Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil #1 Review

Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Billy Tan

If you read Daredevil #500 or at least heard about it, you're probably excited to see where Daredevil is going with the new status quo as the leader of the Hand. This issue served double duty as the first issue of the new creative team (well, technically, only the new writer as Tan handles art chores for this one shot) and the first issue of that new status quo.

So, how does it stack up? Good, but not great. In fact, the preview for this issue that came with Daredevil #500 and The List - Avengers #1 was the best part of the issue. Actually, that's a lie. The best part of the issue was the preview for Daredevil #501 at the end of the issue. If I had to decide whether I wanted to stay with the title based solely on the contents of this issue, I'd probably have dropped the title. Seeing the beautiful art and more on Master Izo and the Hand in the preview for DD #501 changed that and has me anticipating that issue more than I was this one.

What was wrong with this issue? Art, for one. It's not bad art. It's actually fairly competent with composition and solid line work, but after years of the dark and gritty styles that have accompanied and defined Daredevil since it relaunched with the Marvel Knights line, it's just awkward seeing such bright and vibrant art for a Daredevil comic. It downplays the noir-like storytelling and accentuates the more fantastical super hero nature of the story, which is a bad thing for me. I like the gritty realism the previous artists of the series have brought to it that sell me on these stories. Tan's art just didn't fit for me.

On the story side of things, this List story just fell apart at the seams. It starts out really strong with Daredevil handling day to day operations of the Hand, a murder mystery-like setup that brings Norman Osborn into the picture and the unleashing of Bullseye to finally kill Daredevil. That's one hell of a great premise for a story and would work perfectly if they didn't turn it into a generic action story.

Bullseye somehow finds the Hand secret ritual location, provokes Daredevil to follow him and then blows up a building full of innocent people. Matt survived, Lady Bullseye was revealed as the mystery killer from the start and is working for the Kingpin, the end. After those first few pages, it read like a generic Daredevil story. The Hand didn't follow their new leader into battle, Matt didn't use the Hand or his resources, he just wears his DD costume, chases Bullseye and stuff blows up.

Thankfully, the preview for DD #501 looks fantastic. The art is a perfect fit, Matt is making tough decisions, Master Izo is still around and the Hand is even adopting Daredevil-like costumes for their footsoldiers (if you haven't seen them yet, they'll be in the Moments of the Week tomorrow!). It's everything this issue's first five or six pages was and then some. Shame the rest of this issue fell short of the bar the preview for it set.

Verdict - Check It. Good premise, solid start, but weak finish. Fails to sell people on the new status quo and poor choice of artist for the style of this character made an uneven book that just petered out in the end. Preview for next issue of Daredevil more than makes up for it though.

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