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Comic Book Review: The Man Without Fear #1

The Man Without Fear #1
Marvel Comics

Written by: Jed MacKay
Art by: Danilo Beyruth
Cover by: Kyle Hotz

Confused and bewildered, a reviewer without hope, is a reviewer without fear. So Daredevil, in it’s current incarnation, got wrapped up last month, and now we are faced with a new mini series (aren’t they all these days) featuring our favourite vigilante lawyer. Man Without Fear #1 is by the creative team of Jed McKay and artist Danilo S. Beyruth and opens with our hero in a hospital bed, looking quite catatonic. Best friend Foggy sneaks in to sit with his pal, and talk through some things while Matt is unresponsive. Now old DD fans like me may remember Matt doing the same thing to arch enemy Bullseye back in the day, except he took a gun with him and played Russian Roulette with the broken Bullseye, in a story that was intense and daring. This isn’t quite in the same league, but there are some interesting things to see.

As Foggy waxes lyrically, we get an exposition dump of previous events. Matt has ironically been hit by a truck and has reached the end of his rope. Weary and battle scarred, we then get a series of flashbacks and nightmares showing us the previous versions of the character and his supporting cast. There’s lots of dreamscape to-ing and fro-ing as Matt is confronted with the demons of his past and the people he has lost. It’s all very meta, and reduces the issue to a kind of greatest hits album.

Long time fans will enjoy mentions of Heather Glenn and Gloriana O’Breen as well as seeing DD in older costumes, but the whole thing feels slightly empty. We have seen this type of story told in comics so many times, that it’s certainly nothing new, and I recall a couple of previous issues of DD that did it already. Correct me if wrong, but I recall seeing the same stuff in issues by Roger McKenzie and JM DeMatteis that were part of the ongoing run, why this book needs a separate series is beyond me.

The art is reminiscent of older Warren Pleece stuff, look him up gang, and is adequate if somewhat sketchy in places, but I suppose in a book mainly in a dream world, it sorta works? This series is weekly and will feature characters from the cast spotlighted issue to issue, but at the end of the day, this looks like another relaunch for Daredevil and I imagine when the series is done we will get a new number 1 (with a legacy numbering too, just in case) and the reset switch will be flipped as far as everything else goes.

Call me cynical, but I’m a little fed up of relaunch after relaunch of beloved characters that survived decades in their own series. Daredevil has had some amazing runs with writers such as Denny O’Neil, Ann Nocenti and Frank Miller, and when we got a mini series it was outwith continuity and didn’t impact on the regular series. Now it’s every other week we get a new Spider-Man series, X-Men title or Fantastic Four reboot. When will it stop? Probably when the sales slump, and even as a long time fan, I doubt I’ll be picking issue two of Man Without Fear up, because it doesn’t really matter what happens here, a new series is imminent.