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

The Story: In the case of Matt Murdock v. Daredevil.

The Review: Even though I know it’s a folly to expect fictional characters to live up to our ideas of how real people should act—heck, it’s folly to expect real people to live up to our ideas of how real people should act—I’m only an overweight human beneath the critic.  If a character does something crazy or stupid, I’m going to get judgmental about it, just like anyone else.  I usually manage to set my prejudices aside, but it happens, nonetheless.

While Waid’s Daredevil has been one of the most convincingly human characters I’ve seen in recent superhero comics, the one quirk that almost always draws my ire is Matt’s constant denials of being Daredevil.  It’s a bit like the guy who insists he’s not gay even though you’ve seen his Judy Garland film collection: farcical and not a little pathetic.  It also invites a lot of uncomfortable logistical questions as to why his enemies haven’t bitten the bullet and simply bumped off Matt to see what would happen to Daredevil.

Anyway, it’s really about time to put this pretense to rest, which Waid seems to recognize.  Matt was already on the road to formally outing himself once he confirmed his identity to Kirsten last month.  Now, with the Serpents having assembled an airtight dossier on Matt’s double life and using it to threaten him on every level—his friends, reputation, livelihood, and life—he really has no reason to keep up the increasingly transparent act (“Daredevil?  Oh. That nonsense.”).

There’s no doubt, however, that the biggest sacrifice a superhero can make is to let go of his secret identity, which is tantamount to killing a part of himself.  After this, there will be no more slightly more carefree days roaming around the streets of New York, working at Nelson & Murdock, bantering with Foggy and flirting with Kirsten.  Unless Matt figures out a way to rebuild a civilian identity in his upcoming hometown of San Francisco, the only thing he’ll have left once he takes that final step is the costume.  Matt knows this; notice he introduces himself at trial simply by saying, “My name is Daredevil.”

Matt’s revelation comes at a cost, but it also embodies everything about what makes him a hero and what has made this particular run of Daredevil so compelling.  Although it’s trite to say that his own worst enemy is himself, it’s still true.  Nothing puts him through more agony than his own indecision; nothing frightens the Man Without Fear other than the uncertainty of his next action.  His coping mechanism is to rely exclusively on his senses and his instincts; as Elektra suggests, it’s what gives him the advantage of unpredictability, which has been the trademark of this series.  Despite its decidedly grounded nature, Daredevil always strives to defeat expectations, and it has often succeeded.

It’s good to have Samnee back.  Not that Rodriguez was anything but a perfectly qualified stand-in while Samnee was away, but there’s something distinctive about Samnee’s work, despite the utter similarity of their styles.  Samnee’s lines are even sharper and cleaner than Rodriguez’s, and they seem to exude confidence in their own simplicity.  Samnee is also capable of capturing surprising amounts of expression with his work, from Elektra’s narrow, judgmental glance to Kirsten’s downcast eyes, signaling that she knows her time with Matt is near an end as well, even as he gives her wrist a confidence-bolstering squeeze.

Conclusion: The issue gracefully moves the series towards its dramatic conclusion, displaying all the strengths which has made the title a solid read nearly every month.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – My question is how Mr. Ogilvy’s son got accused and charged to begin with.