This week on the Marvel Rundown we’re trying something a little different and taking a dive into Chip Zdarsky, Manuel Garcia, and Chris Mooneyham’s Daredevil Annual #1! Some extra history of the bizarre existence of Mike Murdock and some highlights on familial conflict make for a particularly interesting read!

Below we have a review of Daredevil Annual #1, plus a Rapid Rundown of other Marvel titles debuting this week!

Daredevil Annual #1

Daredevil Annual #1

Written by Chip Zdarsky
Pencils by Manuel Garcia
Ink by Le Beau Underwood
Flashback Art by Chris Mooneyham
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Chip Zdarsky

As if the comic gods knew that I needed a chance to breathe outside of the all-encompassing world of Empyre titles, Marvel swooped in with not only the Daredevil Annual for this year, but the Daredevil Annual written by Chip Zdarsky. Reader, my cup overfloweth. That being said, I haven’t had the time in longer than I care to admit to keep up with what’s been happening with good ol’ Matt Murdock recently. So I kind of went in blind! Fitting! But weirdly enough, that seemed to give me the exact context I needed to both enjoy the story and be utterly confused by it.

Back in 2018, Mike Murdock — the once-fake brother of Matt Murdock that was actually Matt pretending that he had a brother, like an idiot — became a very real thing in the story of Daredevil thanks to the mind-blowing powers of creative retconning. With that in mind, Mike is one of the first people to show up in this issue, looking and seeming exactly like Matt until he is obviously very much not. In fact, he is working for the Hood after being referred by none other than Fisk; but the Hood has come across a unique stone that could help account for Mike’s “spotty” memory. A long flashback with some seriously killer art by Chris Mooneyham reveals the harrowing past of a man who has existed as a ghost or a thought for his entire existence, and what this might mean for the Murdock brother we are used to seeing.

From Daredevil Annual #1

The script is beautifully paced and reads in true Zdarsky Daredevil fashion — meaning that there are a number of clever lines, but a poignant focus on character emotion that resonates right off the page, particularly during the emotion flashback sequence. Only helping that is some great lifework from Garcia and — more pointedly — some rich inking from Underwood; though the real artistic highlights lie in Mooneyham’s visceral line work and Rosenberg’s affinity for a muted color stories that are nothing short of visually striking.

And as much as this was a triumph of an issue for long-time Daredevil fans like myself in terms of both script and artwork, the plot is likely to leave readers who haven’t picked up a Daredevil comic in some time trying to guess whether they are in the know enough to continue reading. Despite this being an issue with a #1 numbering on it, the story feels as if there is something readers should have known beforehand, though it doesn’t detract from how well it reads as a standalone first issue. But really, regardless of if you’ve been keeping up with the Murdocks or not, this is undoubtedly a beautiful and delightfully emotional Daredevil story that can be easily enjoyed.

Final Verdict: I have no qualms giving this first Annual a strong BUY!

From Daredevil Annual #1

Rapid Rundown!

  • Amazing Spider-Man #47
    • I didn’t really think this story would eventually warm up to me, but it has. What started out as an overly dark arc has turned out to be a genuinely interesting treatise on superhero morality. I guess what turned me off was that this was being communicated through Spider-Man. Sin-Eater’s rise to power is certainly unexpected and, without sounding like a cliché, I am honestly very curious to see how Spider-Man will get out of this one. —HW
  • Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1
    • Another week, another death of Galactus, this one in a flashback tale from Mark Waid and Neal Adams. Unfortunately the twist of the issue is revealed by its cover, making everything leading up to it feel rather perfunctory, though Waid does a nice job as always with the characterization for the FF (even if some of Johnny’s dialogue was a tad cringeworthy). Adams’s artwork is dynamic and exciting, but his Ben Grimm is a truly horrific-looking monster, which may be the point but just comes across as off-putting compared to how I’m used to seeing Ben. I’m interested, if not necessarily excited, to see where this goes. —JG
  • Hellions #3
    • Well that was all perfectly horrific. Things don’t look good for our heroes as Madelyne Pryor wrecks havoc (pun absolutely intended) on each of them, and Psylocke tries to contain one of their own. This is a fast-paced issue, and writer Zeb Wells fits in nice character moments for each of the Hellions amidst the carnage. Stephen Segovia and David Curiel‘s artwork is visceral and disturbing, and the thing they show on the third page is something I will never be able to unsee, so thanks for that. I still don’t feel like I know these characters super-well, but I’m enjoying getting to know them, along with the overall vibe of the series so far. —JG

  • Iron Man 2020 #6
    • When the Arno Stark Iron Man was first introduced to Marvel readers in the 1984 cyberpunk Machine Man mini-series, he was a mercenary and not a hero. When he was reintroduced to us in the modern Iron Man comics, it was as Tony’s long-lost brother and soon to be next-gen Iron Man. And it was that nostalgia that kept me reading this series. Make no mistake: the creative team of Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Pete Woods brings their skill to this, but it inevitably comes down to this just being another event/stunt and leaves a lot of pieces on the board. Hopefully they will be utilized down the road. —GC3
  • X-Factor #2
    • The debut issue of this series blew me away because it delved into an aspect of Krakoa that I didn’t consider. The investigative side of X-Factor was what drew me into the series, but this issue pulled the rug out from under me as the team goes to the Mojoverse, in which my brain automatically turns off as I do not like being in the Mojoverse. Despite that, this was a fun and readable issue but there wasn’t the investigative hook that I was looking for. If I have my math right, next issue would conclude the Mojo storyline as I believe the issue after that kicks off the X of Swords crossover. —HW

Next week, Black Widow’s latest ongoing debuts, and Empyre reaches its cosmic conclusion!