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Daredevil: Father #1
story and art by Joe Quesada

I was talking with an artist friend about Marvel comics recently, the good and the bad. He made an interesting claim: Joey Q’s background is from the art side of the medium, not the story side, and that’s why art comes before story at Marvel these days. I’m not sure I believe that, but Daredevil: Father brought the statement to mind.

The new mini-series by Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief starts off with a languid retelling of Matt Murdock’s origin, spending roughly the first thirteen pages (half the book) showing The Man Without Fear hopping rooftops as he recalls the lessons he learned from his father and Hell’s Kitchen.

Matt arrives at work the following morning to find their new client already waiting for them. The case? Maggie Farrell has cancer and she and her husband Sean want to sue New Jersey Power and Light for dumping chemicals into the water they drink and the land they live on. It’s not just about injuries, though: Maggie has ovarian cancer. The family she and Sean worked their entire lives to start will never be.

Artistically, this is a pretty nice book. The characters look less… I hesitate to say “cartoony”, but they seem less like caricature than Quesada’s work on the early issues of the current Daredevil series. That probably has more to do with Danny Miki’s inks and the choice to have Richard Isanove paint, but the effect works for the story, giving it a look somewhere between a chunky Frank Miller and Alex Maleev’s breathtaking work on the current run of Daredevil. Fans of Joey Q will still recognize his quirky expressions, penchant for facial lines, and love of “low angle” shots, but this isn’t quite the same stuff he did for Kevin Smith.

On the story side, however, things are a bit unbalanced. The summary above, for instance, goes more than two thirds of the way into the issue. When the story finally does get started, it feels more like a collection of beginnings than interrelated events building off of one another. The issue ends with a bit of intrigue, but the few plot points we’re given don’t really add up to much at all. Next month, it may all come together as the story builds, but the series doesn’t have much of a hook yet. What it DOES have is a clear theme centering on men who’ve lost their fathers and their chances at fatherhood, but is that enough to keep it going?

I can’t say whether or not the lack of plot will lose readers, but it doesn’t look like sales tapering off will hurt the book much. This sucker flew off the shelves at my local shop and I’ve heard the same from people all around the country. The combined lure of Quesada’s name and Marvel’s full issue preview through Mile High Comics got the fans out in droves and probably attracted a number of irregular Daredevil readers, as well.

But this begs a question: what does this mean for the future? Will the revolution be computerized? The fact that so many people went for the blurry, low grade images of the web preview reinforces the notion of comics moving to the web, but we’ve been down this road before.

And then you have to consider how well the book sold, even though people could technically get it for free. Do sales speak for the material value of comics, a lack of web proficiency among comic fans (that’ll be the day), guilt over getting a comic for free online, or maybe just a desire to see whether the art was really as foggy as the .jpegs were?

Food for thought, indeed.



Jason Schachat

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