Even though I am away on vacation, I couldn’t allow myself to miss picking up today’s issue of Daredevil. So, I want to start by thanking everyone on Twitter who offered helpful tips on where to find comics in London! Since I’m away from my usual setting, the images from Daredevil #16 will come courtesy of my handheld camera so please forgive the blur and the distortions. I’ll be sure to get higher quality ones up when I get home to Sweden.
Okay, so what’s the word on the issue then? Judging by my review of last issue, I’m sure you’d expect me to shake my head at the concept of residual radiation, broadcasting neurons and Matt’s brain having that much air in it (the spaces between the cells in our bodies are filled with saline, not breatheable oxygen…), but I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply need to disregard these little quibbles, especially as they risk getting in the way of some really interesting storytelling techniques and concepts. On the whole, I really liked this issue and the great character work (not to mention the final scene between Matt and Foggy) really elevates the entire story.
At the start of Daredevil #16, we obviously find Matt in really bad shape after being rescued by Iron Man last issue. To save Matt’s life, Tony has recruited some help in the form of Doctor Strange (who’s there primarily in his capacity as a neurosurgeon), and Hank Pym*. The latter literally gets under Matt’s skin, going up against the nanobots in Matt’s brain and forming a bond of sorts with his patient. It is the story told within the context of Matt’s and Pym’s common life histories, shared telepathically, that is the strength of this issue.
It is Mark Waid’s knack for using each issue to tell us more about every character involved, most notable Matt, that I think has been the single strongest aspect of the book we’ve seen since the relaunch. This makes it a richer experience for longtime readers and a more welcoming one for people who are new to Daredevil. Here, Matt and Hank learn that they have a great deal in common, and Hank gets a new level of respect and understanding for Matt’s unique way of functioning in the world. However, I have to say that I’m very surprised that Daredevil’s origin story apparently isn’t widely known to other superheroes. Either way, it is the beautifully told stories of grief and hardship that make this issue worthwhile. The actual mechanics behind this ”Vulcan mindmeld” are best left untouched.
As we suspected he would, Matt makes it out of this adventure alive, to the joy of his makeshift surgical team. As far as we can tell, his senses are restored to their pre-Latverian status (without really addressing the ”unhealing” of the eyes problem I pointed out last issue), and Matt makes a rather humorous comment – directed at the reader, caption box style – about politely playing along with Tony’s enthusiasm while the latter is demonstrating his gadgets. Given Matt’s impressive skill set, I suppose it would be difficult even for the people who know him to keep track of which situations elude him because of his blindness and which present no problem at all.
The atmosphere is less jubilant and much more hostile back at the law office where we finally learn what it was that Foggy found in Matt’s desk (the item in question was my first guess way back when this plot thread was first introduced, so score one for me!). I won’t go into the details here, for fear of spoiling ths issue for anyone, but I think this development is pretty interesting. First of all, Waid keeps the issue of whether Matt is crazy or not open enough to have fans speculating. Secondly, I think this is an interesting direction for Foggy. Is he over-reacting? Any fan would be forgiven for thinking so, but I think we need to factor in Foggy’s own feelings and (possible) prejudices about Matt’s coping strategies. Foggy is not perfect, something we’ll have reason to return to in my next post on Matt and Foggy’s friendship.
While colorist Javíer Rodríguez has been on the relaunched Daredevil since the start (and doing a might fine job of it, I might add), Chris Samnee is a relative newcomer. Daredevil #16 marks his fourth issue as the series’ regular artist, but I have to say that it feels like he’s been with us longer than that. While all the artists who’ve worked on Daredevil have had their own unique style, Samnee seamlessly takes over the reigns and makes this title his own, and he’s a perfect fit for Daredevil. I love Samnee’s loose, soft linework and expressive faces (even though there was a panel here and there where Tony and Stephen looked like their blood pressure was getting to be dangerously high), as well as a particular humorous touch that really adds to the overall package . For an example of the latter, see the panel above where Hank is being examined by Doctor Strange. At a point where heartache might be in the cards for Matt and Foggy, it helps to have an artist on board who can help maintain that new lighter atmosphere that has been so well-received by fans and critics alike.
Minor quibbles aside, I liked the look into Matt’s (and Hank’s) psyche this issue and am intrigued by the Matt and Foggy situation going forward!
*) Here’s some bonus comic book science for you: Did you know that someone the size of Hank Pym at his smallest would have very poor eyesight himself? As the eye (and the pupil) gets physically smaller, the ability to resolve the image in front of it diminishes as well. He would also need some technological assistance to translate his extremely high-pitched voice (yes, his vocal chords would be smaller too…) into something the rest of the team could actually hear.