Event tie-ins often suck. Characters and a story you are really enjoying are put on hold so that they can be haphazardly woven into the event. It is a break in narrative flow and quite often nothing of real substance happens as anything that important would be in the main event book itself.
While I haven’t been following Original Sin directly, I appreciate that the event set up a chance for real character growth and exploration in the plot. Basically, a great deal of secrets that have been hidden from our heroes and each other have come to light due to The Watcher, Uatu being murdered and people manipulating his eyes (it’s comics folks, stuff gets weird). So what does this have to do with our resident Man Without Fear? Keep reading and find out, True Believer.
Y’see, Matt Murdock’s life sucked even before he went blind. Back when he was a baby, his mother abandoned the family, leaving Matt to be raised alone by his father, boxer Battlin’ Jack Murdock. During the legendary Born Again arc (which was back when Frank Miller could create female characters that weren’t soulless prostitutes) Matt found out that his mother had joined a convent and now went by the name Sister Maggie.
One nagging question has always remained about this story, what was it that compelled Maggie to leave her husband and newborn son? While it never had been outright confirmed it was strongly implied that the Murdock household wasn’t a happy one and that Maggie may have been the victim of abuse at the hands of Jack. This has always been a bit of a problem as writers haven’t known what to do with the character of Jack, so much of who Matt turned out to be is a direct result of his father. Matt never would have become a lawyer without his father and even Matt’s superhero costume and name are in part to honor his dad. Matt reveres the fighting spirit of his father and does his best to emulate it in all he does.
However, it also is true that Jack’s life was ruled by violence as it was the only thing he was good at and the only way he could provide for his family. Since violence was the only way Jack knew how to solve problems, some writers have pushed the idea, however subtlety that Jack may have been little more than a thuggish meathead and Matt’s worship of his old man little more than skewed childhood memories.
Enter writer extraordinaire, Mark Waid. Waid has taken it upon himself to expand Daredevil’s life and grow him out of the rut left by Frank Miller’s run. While great writers like Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker have had great runs on character, they all still kept to a Miller vibe in there overall storytelling. Waid, who had such stunning success in the 90’s reinventing the character of the Flash (Wally West version (the best version)) for DC now sought to do the same for ol’ Hornhead and the book under his helm has kicked ass with every issue. Waid’s run has been about injecting fun back into the book, while not sacrificing the book’s gritty nature. The book can be dark a deal with more adult themes like it was known for, but it now had a fresh injection of optimism which the book had sorely been lacking for decades.
Okay, as much as I would love to keep going on about the fascinating history of Daredevil on the page as well as off, I suppose I should get to talking about the issue itself before you all fall asleep on me. The cover by series regular artist, Chris Samnee doesn’t do much for me. It does tie in with the plot as this issue sees Daredevil going to Wakanda, so the whole jungle and spears thing fits, but it doesn’t really capture the tone of the actual adventure inside. It is well drawn and everything, I just wish it tied in more with what is happening in the issue.
Moving to the plot, when the Watcher eye thing was going on Matt has been having flashes to a disturbing scene when he was just a baby. These flashes tear at Matt’s idea of who his father was, but all he has are the images. It is content sans context, and knowing how much he may hate the answers to his questions, Matt traveled back to New York (he recently had made the move out to San Francisco) for answers from the only person left who would know, his mother Maggie.
Maggie has gotten herself deep into trouble as she was protesting a military base that had been sanctioned as an extension of the Wakandan embassy, thus making it Wakandan soil. At the start of this issue we find that Maggie has been extradited to Wakanda with Matt hot on her heels to set her free. After some kicks and punches and some rather clever political maneuvering by Matt he manages to secure Maggie’s freedom. With that all out of the way Matt confronts Maggie about about the flashes he’s been having and Maggie reveals her dark and tragic secret.
What?! You don’t think I’m actually going to tell you what her secret is, do you? Go buy the damn book for yourself because I’m not spoiling anything on this one!
What makes this issue great is how it subverts expectation at every turn while remaining true to the characters. Like a clever boxer, Waid knows how to make the audience think he’s going to zig, and then zag. The final few panels feel a little bit like a PSA comic, but given the seriousness of Maggie’s revelation (again, not spoiling it, go grab a copy you want to know so bad) it feels right. Javier Rodriguez’s art perfectly fits with what Waid is doing as it to leads the reader on only to sucker punch the audience with a change in layout and perspective. This issue really does show the power one can have with visual storytelling alone.
On all counts this is a great issue and if you have any interest in Daredevil at all you need to snag yourself a copy. It answers a question fans have had for years while staying true to its dark roots but also bringing a sense of hope. What more can you possibly ask for?!