Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Color Art: Javier Rodriguez
Review: Joey Braccino
So frequent readers of Talking Comics may be familiar with my exuberant enthusiasm regarding the recent Marvel mini-series, Daredevil: End of Days. I started reading comics regularly around the mid-‘00s, right when Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev were writing the terribly tragic street-tales of Matt Murdock in the critically acclaimed Daredevil regular series. After Bendis and Maleev left the series, Ed “Joey’s Favorite Writer Ever” Brubaker took over the title for a few years. Andy Diggle carried the title through the end of the “Shadowland” event that resulted in Wakandan king T’Challa (formerly the Black Panther) taking up the “Man Without Fear” mantle for a brief stint in Hell’s Kitchen. Then Marvel canceled the grittier, darker, hyper-violent volume started way back in 1998 and launched a new, swashbuckling series written by Mark Waid.
And I didn’t read it. I don’t know why I opted not to continue my Daredevil reading with the relaunch. Maybe I was in a darker mood, thirsting for that scatchy noir and street-level Marvel Knights mood, and I was upset by how the revolutionary, subversive Daredevil, Volume 2 ended with such a whimper of a storyline (the aforementioned “Shadowland”). Who knows? For the last two years, I’ve listened to all the buzz around Mark Waid’s run and thought, “Yeah, I’ll pick it up! I’ll get around to it! Maybe in trade!”
And I just never did.
At the suggestion of Talking Comics editor Bobby Shortle, I picked up Daredevil #27 to provide a fresh look at Waid’s critically acclaimed series. I haven’t read any of the previous two years of issues, nor am I familiar with the overarching story, new characters, or Big Bad. So I’m jumping into this series with eyes wide and mind open.
And holy Hell’s Kitchen this comic is amazing.
Now, I can’t comment on just how “satisfying” this issue is as the “climactic wrap-up to the last two years of the story” because I just don’t know, but I will say that as a single issue of an on-going comics series, Daredevil #27 is practically perfect.
Daredevil’s swashbuckling heroism and intelligence are on display as he wades into his final battle with series-supervillain, Bullseye. Waid’s script imbues the entire issue with intrigue and emotion—ranging from Foggy’s waning health to the shadowy characters stalking Murdock’s closest friends and family. Bullseye claims he has sent these shadowy characters to kill Murdock’s closest should Murdock best him in this final battle, but Waid’s resolution to this thread is epic and awe-inspiring. As a testament to Mark Waid’s storytelling abilities, my heart leapt at several key moments in this issue, and, like I said before, I have no idea what the context is behind the story.
The characterization is very much in line with the Daredevil I fell in love with during the Bendis/Brubaker/Diggle years. There are connections back to that era (one of which is the presence of Milla Donovan as Murdock’s ex-wife) that helped me find my way back in. The emotional trauma of that era still lingers on these pages, but rather than being the non-stop-nervous-breakdown level of volume 2, Waid weaves it in as a bit of subtext that motivates and pushes Daredevil to make the choices that he does.
Chris Samnee is one of the best artists in the business today. His distinct style draws on pulp and superheroic fare from across comics history, which has allowed him to illustrate books ranging from The Rocketeer to Captain America & Bucky to Ultimate Spider-Man. His artwork has the kinetic quality necessary for the Romantic heroism of Daredevil’s cavalier side as well as the quiet, colorful pulp linework that effectively captures the more outlandish or fantastical elements of a superhero comic. His green radioactive sludge is to die for. Javier Rodriguez’ vibrant colors accentuate these two sides of Samnee’s lines and layouts perfectly, resulting in a thrilling visual experience.
Daredevil #27 is perfect. And that’s coming from someone who hasn’t read and of the prior issues. Guess I’ve got another book to add to my pull-list!!!