When The Man Without Fear Learns Fear
Review: Man Without Fear #1-5
Written by Jed MacKay
Art by Danilo S. Beyruth, Andres Mossa, Clayton Cowles
Edited by Devin Lewis and Lauren Amaro
For the entire existence of the character, Marvel have billed Daredevil as ‘The Man Without Fear’. As well as being one of the first blind superheroes, Matt Murdock’s other unique characteristic was that he never feared anything. So what happens when this is taken away from him?
Ahead of a relaunch for the Daredevil comic, Man Without Fear is a five issue miniseries that establishes a new status quo. The story throws him a curve ball by placing him in a coma. After being hit by a car and enduring years of trauma in the role, he is left fighting for his life. When he does gain consciousness, his real fight begins. Over the course of a five issue mini-series, we see him struggle with rehab and the realisation that he is truly scared for the first time.
Perhaps the most interesting facet to this miniseries is the way that Man Without Fear presents the twin concepts of pain and fear. Murdock has learnt to live with a high degree of physical pain and emotional anguish. He manages to see that it has a meaningful purpose in preventing him from worse injury and alerting him to danger. This concept that even pain can serve a purpose is one explored by theologians, including the likes of Phillip Yancey.
One of the Daredevil character’s more interesting facets, then, is his vulnerability. The fact that he has been hurt many times and genuinely had to foster resilience from a young age makes him particularly endearing. Violence, for Daredevil, is something that always has consequences and Man Without Fear explores what happens when it exacts its toll. Murdock’s faith is another interesting facet that is briefly discussed early on in the series, although this aspect of the character could have been further explored.
As Murdock contemplates throwing away his entire superhero career, he’s visited by old friends, including the likes of Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. The combination of these guest stars and flashbacks to key episodes in his timeline makes The Man Without Fear a good jumping on point, say for anyone who has seen Daredevil on Netflix (RIP) and is interested in investigating the character further.
While Man Without Fear’s art changes are a little jarring, the result of having a team of alternating pencilers, the individual artists’ contributions are all effective. Danilo Beyruth’s gritty work particularly stands out as helping to realise writer Jed MacKay’s violent vision of Murdock’s tortured inner anguish. For his part, MacKay manages to craft a grim, sometimes downright sad tale, where Murdock’s struggles to perform simple tasks take precedence over heroics. There is some levity at key points, however, in order to prevent reading this series from becoming a chore in itself. Readers who persevere will be rewarded with some great character moments from Murdock.
All five issues of Man Without Fear are available now.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor