DAREDEVIL #21

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

The Story: The awkward moment when you realize you’re beating up the guy who saved you.

The Review: With all the Marvel NOW! frenzy going on, I hope no one forgets the titles that Marvel always had reason to be proud of—and it’d be very difficult to forget, considering the stamp on the cover reminding you that Daredevil has won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.  I’m not sure how I feel about such craven advertisement on a comic book, but regardless…well played, Marvel.  A little kick in the nuts to all the non-winners out there.

At any rate, I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that the acclaim is deserved.  Through this title, Waid has demonstrated something I’ve always believed about the superhero genre: it gets a whole lot more interesting when you minimize the powers involved.  Too often, writers find themselves distracted with generating interesting ways to use their characters’ special abilities, and more often than not, that results in bland fight sequences that are mostly beams and blasts of energy anyway.  Strip down the powers, and the feats get a whole lot more impressive.

I find myself consistently amazed with what Waid can do with Daredevil’s particular talents.  They may seem straightforward on the surface, but what makes them prime material for a story is how they’re used to create uncertainty and call attention to specific details.  Teleporters are a dime a dozen in the Marvel U, but with Daredevil desperately trying to get a sense-reading on one, they suddenly seem a lot more threatening.  That, and Waid’s clever imagination (“There is no exit to the hideout…  Why would a man who can teleport build an exterior door?”).

The involvement of a teleporter neatly wraps up the mystery behind recent events in Matt’s personal life, all except for the name of the person behind it all.  The unfortunate thing is since we knew of the Spot/Coyote’s abilities since #19, most of the really juicy revelations have already been spent, leaving us to mostly indulge the confession here.

Since we’re not really getting anywhere in terms of the plot, Waid fills the tension in this issue with the conflict between Foggy and Matt.  There will be no bear hugs of apology, I’m afraid.  Matt won’t easily forgive or forget Foggy’s betrayal, and for good reason.  As I alluded the last time I reviewed this title, Matt can’t get over his disbelief that his oldest friend could be so easily turned:

“Good God, Foggy, you and I have had our lives turned upside down how many times by syndicates and crime bosses and psychoes with axes to grind? …And you threw our friendship under a bus because someone fooled you with his sleight-of-hand act?”

Amazingly enough, Foggy is only half-apologetic about the matter and remains mostly on the defensive.  Maybe I’m not deep enough in Daredevil canon to really grasp the nuances of Foggy’s argument, but he seems to be saying that he doesn’t trust that Matt’s really himself because he’s not blaming/punishing himself as much as he usually does.  Well.  I can’t say I have a very good opinion of the slightly overweight attorney, but it makes for some interesting drama.

You can chalk Samnee’s simple linework to the influence of a lot of artists: David Aja, Cliff Chiang, Francisco Francavilla.  But looking at this issue, he reminds me of a cross between Javier Pulido and Darwyn Cooke.  The lines are thicker, bolder, and the figures look a little blockier.  Samnee plays a lot with shadow, so much so that his art is more about what he chooses to reveal than what he obscures.  It’s great pulp, particularly with the funky noir Rodriguez brings to the issue.  It’s the only comic where a New York county courthouse can glow in teal, rose, and aquamarine.

Conclusion: The bulk of the surprises were used in the last couple issues, but this one has more than enough gripping material to make it a worthy read.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Agh.  The stack of undelivered letters, all signed, “Love, Matt,” is a guaranteed heartbreaker.  Or I’m just a sad sissy.  Take your pick.

– I appreciate the visual of a U.S.P.S. box covered in graffiti—a perfect symbol of a once cherished institution.

Grade

Conclusion