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

The Story: Daredevil begins to wonder if any of his friends are acting like themselves anymore.

The Review: Not being much of a Spider-Man fan, I didn’t hear all of the hoopla about the big switcheroo in Amazing Spider-Man #700 until the day after.  I don’t know what people were so up in arms about.  The chances of actually killing off Peter Parker are about the same as me being put in charge of Marvel editorial.  Marvel may be brave enough to pull that off with Captain America, but they can’t even keep up the pretense for more than a few weeks for Spidey.

With that in mind, the premise of putting Doctor Octopus (a villain whom I never thought of as even remotely a big deal) into Peter Parker’s body and attached with all of Peter’s morals and hang-ups seems like a pretty interesting idea.  Since I’ve always had a particular fascination with the moral malleability of superheroes and villains, I’m rather invested in the outcome, actually.  At any rate, it can’t be any worse than turning every Manhattan resident into a spider-mutant.

Anyway, I have no idea if Octopus is going through the same identity crisis over in his own title (and how about that—the old doc’ finally has a solo ongoing), but here he vacillates comfortably between his former villainy and his current saddle of heroism.  His overall aggression shows lingering traces of his ruthlessness, but there are plenty of moments where he demonstrates a genuine commitment to being one of the good guys, whether it’s webbing up a last-second safety net or going gamely along with Peter’s rep for wisecracks ().

You also suspect that Doc Ock may be realizing the deep attraction of a hero’s life.  Besides all the love and respect showered on him just for being Peter Parker, there are other perks, too.  For example, I doubt any of his villainous peers have ever set his dislocated arm, or inquired about his well-being.  Then again, as Captain Cold (of Flash canon) observed during a momentary show of heroism during the Final Crisis, does any of that make your wallet less empty?

But what am I doing—this title’s called Daredevil, not The Counterfeit Spider-Man! Speaking of empty wallets, Matt’s rather down on his luck in this issue, ain’t he?  Waid has a lot of fun at Matt’s expense—so to speak—by forcing him to rely on the largesse of his benefactors to get by.  All this talk about money also gives Matt a chance to teach us all something about how the blind handle money, which Waid writes with the perfect blend of respect and good humor.

That’s really one of the core strengths of this title, how Waid uses Daredevil’s so-called disability to craft compelling challenges for the hero.  The brief tussle with Spider-Man and the more serious battle with Stilt-Man shows off Daredevil’s powers to great effect, allowing him to process special sources and types of information no other hero has access to and take action.  Also, the sequence gives a little more street cred to Stilt-Man, for any of you who’ve been dying to see him finally get the attention he deserves.

I’m not sure how I feel about Foggy and Matt making up so quickly off the heels of last issue’s big blowout between them, but I suppose there’s something to be said about not prolonging a hissy-fit past its welcome.  However, I do know that I am not thrilled with how Waid pulls off Foggy’s latest bomb, both for its soap opera delivery and also for how it feels like a semi-cheap way of quickly dispersing the ill-will Foggy’s inexplicably jerky behavior has inspired.

You can just tell that Samnee’s dying to do a Spider-Man comic.  I imagine it must be difficult to get expression out of a character who wears a full face mask, but through a combination of body language, posture, and slight detailing around the eyes, Samnee makes Doc Ock’s every emotion come through.  And I’m not sure whether it’s Samnee or letterer Joe Caramagna that does all the sound effects, but whoever it is, they’re doing brilliant work, making them an inspired and essential part of the title.  Rodriguez’s old-school colors make for a very retro-looking issue, at home in the Silver or Modern Ages.

Conclusion: Another solid issue from Waid as he makes the most of Daredevil’s civilian and superheroic lives.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Frankly, I don’t know whether I find it funny or annoying that Matt still insists, even when all hope of fooling anyone has long ended, that he’s not Daredevil.

– One thing I have to say about Marvel is they always seem to be up to date on all the popular memes and lingo.  I was both delighted and dismayed by the use of “Om nom nom” in the issue—particularly as applied to bacon and limburger cheesecake.