When Stan Lee first created DAREDEVIL in 1964, I was just a tiny tot, barely beginning my comic book reading years, getting the books handed down to me after my Uncle Wally was done with them. DD didn’t start off with a real bang, despite art by Bill Everett on his origin story, followed by Joe Orlando for three issues. Initially, the book had the feel of something no one was quite sure what to do with. By issue #5, the great Wallace Wood came on board to handle the illustration, and I was hooked. The spectacular art must’ve really inspired Stan to write better scripts, and the book soon became Little Mark’s favorite for it’s second year of bimonthly adventures. DD really was the most “standard superhero” book in the Marvel pantheon at that time, although it certainly had it’s share of pathos (after all, he IS a blind superhero) and soap-opera (a love-triangle between Matt Murdock and his friend and partner Foggy Nelson for the affections of bombshell secretary Karen Page). After 8 issues, Woody moved on, and who replaced him but newly-returning (at that time) bullpen stalwart John Romita. Much to my amazement, the book got even better, as Romita brought his own brand of dynamism to DD’s action scenes, and years of toiling on DC romance comics prepared him well for handling the scenes of Matt Murdock’s personal life. Romita was SO good at the lone-wolf, rooftop-swinging superhero type that when Steve Ditko left SPIDER-MAN, Romita was moved off of DD and on to Spidey. Romita was replaced on DD by Gene Colan, who spent a good long run on the book, taking the Fearless One to even greater heights of glory. But all this is ancient history, having happened decades ago. The Daredevil character floundered for some time, until it fell into the hands of writer/artist Frank Miller around 1979. Miller really made the character over, both in terms of visual approach and in the kind stories he was appeared in. Most fans consider that the “definitive” DAREDEVIL, but it was not my cup of tea. In the years since, a lot has been built on that Miller run, and DAREDEVIL and his supporting cast have been put through an incredible amount of changes. Recently, I had a chance to look at a current issue- DAREDEVIL #22, to be exact. You may be able to find a copy on the ‘stands even now. I was suprised to find a character that reminded me more of the DAREDEVIL of my youth than any I’d seen in decades. The story actually had some lighthearted sequences, it guest-stars SPIDER-MAN (albeit the SPIDEY who thinks he’s Doc Ock), and features a battle with the STILT-MAN. Veteran writer Mark Waid has done a great job of giving the strip the FEEL it had many years ago, while not ignoring or undoing any of the intervening continuity. Matt Murdock has no money, and everyone in the MARVEL universe KNOWS he’s DD, including SPIDER-MAN. But the story is actually FUN, and has several very genuine, human moments. It does not dwell on gritty street crime or human depravity. The art, too was deftly handled, and when I went back to check the credits I saw that the book was actually drawn by old AC alumnus Chris Samnee.I would never say Chris “started” with AC, as he was already a major talent when writer Chris Irving brought him on board to illustrate a couple of his stories (in FEMFORCE #122 and #125), but it’s always a pleasure when someone you know (at least a little bit) and respect turns up doing exemplary work. Kudos to both Chris and writer Mark Waid on this- as well as the MARVEL editorial powers-that-be for letting them do it. I don’t know how long they’ll be allowed to work on the character using this approach, but this is ONE old-time Marvelite who (after a 45-year hiatus) will being buying and reading as long as they do. I highly recommend this current run on DAREDEVIL. Try it.
– February 15, 2013