Daredevil 10.1. This is the jumping on point for all those who have missed out on the new series. It hasn’t been all wine and roses, writer Mark Waid has stumbled a few times with his stories, even tossing in an ill advised tale involving Mole Man. It seems all that is behind Waid and he’s ready to explore the story of Daredevil and the “hard drive” he possesses that holds secrets for Hydra, A.I.M., Agence Byzantine, Black Spectre and Secret Empire. The tension of the coming war between these criminal organizations and Daredevil finally comes to a head.
Issue 10.1 is a weird one, structurally speaking. The first third has little to nothing to do with the hard drive storyline other than to prove the word is out for Daredevil’s head. Matt Murdock is summoned to a prison holding cell by a third-string villain named Pyromania. Earlier in the week, this firebug attempted to kill Murdock and was stopped by Daredevil. Most of issue 10.1 is Pyromania recounting what we already know about folks thinking Daredevil and Matt Murdock are the same person, the hard drive and so on. It’s really just a clever way for Waid to get all of us caught up before he unloads the multi-issue arc involving Daredevil’s war against the criminal underworld.
Action and plot meet most effectively in the last few pages. Daredevil, tired of having folks come after him, tracks down a pow-wow between representatives of the five groups. In one of the best written scenes in the whole series, Daredevil grows so frustrated listening to them argue, he busts into the meeting and proceeds to set one group up for a big fall. The very end of the scene is harsh, perhaps a bit too harsh for how the rest of the story is laid out but it’s effective in displaying how violent the coming war will be.
What works so well with issue 10.1 is the same thing that made the first five issues of the new Daredevil so good. Waid is having fun, he’s letting his comic book side run wild, which is when he’s always at his best. The last few issues of Daredevil have been entirely too serious and weirdly slapped together. Here, we have the start of a concrete story line and one that is right up Mark Waid’s ally. Apparently the war will be so vast we’ll see it in Daredevil, Punisher and Spider-Man. I’m not sure where this will fall in the current Avengers Vs. X-Men timeline but the story should be awesome.
I know I’ll get hell for this, but I think Daredevil could use a change in the art. No matter who’s been helming the pencil the art for the series has had a very open, colorful and old comic book throwback look to it. It’s worked thus far and I’ve been a huge fan of it. Now, however, the art feels wrong for the story. If things are going to get dark and violent, the open and colorful look won’t work. Daredevil needs a grittier look from here on out. Don’t get me wrong, the art on Daredevil 10.1 from Khoi Pham is solid, it just isn’t right for the upcoming arc.
(5 Story, 3 Art)