So, review time, finally! And, just so you know, my delay in getting this up should not be taken as a lack of enthusiasm. My enthusiasm after last issue’s slam dunk is perfectly intact and I’m delighted to see that Daredevil #19 introduces even more food for thought. In fact, there are so many things I’d like to speculate on (please join in!) that I may have to devote a separate section to it at the end of the proper review.
Let’s start with the more straight-forward stuff though: Daredevil #19 picks up exactly where last issue left us, i.e. in the middle of a phone conversation between Matt and Foggy. Actually, make that phone conversation/fight scene/dive through a window. Yes, Daredevil is such a bad-ass character that he is actually able to perform this most extreme form of multi-tasking, and even keep his cool as he notices that his billy club is missing. In mid-air. Or is it? If last issue left us wondering whether someone was messing with Matt’s head, this issue confirms it. Although it’s not his head as much as actual people and objects.
Before Matt finally draws the right conclusion, however, even he is left doubting his sanity and decides to see a doctor. And, when you’re a superhero, you don’t go to see just any doctor, but someone who 1) doesn’t ask uncomfortable questions about what a blind guy (or anyone else for that matter) is doing throwing himself out of buildings and 2) is likely more open to esoteric explanations. This brings Matt to the office of a certain Hank Pym, Avenger and biochemist, for a check-up. We last saw Hank in Daredevil #16 and it’s good to see him back. I know Mark Waid has mentioned that we’ll be seeing more of these two in coming months and I, for one, really dig whatever it is they have going. During his visit, Matt receives some less than comforting news about the residual radiation the good doctor found inside his brain during his recent operation. But he also realizes that this mystery isn’t all in his mind and begins to figure out who might be pulling his strings. So, after borrowing Hank’s eyes for some investigative work, he sets out to track down the Coyote! Though Matt, of course, knows him by a different name…
The second half of the issue is devoted to a long scene featuring Daredevil, a bunch of gangsters, a New Jersey warehouse and a certain villain we’ve actually seen in the not too distant past. Chris Samnee’s storytelling skills are really put to the test here, as Daredevil is seen being pulled through space like a string toy, disappearing and re-appearing in various locations. Since the comic book medium is a static one, this places high demands on the artist in terms of clarity, and Samnee pulls this off without a glitch. With panels of varying size slicing through the page at interesting angles, the jerkiness of Daredevil’s experience is conveyed perfectly. Add to this Samnee’s knack for facial expressions and there is little doubt of Matt’s frustration and confusion.
In the end, Daredevil finally comes face to face with his adversary, and as readers, we’re left wondering whether Mark Waid spent too much of his childhood locked up in dark closets. Yes, that’s my way of saying that this is some really twisted stuff. Fun, but twisted.
However, this unusual cliff-hanger isn’t the only things that has the reader biting his nails until next issue. Because, we also check in with Foggy Nelson who is drowning his sorrows in a bar while getting a little too chatty with a certain assistant district attorney. Waid skillfully handles this scene in a way that has us loving Foggy even more than we already did, even as he threatens to make an even bigger mess of Matt’s life. Foggy is portrayed as someone who is trying to dole out tough love as far as Matt is concerned, but whose true feelings are revealed when he gets one drink too many under his belt. He’s suffering and he’s truly concerned. It’s this concern that makes him betray his friend.
I’ve mentioned the art already, but the above panels provide yet another example of how good Chris Samnee is at conveying the all too human element of this very human comic book. This entire two-page scene sees both Foggy and Kirsten express a wide range of emotions, and yet the art is never over-worked. I also have to marvel at what a great team Samnee and colorist Javíer Rodríguez make. They both seem to operate from a less is more kind of approach that lets the right details take center stage. In the center panel above, the glass bar counter is perfectly rendered while backgrounds are often just one solid color which steers the reader’s focus in the direction of the main subject. I was just as impressed by the glow Rodríguez’s colors give to Samnee’s already breathtaking art in pages like this one.
In case it wasn’t clear already, I’m a big fan of this issue and the direction Mark Waid is stearing us in. And, as any good comic book series should, it gets me thinking and guessing and speculating. Because, while this issue answers many questions, it raises more of them. So, let’s talk about some of the “ifs,” “buts” and “huhs.” But be warned, while I’ve stayed away from major spoiler so far, this will require a little more digging.
- So, what’s the deal with Spot? He’s back, but better than ever. How did he get his new powers? Does this have anything to do with whoever appeared to Klaw in issue #3 (and whom we know will be revealed in Daredevil #23)? The reason I’m suspicious is that Spot/Coyote appears to have grown extra hands and this could be related to the extra copies of himself that Klaw was able to create. But hey, maybe that’s just me.
- What’s with Milla? When Matt returns home, there’s no trace of her. Spot is able to transport objects and people, but was Milla ever removed from her cell? Given her appearance at the end of Daredevil #18, she doesn’t appear to even be lucid enough to carry on a conversation. Also, how would Spot have been able to remove every last scent molecule from Matt’s bedroom? What’s going on here?
- If Spot/Coyote is behind placing Matt’s father’s remains in Matt’s desk drawer, then how long has he been following Matt around and how would Spot know which of the dozens of skeletons Mole Man was playing around with was that of Matt’s father?
- Is there something more to the radiation in Matt’s brain and the odd sensations he experienced in Latveria? I can’t say I’m a big fan of the notion that the radiation in his brain originates from Matt’s accident since that doesn’t make much sense (98 % of the atoms in our bodies are replaced every year) but I suspect something bigger here.
So what are your takes on the mystery here and what did you think of this issue? I’m definitely intrigued, especially since I’m sure no plot strands are left hanging for no reason. I love this book right now. 🙂