by Andy Diggle (writer), Davide Gianfelice (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: A wandering Matt Murdock finds himself in a small town filled with secrets and nasty people.

What’s Good: On the art front, this is a comfortable and enjoyable book.  It’s not mind-blowing and some readers may be put off by the cartoony feel, but I’ve been a fan of Davide Gianfelice since his first issues on Northlanders, so seeing him on Daredevil is something of a treat.  Matt Hollingsworth’s colours are also wonderful and work very well with Gianfelice’s art.  If anything, the book ends up looking as different as possible from the Daredevil comics of the past, which I think is thematically appropriate.  Also, thanks largely to Hollingsworth’s fantastic colour choices this month, we get a comic that feels bright, dusty, and a little bleak and, as such, a perfect contrast to Hell’s Kitchen.  While tastes vary, there’s little to complain about on the art front.

As far as the story goes, the best I can say is that I’m glad to see Matt Murdock get back to basics and finally divorced from the larger Marvel Universe after the chaos of Shadowland.  That lack of focus was probably the worst thing about that event, so seeing the old Matt Murdock monologue text-boxes was more than welcome.  Certainly, it’s nice to once again feel connected to, and invested in, Matt.  I’m happy to see him riding solo once again.

What’s Not So Good: The problem, however, is that Andy Diggle just doesn’t seem up to the task of telling this story of redemption.  Having Matt on his own again, at the worst low of his life and career, going walkabout in New Mexico all should lend to a very emotional read.  It should hit hard and really affect the reader.  But thing is, I don’t get that emotion.  Rather, I get an issue that feels like it’s on autopilot and, as such, is a tremendously wasted opportunity.

There are several reasons for this.  First is the fact that the plot, and the world, all feels so damned familiar, at times to the point of cliché.  The local faceless redneck thugs looking to beat down the new guy in town.  The corrupt small-town sheriff.  It all feels so done.  Unfortunately, this is nowhere more the case than Diggle’s dime-a-dozen New Mexico in general; Diggle’s small-town environment feels done to death.

The bad guys aren’t at all compelling either at this point.  There’s nothing to mark them out or distinguish them and I feel like I’ve seen the same characters a million times before.  The story itself is no better. A small-town with a dark secret, controlled by ne’er-do-wells in disguise?  The concept and Diggle’s telling of it both feel well-worn.

Diggle’s actual writing isn’t any stronger.  The parts that are meant to be emotional and personal end up feeling trite and phoned in.  For instance, Matt’s self-loathing, particularly in his narration, is almost laughable.  His words feel run-of-the-mill, possibly because they feel excessive and melodramatic at times and, as a result, impersonal.  ” I can’t help them, I can’t help anybody.”  Ugh.

There’s also a painful conversation that Matt has with a very conveniently placed blind boy (ha!) that borders on the absolutely absurd.  Matt basically teaches the boy to have super-senses like he does.  He just tells the kid to paint a visual picture through listening really carefully.  And just like that, the kid can suddenly hear a coin spinning in the air, and the rate and speed at which it does so.  Ridiculous.

Conclusion: Bland and uninspiring.   Reading Frank Miller’s run on the title and his later retelling of DD’s origins were some of my best comic experiences as a kid.  However, until a good creative team revives the Daredevil franchise, I’m gone.

Grade: C –

-Alex Evans

For a different take on this book, click here.