by Andy Diggle & Antony Johnston (writers), Marco Checchetto (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Matt tries to gain Bakuto’s trust, but he doesn’t realize the traitor in his midst.

What’s Good: With every passing issue, Diggle carves out Daredevil as his own, continuing to distinguish his take on the title from those who came before.  This month, that becomes all the more clear.  This is a far cry from the noir tinged brawling in Hell’s Kitchen that we’re used to.  Instead, this is a straight up ninja story in an environment that is essentially a pocket of feudal Japan in the  modern Marvel Universe.

This time, Diggle expands this further by re-introducing Hand magic.  There are exploding bodies a-plenty here.  All told, it’s a good amount of fun, if only because it’s different from what we’ve become used to in Daredevil, setting the book even further apart from the rest of Marvel’s offerings.  Diggle has crammed more or less every variety of ninja related awesomeness he can into this book, while distancing it from the gritty realism of his predecessors’ work on the title.

Ninja romping aside, there are a variety of little moments that stand out.  There’s a really cool dream sequence (or is it a dream sequence) involving Elektra that feels both surreal and horrific.  Were it not for the gigantic reveal at the end of the book, which is a definite doozy, this would no doubt be the highlight of the issue.  Beyond that, the action is at the high standard you’d expect from a book brimming with ninjas.

Checcetto meanwhile continues to do a good job following in Checcetto’s stead.  He manages to retain that gritty, dark noir feel despite the old school Japanese character designs and environments he’s dealing with.  He also draws a really unsettling Elektra.  Despite the change in setting and theme, thanks to Checcetto, things are as moody as ever.

What’s Not So Good: While shifting the book’s sub-genre gains it points, the adjustment is still a bit hard at this point.  I can’t help but miss the old noir tales in Hell’s Kitchen.  While I enjoyed this for what it was, a straight-up ninja book at times doesn’t feel like it has the same depth as the method that’s usually taken in portraying Matt’s trials.  Somehow, the moral and emotional issues just don’t seem as wrenching or as personal.  Everything feels a little more detached in these new settings.  Naturally, these are very broad feelings that are probably just growing pains on my part in getting used to Diggle’s daring new method.

I also have to say that I was a bit disappointed in Bakuto this month.  Given the events of this book, which see him and Matt fighting alongside each other, it’s a shame to see absolutely no character development on Bakuto’s part as a result.  It feels like a missed opportunity, overall.  Diggle had a real chance to make an interesting, three-dimensional character out of Bakuto but seems instead content to settle for him being your standard jerk.

Art-wise, this is a great book, but I did have some minor issues following the action at a couple of points when the supernatural elements became involved.  It’s not a big deal, but did cause me to do a bit of a double take.

Conclusion: Another solid outing for Diggle’s continuing ninja adventure.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans

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