A new Daredevil anthology series proves that there is no such thing as too much Matt Murdoch.
The character might be bombarded by a series of misfortunes, but Daredevil readers have rarely had a golden age quite as shiny as this one. In addition to the superb Eisner Award-winning work being done by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee on the main Daredevil title, the Daredevil: End of Days mini-series (concluding this week) has produced some storytelling easily the equal of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s classic run on the title. Daredevil: Dark Nights is an anthology series that allows writers and artists a chance to explore the character outside the continuity of the current ongoing series.
This first issue begins a 3-part arc called “Angels Unaware”, which begins with a blizzard settling into New York, during which time Matt Murdoch is discovered in the snow suffering from the effects of hypothermia. At the hospital, he finds he has lost all memory of who he is, and his super senses overwhelm him. Upon discovering that an organ transplant is urgently needed for a little girl across town, and the traditional transport is impeded by the snow, he suits up and heads out. However, the storm is interfering with his radar sense, making it the start of one of the hardest journeys he’ll have to face.
Daredevil: Dark Nights marks the first time that Lee Weeks has written the character of Daredevil, but he is certainly no stranger to ol’ Hornhead. Weeks is perhaps best known for his early 1990s work on the main title during the “Fall of the Kingpin”/”Last Rites” storyline, being something of a sequel to Miller’s Born Again. So what immediately marks this debut issue is a sense that Weeks innately understands the character. It’s this ability that allows him to push Murdoch/Daredevil into places that we have perhaps not seen him before. Stripping away his memories, and dampening his radar, Weeks has boiled the character down to the core of the figure, the young boy who inherited his father’s fighting spirit and sense of what was right.
Weeks also pencils the issue, and given his history with the title, this is sure to please many long-time Daredevil fans. As with the writing, Weeks carves out his own niche, dividing his pieces into two distinct sets. Exteriors are in a constant sea of movement, swarmed in snow and casting a pall over the city. Interior shots are often claustrophobic, especially when Murdoch awakens to find himself in a sea of sound. A nice touch is illuminating Murdoch in bed in the middle of a giant black panel, dwarfing him with words, noises and close-ups of hospital sounds. Veteran colourist Lee Loughridge gives these moments a classic palette, almost disembodying Murdoch from his surroundings with a faint yellowish/greenish glow. As he dons the Daredevil costume, Loughridge allows more colour to creep into frame, almost as if that is the “real” Murdoch in play. Yet there’s also a slight vintage faded look to these panels, the desaturation almost suggesting a Daredevil not at full capacity.
Given that the current run of the ongoing Daredevil series has been consistently outstanding over the course of the last two years, it comes as a complete surprise as to how much this book was needed. It seems there is no such thing as too much Daredevil, especially when the quality is this high.
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