life more and more miserable, and Diggle simply kept following that path when he took over the book.

    Thankfully, Waid is taking a completely opposite route, and his Daredevil is a delightful read. I hope he'll keep writing it even after the big creative team switcheroo that's coming up for Marvel's books after AvX.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've enjoyed much of Diggle's work elsewhere, but his Daredevil run was a huge disappointment for me. Granted, his predecessor Brubaker didn't do him any favors by saddling him with a dreary, constrictive status quo for the character.

    Bendis kind of did the same thing when he left the book, but Brubaker did a very convincing job undoing all of that. In fact, his second arc was everything Bendis' last should have been, in my opinion. However, after that, he did nothing but make Daredevil's life more and more miserable, and Diggle simply stayed the course when he took over the book.

    Thankfully, Waid's run is taking a completely opposite route, and it's a delightful read. I hope he stays on Daredevil even after the big creative team switcheroo that's coming up for Marvel's books after AvX.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My DD collection goes from Ed Brubaker's run straight to Mark Waid's. All the reviews consistently told me there was nothing worth my time in between.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @dl316bh: I don't think Waid will do anything at all to reference what happened. He will just continue the way he has been and ignore it.

    I'm a bit surprised by the reaction to Bendis and Brubaker's runs. I really enjoyed them.

    @Doug: I couldn't agree with you more about the Punisher. The Punisher is a very one dimensional character. I think he can be used very effectively as a guest star, such as when Frank Miller used him, but I have never had interest in an ongoing Punisher title. The problem with the Punisher is that he is expected to kill his enemies so most of the time he just fights generic goons. There hasn't really been any long term character building or story arcs that have been built.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've enjoyed Diggle's work elsewhere, but his Daredevil run was a huge disappointment to me. Granted, his predecessor Brubaker didn't do him any favors by saddling him with a dreary, constrictive new status quo for the character.

    Bendis kind of did the same thing when he left the book, but Brubaker did a very good job undoing all of that with his second arc, which was everything Bendis' last should have been, in my opinion. However, after that, he did nothing but make Daredevil's life more and more miserable, and Diggle simply stayed the course when he took over the book.

    Thankfully, Waid is taking the opposite route, and his run has been delightful so far. I hope he stays on Daredevil even after the big creative team switcheroo that Marvel's books will go through after AvX.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really, really wanna get this one! And I just love the simpler "old school" feel the new DD has!

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Nikos: Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the Bendis and Bru runs were bad. Just that they really shoved the character into a corner and beat him down so far that coming back from it is not a task I imagine being easy.

    Won't be shocked if Waid does ignore it. He kind of has to. The position the prior runs put him in is essentially a knot so tangled you cannot get it undone; you end up having to cut it out to deal with it.

    As for Punisher, Punisher MAX is pretty much where to go if you want a definitive character arc. Both the Ennis and Aaron runs.

    @shagamu: That's what I mean by them having wrote Daredevil into a corner. They just kept pushing him and pushing him down the path that's difficult to go back on. Frankly, the only thing that made sense was for Daredevil to have a psychotic break and ultimately they weaseled out of it by having him possessed by the blind ninja equivalent of Parallax. Then, of course, they have to gloss over the FBI and such things because they kind of had to.

    ReplyDelete