Daredevil: Born Again Review By Deffinition
Frank Miller is often classified as one of the greatest comic book writers of all time. The seminal work he produced in the 1980s has firmly placed his head on the Mount Rushmore of industry. However, as of late his work has been…well…a little weird.
Revisiting his earlier pieces once more, it will be interesting to see if it still stands up or if like many state he is indeed, overrated. Studying what many regard as his best piece of Marvel work, I will be analysing Daredevil: Born Again. I have read the graphic novel before and loved it but after revisiting The Man Without Fear prior to this I have found that elements once lauded have become mundane under a modern light.
It will be interesting to see if this work is as timeless as Miller’s other seminal work or if like him it is now washed up. Let’s dive into Daredevil: Born Again.
One more hit
Opening with Karen Page selling the identity of Daredevil in order to get another hit of Heroin from her dealer, the book instantly lets you know that this isn’t going to be your friendly neighbourhood Marvel Comic Book.
After The Kingpin obtains the information, Matt’s life is mercilessly ripped apart piece by piece. Left homeless, penniless and broken down mentally by the end of Issue one, it really seems like the vigilante is on his last legs. It’s a somber opener that doesn’t require over the top action scenes to deliver never ending tension. Expertly crafted Miller takes the comic book genre in a totally new direction that even today feels fresh and innovative. This is groundbreaking and the introduction will instantly suck you right in.
Never Give Up
We watch Matt slowly lose his mind. Completely destroyed by The Kingpin, his sanity begins to wane. It’s an excellent arc for the character and it revolutionises the Superhero. I’ve always thought that one would have to be mad in order to become a masked crimefighter and this book excels at showing us what would happen should that madness be set free. Matt spirals into a pit of paranoia, even upon discovering that The Kingpin is behind it all and it showcases just how devilish the villain’s plan was all along.
Never has a criminal won in such a wonderous way before and it’s hard not to become wrapped up in The Kingpin’s arrogance and joy over destroying a good man.
There is no Corpse
Failing to murder Matt, The Kingpin loses control over the situation. In forcing Matt to the lowest point, he has also made it so that he possesses no fear. Daredevil is even more dangerous than before.
Still seeking vengeance the vigilante begins training for Battle. He will take his life back no matter the cost. It’s a truly triumphant moment that offers a glimmer of light within the darkness and elevates the work to the level of a classic. Throughout life we will all encounter something that feels like the end but Matt showcases that no matter how bad things get, we can always regain ourselves. It’s a really heroic and monumental that puts Daredevil to the forefront and this storyline is clearly one of the main reasons that the character is so relatable.
As Matt begins the road to recovery and resurrection, we follow Ben Urich and Karen Page as they travel on the road to redemption. Both have lived extremely fearful lives. Scared off by the power that The Kingpin exudes, they refuse to come forward with the truth that could save our hero. Both are tested in several ways and there is as much personality here as there is in the main story. This is a tale of integrity and the minor subplot really sucks you in. Throughout it I was questioning how I would handle the situation and this is an incredible introspective look at how paralysing fear can be.
As all plotlines come to a head the book has a brilliant sense of urgency. Miller manages to beautifully tie each dangling thread into one another and the final fight between Matt Murdock and Daredevil (well someone dressed as Daredevil) symbolically summarises that our protagonist has defeated his inner demons. Born again he glides off into the night. The resurrection is complete, Daredevil is back!
In the past I’ve always had problems with the epilogue. To me the book wrapped up perfectly with the previously mentioned Battle. However, for better or worse the creative team decided to introduce The Kingpins last play, Nuke. A twisted villain injected with super soldier serum he is not one to be trifled with. Terrorising New York, Daredevil and Captain America have to take him down.
It feels more like your standard affair than what preceded it but there are minor and major wrap ups to the overall story arc that mean it isn’t too jarring from the original piece, even if it is severely behind on its quality.
At it’s core Daredevil: Born Again is a phenomenal arc. Transformative of all it’s characters it truly showcases the psychology behind a vigilante and what would happen should their worst nightmare come true. Whilst the ending chapters drop the ball a bit, taken as a whole the positives vastly outweighs the negatives and this is a legendary story line that still holds up after all these years.
One could argue that this is Miller’s best work and that’s why Born Again gets a…