With the dramatic events of last issue – i.e. Foggy firing Matt after finding Jack Murdock’s skull in Matt’s desk drawer – Daredevil #17 sees us take a time out from the current goings on and instead this issue offers a look back at the earlier days of the Nelson & Murdock partnership. I think this is a very good call on Waid’s part, especially with this issue having a special guest artist in Mike Allred whose work is a good fit for the kind of story being told.
The issue begins with Matt having just left Foggy’s office which causes him to reminisce about better times. Or were they? As we are about to learn, even the early days had plenty of conflict (see the first part of my series on the topic for more proof of this). I have to say though that it struck me as amusing to see the first scene of the flashback sequence play out the way it did, with Matt accusing Foggy of slacking off at work, when their respective roles have so often been the complete opposite. In this case, however, it appears that Matt isn’t completely off base. Foggy has indeed had a secret project on the side, one which is about to see Stilt-Man come crashing in through their window.
I’m sure that more than one person was surprised to learn that Stilt-Man would be the villain for this issue, but with the events being set in the past we’re given a perfect piece of nostalgia, along with Matt’s own reflections on his less than illustrious rogues gallery. And, as he’s done in the past, Mark Waid takes the opportunity to raise the threat level on Stilt-Man and succeeds in making him appear as deadly as he is outlandish.
The heart of the issue has nothing to do with the villain, however. As we learn what it is that Foggy has kept from Matt, the story shifts from Silver Age nostalgia to a heartfelt character moment for Matt. It is both extremely heartwarming to see Matt get to relive one of the most pivotal moments of his life, from a completely new vantage point, and a little heartbreaking at the same time. At the end of the day, this issue more than reaches its goal of demonstrating just how much Foggy cares about Matt and how well he really knows him. This makes the loss of the relationship, for now at least, all the more tragic.
Like I mentioned above, an issue like this one that stands on its own both thematically and chronologically presents a good opportunity to take on board a guest artist. Mike Allred, with Laura Allred on colors, do an excellent job of bringing together the absurd and the somber. At times, the perspectives look a bit skewed and lines that should be straight are deliberately misbehaving in ways that give a cartoony touch that feels very much appropriate for this issue. In the quieter scenes, these properties are appropriately dialed back. Several details stand out in my mind, including having the scene from the present superimposed on the scene from the past on page three, the large Daredevil silhouette that provides the background for the panels on page fifteen, not to mention the great treatment of the video footage throughout that scene. We are spoiled as Daredevil fans, there’s no doubt about that.
What will happen to Matt without Foggy, and Foggy without Matt? We’re going to have to wait a whole month to find out, but I’m really excited to see what happens next. And, if you missed it, there’s a brand new Marvel.com interview with Mark Waid that talks a bit about just where we’re heading in the coming months.