Not too long ago, writer Charles Soule capped off his run on DAREDEVIL with a finisher that nearly killed Matt Murdock. Following the events of the MAN WITHOUT FEAR miniseries, Matt Murdock is now thankfully back on his feet. At least, somewhat. Now, the life and times of Matt are being brought to you by writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto in DAREDEVIL #1.

Typically, I don’t peg Chip Zdarsky as a dark, broody author. This guy works on comics like SEX CRIMINALS and Spider-Man. I’m typically in a good mood after reading a book with Zdarsky’s name on it. DAREDEVIL #1 is very much the opposite, and that’s definitely a good thing. Zdarsky expresses an impressive range of emotion in this issue.

Likewise, the art for DAREDEVIL #1 is nothing to bat an eye at either. Marco Checchetto is one of my favorite artists, and his sharp yet emotive style is perfect for a book like DAREDEVIL. He worked on one of my favorite Mark Waid Daredevil stories from back in the Marvel NOW! era. I’m glad to see him back for more Daredevil adventures.

Matt is Still Struggling in DAREDEVIL #1

DAREDEVIL #1 jumps right into things with Matt showing up at a bar, seemingly worn out from what was likely a previous bad guy beatdown. He makes light conversation with a girl, who he of course has a one-night stand with. I suspect this relationship might go somewhere beyond a one-time fling.

Meanwhile, police are investigating a scene where Daredevil has apparently struck. Though the officers kind of want to pass up the whole thing, a new detective named Cole North shows up. He’s not as willing to overlook the whole vigilante thing. We later learn that Matt did go out and beat up whoever this baddie was before heading to the bar, just not in costume.

DAREDEVIL #1 page 2. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Matt then heads back out into the night, this time properly as the Man Without Fear. He’s just roaming around at this point, letting people know he’s still alive, putting fear in the hearts of evil-doers, and all that jazz. Of course, not everyone’s gotten the message, and he comes across a small break-in.

Things don’t go smoothly for Matt, however. He’s still very much in a shaky condition, and the fight quickly goes south for him. The three robbers brutally pummel him, and he just barely pulls out a win. He returns to his apartment a bloody mess, and we learn that one of these men actually died from head trauma.

Throughout DAREDEVIL #1, the present-day story is interposed with images of Matt’s past. These moments show him meeting with a priest, Father Cathal. Each moment relates to Matt’s present situation of how he feels trapped because of his senses, or conflicted by his urge to do good through violent means. It’s a familiar trope, yet it’s used to great effect in DAREDEVIL #1.

An Easy Story to Follow for Fans of the Show

So, if you’re a fan of the Netflix series (which you should be), you might find that DAREDEVIL #1 is highly reminiscent of the beginning of DAREDEVIL Season 3. Matt’s trying desperately to get his footing back as Daredevil, but he’s limited by his injuries and trauma. Zdarsky clearly took some inspiration from the show, which is both good and bad.

I don’t mind a little copying of what we’ve seen from the show; it’s a sensible arc for Matt, given his recent escapades. We’ve got a wounded yet aggressive, Matt, trying to get back on his feet. We’ve got the new do-gooder detective trying to turn things around. And we’ve got Fisk in a position of power from which he can really screw Matt over. Oh, and we’ve got a nice focus on Matt’s Christian faith. If this doesn’t sound like Season 3 in the general sense, then I don’t know what does. I just hope Zdarsky doesn’t follow the show verbatim.

DAREDEVIL #1 page 6. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Now, to Zdarsky’s credit, though he may copy the format a bit, he still manages to spice it all up in his typical fashion. The initial meeting between Matt and the girl was actually fairly pleasant. And seeing Matt fail so horribly as Daredevil is still painful to watch. He’s unbalanced and unfocused, which is such an odd thing to see. Jumping between the two stories (past and present) also feels seamless and natural, which is always nice.

So, even though Zdarsky borrows from DAREDEVIL Season 3, DAREDEVIL #1 still manages to tell what feels like a timely story. But, again, I’m hoping to see Zdarsky break off from this already familiar pattern.

Grisly Art for a Grisly Story

As I said, I typically have loads of praise to dole out for Marco Checchetto. That definitely still stands in DAREDEVIL #1. It’s been a while since I’ve seen his art in a Marvel book, so DAREDEVIL #1 came as a bit of a refresher for me.

Checchetto has such an incredibly acute attention to detail in this issue. Small things like scrapes on Matt’s knuckles in the bar or a blindfold-like shadow trailing across his eyes in his apartment really stand out. And when we get that first shot of Matt swinging through the NY skyline as Daredevil, my heart soared.

DAREDEVIL #1 page 14. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The combat in the latter half of DAREDEVIL #1 is meticulous, but not in a way that drags the action. In fact, it elevates it. You can track exactly how the combat flows from panel to panel, thanks to Checchetto’s detail-oriented eye. And each blow feels impactful; I felt a particular twinge in the back of my skull when Matt got hit with a bottle in the same spot.

I should also mention just how important colorist Sunny Gho’s work is here, too. Blood spatters really pop, and many of those small details like the knuckle scrapes or light teardrops wouldn’t be as noticeable were it not for his pitch-perfect coloring. And the whole issue has a grisly tone to it, which I’ve always found befitting of Daredevil comics.

All in all, DAREDEVIL #1 is an artistic gem. Not completely perfect, mind you, but pretty damn close to it.

What’s Next for Murdock?

DAREDEVIL #1 leaves Matt in a very insecure position. Not only that, but it also seems that Mayor Fisk may be plotting something in the background (like always). I’m used to things never going well for Matt Murdock, but this entire scenario still somehow feels new to me. And I still hold out hope that things will turn out alright for him.

Whatever may come next, one thing you can be sure of is that DAREDEVIL #1 is a beautiful start to the next era of the Man Without Fear. Chip Zdarsky may borrow from the show a little bit, but that certainly doesn’t deter him from telling a compelling and gruesome story. I didn’t expect a story like this from Zdarsky, and I’m excited to see where he takes this.

Marco Checchetto and Sunny Gho have incredible chemistry in DAREDEVIL #1, to the point that the issue has little to no flaws, artistically speaking. Checchetto’s pages are as sharp as ever, and Gho’s colors help every little detail pop off the page.

So, whether it’s a little too soon or not for Daredevil to be back in the game, I’m eager to see where he goes next.

DAREDEVIL #1 by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho
Chip Zdarsky delivers a compelling and brutal beginning with DAREDEVIL #1, despite a little borrowing from the show. And Marco Checchetto and Sunny Gho's artwork will leave you floored.
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A Grisly Beginning

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