Man Without Fear #1 Review

by Charles Martin on January 02, 2019

Man Without Fear #1 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Danilo S. Beyruth
Colourist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Matt Murdock is wafting around in a coma, so the space between Daredevil volumes is to be filled (partly) by this miniseries that explores Matt's relationship to his alter ego.

While there's plenty of fertile ground for character work in Matt's tortured psyche, this initial serving doesn't serve to generate much enthusiasm for four more issues.

The real-world premise is that faithful Foggy Nelson is sneaking into Matt's hospital room to keep his buddy company. Foggy dutifully catches us up on the challenge facing the hero - how his career's worth of injuries have caught up to him all at once and put his survival in question.

Most promisingly, Foggy also drops some lines into Matt's ear that influence the psychodrama playing out in his head.

Because a story demands conflict, Matt has demons to fight if he's going to escape his coma. I won't write too precisely about the identities of those demons. Teasing and then revealing them is this comic's biggest and most successful trick.

Script and art come together to set up a solid framework for the metaphorical conflict playing out inside Matt's head. The design work done on the demons is impressive; they quickly develop into the memorable figures they need to be.

It's in fleshing out the surroundings of the conflict and making its details matter that this story comes up short. The narrative relies far too much on too-familiar supporting characters, and the art similarly feigns depth by presenting a standard highlight reel of past Daredevil costumes.

In one scene, those supporting cast members are imperilled by dangling them from tightropes. This is the one instance where a "featureless void" setting works well. But the other psychological settings suffer from a lack of memorability.

The colours throughout the issue are muted. That fits the real-world hospital room Foggy is stuck in, but it doesn't make much sense inside Matt's head. Flashbacks and demon conflicts alike are bathed in the same dispassionate tones. There are some bold, smart colour choices, though; the tightrope scene is further strengthened by being overwhelmingly coloured in reds.

This series opens with promise unfulfilled. It sets up a good conflict and a potentially-interesting battleground, but it doesn't get around to saying much of interest about Daredevil and Matt Murdock. The creators have plenty of space left to get profound, but I can't see what was stopping them from getting profound right here.

It could be argued that "profound" isn't a requirement in a Daredevil comic. While I can fully agree with that, I would say "profound" absolutely is required in an introspective series like this one. The psychological setup demands something more insightful than beating up a ninja. Or a pair of demons.

Foggy Nelson waits at Matt's bedside while a potentially-important struggle plays out inside the hero's mind. The setup is solid, but the execution seems to be lacking so far. Without enough depth, particularly in the script, this comic falls into a Catch-22: It's not eventful enough to captivate a casual reader and not meaningful enough to satisfy a dedicated Daredevil fan.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The phrase "the bill's come due" is repeated early enough to look like a major thematic hook, but this issue doesn't actually hang much on it.