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Daredevil Noir Paperback – April 21, 2010
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About the Author
Alex Irvine has written more than thirty books, both his own original fiction (Buyout, The Narrows, Mystery Hill, A Scattering of Jades) and licensed work for Marvel, Hasbro, Warner Brothers, Fox, Blizzard, Legendary, and other international entertainment companies. He has also written comics (Daredevil Noir, Iron Man: Rapture, Hellstorm, Son of Satan: Equinox), games, and animation. The three games he's currently writing -- Marvel Avengers Alliance, Marvel War of Heroes, and Marvel PuzzleQuest -- together have totaled more than 75 million players. Before leaving to write full time, he spent six years as an English professor at the University of Maine. A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, he lives in South Portland, Maine, with his wife and three children...and two dogs, a bird, a snake and a fish. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The thing about Daredevil is this : he's already a Noir type character. He's someone that does detective work, deals with gritty violent street crime, and is always getting worked over by beautiful dames. So Daredevil in the NOIR line isn't really a "re-imagining" like it is with X-Men NOIR, Punisher NOIR, and Spider-Man NOIR. Most re-imagining of Daredevil is really kinda more of the same thing with tweaks, like in DAREDEVIL:YELLOW by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale and THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR by Frank Miller & John Romita Jr.
This is similar to those stories.
I didn't really like how Kingpin and Halloran right away knew Daredevil's alter-ego without any sort of reveal or twist. And as for the Bull's Eye Killer twist, it was more like just kind of a "meh..." moment rather than a "WTF-I-never-saw-that-coming" sort of reveal.
As for the good things---
I loved how Hell's Kitchen looked even dirtier, grimier, and grittier than it's ever looked before. The setting pieces were very well done where it really did feel like looking 70+ years into the past. I liked the Daredevil costume design as with the short-sleeves and the Masquerade-type mask. And I really enjoyed the portrayal of Kingpin in that he looked realistic. He wasn't overly huge like in ULTIMATE Spider-Man or too small. He was believable as a real person who could not only have the power over crime, but has the physical presence to hold that power through sheer force of will.
In conclusion, I enjoyed this story overall. But like I mentioned earlier is that this is more of a minor tweaking of Daredevel's origin, than a re-imagining.
Make Mine Marvel-NOIR
Tonight, though, reading this collection in one sitting, I think I get it better. This isn't about making Matt Murdock more like Sam Spade. It's about challenging the classic noir story by making it more Daredevil.
Most of this story owes a great deal to Dashiell Hammett, as the framing sequence is a beautiful scene of a protagonist and an enormous antagonist having a controlled but furious conversation in an office, much like Spade's interactions with Gutman in The Maltese Falcon. We also get a nod to the Falcon with Eliza, a beautiful woman who hires our heroic private detectives, and we see a glimpse of Red Harvest when Murdock protecting Eliza leads to images of chaotic gang warfare.
For all the homages to classic noir, though, this story challenges them with the special abilities that make Matt Murdock unique. He's a human lie detector, which is a neat parlor trick in the regular Marvel Universe. In a noir story, though, where human interaction pulses with lies and a yearning to trust someone while knowing that this is impossible, a human lie detector has something of a disadvantage. He can't let himself be morally grey, he can't dance the conversational dances that his enemies have mastered, he can't plan for the scenarios in which he can be fooled and manipulated. Unless, of course, he wears a mask and pretends to be someone else. That's what makes this story so compelling; Sam Spade doesn't lose control, Philip Marlowe doesn't lose control.. but Daredevil exists here for the sole purpose of losing control, in a way that elevates both the noir story and the Daredevil story.
There are plenty of reasons to enjoy this book: the gorgeous art that evokes the 1930s and stays rainy and grim, the narrative that churns through plot points and keeps bringing us back to the framing conversation, the genuine surprises along the way... I encourage readers, though, to love this collection not as a Daredevil comic lost in a speakeasy. Please see it instead as a noir story challenged to live with a mask.