Title: Daredevil: Born Again
Author: Frank Miller
Publication Date: March 1990
Classification: Graphic Novel
Summary From Goodreads:
Karen Page, Daredevil’s former lover, trades away Daredevil’s identity for a drug fix. Matt Murdock must find strength as the Kingpin of Crime wastes no time taking him down as low as a human can get.
“And I– I have shown him….that a man without hope is a man without fear.”
There are certain stories in the world of comic books that define a character. the story might bring new life or add a new depth to said character. Those are the stories you need to look out for. Those are the stories that’ll live on forever; the instant classic. This is one of those stories.
Behind any great story is a great writer. This writer is capable of moving the reader across the colorful pallate of human emotion. With enough paper and a carefully utilized pen, a great writer can place the reader in the mindset of the characters. We, as the reader, could close our eyes and actually picture ourselves living the lives of these characters. We become fully immersed in their world, so much so that it might even become part of ours if we allow it. Some might say that comic books cut the writer a break due to their illustrations; I beg to differ. The writer has the added task of making these illustrations come alive. We now have a visual representation of a world which is not our own. Frank Miller is able to do all of these aforementioned things and much more. Born Again is proof positive of what he is truly capable of.
I’d hazard a guess in saying that Frank Miller is a troubled soul. Anyone familiar with his work on Batman and, more importantly, Sin City, would be inclined to agree with me. Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil may have been a bit more personal for him. His run is widely recognized with bringing a new life to the ‘Man without Fear’. The darkness of one man’s soul might take shape in his words. This is a testament to that sentiment as Frank Miller took Matt Murdock, a lawyer who through a childhood accident lost his site due to a radioactive spill only to find his remaining senses heightened to superhuman levels, thus becoming the masked hero Daredevil, and turned him into something so much more than the protector of Hell’s Kitchen and a hero; he turned him into a literary vessel of hope. But this hope was only a gift to the readers; the character went through Hell only to be Born Again.
Q: What is the one thing the atypical superhero story have in common with all the rest? A: They all involve their masked persona. Frank Miller probably realized this and set forth to differentiate this story from the norm; he made this story as personal as you can get. This is story is less aobut Daredevil and more about Matt Murdock. This story is less about the hero and more about the man. This is why Daredevil: Born Again is a work of art.
Matt Murdock’s secret identity as the masked avenger of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil, has been compromised. An ex girlfriend of his sold his secret for a drug fix and now, everything begins to unravel. Matt Murdock has lost his job, his apartment, and now his true passion; he is a man broken, fragmented into an altered state. The major crime boss of New York City, The Kingpin, now has possession of Murdock’s secret and instead of exposing it to the world, he only wishes to break him. And break him he does. This story is as much of a religious experience as comics get; it is about a crisis of faith and how, through seemingly divine intervention, one man can truly be Born Again. The drug issue being discussed in this story was unheard of in comics at the time, due partially in part to the Comic Code Authority (which was essentially what the Hawes code was to movies; censorship), but a master storyteller such as Frank Miller brought it to the forefront and did not glorify or beautify it. Instead he showed its true nature as destroyer of souls and a device for self destruction. Everything in this story seamlessly flowed together. Never was there a point in which I was lost or confused. Instead at certain points in the story, I found myself wiping away tears. It is that powerful. If at the conclusion of a story the reader feels deeply affected on some level by not only the plot but the writing and the characters, then that is a tell tale sign of a grand piece of literature. Yes, I did say literature. This story is a ‘picture book’ if you will, but its illustrations only add more depth to the story itself. The reader is taken on a visual journey of death and rebirth and comes out feeling better all for it. Kudos to Frank Miller; he truly is a grand architect of human discovery and exploration in the realm of comic books.
If at any time you feel like going on a grand journey of loss, love, life, death and rebirth, then this is the story for you. Throughout the course of this book, you will be taken on a rollercoaster ride of human emotion and the climax itself will leave you both exhausted and satisfied; that is the tell-tale sign of a great book. There is no end to my praise for this book and for that reason alone, Born Again recieves a perfect score.