Okay, so remember how I kind of complained about not being totally sold on the identity of the mystery villain after last issue? Yeah, well, this month Mark Waid forces me to eat every single one of those words. At one point, I even heard his voice in my head going: “See? I’m way ahead of you! Now, eat those words. Eat them!” Okay, so that last half of that statement may have been added after the fact (I do not have an evil version of Mark Waid living in my head), but you get what I mean. So, I’m just going to put it out there: I will never doubt this creative team ever again! Because, whatever I or anyone else might find to nitpick about, they’ve clearly already considered it.
Specifically, my biggest “nitpick” going into this issue were my strong feelings about Bullseye not being a natural mastermind. However, when Waid has Daredevil, during his encounter with Bullseye, voice those exact same thoughts, that really does make a huge difference: “This isn’t your style. You’re a hitman, not a master-mind.” Of course, having our protagonist provoke the question doesn’t absolve the writer from having to provide an answer – which he does – but it makes every reader out there thinking the same thing feel a little more validated in their initial doubts. Bullseye’s journey from agile gun-for-hire to tin-man genius did signify a big departure from the villain we were used to. This issue acknowledges that.
So, what answer does Waid and the rest of the team provide us with? Well, a very compelling one. A flashback scene shows us Bullseye’s resurrection and subsequent transformation, brought about by Lady Bullseye’s deep – and oddly moving – devotion to the man who “made” her. Chris Samnee’s art here is super-strong, and I’m particularly impressed with the way Bullseye’s obsession with Daredevil, as seen below, is depicted. Any fan who has ever read the classic Frank Miller issue “Devils” (Daredevil #169), will know what I mean. Brilliant!
Since this review has to count as an early one, I really want to keep it as free of spoilers as possible. This makes it kind of hard to go into the details of the last two thirds of the issue, except to say it is full of twist and turns, along with things that are just twisted. The initial stalemate seen in the first few pages predictably erupts into a fight scene that is as riveting as it is economical. Unlike the fight scene from Daredevil #25, which took up most of the issue, this scene has just a few pages at its disposal. Despite this, it is large in scope, and doesn’t feel rushed at all.
By the end of the issue, the larger story has been resolved to my absolute satisfaction, and the way it happens is very much in line with what we’d expect from a comic book and main character as complex as Daredevil. Matt is more human than angel, and Waid is an expert at handling that important distinction, without ever sacrificing the integrity of the character. Here he leaves both characters and readers alike with much to contemplate after all is said and done. This issue also shows Matt at his smartest (if you’ve read the issue, you’ll know what I mean).
While I’m running out of ways to describe just how much I love the artwork, I’ll give it another try. It is at once chilling, charming, dynamic, expressive, and clear, wherever either one of those are called for. If I were to throw in some Marvel-sanctioned adjectives as well, I might add amazing, indestructible and superior. In fact, I’ve become so used to easily and intuitively understanding everything going on in every panel within a fraction of a second that I need to read comics other than Daredevil before I realize just how unusual that is. Few artists make the reading process quite so immediately accessible. It’s almost like having a story uploaded directly into your brain. Chris Samnee seemingly never loses track of the fact that he is telling a story first and foremost, and nothing is added to or left out of a panel that gets in the way of that objective.
Colorist Javier Rodríguez’s contributions to the finished look of the book cannot be overstated, and his colors are truly the perfect complement to Samnee’s line art. They not only help set the perfect mood, they also add to the clarity by directing the reader’s eyes to all the right places. In Bullseye’s hideout, the different shades of blue used in the background help keep us perfectly oriented relative to the light coming in from the outside, and on the level below, a slightly different set of hues gives it another, very distinct feel. I almost feel bad for the main character who is unable to appreciate this vibrant world he lives in.
The end product (topped with the perfect cherry that is Joe Caramagna’s lettering) is one fantastic-looking piece of entertainment. Actually, entertainment isn’t even the right word. It’s more like a monthly visit to a world that may not look “real,” but feels one hundred percent true.
I loved this issue, and I hope you guys did too. Luckily, next month’s issue – with Javier Rodríguez pulling double duty – is out in two short weeks.
Oh, and thanks to regular commenter Dan for plugging this site in the letters section! You know Dan, I still think the Deathstalker theory was great, and we have nothing to be ashamed of!
Also, if anyone is wondering what this self-proclaimed science geek thought of the scene where it’s implied that ionizing radiation can make biological “radars” go fuzzy, I call shenanigans. I mean, yeah, you can get neurological side effects from radiation poisoning, but at that point you’re in pretty bad shape. But, hey, the rest of this issue was so darn perfect, I’m totally going to let that one slide. 😉