Daredevil Risk Pays Off
(This Stripped column originally appeared in the September 17-23, 1998 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)
by Beth Hannan Rimmels
I rarely fall for hype — particularly in the comic-book biz. If I had a dime for every press release I got promising the next big thing, well, I wouldn't need this job. So it's with a touch of sheepishness that I confess to having been anxiously awaiting the new Marvel Knights imprint, particularly the first book — Daredevil.
Earlier this year, Marvel announced a new publishing venture with Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, founders of Event Comics and creators of Ashe, in which the duo would executive produce, so to speak, certain Marvel titles, writing and/or drawing some personally. The creative teams announced were intriguing: Tom Sniegoski and Christopher Golden writing and Bernie Wrightson and Jimmy Palmiotti drawing Punisher (in stores Sept. 23); Christopher Priest writing and Mark Texeira drawing Black Panther (in stores now); Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee doing a 12-part Inhumans maxiseries (Sept. 30); and Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Clerks) writing, Quesada penciling and Palmiotti inking Daredevil (in stores now).
The pitch sounded reminiscent of the "Heroes Reborn" deal from two years ago Marvel did with Rob Liefield and Jim Lee, with several key differences. These stories are totally in continuity within the Marvel Universe, not an alternate universe. Nor are the characters starting over again from their origins. Palmiotti and Quesada promised in a panel at the Comic-Con International in San Diego that each character's past will stay intact, though they'll ignore the sillier moments. But they did learn a few things from the experiment.
"Yeah, we learned not to suck," said Quesada.
So how is the new Daredevil? Very good. The first issue gives DD a personal crisis he's getting over and an intriguing case to handle as both hero and as alter ego/attorney Matt Murdock. Quesada's pencils for Matt's face threw me off at first because they looked rather square and block-like. Many heroes' faces are drawn with a fine bone structure that doesn't look menacing enough under a full-face mask, so the artist draws a slightly different facial structure in costume. Here, you can envision that face under the red cowl.
As a bonus, Smith's scripting here could drag new readers into the biz. He has ton of diehard fans who eagerly await his material. Sales for his Clerks comic book and Silent Bob & Jay miniseries for Oni Press have done very well. If Smith can now draw some of those same fans to a mainstream title like Daredevil, that's even better.
Smith has a sense of humor about the weight of the task he faces. In San Diego, he joked that, "By virtue of what I do for a living, Daredevil now talks people to death."
But established Daredevil fans need not worry about bong jokes, Silent Bob and Jay showing up or raw discussion of Matt's sex life even though his personal relationships are addressed on the first page of issue one.
"My first script passed Comic Code, which is the closest I'll ever get to a PG-13, which makes my folks happy," Smith said. "On the other hand, I'm not writing Daredevil cornering [on-and-off girlfriend] Karen Page and saying, 'How many dicks did you suck?' It's a different animal."
Smith will do the first six or seven issues of Daredevil, with David Mack (Kabuki) stepping in for a multi-issue story after that. Then Smith returns, followed by Devin Grayson (Catwoman) doing three issues after that. Grayson also will write a Black Widow miniseries that will debut in early 1999. Tony Harris will also take over Dr. Strange as part of the Marvel Knights imprint early next year.
When asked if they would create new heroes for Marvel Knights, Palmiotti said, "We have to get these books on track first, but we have ideas."
Column © 1998 Long Island Voice. Artwork © 1998 Marvel Comics.