Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1
by Stan Lee, various artists (Marvel Comics, 2005)

As a general rule, I find it bad form to have a revolving door of artists on an ongoing title featuring a continuing storyline. There are two exceptions to this, the first being an obvious one: anthologies. The other exception is not as obvious. It is any book in which the artists are some of the best the business has ever seen. A good example of this is Marvel's Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1.

Collecting issues 1 through 25 of the first Daredevil series, this ample tome features the work of no less than Bill Everett, Joe Orlando, Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr. and Gene Colan. Amazingly, there is only one instance in the whole book in which the artistic "changing of the guard" is immediately, glaringly obvious, and that is the switch from Romita to Colan.

In this volume, fans will find Daredevil as he was originally envisioned: the carefree, devil-may-care swashbuckler, whose quips and one-liners could give even a certain wall-crawling hero a run for his money. Younger readers who have never seen anything other than the grim, morose, more Batman-like Daredevil ought to give these Stan Lee tales a shot.

A word about the Marvel Essentials collections: I was not an immediate fan, since I enjoyed the color in these stories, being at least familiar with them from my childhood. However, I have been won over, as some who are fans of original comics art have led me to the realization that these presentations are much like seeing the art work in its raw form, right off the penciler's drawing board. Approached in this light, I have grown to appreciate these works that much more.

Essential Daredevil, Vol. 1 is recommended for all readers.

review by
Mark Allen

30 January 2010

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