Devil’s Reign marked the end of the Mayor Wilson Fisk Era for New York City. That major event also concluded with the world believing Matt Murdock is dead after Wilson Fisk killed Mike Murdock, believing he was Matt. Rather than coming out with how Fisk actually killed his brother Matt has decided to use this as an opportunity to be Daredevil full-time. Along with that decision Matt is teaming up with Elektra Natchios as they both lead The Fist as Daredevil to bring down The Hand once and for all. How will this new era for Daredevil begin? Let’s find out with Daredevil #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Marco Checchetto (The Red Fist Saga); Rafael De Latorre (The Island)
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
As things are getting back to normal in New York City Matt Murdock poses as his brother (Mike Murdock) to get information straight from Butch Pharris (the current Kingpin of Crime and Wilson Fisk’s son) about what happened with Wilson. Matt then drops the façade by saying he’ll stop Butch if he gets out of line.
Spider-Man (Peter Parker) then shows up to team up with Daredevil to defeat Butch’s gang to further push the message Matt just gave.
Later, Daredevil reveals his identity as Matt Murdock to Spider-Man, which causes Spider-Man to get all his memories of Matt back. Spider-Man says while he would share his identity it is important he keep it a secret, which Matt understands.
Daredevil and Spider-Man then continue their team-up by taking on Hammerhead’s gang together.
The next day, as the sun rises Matt realizes he has lost track of time and is late to say goodbye to Kirsten McDuffie before she leaves town so he can tell her the truth.
Before he can get to Kirsten, Daredevil hears shooting and goes to respond. He quickly takes down the shooter but is unable to save the victim of the shooting.
Daredevil finally gets to the train station but is too late as his old law school friend Robert Goldman tells him Kirsten already left. Robert suddenly calls Daredevil “Matt” and says he is his guardian angel while glowing gold.
An explosion is suddenly set off on the train Kirsten is on with Robert saying he wasn’t her guardian angel.
Though this appears to be a fake-out as Kirsten is shown walking somewhere in the street.
Sometime in the future, a grizzled Matt is seen talking to someone about his mission and Robert Goldman, the one person he is actually scared of.
Meanwhile, Elektra meets with Stick in Makanrushi, where Stick has set up a place to act as The Fist’s home base.
As they talk about how Elektra got Matt to join The Fist a couple of Russian Soldiers surround their cabin. Elektra and Stick make quick work of the soldiers.
Noticing how she fought Stick calls Elektra out on how she is not fighting with the intention to kill because of Matt’s influence on her. This immediately starts a fight between them. Stick gets the early advantage while calling out her weak fighting style. Elektra is finally able to counter Stick’s attacks and defeats him in their fight.
Elektra then reminds Stick that she is the leader of The Fist and to never disobey her again. She then tells Stick to stand up as they got a world to save. End of issue.
With Daredevil entering a new era Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Rafael De Latorre, and Matt Wilson work to solidify a strong foundation for it right out of the gate. By the end of Daredevil #1, that foundation is successfully placed as the entire creative team makes the mission of this new Daredevil era clear to the reader.
The greatest strength of Daredevil #1 is also its greatest weakness as a first issue. This isn’t the normal first issue of a relaunched series. While there is an air of a new start for Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios that is not actually the case. Daredevil #1 uses what has been previously developed by this creative team in the previous volume of this series and Devil’s Reign. For fans of Zdarsky and company’s run thus far that will be an exciting thing.
That said, I could see how new readers could be lost if they have not at least read Devil’s Reign coming into this new #1 issue. Which could turn off new readers since it could come across as a lot happening off-screen that they need to catch up on.
But as someone that has been reading Zdarsky, Checchetto, Latorre, and Wilson’s run and highly enjoying it Daredevil #1 was exactly how I wanted this series to start out. Right out of the gate we see the current status quo of New York City with Butch Pharris as the Kingpin of Crime addressed. With how closely tied Daredevil has been to those holding the Kingpin it wouldn’t be right if Matt just left to go lead The Fist without addressing Butch’s status quo in some way.
