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

The Story: Matt brings disorder to the court.

The Review: One of the quirks of mainstream superhero comics is that major changes in the status quo can just as likely be the products of editorial strategy as creative ingenuity.  Let’s take Daredevil’s impending move to San Francisco as an example.  It’s hard not to see this and immediately flashback to the X-Men’s inexplicable relocation to the same city just a few years earlier, which was clearly little more than a stunt designed, apparently, to appeal to hipsters.

This feels different, though.  For one thing, Matt has a prior history in California, or so he claims, and for another, moving out of New York became a necessity practically from the moment the words, “My name is Daredevil,” left his mouth last issue.  Even if—spoiler alert—he and Foggy weren’t disbarred as a result, it’s hard to imagine he and his loved ones would survive the public scrutiny and rogue attacks that were sure to come.

And can I just say how glad I am that Kirsten and Foggy will be moving with him?  I’m sure Matt will make new friends and allies in the Bay, but having Foggy and Kirsten along will make the relaunched series seem less like a weird spin-off, like the Daredevil version of Joey.  Besides, with Foggy still sick and more dependent on Matt than ever—you know, since Matt singlehandedly ended their livelihoods and all—and since Matt’s relationship with Kirsten has only just started taking off, leaving them behind would have just been cruel.

But aside from their importance as Matt’s supporting cast, Kirsten and Foggy are likable characters in themselves, Foggy especially.  Matt may be the hero we aspire to be, but Foggy is the person most like ourselves.  We relate to Matt, as we do with many superheroes, in an indirect way, analogizing their extraordinary experiences with our more commonplace ones.  With Foggy, he encounters the very same conflicts we do, including “[t]he question.  What did my life mean…?”  His fear of fading out of life is easy to empathize with, as is the struggle between his desire to live and his desire to give his life meaning.  When he decides to go for the latter, it’s a triumphant moment for Foggy, but one awash with tragedy, because it’s a choice based on the fact that he may be doomed anyway.

I don’t mean to suggest that Matt is any less relatable, however.  There are plenty of moments during his trial testimony that you feel strongly with him, like the catch in his voice just before he answers why he made a bogus attack on the Daily Globe, or his particularly eloquent explanation as to the ethical problems with secret identities, which he frames as a tension between justice and truth.  It’s definitely a rehearsed scene, on Waid’s part if not Matt’s, but it embodies so much of the humanity that characterizes Daredevil, the title and the star, that it’s a fitting swan speech for Matt.

If there’s a flaw to this issue, the kind that may suggest Matt’s move to San Fran was not entirely part of Waid’s storytelling plans, it’s the lack of a complete resolution to the Serpent plotline.  Indeed, you sense that Waid had to take some deductive liberties to speed the arc to the finale.  Case in point: how on Earth did Matt figure out that Judge Pierce was the one who hired assassins to kill him the night before, and that he’s in a power struggle with Oglivy over control of the Serpents?  Furthermore, we don’t really see an end to the Serpents’ invasion of the New York justice system, which makes you feel as if Matt is leaving without seeing that conflict completely through.

As glad as I am that Kirsten and Foggy will be joining Matt on his cross-country move, I’m overjoyed that Samnee will be with Waid when the series relaunches next month.  Samnee’s clean, crisp, classic lines always manage to draw your eyes to the primary focus of each panel without shirking on the details.  And despite a distinctly old-school style of art, his action sequences have plenty of pizzazz, even more so than contemporary Cliff Chiang, probably because he’s has less hesitation in using motion lines to enhance the characters’ movements.

Conclusion: A near-perfect finale to the old Daredevil that transitions remarkably well to the new.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Respect to the New York Supreme Court panel of justices that disbarred Matt.  I can’t say that I’d have ruled otherwise, even if I felt bad doing it.