Dark Reign-The List: Daredevil, a one-shot, is the first glipse we get of the work of, the new writer who has the difficult task of following ’s long, life-changing run on Daredevil. You may recall that Brubaker had to follow Bendis’ run, which also changed Matt Murdock’s life for good. If Murdock keeps getting writers like this, there’s going to be nothing left of him. In fact, that’s just where Brubaker left off: Murdock gives away his life (actually, he puts his stuff in storage, so technically he could return) and runs off to become the leader of a group of master assassins that, since his superhero inception, has been trying to kill him.
It’s not worth filling in the entire backstory of how Ed Brubaker brought us up to and through Daredevil #500, in which Murdock agrees to become the leader of The Hand but still refuses to be a killer. Suffice to say, it didn’t come off as contrived. And it left the writer of #501 with in a pickle. How do you write a book about a man who has agreed to become a part of the thing that he has fought against for 40 years and 500 issues? How do you show the transition from idealist to realist?
Enter Andy Diggle. Diggle is no stranger to difficult books. He’s written for The Losers, Swamp Thing, and Thunderbolts (as well as some Dark Reign stuff), so it’s not like Marvel entrusted just anyone to this important task. After all, Daredevil—as a magazine—has fallen off the rails numerous times throughout the years. And Brubaker left him without many loose ends—in fact, all he left behind are classic Daredevil elements: Kingpin swears revenge. Daredevil is outside the law and virtually friendless. A female assassin (Lady Bullseye) is out to get him. Oh, and then there’s Lester. The real Bullseye.
Diggle wrote Dark Reign: Hawkeye, so he knows all about Daredevil’s greatest enemy. It’s natural, then, that Dark Reign: Daredevil would focus on the long-standing, epic hatred between these two men. I’m not going to give away more than this: Lester puts on his old Bullseye costume and goes after DD, only now Bullseye is a lawman (working for Norman Osborn) and DD is the leader of a global criminal organization. As Bullseye says in the book: “Things are different now.”
It’s hard to tell how the new story arc will fare, partly because it’s so tied to the most recent (exhausting) Marvel “event,” but it’s promising. Diggle seems to be intent on creating an opportunity for new fans to jump in to the book. He’s establishing Daredevil as a new type of antihero, and it looks like subsequent issues will be a second origin of sorts—a rebirth of the character.
The Dark Reign One Shot also ends with a 7-page “preview” of Daredevil #501, featuring the book’s regular artist, Roberto De La Torre. The Dark Reign tale was drawn by Billy Tan and Matt Banning, who are fine but who have a pretty bright, straightforward style. De La Torre is more of the Miller/Mazzuchelli/Maleev/Lark school, only a tad less dark and shadowy. It should provide a nice transition for long-time fans as the book changes from being about a man whose life is destroyed—and basically ended–into a book about the soul who survives the aftermath of that destruction.
I have high hopes.