Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Review – Daredevil The Man Without Fear! The Devil Inside and Out Volume 1

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano
Colour by Frank D’Armata
Published by Marvel

For the past few years, Matt Murdock’s life has been teetering on the edge of destruction. Now, pushed beyond the limit, Matt finds himself behind the eight ball with no clear way out, the people he calls friends slowly deserting him, and Hell’s Kitchen gradually slipping out of control. The question is just how far will Daredevil go to get back what is his?

My Daredevil knowledge to date is limited and consists of the following
I have watched the movie (both the theatrical release and the Directors cut)
I have read Frank Miller’s The Man without Fear.
I own a copy of Daredevil #184 purely for the cover – it’s bloody awesome and is present here in all its gloriousness

And that’s it.
So I approached Brubaker and Lark’s The Devil Inside and Out with slight amount of trepidation, to be honest it’s been in my reading pile for a while, filed under ‘impenetrable’ But what a fool I’ve been, forget any of my worries about continuity or not being able to follow the story – it honesty doesn’t matter, when a comic is written and executed this well, it should be able to and it does, stand up on it’s own merits.
For me I think of Daredevil as one of Marvels prestige titles only entrusted to the best of the best and so in 2006 the writing baton was handed over  to a certain Mr Ed Brubaker, Bendis’s run had finished with Matt Murdock incarcerated on Ryker’s Island held on suspicion of being The Man Without Fear, Daredevil.
So how the hell do you get out of that?
Easy (says me), you craft a story that will push Matt Murdock to the very edge of his sanity, you lock him away in the same jail as his most hated enemies then kill the one person in his life who has stuck with him through thick and thin, and then finally when he can’t get any lower you make him evaluate and question his very existence as Daredevil.
So in other words you take him and kick him in the balls repeatedly till he begs for mercy and then you kick him some more just for the hell of it.
Brubaker writes like a man possessed and his story is a lesson on how to write about the brutality and the depravity of the human soul. You know the situation is bad when the Punisher gets involved to add a little sanity and level headedness to proceedings – yes things really do get that bad.
There are a few lines at the beginning that perfectly sum up the book and have stuck with me after I finished reading
‘They think they know who I am….
But they don’t.
Daredevil has always been me held in check.
They’ve never met the real Matt Murdock’
This all said whilst talking to his dead father and using his cell wall as punch bag – grim doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The artwork by Michael Lark is also pretty spectacular, at first I wasn’t really sure if I was going to like it or not. But as you progress further into the book the art dovetails with the writing perfectly and it captures the feel and claustrophobic ness of Ryker’s Island perfectly and all but drips off the page, stunning.
Also while I’m gushing I thought I’d mention Lark and D’Armata’s Hell’s Kitchen which they somehow manage to turn into a living and breathing character. There is a sequence of panels in the fist issue of the collection when Foggy is out looking for the fake Daredevil (nice reveal at the end of the book by the way). His search takes him to the roof tops of Hell’s Kitchen, it’s dark, it’s grimy, it’s raining and it’s absolutely beautiful to look at. Time and time again my eyes were drawn to backgrounds to the details of the buildings, architecture and the lighting. Who knew that a water tower could look so good! 
Final thoughts
So if you hadn’t guessed I loved this book all I want to do now is skip over to Amazon and order the rest of Brubaker’s run and devour it all and I’ve still not read any of the Bendis Daredevil run, oh life is good.

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