By Ed Brubaker (writer), Paul Azaceta (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors)

For those of you who’ve been waiting for the perfect time to jump onto Daredevil to see what the fuss is about, here’s the your chance! For us regular readers, this is, by no stretch, a great Daredevil story, but it keeps consistent with Ed Brubaker’s quality writing of the character. It’s a stand alone issue, which is a rarity in this day and age of serialized stories, and its tale is a simple one. Matt Murdock is going through a deep depression with the “loss” of his wife, Milla, while Ben Ulrich of the Frontline newspaper struggles with protecting his friend and journalistic integrity.

The issue reads very quickly because of the constant exchanges of dialog between characters. There’s also a running narration throughout, told by various supporting characters. This narrative serves as backstory to new readers, giving them a brief run down of what’s been going on with Matt Murdock over the past 5-10 years. There’s bits of it that feel a bit forced, especially in the opening pages, but most of it is organic.

I’m not sure if Paul Azaceta is the new series artist or just a fill-in for this issue, but his work is somewhat of a mixed bag. His art’s got the same grittiness pioneered by Alex Maleev and carried forth by the artists that succeeded him (on this book), yet it feels more muddy, even sloppy at times. Another thing that’s a bit bothersome is how the inks spill off the panel borders. Normally, I don’t mind an occasional smidge, but this stuff’s all over the place and really looks unprofessional. I mean, couldn’t they have been removed by the colorist or editor?

Art problems aside, this is a solid issue. The last 10 or so pages do well to augment the pain Daredevil’s feeling. This is one of the lowest points we’ve ever seen this character at and it’ll be interesting to see if he digs himself deeper into despair or finds a way to dig himself out. Poor Matt Murdock never seems to catch a break. Now I’m depressed. Thanks, Mister Brubaker! (Grade: B-)

– J. Montes