Daredevil’s attempt to deal with the Kingpin in order to stop the Shroud doesn’t work out as planned, since the Kingpin has another player in the game, Daredevil’s antithesis, Ikari.
Why does it seem that Daredevil always has one trajectory in his life: downward? Because it’s a natural outcome from the highs of the first issues of the series’ recent relaunch. What comes up must come down, after all, and what was lighthearted and quippy must become tragic and tense. The result makes for some truly gripping stories, with a narrative momentum that captures your attention and really makes you feel for these characters.
This issue is mostly an extended fight scene, with Daredevil on the ropes against Ikari. The full story is presented in a non-linear fashion, cutting from the action to the set-up, which itself is also fraught with tension as Kingpin and Daredevil trade verbal spars in their machinations against one another. In both battles, Daredevil appears out of his league and fights valiantly but ultimately ineffectively. What’s amazing is that Daredevil is quite competent, and in any other story, we’d expect it to all set up some amazing twist to show how Daredevil comes out on top. But instead, that twist never comes. For every step that Daredevil appears to be ahead of the villains, the villains are actually two steps ahead.
An example is the reveal of Daredevil’s signature costume. It’s set up at the moment that Daredevil appears at the end of his rope, but still manages to trade a verbal barb (“enjoying the dance?”) and the lead-in panel focuses on Daredevil’s smug half-smile as he prepares to change. Then, a half-page spread as he rips off his red suit to reveal the costume underneath in a dramatic flourish. (We’ll forgive the way the mask magically appears at the same time, and we’ll take some time to lament the suit & tie, which I absolutely loved.) However, rather than being the moment of rally, the situation turns as the Shroud appears, snatching any hope from Daredevil’s momentary upper hand.
In the same way, the art throughout the book enhances the tone and story (note that Chris Samnee is always credited as Storyteller alongside Mark Waid.) The panels are always so economical, in that they feature exactly what is needed in exactly the best way. One of the ways this is achieved is the visual momentum from panel to panel, such as paying attention to the 180 Degree Rule (a film term that describes the way the camera stays on one side to the scene.) When Ikari and Daredevil fight on page 9, for example, Ikari is always on the left, until the police are involved and the scene shifts on the next page. Likewise when Daredevil is having conversation with Kingpin. It’s a subtle way to maintain a flow visually. Every once in a while, however, some things get confusing, such as when Daredevil leaps up the bank of escalators in the beginning, but the angle of the panel is downward, which doesn’t make much visual sense.
The colors are used best when there’s a lot of shadows or when there’s a nightscape. They often enhance the tone and threaten to swallow up our characters. The airport scene at the beginning, though, doesn’t have this same approach, and feels almost out of place by comparison. The ending, however, is quite strong. Not only is there a wonderfully dramatic panel of Ikari falling from the building (a great use of perspective and negative space) but when Daredevil crumbles at the end, it’s into the shadows and the use of black. A nice cliffhanger on a visual and emotional beat.
An example of comicbook storytelling at its finest— when words, pictures, tone, and momentum are all working together to create a gripping story about characters we’ve come to care about. The non-linear storytelling keeps us on our toes, as does the extended fight scene as our hero seems outmatched. The twist comes not as we expected, but from a different character who disrupts Daredevil’s plan as well as the readers’ hopes, making us anxious to tune into next issue to see the outcome.