This is officially the latest I’ve ever been in posting a review of the main Daredevil book. I have been extremely busy over the last couple of weeks, and will remain so for the next three because of my work situation. So, while I will try to at least get my Daredevil #3 review up on time, I will be on hiatus for most of May. Do keep checking the Facebook page though, as I usually put up noteworthy links there whenever I find them.
Daredevil #2 is the second chapter of Matt Murdock’s new adventures in San Francisco, and this time around, he learns that there are some who resent his being there. We also see new character Charlotte “Charlie” Hastert back after being introduced last issue, and it’s clear that she’s being primed for major supporting character status while Foggy’s whereabouts remain mysterious.
The issue begins with an interesting twist, not unlike what we’ve seen from this creative team in the past. What appears to be a television interview with San Francisco’s new hero Matt Murdock turns out to be part of some kind of dream or delusion taking place inside the head of new-to-Daredevil character Max Coleridge, aka the Shroud, with similar details from both of their lives weaved into the narrative to purposely show how they overlap.
This is a great way to introduce this particular character for a few reasons. First of all, The Shroud is not particularly well-known. My own reaction to the mention of his name a while back, despite having actually read Shadowland: Blood on the streets where he appears, was quite similar to Matt’s own in this story: he’s someone you’ve heard of, but probably not very often. As such, he needs a thorough introduction (and even more details are shared between Matt and his two dinner guests later in the issue).
Secondly, many of his distinguishing traits are similar to Daredevil’s (adventitiously blinded, “sees” through non-visual means, street-level; he’s even a lawyer). If you’re going to bring such a character into Matt Murdock’s universe, the same similarities which promise to make the encounter an interesting one, also risk looking a little silly. And that’s without even taking Shroud’s very deliberately batmanesque origin into account. The only way to tackle that dilemma head on is to use it in the story, to highlight it and even make a plot point out of it. It’s the kind of idea that has Mark Waid written all over it with a delivery that few could handle as expertly as Chris Samnee.
Shroud’s ill will toward Daredevil is clearly not just a matter of the latter moving into the former’s “turf.” There’s a more basic jealousy at play here too, which I think is interesting. In fact, it reminds me of another villain whom Matt also encountered in San Francisco, namely Larry Cranston as Mister Fear. Cranston, Matt’s then law partner and former law school classmate, was also motivated by the way Matt was perceived by the world around him. He was a brilliant student, well-liked, and obviously highly admired. While Max Coleridge doesn’t know Matt personally, his view of him – “an overprivileged publicity hound” – speaks volumes.
While much of the issue is devoted to the introduction of the Shroud and his eventual fight with Daredevil, the middle of the issue is set in Matt’s new apartment (I at least assume that Matt lives there alone). While entertaining Kirsten and deputy mayor Charlotte Hastert, Matt gets a chance to get caught up on what’s been happening in San Francisco, and we are all teased about the coming appearance of the Owl. Of course, Matt’s reaction to learning about this new threat, after initially thinking it was someone much worse, is absolutely priceless. The scene as a whole is quite entertaining, even while its main function is clearly to provide additional information about the Shroud and other players.
Chris Samnee is just getting better with each and every issue. This kind of story needs an accomplished visual storyteller who can deliver scenes like the one in the beginning of the issue, and give it just enough ambiguity to keep readers questioning the direction, as well as keep us entertained through a scene at a kitchen table. Samnee excels at humor and facial expressions to the point where much of the plot and the emotional state of every character would be evident without any captions or dialogue at all. That’s an incredibly impressive achievement. That he can draw straight superhero action scenes that are actually visually interesting on top of all that is just a wonderful bonus. It also doesn’t hurt that I know of few artists who can “do” folds of fabric as well as Samnee. If only Shroud knew how good it makes him look…
Colorist Javier Rodríguez expertly handles the two visually distinct settings this issue by letting Matt’s home bathe in a warm palette of earthy colors that should whet anyone’s appetite for a home-cooked meal. The bright red kitchen cabinetry actually made me smile. Now does Matt know it matches his costume or was he maybe even the one to request it? 😉 The outdoor evening scenes are slightly cooler by contrast but are still bright enough to allow for a good range of different nuances, and the effects of the Shroud’s powers are beautifully rendered. I also want to give a shout-out to letterer Joe Caramagna. He does a fantastic job each and every time, but with this issue the lettering really stood out and gave this issue an extra gold star for me.
To sum things up, we are two issues into Matt’s new life in San Francisco, and all the members of team Daredevil are firing on all cylinders. Daredevil #3 is going to be a treat, for sure.