Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock

Writer / Artist
Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock
Daredevil Battlin' Jack Murdock review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel Knights - 0-7851-2534-5
  • Release date: 2008
  • UPC: 9780785125341
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Crime, Drama, Sport, Thriller

An integral part of Daredevil’s origin is the day his boxer father Battlin’ Jack Murdock was backed into a corner by gangsters and forced to throw a fight. It’s revisited by Zeb Wells and Carmine Di Giandomenico, both credited for “story”, the four rounds of the controversial fight each occupying a chapter, supplemented by Murdock considering his life.

For the script Wells opts for the first person narrative, Murdock aware of his shortcomings and aware of the mistakes he’s made, and what’s known about Daredevil’s parents is astutely worked into the look at earlier days. Catholic faith in various forms plays a part, with redemption a continuing theme. We feel sorry for Murdock and his inability to see a way out of his situation, and how that leads further into the bottle and more violence, but not so sorry not to be appalled at what he does. Ultimately it’s a return to boxing that provides a possible path out, but we’re told from the start how others view that same path.

Di Giandomenico ups the pathos via creative use of expressions, but his art is otherwise blocky and angular, and his people craggy, reflecting a tough life in a tough world. The exception is the young Matt Murdock, seen as clean and therefore innocent. The boxing scenes are exquisitely composed, exaggerated, especially with regard to blood, but bringing the sport to brutal life.

Despite being sold as a Daredevil graphic novel, there is no costumed appearance, and even the time spent with Matt Murdock is minimal, so if that makes a difference, this isn’t a graphic novel for you. If your interest is in a cracking crime story strongly rooted in human struggle, then this is first rate. Those who know Daredevil’s origin story will find enough packaged around it to make for compelling reading, while anyone not as familiar will be captivated by how Wells extends the suspense as to how the fight is going to go. There’s a killer ending as well.