Daredevil: To Heaven Through Hell

Daredevil: To Heaven Through Hell
Daredevil To Heaven Through Hell Vol. 1 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-302-92824-7
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781302928247
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

To Heaven Through Hell repackages Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil stories into hardback volumes. Perhaps more than any other of Marvel’s earliest heroes Daredevil has benefited from several outstanding runs deserving of the improved format, and Zdarsky’s efforts stand well alongside the likes of earlier Daredevil authors Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Waid.

Not much time has passed since the end of Charles Soule’s Back in Black run and the injuries Matt Murdock sustained still impact on his day to day life, never mind his effectiveness as Daredevil. It’s also dispiriting that Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, has been elected Mayor of New York. That’s a difference from the Daredevil TV show, but otherwise Zdarsky sticks very much to the tone of the show, if not using all characters. There’s no return to the comics for Karen Page, for instance. Daredevil is soon beset by accusations that a criminal died after a beating, something he initially refuses to accept, and a new character, righteous police detective Chase North is determined to bring Daredevil down. This comes to a head to end the content first published in paperback as Know Fear, in which Matt agrees to stop being Daredevil.

The entire opening arc is exquisitely drawn by Marco Checchetto, although be warned that in keeping with Zdarsky’s intentions the effects of violence are sometimes brutally shown. Checchetto provides fully rendered backgrounds and poses Daredevil awkwardly in action, a deliberate snapshot effect. Lalit Kumar Sharma is very different, drawing in a looser style influenced by John Romita Jr, but equally good at conveying the seedy world of Hell’s Kitchen and its dangers. There’s further contrast with the final artist Jorge Fornés whose work resembles that of Michael Lark, very polished with people seen from distance, and the perception of sound elevated. The short of it is, all the art is good, just different views of Daredevil and his environment.

With the chapters drawn by Sharma, Zdarsky draws Daredevil away from obvious comparisons with the TV show by building up the cast and situations. What develops from a woman met in a bookshop is nicely delivered, and although it doesn’t happen in this volume, Daredevil’s discussions with a friendly nun lead to a beautifully plotted moment.

Zdarsky’s big on discussions, delving deep into ethical motivations and implications, and as good as these are if you’re inclined to consider the viewpoints (and he is relatively even-handed), they occur with a frequency meaning his Daredevil isn’t going to appeal to everyone. That’s also true because the second half of this collection features very little Daredevil as we know him. It’s an ambitious move concentrating on Matt Murdock and the supporting cast, and it pays off.

Once what was the content of the paperback No Devils, Only God has run its course, the question left hanging to lead into Vol. 2 is whether justice is more important than the law.