Publisher: Marvel Noir
Written by: Alexander Irvine
Illustrated by: Tomm Coker
Review by: Bill Jones
Effectively Marvel’s answer to the Vertigo Crime line, the publisher has opted to give its most famous superheroes a once over with the noir style rather than create entirely new properties. While the idea sounds like a fantastic chance for readers to see their favorite characters in a new light, or lack thereof, the results have thus far been a mixed bag.
Case in point, Daredevil Noir, a title many have pointed out to be quite redundant. Daredevil, after all, in his mainstream incarnation over the last three decades, largely credited to a revamp by Frank Miller, has already had quite a touch of the noir influence. The only thing that really changes in Daredevil Noir is that Hell’s Kitchen reverts to the 1930s. Instead of being lawyers, Matt Murdock and his partner Foggy are private detectives, and the art style gets an overhaul courtesy of Tomm Coker.
Daredevil Noir is partly a retelling of Daredevil’s origin story. Murdock’s father was shot after his pride forced him to refuse to throw a fight. A blow to the head causes Murdock to lose his vision, and for reasons not fully explained by writer Alexander Irvine, he develops his other senses to super-sensitive status, dons a red tank top and horned mask, and hits the streets to fight crime and get vengeance. The two primary villains, mob bosses who go by Fisk and Halloran, play on this history to get to Daredevil. And of course, because it’s noir, it all starts with a femme fatale.
The problem is, for the first three of four chapters collected in Daredevil Noir, it’s mostly noir by the numbers as far as the storytelling goes. Irvine bookends the chapters in the present, with Daredevil and Fisk recounting what happened, and the in between parts are the flashbacks unfolding. Coker’s art style is absolutely fantastic, except for Daredevil’s costume. While it may be a nod to superhero costumes of the 1930s, what should be a neat deep red costume standing out against the dark shadows of the environment just stands out for the wrong reason, looking incredibly silly.
But Daredevil Noir is by no means a bad read. By the second half, it is engrossing and a fun ride to see the end unfold. But it accomplishes nothing special for either the noir genre or the character; it’s simply another fun Daredevil tale. And the successes of Daredevil Noir are owed more to the visual storytelling of Coker than the inner monologue (and outward dialogue) of Irvine. It’s got the big characters and a few fun twists, so it could be much worse, but Daredevil Noir isn’t going to blow anyone away.
For more info, www.marvel.com