I’m a pretty big Daredevil fan having jumped on board with Kevin Smith many years ago. In fact, Daredevil is the only Big Two book I have stayed with constantly over the years. (Helped, I suppose, by 15 years’ worth of pretty much consistently great stories). I have, however, come to notice that other than the work of Frank Miller, I have never really dipped into Daredevil’s past issues. Something I thought I would change.
I picked up Issues 343 – 350, the conclusion to the ‘dark and violent’ phase, something all heroes were contractually obliged to go through at some point in the 90s.
So… Matt Murdock has faked his death, apparently having a demonic doppleganger buried in his place. All his friends assume he is dead so he takes on a new identity, Jack Batlin, and gets a new dark and armoured costume (another prerequisite of the dark and violent phase) and gets medieval on some criminals while clearly suffering a massive breakdown.
It’s my impression that this period of Daredevil’s history is a bit of a mess and it appears here that J.M. DeMatteis has been called in to clean up – Daredevil works his way back to sanity and, in the process, takes on two different Daredevil personalities (classic swashbuckling Daredevil and more modern Daredevil), goes catatonic and possibly imagines the return of his dead master, Stick, who has him fight his own mental projections of his various incarnations. The 90s, huh?
All things considered, I quite enjoyed these issues, which are clearly designed to clean up the mess the character was in at the time. But, I have to be honest – going by these, I’d say that reading Miller, then jumping ahead to Bendis is a good idea. Then who knows what we’d miss. I hear good things about Ann Nocenti’s run – maybe I should travel back a little further and investigate the late 80s back issues…