Daredevil #23 is yet another amazing issue from Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and the rest of the team, and that should come as a surprise to no one at this point. Having said that, the issue is also a rather shocking read. Things are revealed at the beginning (which I’ll get to below, so beware of spoilers!) that tie directly into Daredevil’s origin and raises all kinds of questions.
Personally, I’m pretty open to reinterpretations of a character’s origin or new additions to the Daredevil mythos, but part of me is just a tiny bit anxious about where this might lead. Of course, a much bigger part of me is excited at the prospect of seeing Mark Waid throw something truly mind-blowing our way. I’m honestly impressed with how gutsy this development seems – and the same goes for Foggy’s situation. After a truckload of awards and steady critical support, there is still no playing it safe with this title. No member of the creative team is holding anything back.
Before I get to the new mystery development alluded to above, let’s talk about the part of the issue that concerns Matt and Foggy. After the dire news of last issue (or rather, the strong hint of bad news to come), Daredevil #23 sees Matt and Foggy restore their friendship. The pages depicting the two leaning on each other and enjoying their friendship are perfectly written. Matt, as Daredevil, takes Foggy on a ride around town, billy club-style, and I think this is one of the few times I’ve seen Foggy take advantage of his friend’s superhero prowess this way. I think that Foggy learning about Matt’s secret life way back in the 90′s was one of the best things things to ever happen to their relationship, and this scene shows us why.
With that being said, there are still trust issues between the two, related to Matt’s superhero lifestyle, and this is a point that is also dealt with in this issue. When Matt leaves Foggy to take care of Daredevil business, the creators still make sure to check in with Foggy at various times throughout the issue as he’s counting down the hours to his doctor’s appointment, wondering whether Matt will be there as promised. This leads up to a final scene that is absolutely heart-breaking.
So, what about Daredevil’s new mystery opponent? I think we may actually be looking at something even more sinister than the last arc, which saw the Coyote store screaming heads in a closet. It is clear that someone is out to get Matt in major ways and that whoever he is, knows a great deal about him. As in every detail of his fateful accident. The mystery villain also has the apparent means to stage a large-scale experiment tied to this event. There are some details regarding the test subjects transformation that has me scratching my head, but the overall premise is very intriguing.
One question I had was this: Why change Matt’s old neighborhood from Hell’s Kitchen to Brooklyn, as revealed on the first page (unless this is just Waid pulling a fast one on the reader)? While the whole issue of Marvel’s sliding timeline makes it a stretch to cast modern Hell’s Kitchen as the appropriate social milieu to go with Matt’s background, I find that easier to overlook than a change of venue altogether. However, I’m not ruling out that this is a very deliberate move on Waid’s part, and that things are not what they seem.
The art in this issue is beyond fantastic and Chris Samnee kicks it farther out of the park every single month. The strong emotional content of the issue really speaks to his strengths as the character moments really benefit from an artist with a great feel for facial expressions and perspective. There are several instances of the story being told solely through artwork with no captions or dialogue, and Samnee handles these scenes with perfect clarity and impact. Javier Rodríguez’s colors perfectly compliment the art and I was particularly impressed with the shading on the characters’ faces during the scenes where Matt and Foggy are outside at night. The scene with Daredevil in front of the Chrysler building also has the perfect texture and that splash page is breathtaking overall. This is one fantastic-looking comic and I’m one happy Daredevil fan.
I may have to do a repeat of last month and “revisit” Daredevil #23 in a separate post, the way I did with Daredevil #22. With these guys at the helm, there is just so much ground to cover with every single issue. For now, I’m just grateful we only have to wait four weeks for next issue. Five weeks should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
P.S. I also want to take the opportunity to post the link to this particular announcement that Mark Waid posted on his site. This free online course sounds pretty interesting to me, and I actually signed up for it myself.