Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 1 by Roger McKenzie

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 1Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller, Vol. 1 by Roger McKenzie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daredevil is the Man Without Fear, shaped by childhood circumstances to be a nighttime prowler and avenger/crime-fighter. His father's sad demise spurred him to seek justice, but he doesn't stop there. He disciplines his body to further his mission of protecting the innocent and seeing criminals captured, although he never goes over the line to murder.

I am in the minority, but I liked the movie with Ben Affleck. I think they conveyed the essence of the comics fairly well.

Daredevil is actually pretty noirish. The concepts, the setting and the characters. Daredevil has an interesting Rogue's Gallery, a mix of types. While some of the villains/foes that Daredevil faces are over the top and comic booky, a fair amount are amoral criminal types that you might see in the real life of any city's underworld. You can see why he is so determined to wipe out crime in his city as it's evident how far-reaching and destructive its effects are, which Matt Murdock learned intimately. As a lawyer, he sees the failings of the justice system to protect people, so he is not afraid to get physical to see justice done.

Daredevil's ability is really cool. When he was doused with radioactive waste, it blinded him, but enhanced all his other senses. His sense of hearing and smell is super-acute, but he can also see things with sonar, similar to a bat. While Daredevil does have superpowers, he also uses extensive martial arts and physical conditioning to hone his skills, along with his billy club, which is pretty darn awesome. This dude can kick serious butt.

This is an older graphic novel collection, and the coloring and artwork is a bit dated-looking, but otherwise, compelling and well-written despite the dated feel of the illustrations. Many will be familiar with Frank Miller, if not from the comic book world, than from the movie adaptations based on his work. His noir touch is very evident in the stories inked by him, with Daredevil's formidable and well-earned reputation as a denizen of the night who vigilantly protects his city. Matt Murdock is a mall-mannered lawyer by day, stricken with blindness as a child. His personality seems fractured, but he merely hides his purpose from those in his life who would no doubt be hurt by his double life. It's not one of those situations where you wonder why people don't know who he is. Clark Kent, I'm looking at you! His secret identity is rock solid.

I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. I guess I forgot how much I liked what I read of this series. I have read a couple of comic books with Daredevil (years ago, back when I first fell in love with comic books), with a stack of them in my garage I never got around to. I'm glad that my library had the collections that show his origins as a crimefighter. He's a compelling character that resonates with me. Not a carbon copy of Batman, but there are some similarities between them. Goodness knows how much I like Batman. I think I like Daredevil for similar reasons, and he's also a redhead, so that's another level of like.

So yes, I am grateful to the movie version for bringing this character to my attention. I am looking forward to Affleck as Batman too, for the record. I got Volume 2 which has my girl Elektra, so I'm jazzed! I recommend this graphic novel.

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