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

The Story: And this is why you never see Daredevil with a seeing-eye dog.

The Review: If you read superhero comics, it is absolutely crucial that you have the ability to stamp down uncomfortable questions before you even ask them.  Reading these things requires a major suspension of disbelief and even one seemingly innocuous question can throw the whole thing out of whack.  The one that comes most naturally, of course, is: if these people have that kind of power, why don’t they use it to help people beyond beating down costumed villains?

Whenever I read Marvel comics in particular, that question pops up a lot.  Between Reed Richards, Hank Pym, and Tony Stark, you’ve got some of the most brilliant minds in their known universe at work, and yet none of them seem to devote much time to, say, curing cancer.  As if to apologize for this strange disconnect, Hank remarks in this issue, “Some things are beyond all our powers, aren’t they?”

Small comfort to Foggy, who has been officially diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, and to Matt, who must suffer though his friend’s illness.  But this kind of suffering is a rare, valuable thing in the world of mainstream comics.  Superheroes are used to dealing with sudden losses—tragic accidents or traumatic murders, and the like.  They’re not used to the unique pain of seeing their loved ones decline before their very eyes, of being powerless to save an innocent life.

Waid has made out Matt as one of the most grounded and human of Marvel’s superheroes, and here Matt shows another side of humanity you again don’t see very often in these stories: tenderness.  Between two people, it’s only when one is suffering that you can test the true measure of friendship, and here you have Foggy and Matt, each of whom have no one else to turn to but each other.  Seeing Matt constantly present by Foggy’s side, whether at a meeting with the doctor or by his bedside at night, tells you all you need to know about their relationship and the depth of Matt’s character.

Yet all of Waid’s characters assert their humanity in such ways.  Here, Kirsten McDuffie responds to Matt’s extracurricular activities by giving a speech that every self-respecting significant other of a superhero should heartily join in:

“I’m disengaging because you have big, operatic enemies that are a part of Daredevil’s big, operatic life…  And because of that, I was skating the edge of being known not as ‘Kirsten McDuffie, our newest D.A.,’ or ‘Kirsten McDuffie, legal eagle’…but ‘Kirsten McDuffie, Daredevil’s girlfriend.’  …I can’t be a supporting player in ‘The Adventures of Daredevil.’  I need to be the star of my own life.”*

Amen to that, sister.  And as if to prove her point, this issue shows the mastermind behind all of the recent attacks on Daredevil (e.g. Klaw, Coyote, the Wilders), and how they are all designed, in truly operatic fashion, to invite his attention.  While I’ve enjoyed seeing our hero overcome each of these smaller antagonists through a combination of prodigious physicality and downright cleverness (using a fire alarm to shut down a pack of “[b]lind attack dogs with hypersenses”—genius), I’m more than ready to see the big finish to all this.

Thanks to the whole trouble with Orson Scott Card, we will not be seeing Samnee work his magic on Superman for the foreseeable future, which is a damn shame.  He can take the objects of modern day life and draw it in such a way to give it a retro kind of class.  Like all artists of his school—Darwyn Cooke, Cliff Chiang, David Aja, Chris Sprouse—there’s a timeless quality to his work that just feels right for a comic book, especially if you have an equally classy colorist like Rodriguez to touch it up.  I should say, too, that letter Joe Caramagna has been no less a force for this title with the way he fills Matt’s world with sounds of unique typography, letting us share in our hero’s amazing sensory experience.

Conclusion: Daredevil is one of Marvel’s finest titles and issues like this one show you why: smart, credible, and full of heart, with superb art to boot.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Predictably enough, this kind of impersonal rejection suddenly makes her irresistible to Matt, who was seconds earlier willing to fight Electro rather than talk to her.  “Oh, my God,” he says, watching her walk away. “I think I’m in love with this woman.”

– “Look!  It’s Red Batman!” cries a bus passenger as he spots Daredevil swinging overhead.  Oof—comments like those just rattle your entire grasp of the comic book universe, doesn’t it?

– Someone get Waid an Ant Man ongoing.  Am I right?  I mean, Hank shrank those dogs and put them into a jar for easy transport.