Daredevil: Father by Joe Quesada (graphic novel review).

While wandering around my local town centre in December looking for Christmas presents, I happened to find a comicshop. As a treat for myself I bought a paperback edition of the graphic novel ‘Daredevil: Father’ for £14.99. It has been almost four years since I last reviewed a graphic novel and I could kick myself as it’s a story format I very much appreciate. Unfortunately, it was put to one side when I got home awaiting a quiet moment so I could fully immerse myself with no distractions.

The quiet moment arrived almost two months later, so here we go. First off a brief synopsis of the story taken from the marketing blurb; ‘For the first time writing AND illustrating, DD legend Joe Quesada crafts a mystery set during the deadliest heat wave in NYC history. A serial killer is on the loose, pushing a city already past its breaking point over the edge, and Daredevil must battle the heat and fear to keep a crumbling Hell’s Kitchen together… by any means necessary!’

Having now read the novel, I think this sums up the story pretty well but its missing one rather large point. A large proportion of the major characters have ‘father’ issues of one form or another. There is a clue to this in the title but it’s spelled out for us in the introduction written by Damon Lindelof. He’s the person behind the TV series ‘Lost’ TV series and he does get a plug in for it but it’s still a rather good introduction. It is spread over two pages with a about a third of space given over to a picture of Daredevil (DD) leaping between buildings.

I must admit to being a fan of Joe Quesada’s style of drawing. With Danny Miki doing the inks and Richard Isanove doing the paints, the end result is a dark, almost brooding environment that’s fitting for Hell’s Kitchen. Chris Eliopoulos deserves a mention as he did the lettering which nicely compliments the visual feast of this graphic novel.

In case you missed it earlier, Joe Quesada wrote the story and did the illustrations. I’m not going to be giving any spoilers away here, but it is a dark story and it doesn’t show Matt Murdock, DD’s alter ego, at his best. Once we get reminded of Murdock’s father at his worst, we are introduced to Murdock’s newest client, Maggie Farrell, who’s dying of cancer and wants to sue the corporations she thinks is at fault. Farrell’s husband arrives late to the meeting and isn’t the most sociable of people. Maggie Farrell has a very short fuse, so it’s going to be a difficult case for Murdock & Nelson Attorneys At Law.

Just prior to this meeting it seems old DD has had a good spell and virtually cleared Hells’s Kitchen of criminals. It’s not that they have been thrown in jail, it’s just that they have left the area for easier places where they are unlikely to run into DD. This hasn’t gone down to well with a new crime fighting group called the Santerians. They are a little bit peeved at having to deal with the low life DD has forced out of his territory.

Just to make things even more complicated, a serial killer arrives on the scene and starts racking up the body count. Their specialism is to cut the victims eyes out, so the press comes up with the name ‘Johnny Sockets’. I told you this was a dark story. It has a few twists and turns before coming to a surprising ending. It wouldn’t be surprising if you had been paying attention as there are clues in the story. While we could justifiably say we were distracted by the sumptuous artwork, there’s no similar excuse for DD. He’s not at his best in this story.

I did say the artwork was sumptuous and it truly is. There are some really striking full page and double page illustrations, in addition to the usual comicbook presentation style. If I had one quibble on the illustrations, it would be with the section where Matt Murdock is sat on a park bench awaiting a client. He did have a rough meeting with the Santerians the previous day, but this picture shows a rather slim character while everywhere else he’s quite stout. You would expect him to appear quite stout as DD is a musclebound super-hero.

This softcover edition of ‘Daredevil: Father’ is from what I can determine, a 2009 reprint of the hardcover original first published on the 20th of December 2006. I can’t see that there has been any material change to the book other than replacing the hardcovers with soft ones.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the page thickness. They are very, very thin pages. You would need a Micrometer to be able to measure the page thickness, they really are that thin. As well as being thin, they are also glossy and tend to statically stick together. If you find that the story suddenly and unexpectedly jumps when you turn the page just check that you haven’t accidentally turned over two or three pages stuck together.

In addition to the rather good if rather dark story and excellent artwork throughout, there are a few extra goodies thrown in at the end. This makes it a compelling reason to buy the graphic novel. I’m glad I bought it and will reread it every now and then. You will have to treat it carefully though, as those thin pages won’t stand up to a lot of rough treatment, unlike DD.

Andy Whitaker

February 2018

(pub: Marvel, 2009. 200 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $ 9.99 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7851-1925-8)

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I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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