It’s a new #1 for the man without fear, but luckily, not much has changed. Well, Matt Murdock is now public with his secret identity and has moved to San Francisco and the logo now has little horns on the second ‘D’ and the price of the book has gone up, but it’s still the same high level of quality we’ve come to expect from the team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. If you loved Daredevil before, you’ll still love it, perhaps even more-so, because it really is a great blend of new and old.
This issue mainly serves as an introduction to the changes in Daredevil’s life, and how his methods have changed on the West Coast. The central plot involves the rescue of the daughter of San Francisco’s Deputy Mayor, but it’s not the what that’s really important here, it’s the how. The issue opens with Matt Murdock working with the Police, using his powers to examine the ransom evidence to work out the whereabouts of the missing child. Back in New York, Daredevil had a much more adversarial relationship with the Cops, and he wouldn’t have been given easy access to this material. But in San Fran, now that everyone knows what he can do, he’s been welcomed. Matt works out where the kid is, and heads off into the city.
We get a brief recap of his origin story, and then a bit where he talks about how well he knew New York and could navigate it just by smell and sound alone. This is in stark contrast with San Francisco, which, although he lived there before, he doesn’t know as well, and even then, it’s changed since then. Matt overshoots a palm tree with his Billy Club, which puts him, and the Deputy Mayor’s daughter, in trouble as they are chased across the city by two mysterious masked kidnappers on Goblinesque Gliders. To make up for his unfamiliarity with the City, Matt has Kirsten McDuffie in his ear telling him wear to go, but even that has it’s issues, as it blocks his hearing in one ear, meaning he can’t hear one of the gliders and crashes into it.
The big question here is, if Matt has already rescued the girl, why are the villains still giving chase? It turns out that they’ve planted a bomb inside her, and want Daredevil to carry her back to the Town Hall or wherever… and blow her up. They need to stay close in order for the detonator to work. Matt needs to find a solution for this, but another difference between NYC and SF rears it’s head, as he needs to find a tall hospital with an elevator. In New York, there are loads of these, but California is not nearly as tall, so he and Kirsten are in a rush against time to find one, and use the elevator as a make-shift Faraday Cage to block the bomb’s signal. In the end of course, they do, and Daredevil is able to punch out the villains and save the day.
The issue ends with a short scene 3 days later with the Deputy Mayor visiting Matt and Kirsten’s new offices. We learn that the daughter is fine, and that the kidnapper isn’t talking, but the big deal here is when she asks about Matt’s former partner, Foggy Nelson. There are loads of photos on the walls of Foggy, and even an Urn. Matt refers to Foggy in the past tense, so yeah, looks like Foggy died in between #36 and #1. Or did he? The last panel shows a bald man watching this through CCTV. This is presumably Foggy, so he’s still alive, but for some reason, this is being kept a secret. I have no idea why this is, but I’m fascinated to find out.
This was a great return for Daredevil, it really hasn’t missed a beat. Waid has a lot of fun with the differences between San Francisco and New York, and it really does feel like a new start for the character. Hell, the fact that the main action scene is set in the daytime rather than at night shows that perfectly. Samnee’s art was of course wonderfully in sync with Waid, and the extended chase through the city was this book at it’s best. I also loved the origin recap and ode to New York pages, such great, interesting layouts. This creative team is always thinking of something new.
If for some insane reason you didn’t read Waid’s run on Daredevil from the start, this is a great jumping on point, but really, who doesn’t read Daredevil? You know this was damn good stuff, rest assured, it still is.