In a truly dense comic that features both an intense face-off between Daredevil and the Kingpin as well as a touching heart-to-heart between Matt Murdock and his friends, this issue had a lot of ground to cover. And cover it well it sure did.
The issue ends with a double-page spread of Daredevil leaping over the city nightscape, and bold white letters declaring “THE END,” and it’s actually one of the most satisfying moments of the comic. Not only because it’s a brilliant rendering of layout and color, but because it caps off a moment of character study that we rarely read, one that helps clearly define who Murdock/Daredevil is. No, more than that; this can certainly be held up as one of the definitive takes of all time. Visually, it’s all right here in the double-page splash at the end, represented by the stark red figure of Daredevil leaping into the darkness that lays over the city underlit by the streetlights below.
Before we get to that point, however, there’s the matter of DD and the Kingpin’s final showdown. The plan is obvious to us, the readers, so the fact that Daredevil is disguised is not left to an artificial, surprise reveal. In fact, that’s kind of the point, as the tension becomes *when* the reveal may happen. It does lend a bit of confidence that DD will see this through, so the stakes that he seemed to face in previous issues are almost entirely off the table, lessening the dramatic tension a bit. But instead, once we are past that, what we get is a pretty visceral confrontation between these enemies. Blows are exchange with very bloody results from both sides, culminating in a particularly gruesome shot that’s highlighted by being colored like an inverted/photo negative panel. This panel on page 12 is just one of five long panels, but because of its color and the pure white negative space, it reads just as dramatically as a splash page.
Most of the panels in the first half of the book are small, allowing for a lot of action on the page, including a particularly effective 9-panel layout that’s simply a blow-by-blow depiction of the fight. Altogether, it creates a momentum for the story and its fight scenes— as if there is an overwhelming amount of action that just has to be told quickly because there’s just SO much of it.
For the comics being such a visual medium, the sound effects here are used to great effect. The “whpp whpp whpp” of the helicopter is like a drum beat, intensifying alongside the action until it reaches the climax and the police arrive. Every hit of the fight is accompanied by an important and artistically rendered sound effect.
I do wish a few things were more clear. For example, in the aforementioned 9-panel layout, I didn’t realize that it was an important element to show Ikari’s mask being broken to show Matt’s face, and it didn’t seem like Ikari/Matt was all the way across a dining room table from the Kingpin until he needed to run atop the table to reach him. And who was the person reading a computer during the transition scene? Can Daredevil read a computer? At first I thought it was Ben Urich, but he’s not a part of this comicbook, right?
And not all of the loose ends can be tied up so importantly. They can’t compete for the focus of other major elements, so the final fate of Ikari is left to narration (and to mystery) and the whole autobiography business is basically hand-waved away, among other things. But those are minor quibbles when we get such great stuff as a touching moment between Foggy and Murdock and some genuine moments of light-hearted, character-grounding realism.
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee cap off their run on Daredevil, and what a cap it is. There’s tension both narratively and visually, culminating in a vicious, bloody fight between our key players, and there’s even room for some deep moments of characterization, featuring insights to the character that we rarely have seen before. If you look closely, some elements of the story arc are glossed over, but it’s in service to the stronger features of the book— an epic throwdown between Daredevil and the Kingpin, and the epic feels between best friends.