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Daredevil #19 – Review

by Mark Waid (writer), Chris Samnee (artist), Javier Rodriguez (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer)

The Story:  As Matt’s mind falls apart, he finally figures out who’s behind all the insanity.

The Review:  While it’s not always had the same amount of success, one thing I’ve loved and respected Waid for doing in this series is truly experimenting and expanding on the type of stories that can be told with Daredevil.  With guys like Miller, Bendis, and Brubaker defining the “Daredevil comic,” we got to a point where the “Daredevil comic” was by definition a gritty noir affair.  Throughout his run, Waid has tried to break free of that mold, throwing the Man Without Fear into different genres.

This month, he tosses Daredevil a bit more into the horror genre (right in time for Hallowe’en!).  It’s a subtle, toes in the water move at this point, but it’s definitely palpable, and it definitely works.  Having a main character who is just as unsure as the reader is about what is and what isn’t real makes for a turbulent read that keeps the reader engaged and just a little unsettled.  Matt’s lack of vision and his radar sense also become vulnerabilities in themselves and as things pop in and out of reality and the Spot’s power mess around with Matt’s surroundings, there is also something distinctly creepy about the way Samnee illustrations Matt’s radar-vision of the world.

Where the horror element really kicks in though his with returning villain, the Spot, now new and improved with a distinctly horror-movie appearance.  Waid and Samnee do a great job of emphasizing the creepier aspects of the villain’s powers, leading to some really great panels.  There’s just something naturally disturbing about scores of disembodied hands reaching out to grasp Matt from black portals.  I don’t know what it is, but it just gives me the heebie-jeebies.  The ending of the issue is also great – it’s completely ridiculous, visually, but is a classic sort of “muhuhaha” horror moment.

All this being said, I’ll admit: I have an axe to grind with this issue.  I thought Waid’s use of Foggy this month was nothing less than deplorable.  What Waid has Foggy do this month is complete and utter betrayal of Matt.  That, in itself, runs completely contrary to who Foggy Nelson is.  I don’t care that Foggy thought he was doing it for Matt’s own good or that he was drunk – it’s a massive betrayal and, as such, it cuts to the core of Foggy’s character and it, well, it just isn’t Foggy.  Frankly, we’ve seen Matt in direr straits than this during Bendis and Brubaker’s runs and never once did Foggy even think of betraying Matt in this manner.  Foggy’s actions this month are really out of the blue and make the character difficult to like and genuinely irritating, which is a very bad look for Foggy and one which he was never meant to have.  Given what he and Matt have been through and who Foggy is, it also makes little sense.

But hey, Chris Samnee’s art this month is brilliant, at the very least.  It’s full of character and his depictions of the Spot’s powers are extremely creative and effective.  I also greatly enjoyed his urban backgrounds.  Also, colorist Javier Rodriguez puts out some of his best work on the series thus far, with colors that are vibrant and full of life with a paradoxical noir edge, perfectly suiting Samnee’s work.

Conclusion:  This issue does so much right – the art is awesome and the idea of a Daredevil horror story is a great one…but that was a pretty big gaffe with respect to Foggy.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans

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