By: Mark Waid (writer), Mike Allred (art), Laura Allred (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Matt remembers a very special gift from Foggy.  Also:  the dreaded STILT-MAN!

The Review: Mike Allred!

That’s really the major selling point for this issue.  It becomes clear within the first two pages that Mark Waid’s Daredevil is a series that plays to the Allreds’ strengths.  Waid’s book is naturally upbeat and energetic with a slightly retro, pop-art feel.  Of course, all of what I just said also describes Mike and Laura Allred’s work, so seeing them take on Daredevil is something that just makes sense.  Waid also gives Allred the sort of stuff that also plays particularly to Allred’s strengths.  For instance, in selecting Stilt-Man for this issue, he gives Allred a zany character with wacky physical characteristics, which is just the sort of thing Allred excels at.  Put simply, this issue just pops and it’s the best looking comic book I picked up this week.  Despite the heart-wringing content of the story, the Allreds’ artwork just makes you feel happy.

While it’s admittedly not an essential issue, being almost entirely a flashback, Waid delivers a great script as well, once again showing his excellent understanding of Matt Murdock’s psychology and just how important the “happy Matt” turning point is for his psyche.

One of those plot elements that always seem to work is that obligatory scene in every buddy movie where the two lead characters are at odds with each other.  It forces the audience, and the characters, to focus on the importance of the relationship.  Movies like Rush Hour and Pineapple Express are great examples of this.  We certainly get a bit of that vibe here in the break-up of Matt and Foggy.  Matt sulks and thinks about the good times, which only leads to us appreciating their relationship all the more.

The flashback that Waid has chosen is fantastically poignant.  I can’t spoil it for you, but it goes back to an amazing gift of sorts that Foggy gave to Matt in the early days of their practice.  In every way, the nature of this gift is just perfect.  It’s a gift that resonates with the core of who Matt Murdock is and it’s a guaranteed watery-eyed moment for any die-hard Daredevil fan.  It also highlights Waid’s strength when it comes to knowing, and using, his characters’ history in manner that has a great deal of impact while also remaining completely accessible to any reader.  I’m frankly astonished at how hard this “gift” hits, as it shows Waid’s amazing understanding of Murdock’s character.

Oh, and Stilt-Man.  I’ve already said it, but Stilt-Man is a great addition to the issue almost solely as a visual for Allred to go to town on.  Really, that’s all that’s needed too.  That said, it does allow for Waid to give us some cool “meta” moments with Matt narrating about how lame the character is, also directly referencing the pretty rough days of his “early rogues’ gallery”.

Conclusion: It’s great to read, it’s great to look at.  Last issue, we got a fantastic Ant-Man comic but this month, Waid really cuts to the core of who Matt Murdock is and why Murdock and Foggy’s friendship matters.  The result is straight-up good comics.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans