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Daredevil: The Man Without Fear 

-by Andrew Goletz

Rating: 10 out of 10

Back in the '90s this title could have been called 'The Man Without Fans'.
After a critical and fan favorite run by Frank Miller, Daredevil sank into a
series of mediocre stories and superficial plot devices like getting a new
costume or regaining his site.

Leave it to the Marvel Knights team to get the book and character back on
track. When Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti first announced their intentions
of the Marvel Knights (basically an outsourcing of Marvel properties to them)
fans were skeptical; it was only a few years ago that Marvel tried a similar
thing with the Heroes Reborn fiasco.

But Quesada and Palmiotit knew what they were doing. Black Panther, Black
Widow and The Inhumans were second tier books that got a much needed shot in
the arm with new creative teams and daring story lines, but Daredevil
received the most buzz due to its writer: film-maker and comic book fan Kevin

Kevin Smith wrote the initial 8 issue story arc on the revamped, Daredevil
and the book shot up from obscurity to top ten status. Daredevil's old fans
returned, Kevin Smith fans came to check the book and the generally curious
came to see what the big deal was all about. While some critics thought the
'Guardian Devil' story line was too melodramatic, dialogue heavy and a tad
cliché given the ending (reminiscent of Kraven's Last Hunt), I enjoyed the
work completely.

Smith brought another second tier Spider-Man villain, Mysterio, and turned
him into a formidable opponent while at the same time examining the morals
and values that are an essential part of the character of Daredevil.

Things got even better during the next arc. David Mack: creator of the
brilliant Kabuki for Image Comics came aboard for the next story line,
introducing a new femme fatal for Daredevil and Matt Murdock. Daredevil's
love life was always one of the most interesting parts of the character. His
beloved Electra was murdered during Frank Miller's classic run. His true love
Karen Page betrayed him to his arch nemesis in another Miller tale. Typhoid
Mary was another woman who battled both Daredevil and his alter ego, Murdock.
Echo, the new gal on the block, is appealing both in her relationship as
Matt's new girlfriend and as the woman who wants to kill Daredevil. Mack
plays with the duality that is a part of a hero or villain's life and it
makes for a much more interesting story. And while Quesada and Palmiotti
still handle the internal art chores for the book, Mack himself is painting
the covers and the beautiful work he does is reason alone to buy the book.

Plagued with delays (the only drawback of the book), Q and P recently did a
fill in issue with guest penciler Rob Haynes. I'm not familiar with Haynes'
work previous to this issue, but his unique art style is a can't miss and
I'll be sure to keep a look out for whatever he does next. With issue #13,
David Mack comes back to finish his arc and then it's a 3 issue story line by
Gray Haven favorite, Brian Michael Bendis (Jinx/Powers/Sam and Twitch).  I've
always been a fan of Brian's work and I'm anxious to see what he has in store
for Daredevil.

Rotating writing teams is an excellent idea. It gives the writers a chance to
tell the story they want to tell, take a break and let someone else 'have a
whack at it'. Rather than getting bored or stuck with a fill-in that has
nothing to do with the story line, Daredevil switches gears with the writer
but continues the main story line.

Daredevil, standing a 12 issues and about 2 years old due to the previously
mentioned delays has introduced a wonderful new character in Echo, brought
back and improved upon villains like Bullseye and Mysterio and returned the
Kingpin to his 'bastard' self. All this while rounding out the character of
Matt Murdock and making him more of a 3 dimensional character than he's been
in a long time.

The Knights team promises that the book should be back on track, and
regardless of whether that's true or not, I can't recommend Daredevil highly
enough. Solid art, incredible writing and a lot of fun, it's certainly worth
the wait.

Available monthly from Marvel Comics

Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz