Given Daredevil’s heavily self-contained nature over the last ten-plus years, it’s strange to see Marvel effectively put the first issue of the new direction in a one-shot. Then again, given that the time is about right to move the character away from the Bendis/Brubaker version, perhaps it’s not so strange at all. Daredevil’s new position as Leader of the Hand is, in part, related to the events of Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, so it seems to make sense to expose the status quo to new readers in the series-of-one-shots, The List.
Joining the new series writer Andy Diggle on his first Daredevil story is Billy Tan, also doing his first Daredevil. After years of gritty, sketchy, urban depictions of Daredevil and his cast, it’s strange to see such an obviously superhero-influenced artist take the character on again, but not entirely unwelcome. Tan has always done his best work during action scenes, and Diggle gives him plenty to work with here. Unfortunately, the book opens on a conversational boardroom scene, where all of Tan’s weaknesses bleed through, so the initial impression isn’t particularly good.
Although the story ramifications aren’t quite as event-level as Hawkeye’s fate over in this issue’s “Avengers” counterpart, there is at least one major curveball thrown, giving Daredevil his very own Stamford-style disaster that will hopeuflly come into play further down the line. If Diggle’s intent is merely to illustrate how “the game has changed” then it could be a bit crass – but the lack of any direct Daredevil/Bullseye confrontation in this issue gives me good reason to expect that there’s a good, old-fashioned Daredevil beat-down coming Bullseye’s way eventually – which is as it should be.
As a lead-in to Daredevil’s new direction, this issue works, showing enough about Daredevil’s role leading the Hand to get the story going, while still leaving enough questions for casual readers to want to come and find the answers. As a believable tick off Osborn’s “list”, however, it’s a lot less convincing – Osborn doesn’t seem to have strengthened his own position by sending Bullseye after Daredevil, and indeed, it’s not clear how he expected to either. If it was actually as simple as “kill Daredevil”, Bullseye would have done so long ago, and his failure to do so only emphasises the pointlessness of this edict. It’s a good story, but I can’t shake the feeling that it would have made more sense as an issue of Daredevil rather than a Dark Reign special.