Daredevil #5 is a wonderful example of why this (and the “previous”) volume of Daredevil has been so successful. It accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of combining “real” issues, stories and relationships with out-of-this-world scenarios of supervillains gone mad and superheroes mingling with red blood cells and macrophages (at least I think they’re supposed to be macrophages, right Chris Samnee?).
If anyone had told me four years ago that I would actually enjoy Silver Age villains – I’m inclined to call some of them Stone Age for their lack of charm alone – returning en masse to the pages of Daredevil, I’m not sure I would have believed them. While I’ve never been of the opinion that Daredevil needed to be dark and moody, I’ve tended to see the modern incarnation of the book as mature. One I could point to and exclaim, “Look, I read comics for grown ups!”
Daredevil is still for grown-ups, and it does feature mature characters with very serious grown-up problems, they just happen to find themselves in situations that show us that their creators don’t shy away from using the genre to its fullest, including choosing from some of the more absurd toys in the sand box.
This balancing act is evident in the art as well as the overall themes. It is obvious that Chris Samnee is a gifted cartoonist who enjoys putting an extra bit of humor in the scenes warrant it. At the same time, while his is far from the realistic styles of the volume 2 Daredevil artists, characters and landscapes are beautifully proportioned and well-designed. In this approximation of the real world, giant frog robots and tours of the human cardiovascular system make perfect visual sense.
This brings me to the specifics of Daredevil #5. We were promised the details of Foggy Nelson’s apparent death, but get an issue that delivers so much more. I had some complaints about the pacing last issue, but this time around, the team is back to the smooth sailing I’ve come to expect, and then some. Once again, team Daredevil pack a seemingly impossible amount of stuff into one issue.
We get the funeral first, summed up in a few lines of text, and two pages of expansive artwork that suggests right off the bat that this was no ordinary funeral. Next, we back up a bit and catch Matt and Foggy not quite getting along in a beautiful park while Hank Pym is performing some damage control from within. I was a bit concerned at first that Waid might stray from his commitment to not let cancer be easily curable by super heroics, but he doesn’t cross the line. (To be honest, it would logically make more sense for cancer to be curable in the Marvel Universe, all things considered, but from a storytelling perspective, this is the right way to go.)
Both the line art and coloring are outstanding here. The subtle shadows cast by the leaves of the trees in the park, the unique details of all the people and big “oomph” of color on top. This is Javier Rodríguez’s final issue as colorist and he certainly goes out with a bang.
The sudden appearance of an old villain with a very serious power upgrade makes perfect sense in the context of the conversation leading up to it: Daredevil’s true identity is now public knowledge, once and for all, and this gives old foes plenty of reason to come out of the woodwork. Matt and Foggy are chased through the park and into a perfect set of circumstances which give way to an idea spurred at the last minute that will not only save the lives of hundreds but give Foggy the kind of “death” that will keep him safe from harm. The execution is flawless, and all the little details make this tale seem downright inspired.
This issue is huge on character moments. This team has done wonders with the already solid Matt-Foggy bromance and Daredevil #5 really gives you the sense of what it’s like to be Matt Murdock’s best friend: often exasperating, sometimes dangerous, but never boring. And never without the sense of the strong brotherly bond the two of them share – for better or worse. This issue was a very solid an thoroughly enjoyable read, and while Rodríguez’s colors will be sorely missed, Waid & Samnee et al show no signs of slowing down. Keep doing what you’re doing!