Friday, March 1, 2013

Daredevil: a breath of fresh air, except for the part where Captain America is a jerk again

After reading Ultimate Spider-Man and Batman in my quest to become versed in comic books, I wanted to try a slightly less popular superhero. I've heard great things about Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye, but the first collected edition of that series doesn't come out until the end of this month. So I went with another critically-acclaimed series about a more upbeat superhero: Daredevil, by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera.

The most immediately striking part of Daredevil is the artwork. While many of today's mainstream superhero comics go for realism in their art, Daredevil features a retro style full of bright colors. It reflects the tone of the series, whose swashbuckling adventurism is in stark contrast to the Serious Business of people in other modern comics like Batman and the Avengers.

Click to see full-size image so you can appreciate it fully

Just look at the cover of issue 1! At first glance I thought the background was just abstract scribbles, but then it hit me: it's actually a detailed cityscape that Daredevil is traversing, and because he's blind it represents his interpretation of that cityscape through his other senses.

The whole approach of Daredevil's art hinges on the fact that its titular character is blind--ironic in a visual medium like comics. His heightened senses are represented visually throughout the story, and they help the reader "see" the world through his eyes.

Snack foods offend his senses!

Daredevil spends just as much time on Matt Murdock being a lawyer as it does on his superhero alter ego. He's struggling with the fact that it's hard to keep your day job normal when everyone's pretty sure you're a famous vigilante.

Unlike the last two series I read, Daredevil is mainly just about Daredevil. Ultimate Spider-Man and Batman both feature tons of crossovers with other superheroes, but Daredevil mostly keeps to himself. As someone who enjoys self-contained storylines and is a newbie to the obnoxious marketing tie-in continuities of superhero comics, I enjoy following Daredevil as he does his own thing independent of everyone else.

Captain America being a dick to other superheroes, as usual

But then of course... Captain America shows up and ruins everyone's fun. This is the second Marvel series I've read, and it's the second one in which Captain America makes a cameo just to be an elitist dick to the main character. None of the series I've read have "Captain America" or "Avengers" in the title, so why does this keep happening? Is Captain America in every single Marvel comic, just to be a holier-than-thou asshole to the protagonist? Why does anyone like this guy?

I know I'll see other superheroes make appearances in Daredevil, but hopefully none as irritating as Captain America. In the meantime, Daredevil will be a series I follow wherever Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera take it.

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