[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.