Superhero comics — heck, comics in general — are often best when the characters have to grapple with overarching themes, especially when they relate to their actions. Daredevil comics are so often excellent because the writers can take Matt Murdock and drag him through moral muck, and it makes sense to do so. Too often fans insult creators who take characters down a darker path, but the protector of Hell’s Kitchen is expected to grapple with the grim grayness of his profession. I say all that to affirm that Chip Zdarsky continues exploring the titular character in ways Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis would be proud of.
Sure that he’s killed a man, a manic Matt Murdock continues rushing around the streets trying to stop the Owl. But then his friends show up and perform a little intervention. Harkening back to Bendis’s iconic run, it’s great to see the Defenders (and a surprise guest) confront Daredevil about his behavior. Zdarsky convincingly pens Matt’s manic thought-process and dialogue. One moment he’s justifying his bloody-fisted existence, the next he’s got his head in his hands, admitting his faults through tears. It’s powerful stuff.
Unfortunately, the dialogue here is often repetitive and blunt. Perhaps being blunt isn’t inherently the problem, it’s how flat it comes out. Zdarsky throws in some ellipsis and em-dashes to make the dialogue sound more natural, but it’s still too over-written and cumbersome. The themes are so prevalent, we don’t need them enunciated this clearly.
Another problem are the Defenders (and the surprise guest). While Danny Rand has a spark of personality, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are interchangeable, sounding more like stoic moralists like Captain America than the robust characters they’ve become under writers like David F. Walker.
Marco Checchetto has situated himself as one of Marvel’s best working artists. A battle with an armored goon in the streets involving chains and Indiana Jones stunts? You’ll be out of breath just reading it. An intimate, emotionally crushing scene between Matt and his concerned friends? You’ll be gripping the comic ’til it crinkles. Checchetto has just the right mix of grit and fluidity.