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

The Story: When Daredevil isn’t enough to save the day, we need Foggy Nelson!

The Review: In the superhero world, much as in real life, it’s the lot of the supporting characters to be overshadowed, overlooked, marginalized by the heroes they support. The heroes can’t get along without them; how often do you see our costumed protagonists triumph thanks to the timely save or quick thinking of their faithful companions? Yet these brave men and women are rarely gratified by public admiration, even though they take relatively greater risks in involving themselves.

No one exemplifies this hapless lot better than Foggy, the very definition of everyman: average looks, flabby, intelligent, prone to fear and bravery in equal measure. As if he hasn’t already suffered enough as Matt’s best friend, now he faces the prospect of having to completely abandon his normal life for one as a hidden invalid. That’s a raw deal, any way you look at it.

Even so, he’s not only willing to bear it, he has the courage to take on more. Given the chance to sacrifice his potentially shortened life to save hundreds or thousands of his fellow New Yorkers, he takes it with hardly a breath of hesitation. Consequently, the reward he gets in this issue is richly deserved, not merely an act of charity on Matt’s part. Foggy’s bravery is well worth celebrating, even though you’re given no reason to believe he’s in any actual danger of dying. I mean, he does appear in the first two pages of the issue, having missed his funeral in the not-so-proverbial fashion.

While Foggy gets the hero’s ending he longs for in this issue, the fact that it’s Matt who gives it to him makes our star even more admirable than ever, if that’s possible. At all times, he resists saintliness; his actions are driven by human vulnerability more than overt moralizing. In pulling out all the stops for his pal, enlisting Hank Pym to personally fight off Foggy’s cancer in his bloodstream just to boost his morale, Matt is trying to treat his gnawing guilt that he’s failing the most important person in his life. It’s exactly what you would do for your stricken friend if you could.

Best of all, Matt’s plan to send Foggy off in a blaze of glory utilizes only a minimum of deception, which means Foggy really does pilot a self-destructing mecha to safety himself and only survives by some quick thinking on Matt’s part. Matt might have nudged circumstances a little, by loudly claiming that he can’t see the controls, but otherwise, he just lets Foggy’s natural heroism shine through, which has the added bonus of making Matt seem even more the stud.

It’s especially important that Foggy gets a big moment in the spotlight since he is being effectively replaced by Kirsten. Foggy definitely has a point when he questions why he has to go into hiding post-“I am Daredevil,” while Kirsten gets to openly partner Matt in more ways than one. Matt lamely rationalizes this contradiction by saying “no one’s even sure [Kirsten and I are] a thing because we’re not sure,” and “no human being alive has any persuasive power over that woman.” So his point is that Foggy’s more of a pushover than Kirsten, yes?

Waid’s writing is certainly strong enough to stand the test of time, but it’s Samnee’s art that makes Daredevil an immediate classic. Its simple, clean linework and love for bombastic moments—Leapfrog hopping through Central Park, crushing a water tower, landing on a brick building and turning it into rubble, all while Daredevil hangs onto him by a wire—channels the best stylistic qualities of the past, but his intricate detail and sophisticated storytelling places him firmly in modern times. Rodriguez also strikes that wonderfully balance between romance and realism; he gives New York a dreamy quality by the gauzy softness of his colors, but his actual color choices makes the city look credibly urban, unlike the pristine utopia of, say, Metropolis.

Conclusion: Peter Parker can move over; Marvel has two outstanding candidates for its most truly relatable characters right here.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I appreciate anyone who has the guts to make a cancer joke: “Kudos to cancer! If I’d tried carrying you eighty pounds ago, we wouldn’t have gotten two feet!

“Right! Because this isn’t humiliating at all!