It’s only after we’ve lost everything…that we’re free to do anything – Chuck Palahnuik
Human nature gives us two options when dealing with tragedy. It can either cripple you into inaction or you can rise above it, shake it off and keep fighting. In Daredevil’s case, Frank Miller took a healthy dose of the former and a ton of the latter in Daredevil: Born Again.
Frank Miller had left Daredevil in a better place when he found it. This arc was his explosive return to Hell’s Kitchen. Karen Page, Matt Murdock’s ex-girlfriend and secretary, has become a heroin-addicted porn star in Mexico. Desperate for a fix, Karen utters the secret that opens the floodgates to Matt’s personal hell: Matt Murdock is Daredevil.
It didn’t take long for Kingpin to catch wind of it and he begins to methodically ruin Matt’s life. He begins to lose everything from his house to his job to his friends, etc. Any mere mortal would’ve had their sanity nodes fried after having the worst day of their life.
Frank Miller made Born Again, a Matt Murdock story first and a Daredevil story second. The superheroics were scaled back in the beginning of the arc. I felt the paranoia just jump out of the page. Matt, for most of the story, doesn’t wear the suit. He may not have the tech of Iron Man or the true blue patriotism of Captain America. He’s got an unbreakable resolve that is as good as any superpower…just like his dad 🙂
I also need to commend the art, too. David Mazzucchelli did a fantastic job. There’s never been an artist/writer combo that complemented each other beautifully than Miller and Mazzucchelli. I also need to point out that there’s a lot of Catholicism in the artwork. It’s a symbolic stroke of genius that Miller used it in a way that is true to character.
There’s plenty of standout moments in this arc that are worth mentioning. Karen is attacked and she sees a syringe and just when she’s going to get one last fix. Then, out of nowhere, Matt resurfaces and a teary-eyed Karen drops the syringe and embraces him. It’s a cathartic moment where this woman basically sold him out for a fix but Matt somehow, someway forgives her. Such a well-scripted scene.
Another excellent moment was when an enraged, out of costume Matt confronts the Kingpin and it gave me a false sense of satisfaction because I knew it was gonna get worse before it gets better for Matt.
And the ultimate gratification comes in the later chapters where Matt, re-energized and hell-bent on saving Hell’s Kitchen, wears the suit during an insane sequence where the red, white and blue pill-poppin’ poor man’s Captain America, Nuke (Agent Simpson) was terrorizing the streets. Some of Matt’s friends from the Avengers show up, too 🙂
Hell’s Kitchen is where I was born…and Born Again.
I’ve had some pretty high expectations after reading the entire run, all three volumes worth, Daredevil: Born Again is, without any doubt, the definitive Daredevil story. It’s an amazing deconstruction of what drives Matt Murdock to be the protector of Hell’s Kitchen. Forget the suit, the billy clubs, the heightened senses, etc. Simply put, Matt Murdock is a man who flatly refuses to give up in the face of overwhelming adversity. It is Frank Miller’s magnum opus. A must-have for comic fans.