DEATH-DEFYING DEVIL #1 [Review]

DEATH-DEFYING DEVIL #1/ Story by GAIL SIMONE/ Art by WALTER GEOVANI/ Colors by ADRIANO AUGUSTO/ Letters by SIMON BOWLAND/ Published by DYNAMITE COMICS

Let’s talk about Daredevil.

Matt Murdock? No, we won’t be talking about him. I meant the first Daredevil.

Yes, there was a Daredevil before Matt Murdock. A fellow named Bart Hill who who went mute after the murder of his parents and became a master boomerang thrower. His background has changed a bit over the years along with his code name, as he fell into the public domain and then Marvel copyrighted the name Daredevil. Hence why he’s now billed as the Death-Defying Devil in the comics published by Dynamite Entertainment.

This is a bit more information about the Devil than we get in this first issue of his new solo series, but that is entirely by design. This Devil is a man of action and his actions truly do speak louder than words. What little we learn of our titular hero is conveyed non-verbally.

The plot is fairly basic stuff. The poor but honest inhabitants of an urban slum are being harassed by a gang that was hired to pull a Number Six on them so a rich man can snatch their land. The police are on the take and won’t get involved, leaving an opening for one brave man to see justice done.

We’ve seen this story before in countless comics and movies. (Blazing Saddles and Batteries Not Included come to mind immediately.) Yet Gail Simone’s script makes the classic premise seem like something new.

Reunited with frequent collaborator Walter Geovani, Simone is on somewhat unfamiliar ground here, as she is famed for her dialogue and her comedic takes on classic superheroes. Given that, it’s something of a surprise that Death-Defying Daredevil #1 is largely played straight and centers around a hero who is both silent and deadly. More attention is given to the supporting cast than the Devil himself. It’s a bold choice, but one that develops the Devil subtly in his interactions with the rest of the cast, as the cast is developed in their reactions to the hero in their midst and their responses to the threat posed by the gang.

The action sequences in this issue are fantastic and utterly brutal, with body parts being severed and ass being kicked on a grand scale. This sort of thing is the bread and butter of Geovani and Simone, as those who have read their now legendary run on Red Sonja can attest. Despite this, the depiction of the fighting is not gory for the sake of spraying gore around. Simon Bowland does a fantastic job of keeping the text from covering up the artwork and the colors chosen by Adriano Augusto are eye-catching and well-chosen.

Death-Defying Devil #1 is a perfect introduction to a forgotten hero of the Golden Age, which neatly modernizes the concept while capturing everything that made the character so interesting. With an action-packed script brought to life through fantastic artwork, this is a must read for anyone who likes good superhero comics.

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