The digital comics dream team of Mark Waid and Peter Krause tackle the Man Without Fear and take him into the brave new world of Infinite Comics (via San Francisco) in Marvel Comics’ Daredevil: Road Warrior #1.
When it comes to digital comics there are few more experienced pairings than writer Mark Waid and artist Peter Krause. Having produced 30+ chapters of their creator-owned series Insufferable on Waid’s Thrillbent website (Not to mention 37 issues of print series Irredeemable) they have a working relationship and understanding of digital story-telling that is second-to-none. Add to this Waid’s involvement in previous Infinite comics like Avengers vs. X-Men, as well as his status as head Daredevil writer, then Daredevil: Road Warrior is perhaps the perfect storm of digital comics potential and manifests itself into the first true masterpiece of Marvel’s Infinite era .
Unlike previous Infinite Comics, Road Warrior is part of the ongoing Daredevil continuity (thanks of course to Waid’s role as DD’s head scribe!) with the action taking place directly after last month’s epic Daredevil #36 which saw Matt Murdock forced to reveal his secret identity to avoid being blackmailed by the Sons of Serpent. Now dis-barred from the New York Supreme Court Murdock opts to head to San Francisco and rebuild his life, and inevitably even his journey west doesn’t go to plan.
Waid’s regular Daredevil series has received stellar reviews since it was launched in 2011 thanks to it’s return to a lighter more adventure based style, rather than existential angst of recent years. As you would expect Road Warrior #1 continues that tone and even if you are not a regular Daredevil reader, then this series is a perfect jumping on point as it captures the feel of the series without getting bogged down in convoluted back stories and exposition.
This first issue features a relatively straight forward plot with Murdock on an airplane and encountering a passenger who may not be quite what he seems. However it is prefaced by a flashback to a recent encounter with the Manbull that gives the issue it’s main action. It is here that artist Krause gets to really show off his digital chops with a superb set piece that uses the Guided View transitions of the Infinite format to layer Daredevil’s heightened senses over the action to brilliantly realise the view from Murdock’s perspective. It’s a trick we’ve seen attempted numerous times in print over the years, but it is in the Infinite format that it seems to work perfectly with purple lines tracing the outline of the Manbull as he charges forward and then fades into the main artwork as you swipe. it gives the whole scene a cinematic, exciting feel and is used a couple of times in this first issue, (including an epic panorama on the airplane) and works brilliantly at making the book feel like much more than just another standard Daredevil adventure.
Krause uses his bag of digital tricks expertly in Road Warrior with the confidence he has gained from working on Insufferable. Because he is happy to experiment with out-of-order panel transitions, the aforementioned panorama and even a couple of special motion effects it gives the book a real sense of action and excitement. Combined with his ‘old school’ artwork style that fits Daredevil perfectly and evokes pre-Elektra Frank Miller or Gil Colan, it makes Waid’s old school script leap out of the screen and is the perfect continuation to the outstanding regular series.
For those who might balk at the idea of Daredevil being turned into a glorified motion book, you will be pleased to hear that at no point does the digital transitions in Road Warrior ever feel gimmicky or gratuitous (as it has in other Infinite titles). Instead Waid and Krause create a perfect balance of the cutting edge with the classic and make Road Warrior one of the best Marvel Infinite titles we have seen to date.
“Waid and Krause have produced the perfect digital comic in Daredevil Road Warrior. Waid continues the high standards of the regular title’s scripts without ever alienating new readers, while Krause produces stunning old school artwork and cutting edge digital story-telling. Daredevil: Road Warrior sets a new benchmark for Guided View digital story-telling and is an absolutely essential read.”