Daredevil #1 Is A Great New Chapter But A Not-So-Great Jumping On Point
Marvel has relaunched Daredevil’s ongoing series with a #1 issue by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto. Published the problem and called it “perfect for both newbies as well as long-time readers.” Daredevil #1 was not only the perfect jumping-on point to an “all-new era” in Daredevil stories but also the next chapter of Zdarsky’s highly-acclaimed series chronicling the exploits of the Man Without Fear, now into its fourth season. Unsurprisingly, one of these things was true.
A brief one-page summary is all new readers need to know about the events in Daredevil’s previous volume. This was canceled in November 2021, and the Elektra: Woman Without Fear series. They are dropped right into the story, expecting to be up to speed with all that has happened in Matt Murdock’s life. Zdarsky and Rafael Delatorre also write a back story that helps to fill in the gaps about key supporting characters Elektra or Stick. However, even this is targeted at the existing readership.
Daredevil #1, if you’re a member of that group, is quite literally a completely different story. You won’t be restricted by second-guessing each panel and can absorb Zdarsky’s solid scripting. It is full of great dialogue, brief action scenes, and flashes of the scribe’s trademark sense of humor. Zdarsky’s stage-setting elements in Daredevil #1 will make you more excited than baffled. He moves pieces around the board to create the current arc’s supernaturally oriented direction. It’s clear that there’s a master plan in play, and it’s great fun to watch it unfold.
However, readers of all ages can still appreciate the art of Checchetto or Wilson. Checchetto’s inks add just the right amount to each panel. Without missing a beat, he effortlessly switches between darkly lit dialogue scenes and bombastic splash pages. His characters can “act,” and his action scenes have been carefully choreographed and laid out. Wilson’s carefully selected palette helps tie it all together. This book is one of the best-looking on the market.
This is ultimately the problem with Daredevil #1. This comic is excellent on its own merits. However, only half of its intended audience will feel the same way. Daredevil has a history of reinventing itself within established mainstream continuity in a way neither Marvel nor DC can. This has been a great opportunity to onboard newbies almost every time. The Zdarsky/Checchetto start was one such opportunity. Approximately three-quarters of the time, however, was that run completed? It’s not so, and it was never going to be.
This begs the question, why would Marvel put a #1 in this issue? Resetting numbers is an excellent method to drive single-issue sales. This is partly because it attracts readers who want to be a part of a story on the ground floor. This only works if the issue being discussed is on the ground floor. Daredevil #1 is an excellent example of this. It’s not Zdarsky or Checchetto’s fault either, as they have no control over how Marvel packages and markets their work. It’s possible to argue that they are being set up for failure as much as new readers. This is because they can’t make their multi-year superhero story accessible.
Marvel isn’t likely too fussy since the short-term sales boost of relaunching a title will undoubtedly make up for the audience loss that follows. Many Daredevil #2 readers won’t return, mainly since Marvel is marketing the issue as a 650th-issue extravaganza. This is a long-term problem as Marvel and DC want to add new talent to their fanbases.
It’s also shameful because Daredevil is among the most shelves illustrated and well-written comics on te people should read it. Marvel should focus more on the first collected volume and less on fake-outs. This is a significant challenge in an age where superhero comics lose ground to free webcomics. Until Marvel can figure out how to do it, books such as Daredevil #1 won’t be able to attract the new readers that the publisher desperately needs.