Say the name “Daredevil” to a superhero fan and certain things will likely come to their mind immediately. Images of a crimson-clad figure running across the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen. Alliterative names like Matt Murdock or Charlie Cox. Few, however, will think of a figure in red and blue tights with a spiked belt and a pair of razor-sharp boomerangs, for few recall that there was a superhero called Daredevil long before Marvel Comics first published the adventures of their own Man Without Fear.
This Daredevil is now in the public domain and has been pressed into service in many series by many publishers, including Image Comics, AC Comics and First Publications. To avoid legal battles, he’s been renamed Reddevil, Doubledare and the Dynamic Daredevil. Now, Dynamite Comics have put their own spin on the character with Death-Defying Devil.
The Devil presented in Our Home is a man of mystery, even to himself. He appears out of nowhere and comes to the rescue of a young couple threatened by gang members. Soon he’s adopted by them and the other tenants of a boarding house under siege by gangs and crooked police officers. All of them are in the employ of a sinister businessman called Donovan, who has an interest in acquiring their home for himself. The Devil becomes the unlikely champion of these oppressed people, though his own grip on reality is shaky at best and it is unclear if the demonic forces he sees himself fighting are an illusion brought about by Donovan or part of his own madness.
Gail Simone’s script is full of psychodrama and the story of Our Home is open to interpretation. The Devil could be a madman in a colorful costume who suffers from PTSD and some other mental illness. He might also be, as one of the tenants suggests, an eternal warrior pulled across time and space by the wish of a ghostly girl. In either case, the story runs wild, with the Devil hallucinating that he’s a barbarian, an Old West vigilante, an actor playing an Old West vigilante and an old man in a corrupt nursing home at different points in the narrative. In any case, the story benefits from at least one rereading so that all the points of view may be considered.
The artwork by Walter Geovani is fantastic all around. Geovani is one of the most underrated artists of his generation, being capable of working in a variety of genres. Simone’s script gives Geovani a workout, allowing him to draw superheroic action, sword-and-sandal fantasy and Western adventure. Geovani even manages the seemingly impossible task of making an action sequence set in a hospice with an octogenarian hero seem lively and exciting.
Death-Defying Devil: Our Home is rated Teen+ for audiences 16 and up and I consider that a fair rating. While far less graphic than your average R-rated movie in terms of language and sexual content, this is a very violent book, with the hero cutting a gang member’s ear off In the first fight scene and the action escalating from there. While no ethnic slurs are used, there are also several scenes where the minority tenants are threatened with racially intimidating language by Donovan’s henchmen that are uncomfortable to read and could be triggering for some readers. The same is true with the threat of rape many female characters’ experience. This is balanced, however, by the book’s message of empowerment and the climax, in which the tenants make their own heroic stand against the forces of evil.
Death-Defying Devil: Our Home Vol. 1
By Gail Simone
Art by Walter Geovani
Dynamite Entertainment, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: Ambiguous Mental Illness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder