The superhero’s origin defines that hero. It determines what kind of hero they will become and the future life-or-death decisions they will make. The comic book team of writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale has practically made a living retelling the origins of some of DC’s greatest icons like Superman and Batman. Many of their collaborations delve into key moments that develop the hero’s character rather than just offering page after page of fisticuffs. Loeb and Sale have applied this formula to Marvel mainstay Daredevil in the series Daredevil Legends, Vol. 1: Yellow, referencing Daredevil’s earliest choice in costume style. Daredevil, for the uninitiated, is blind attorney Matt Murdock who plays costumed vigilante for New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. An accident with spilled radioactive material took his sight but heightened his other senses to superhuman levels (he can hear heartbeats and know a person by scent). Loeb’s descriptive writing takes full advantage of Daredevil’s apparent disadvantage, describing the world that he doesn’t see but embraces through his other senses. While setting up his law firm with partner Foggy Nelson, he meets and falls for their new secretary Karen Page. The book focuses not only on the budding relationship between Page and Murdock (something Daredevil scholars know is significant to the character) but also Daredevil’s initiation into the ranks of superheroes.  Those who are familiar with Daredevil from darker, grittier works by Frank Miller and Brian Michael Bendis may actually be disappointed with Loeb and Sale’s offering. Though still having small touches of noir, as well as Murdock’s motivation for wearing the costume, the book still shows a young and confident Daredevil ready to take on anyone or anything. Ignoring traditional Daredevil adversaries, Loeb has him enter the superhero world fighting costumed villains like Electro and the Purple Man. Sale’s art only adds to the classic funny pages feel of the book, giving the reader more swashbuckling action than brooding hero. Sale’s character designs, especially of Page and Murdock together, may remind readers familiar with them of Golden Age romance comics, but doesn’t come off as satire.  Daredevil Legends Vol. 1: Yellow is almost a throwback to when comics were more concerned with action and drama over drama and more drama. The book’s tight plotting and sweeping action sequences keep it from being bogged down in a dreary worldview and it may even be a breath of fresh air for readers who think comics have lately gotten too dramatic or too adult.

Daredevil Legends Vol. 1: Yellow
by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
ISBN: 0785109692
Marvel Comics, 2003

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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