Review: The Man without Fear Gets a Reboot with Daredevil #1

As many of Marvel’s most beloved heroes return to the shelves with their own monthly titles this year, many ongoing books are renumbering with exciting new #1’s. Daredevil #1 arrived in March from writer Mark Waid, pencilist Chris Samnee and color artist Javier Rodriguez, embarking on a strong new chapter in this title’s long and dynamic history. While established readers will recognize this issue as a continuation of previous storylines, but with Waid’s tight scripting and Samnee and Rodriguez’s energetic artwork, Daredevil #1 offers a strong draw to new readers.

Matt Murdock has come to San Francisco to begin the next chapter of his life with a new set of mysteries and adventures. Helping the San Francisco police with a kidnapping case, Daredevil takes to the streets to hunt down the abductors himself. Far from New York City, Matt’s a little out of his element, seguing into a summary of his origins for new audiences as his rescue mission brings the attention of one of the rocket-propelled kidnappers. The girl in his arms, Matt engages in an aerial pursuit across the city, facing danger and distraction at every turn. When he attempts to comfort the girl his senses pick up the sound of an explosive microdevice in her stomach, turning the high-flying chase into a race against time to save her. What begins as a fun done-in-one adventure opens up to a brand new mystery as the issue closes on the dramatic return of Foggy Nelson.


With its fast-paced action and sharp dialogue, Daredevil #1 proves to be an exciting opening issue. Waid delivers a satisfying read that builds on the foundations he’s already established, catching readers up quickly and offering a nice introduction of Matt’s continuing adventures. With such a seamless transition from one leg of the title to the next the renumbering seems unnecessary, but even for it this #1 is a compelling read. Samnee’s strong sense of storytelling carries the book through clever and engaging page design. His artwork is as fun as it is absorbing, effortlessly navigating the equal measures tension and humor throughout the script. Rodriguez’s flat bold fields of color affect a strong balance of vintage adventure comic sensibility with the bright dynamism of this altogether surreal sensory world that Matt operates within. Their collaboration make this book a frenetic, funny and highly entertaining book.

Action-packed, well-plotted and wonderfully executed, Daredevil #1 is a strong offering from a successful creative team. Longtime readers will appreciate the strong continuity, and new readers can quickly catch up and enjoy what storytellers Waid and Samnee have in store. Even if you’re new to the Man without Fear, this title has an easy learning curve and is easily accessible, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Magen Cubed –

Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier

Coming to screens in April, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is pulled from the pages of the award-winning Winter Soldier storyline by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting. Spanning Captain America issues #1-9 and #11-14, Winter Soldier is a fast-paced spy story that changed Cap’s status quo forever. Aided by artistic team Mike Perkins, Michael Lark and John Paul Leon, Brubaker and Epting reenergized the Captain America mythos in the introduction of the arc’s titular character, reviving Cap’s dead partner Bucky Barnes as highly-skilled Soviet assassin the Winter Soldier. Full of action, intrigue and poignant character development, this saga lives up to the hype as its movie adaptation makes its way to a theater near you.

Since the end of World War II, Soviet Russia has used its secret weapon, the ruthlessly efficient and untraceable Winter Soldier, to assassinate key Western political figures. Deactivated at the end of the Cold War, this undercover agent is once again revived by the power-hungry General Lukin and used to do his dirty work. Lukin, who has come into possession of a vastly powerful and reality-bending Cosmic Cube, embarks on a plot of death and destruction that brings Captain America to his door. Cap, still reeling from a series of recent traumas, is in no shape to come face to face with Bucky or the horrors that have been done to him. What begins with the surprising assassination of the Red Skull ends in a globe-trotting spy story of regret and redemption as Cap struggles to save his best friend from himself.

CaptainAmericaWS1Brubaker is a masterful storyteller and his gift for plotting really shows in Winter Soldier. His scripting throughout the arc is air-tight, settling into a compelling pace and never letting up as every component of the unfolding mystery seamlessly comes together. While certainly action-packed, the globe-trotting adventure is elegantly tempered by flashback sequences and downtime, slowing down to afford some truly poignant moments. The interlude, The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe from artists Leon and Palmer, chronicles the tragic last months of Jack Monroe’s life as his mind begins to slip as result of the Super Soldier Serum. Likewise, Cap’s flashbacks to the 1940s, as well as the development of Bucky’s experiences as the Winter Soldier, create a strong personal undercurrent to balance the story effectively.

However, while I enjoy Brubaker’s work, I find that his characterizations are often quite thin. Winter Soldier, unfortunately, is no exception. The somewhat generic dialogue feels a bit tired throughout, as Steve recycles uninspired lines plucked right from equally uninspiring action movies with a blandly flirtatious Sharon. This is a little irksome, but, compared to the rest of the compelling character drama, ultimately doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story. I just wish some of the emotional weight reserved for Bucky’s and Jack’s storylines could have been a little bit more equally distributed among the rest of the principle cast.

Epting, who handles the bulk of the artwork, brings the story to the page with energy and gravitas. His strong sense of narrative truly shines through the use of thoughtful page design and panel transition, expertly pacing each critical scene. The quality of his lines and dramatic use of shadow sets a somber tone that grounds the story in a real sense of weight and physicality. Overall his style meshes impeccably with Perkins and flashback artist Lark, making for a cohesive reading experience from start to finish. This is also due largely in part to the work of colorist Frank D’Armata. D’Armata’s dark and moody palettes affect a somber tone throughout, and the use of grayscale color schemes during the flashback sequences is a nice touch.

Overall Winter Soldier is a great story from a dynamic creative team. It’s fun, it’s compelling, and it’s wonderfully crafted from start to finish. This arc is required reading for Captain America fans but I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting superhero read. Oh, and be sure to see the movie. I hear it’s pretty good.

Magen Cubed  –