Yes, a Daredevil review starting with a horrible blind pun. It gets better, I promise.
TL;DR SYNOPSIS: It is fantastic. IDW’s best work yet in the Artist’s Edition format.
So what makes Daredevil, Born Again the best of publisher IDW’s efforts to highlight seminal comic artists and stories in a unique format? Read on…
Nearly three decades ago now — frightening, I know — Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli created arguably the definitive Daredevil story with Born Again, a seven issue arc that creators on the character since have largely been imitating. (As one writer told me at a comics convention a couple years ago — everyone has tried to out-terrible the previous writer’s attempts at Matt Murdock’s ruined life. The character, if he were a real person, would have jumped off a bridge years ago.)
So just what is an Artist’s Edition anyways?
That story has now been collected into a massive 200+ page volume, with each page represented by Mazzucchelli’s original art from the series. The pages were scanned in color to reflect the original work as accurately as possible. Seeing dialogue edits and blue pencil notes in the margin really makes the work come alive. To date, IDW has reproduced an edition highlighting some of Walt Simonson’s seminal Thor work, the art of sci-fi artist Wally Wood, Dave Steven’s Rocketeer and John Romita’s Spiderman.
In this edition’s case, Mazzucchelli’s clean line work and complex page construction shine through in a way a four-color comic from the 80’s simply cannot recreate. Oh, and the splash pages look stunning.
IDW’s effort to highlight artists’ work in its raw form is the brain child of Scott Dunbier, creator of the Absolute edition format at DC Comics. The Artist’s Edition is Absolute editions on steroids. For an adult, these editions really do make you feel like a 9-year-old reading comics again for the first time.
For this latest work, the details really set it apart from other editions. The quality of the pages is consistent with other editions, using high quality paper as near as possible to the original page. But the Daredevil work sets a new bar. IDW included vellum pages with overlays, highlighting some of the unique construction of pages for the series by Mazzucchelli, who has since gone on to do experimental comics work far away from the capes n’ crime superheroes. The book contains extended sketches of roughed pencils, and finished pages for comparison. Even the cover and section breaks have Braille imprinted on them — a nod to Daredevil’s blindness. (The cover, for example, reads Daredevil, the section breaks denote the end of each chapter. Unnecessary, but again, beautiful design touch.) The table of contents overlays a map of Hell’s Kitchen, Matt Murdock’s home and centerpiece to the story.
IDW even broke with Artist’s Edition convention, giving the book’s cover a red hue without the frills and ornamentation of other books.
I could keep gushing about it, but you get the gist. I think IDW knocked this one out of the park, and I look forward to whatever their follow-up will be.