The X-Axis by Paul O'Brien
Daredevil Yellow #1
I haven't read any of the material that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale did for DC. I did notice them getting rather good reviews over there, which came as a mild surprise to me given that Wolverine/Gambit: Victims wasn't exactly a classic, and Loeb's work on Cable and X-Force was workmanlike but nothing particularly special. Clearly it was going to look very nice, but I wasn't altogether convinced about the content.
DAREDEVIL: YELLOW is the first thing the duo have done for Marvel since that Victims miniseries, and it kind of confirms my suspicions. Or prejudices, if you prefer.
This is a flashback story recounting how Matt Murdock ends up cavorting around in pyjamas. It's not his origin story - Matt already has the superhuman powers as the story begins. It's just the story of why he chooses to become a superhero. The series title reflects the short-lived yellow costume that Daredevil wore at the outset of his series, before dumping it in favour of the infinitely better red one.
Naturally, it looks wonderful. Sale has decided to take the period approach and illustrate the story as if it was set in the publication era (rather than update it to about 1989, in line with current continuity). That's probably the sensible choice here, given the rather dated nature of the story they're playing off. It works more effectively as a period piece. A curious exception is the presence of a black female judge, who I suspect were rather thin on the ground at that time, but there you go.
The story has Matt, as a law student, following his father's boxing career as he has a surprising late surge in middle age. Murdock Sr is potentially in line for a title fight. In fact, all his opponents have been bribed to take dives (which I think is an original story element, but makes a certain kind of sense). When asked to take a dive himself, Murdock refuses, and from there we segue into the established storyline where Matt starts wandering around in a costume in order to get revenge.
The story is obvious assuming a prior knowledge of the character, since it makes no effort to explain where Matt got his powers from, nor for that matter to explain any of the Stick material that justifies his fighting skills (which will become a point in issue next month). I can understand eliminating those elements, since they have nothing to do with the story in hand, but it does mean that the story will read oddly read in isolation.
The key word here is "sentimental." It's a decently told story, it looks great, but it's basically about your upbeat inspiring Hollywood messages. We even get a panel of Matt's graduation with him being told "You have shown us that no matter how large the adversity, the individual can triumph." Which is, of course, bollocks. Frequently, the individual will do no such thing. But that's the sort of thing that this story's about.
It's low-calorie art - all the appearance of serious, intelligent artistic endeavour, with none of the stodgy content. Approach it in that way, and you'll get on just fine. Expect more of it, and you may end up disappointed.