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Daredevil #18 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story), Chris Samnee (art), Javier Rodriguez (colors)

The Story: The one time when coming home to find a woman in your bed isn’t exciting.

The Review: Due to real-world business, Alex will be on semi-hiatus for a week or so.  Very sad, of course, but stiff upper lip and all that.  On the bright side, it gives me a chance to review Daredevil, one of the few Marvel titles which inspires enthusiasm in me.  Truth be told, I haven’t actually ever picked up the series before, as in handed over money for it and walked an issue out the store; my comics budget is a bit tight these days.  But even skimming, I can see the quality.

So without further ado, let’s get to it.  The first thing I notice right off is how easy it is to jump into the story with almost no background familiarity whatsoever, and still carry on.  The always-helpful recap page has something to do with that, but it doesn’t even seem necessary in this case.  Waid clues you into all the necessary information so efficiently that you barely notice, using Matt’s internal narration to great effect.  Instead of rambling pieces of exposition which suck all the air out of the action, Matt’s recollections seem to build momentum and tension for the scene.

The standout example has to be the pitiable sight which greets Matt when he gets back to his apartment.  Even if you’ve never picked up a Daredevil title in your whole life, you can’t help being affected by the tragedy and horror of the scene.  Matt’s anguish comes across very potently and so genuinely that you never once feel the story’s being shocking merely for shock value.  Waid captures a complex mess of emotions here, but not only that, he makes you know each and every feeling Matt goes through.

Waid makes Matt’s inner mind so transparent that you can even track his growing self-doubt, the fear of madness touching on the fringes of his consciousness.  There’s a brilliant step-by-step deconstruction of Daredevil’s confidence of his own sanity, both from Waid and from whoever in the story’s behind this.  How it all ties into this new, also inexplicable case that Foggy has taken on remains unclear, but two mysteries are better than one.

I’m a little unconvinced on Foggy turning traitor on Matt, given their long history together.  You’d think by now, with all the crap they’ve gone through, there’d be some room for a benefit of the doubt here, especially considering how all these unexplained incidents hit Matt the hardest.  Also considering the fact that Foggy believes his partner’s experiencing a breakdown, rejection and anger seems a totally inappropriate response.  Anyway, you soon realize that no matter how much Foggy wants to shake his old friend out of his life, he’ll never break free from Daredevil’s orbit.

Samnee falls into the same category of artists as Declan Shalvey or Kev Walker: sketchy, old-fashioned lines that can pretty much adapt to any kind of story as needed.  Actually, the elegance and precision of his linework puts him closest to Cliff Chiang; every panel shows a lot of thought and attention in POV and how they all link together.  What really stands out from Samnee’s work is not only his understanding of how Daredevil’s abilities work, but how he ties it into the emotional core of the scene at hand.  Matt recognizing the heartbeat pattern just before he enters his apartment makes his discovery that much more profound and touching.

Conclusion: Just as well-crafted and compelling as everyone makes it out to be.  Instead of all this Avengers vs. X-Men nonsense, how about reading stories that will outlast the yearly gimmicks?

Grade: A-

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - Now in law school myself, I find the legal aspect of this title a great draw.  Kudos to Waid for tapping into the growing practice of legal coaching, which is a pretty legit business.  On the other hand, for this case, it’s good that Foggy takes it up himself because there’s no way he could ethically allow the client to represent the case himself.

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