However, today I take a break from frowning, and I pump my fist in celebration for a change. Because Marvel's latest volume of Daredevil swept the peer-reviewed Harvey Awards this weekend (the results of which were released on IGN this afternoon). Daredevil won both "Best New Series" and "Best Continuing Series," while netting a "Best Writer" award for Mark Waid, and art honors for inker Joe Rivera. Earlier this summer, Daredevil stood out at the Eisner Awards, too, winning "Best Continuing Series," as well as "Best Single Issue" for Daredevil #7, and "Best Writer" for Waid (again). Clearly the critics have spoken. And now so can I.
Anybody who talks to me about comics for more than two seconds knows the first thing I'll recommend to both avid readers and non-fans is Daredevil. There are several reasons why. First, Waid's always known how to write a great book. DC made a major mistake when they took the possibility of writing Superman away from him, driving him straight into Marvel's arms and onto creating this contemporary classic. The clarity of Daredevil's character work nets Waid big rewards, and not just in the trophy-taking business. His decision to dial down Matt Murdock's hectic lifestyle, to make his book fun for the reader, rather than gritty and melodramatic (as it has been since Frank Miller revamped the character in the '80s), unlocked all sorts of narrative possibilities -- not least among them, the swashbuckling daring Matt so nicely demonstrated when he kisses a mafia bride in the series' first issue:
Likewise, Waid's deft touch with humor leaves him all kinds of places to go, from playing with Matt's not-so-secret identity (he was outed in the press only a year or so before this series in the Marvel Universe)--
Let me get to what I truly love about this book. It's how Waid and the artists involved deal with perception. Waaaay back a million years ago, I wrote a post about Daredevil's blindness and how not enough writers and artists use his radioactively-induced darkness to show sighted people what being blind (after a fashion) is like. By not shifting our perceptions into a different perspective, narratives opportunities were being lost Well, not so with Mark Waid and company.
Waid uses Daredevil's super-senses and refined radar to build stories and carry them forward. From Matt's heightened hearing uncovering a hit-man at a wedding--
Other recent stories involved Daredevil using his lack of sight to lead a bus of schoolchildren out of the snowy wilderness into safety, a villain using Matt's sensitive response to sound against him during a prison break, and even his five senses being completely taken away from him by Doctor Doom. That last storyline ended with one of the most chilling panels I've ever caught sight of; in it, Matt's lays across a barbed wire fence, completely unaware of its ragged effect on his now-numb body; he believes he's just jumped onto a train to safety, and is chugging away from Doctor Doom's henchmen. And he smiles, carefree -- when his imprisonment is just beginning, both in Doom's castle, and in his mind and body.
Waid and artists Paolo Rivera, Chris Samnee, Marcos Martin, Marco Checchetto, Javier Rodriguez, Matt Hollingsworth, and Joe Rivera have unlocked a whole, vibrating, exciting world in Daredevil, the world of a man who communicates with his surroundings through a system completely unique to him.
Through radar sight, which finally, decidedly does not look like our vision of things:
Look. What I'm trying to say is, this book is something new. Not just for its humor and its throwback tone and inventive artwork. It's the perception of the character that stands out. Matt invites us into his world, BECAUSE of his differences, not in spite of them. We see the world the way he does, and we appreciate his powers because we know their limits, as well as their heights. Waid routinely shows us the disabled man behind the super-powered human, and it's because we see both sides that we appreciate his remarkable abilities all the more. Case in point:
See, the most amazing thing about Waid's run so far isn't that Daredevil's now rebuilt his super-senses from scratch. It's that the only thing that scared him when he first went blind WAS his appearing super-senses. This presence filling an absence was out of the norm for him at that point, and reading about this experience gave me a new appreciation for my hearing loss. And opened me up to its blessings and its curses in a new way, through a different perspective. Now I put it to you. Even amidst problems in the larger comics industry, what more could I ask for from an award-winning book?