Using the fact the world believes Matt Murdock is dead to fake being Mike Murdock, who was Butch’s best friend, gave a way for Matt to get his message across to Butch. Bringing in Spider-Man to help send that message also made great use of how both Daredevil and Spider-Man have had a long history with the Fisk family. Given everything going on with Spider-Man, he is definitely the hero that would like to send a message to the new Kingpin alongside Daredevil.
This also helped to nicely transition into how Zdarsky went about reforging the friendship between Daredevil and Spider-Man. Matt actually reveals the truth about his fake death to Spider-Man, while being fine with Peter keeping his own identity a secret, which speaks to how much trust there is between the two. It was a payoff to how shaky of a relationship they’ve had during the previous volume of Daredevil. And with Peter not being able to participate in Devil’s Reign because of the Spider-Man Beyond direction I’m glad this was addressed between the two. It shows how along with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones that Spider-Man is one of the heroes Matt trusts the most.
Going from there to continuing to show how Daredevil is who he is full-time was very well handled throughout this issue. We never saw Matt turn off being Daredevil. Even when he was acting as Mike Murdock he was in Daredevil mode. From there he was always in costume which further puts over how this really is his new status quo.
It helped work into Matt’s personal struggle that he does want to still have connections with others. While Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones are there for him they are in the superhero community. Matt has such a long history of personal relationships with others like Foggy Nelson and Kirsten McDuffie that it does weigh heavily on him that he has faked his death to be Daredevil full-time. When Matt realizes he missed Kirsten you could feel the heartbreak thanks to the excellent artwork by Checchetto to capture that moment.
Which makes the inclusion of Robert Goldman such an unexpected development. Robert is a character we’ve seen appear a few times in Zdarsky’s run, most prominently in Daredevil: Woman Without Fear. Appearing here by taunting Matt over being his guardian angel and mockingly saying he won’t protect Kirsten while glowing gold creates a lot of questions about what role this character will serve. That is further brought to question with how future Matt talks to a mysterious person about Robert Goldman being the one person he fears. How this future time period plays into the present is definitely a great way to add other elements to The Fist story so it isn’t solely about taking down The Hand.
Speaking of The Fist, with this being the first issue of this new Daredevil series it was a smart call to have Matt and Elektra Natchios doing their own thing to start. The story around The Fist is more built out through Elektra’s half of Daredevil #1. Bringing in Stick to be another member of The Fist is a strong choice given what he represents to Elektra and Matt.
Elektra’s meeting with Stick alone gave way for the opportunity to showcase how far Elektra has come since assuming the role of Daredevil. Stick calling out how Elektra has changed and viewing that change as her softening because of Matt’s influence is exactly what you would expect to hear from Stick. Stick has no filter and will say exactly what is on his mind, especially to Elektra and Matt.
This leading to a fight was balanced out well between the inner monologue by Zdarsky and the artwork by Latorre. There was a balance struck so we saw the full skill level of both fighters while getting more insight into where Elektra is mentally. The fight ending with Elektra’s victory and her telling Stick “I’m Not Daredevil. I’m Elektra Natchios” was a strong statement.
Unlike Matt, being Daredevil isn’t what Elektra will be defining herself as. It is a current part of who she is while working with Matt but at the end of the day the mask won’t be who she is. Elektra walking away while not wearing the Daredevil mask while warning Stick to not disobey her again sent a strong message to everyone.
Daredevil #1 is a strong continuation of where Devil’s Reign left the franchise. Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Rafael De Latorre, and Matt Wilson do not miss a beat with where they take Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios’ characters as both characters operate as Daredevil and co-leads of The Fist. This first issue accomplishes a lot in setting up several storylines for the reader to be invested in alongside the Daredevils’ main mission of taking down The Hand. This is definitely a can’t miss comic book for Daredevil fans.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10