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The X-Axis by Paul O'Brien (

Daredevil: The Target #1

Kevin Smith returns to DAREDEVIL, and once again sends the orders through the roof. If he can do it with Green Arrow, he can do it with anything. In fact, I'd love to see Marvel test this theory by getting Smith to write Marville #7. Top twenty, I bet you.

In contrast to his lighthearted Spider-Man / Black Cat miniseries, Daredevil: The Target goes for a more serious tone. It would be stretching a point to say that very much actually happens in this issue - the first half is largely a primer on Daredevil and a reminder of some plot threads from Smith's run on the regular series, and the second half introduces Bullseye. Although most of this material will already be familiar to comics readers, it's a sensible starting point for the inevitable trade paperback.

The plot point that Smith needs to bring up, of course, is the fact that Bullseye killed Karen Page back in the regular series, and got away with it. There's some good material in here setting up Matt's feelings about Karen in a fairly offbeat manner. I'm a little less sure about the opening three pages, with Daredevil at the World Trade Center ground zero site. Yes, the villains are terrorists, but we hardly need reminded that terrorists are, on the whole, a bad thing.

I can't begrudge Americans, and especially New Yorkers, the need to write about this, but I'm starting to get the sinking feeling that it's the next Vietnam War, to be wheeled out in stories as a symbol of Lost American Innocence until another fresher disaster comes along to supplant it. When it gets worked into so many stories, some of which it has nothing to do with at all, it really does start to feel like background noise. It would be a shame to see a mass disaster fade into an overused metaphor, but perhaps it's unavoidable.

Over in the other half of the book, Bullseye gets introduced as an assassin for hire, and does the obligatory power demonstration scene. All standard stuff, but Smith writes sharp enough dialogue to get away with it. Bullseye has done away with his costume altogether, on the not unreasonable basis that assassins probably don't want to stand out in a crowd. He's quite right, of course, although costumes are a genre standard in superheroes, and when you make an issue of it with Bullseye, you immediately raise the question of why Daredevil is wearing that silly red thing. On balance, though, I agree with Smith. Bullseye really does come across as more threatening when he isn't wearing spandex.

Art comes from Glenn Fabry, an excellent storyteller but one who's never struck me as entirely comfortable with superhero costumes. The poses are just fine, but there's something a little over-rendered about the muscles that feels slightly off to me. That aside, the art's good stuff, and Fabry does a suitably meancing Bullseye.

Decent, but a bit of a slow start - it really is just an entire issue reintroducing the characters and recapping earlier plot threads. Smith and Fabry can make that sort of thing more interesting than it has any right to be, though.

Grade: B