The Brighter Origins of Daredevil
Daredevil is one of Marvel’s most famous street-level heroes. Since 1964, Matt Murdock had defended the streets of Hell’s Kitchen from the likes of the Kingpin and other threats. Most comic readers would recognize the hero from his red suit that he’s worn over his publication history. Not many actually know, however, he started his career wearing a yellow suit. This suit is seen most prominently in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s miniseries, Daredevil: Yellow. This duo, famous for their work on Batman: The Long Halloween, approached the origin of Daredevil in a different way from other stories with the character. How can you change up the formula for a man dressed like a devil?
**Major Spoilers Below**
The framing device of the story is Matt Murdock writing a letter to his late love interest, Karen Page, as a way to move on from her passing. He decides to write the story of how his origin of Daredevil leads him to her. Starting from his time in law school, Matt and his friend, Foggy Nelson, are close to graduating law school. Matt’s father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, inspires the boys and takes them out to dinner the night before a big boxing match. Knowing that his father fights fixed fights, Matt urges him just to fight next time.
After he wins the match, Jack gives his son his bright yellow boxing robe. A few hours after that, Jack is murdered by gangsters for not taking a fall. Matt and Foggy try to take down the gangsters in court, but due to the alibis given, they get off scot-free. Matt doesn’t take kindly to this, and that night creates his first Daredevil outfit out of the robe.
The biggest thing to note here is that, unlike other retellings of his origin, this version of Daredevil’s origin is more grounded. We don’t focus on Daredevil. We focus on Matt Murdock. The majority of the story follows the life of Matt without the need for extravagant action sequences. While the battles can be neat, a simple scene where Matt, Foggy, and Karen go out to a bar is much more intriguing. It’s this slower, more character-driven burn that allows this story to thrive.
Another fantastic aspect is seeing the dynamic between the trio in this early time. When it’s the three of them, one can feel the tension around them as the men try to win Karen’s heart. It’s a dynamic that’s uncommon in comics nowadays, as the girl picks the hero. However, since we focus more on the human side of things, you see both men having a chance to win this girl’s heart. There are times readers will honestly root for them both to get the girl. It’s a smaller aspect, but one that gives this story charm.
Tim Sale illustrates the story, and it can be seen as divisive, if anything else. His style is unique, harkening back to classic stories rather than the more smooth style of today. Some might be turned away by this look, but honestly, it’s the perfect style for the story. There are iconic panels that genuinely define this comic, and it wouldn’t have the same impact in another style. The greatest part, however, comes in the form of Daredevil’s suit. The yellow suit is ridiculous in concept, but thanks to Sale’s design and Matt Hollingsworth’s colors, it has become this reviewer’s favorite Daredevil Design.
Daredevil: Yellow is an excellent Matt Murdock story that gives a little more light in a character that seems darker than most. There are still dark moments littered throughout, but its seen more as character building than something terrifying to shock audiences. We have a tale of a young man who grows into the hero we know while finding love in an unlikely place. With the unique art of Tim Sale illustrating this tale, Yellow might be one of the greatest origin stories of all time.