(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by John Monaghan
WRITTEN BY: Mark Waid
ARTWORK BY: Chris Samnee
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Javier Rodriguez
LETTERING BY: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Firstly, a little context: I’ve never liked Daredevil. It’s probably not something I can really justify. A mixture of bad timing and my personal tastes while growing up dictated that any time I dipped into Daredevil I was left cold. By 2011 I was of the opinion that Daredevil comics were not for me. Then in July 2011 Mark Waid started a run on a re-launched Daredevil V3 and for one reason or another I picked up the first issue. Looking back at Daredevil #1 there was plenty that would’ve rubbed me up the wrong way and some that still does. The opening set piece had a ‘swashbuckling’ Daredevil kissing a bride at her wedding while saving her from being kidnapped by the Spot. Then we met Matt Murdock and everyone seems to know that he is Daredevil. A coffee vendor reading an article about Daredevil in the newspaper asked Murdock ‘So then what happened?’ which a smirking Murdock denied being Daredevil almost flippantly. And so on so forth. There were a lot of things that rubbed me up the wrong way and still do. But here I am more than two years later writing a review of Waid’s Daredevil #30, so something has kept me reading.
Let me start this review by saying this: I do not like Daredevil but I do like Mark Waid. The pace of each issue has been consistently good and sometimes great. He has experimented with different types of story, different structures. That is not to say that Daredevil V3 has necessarily been experimental. A lot of clichés have been played with, some issues have felt very by the numbers, and a couple of times it has felt a little predictable (if knowing the good guys win can be called predictable when you’re writing about comics) – but Waid has kept mixing things up to the extent that Daredevil has been very readable and enjoyable and hasn’t felt repetitive or patronizing.
As a character Daredevil is not generally known for crossing into the world of the Avengers or other ‘big time’ superheroes. Daredevil #30, however, sees Matt working with the Silver Surfer. Not a first, but not a common occurrence either. Daredevil’s world throughout Waid’s run has been a very urban, localized, grounded one. On paper a Silver Surfer appearance would force this setting to change. Waid treats the issue as Silver Surfer visiting Daredevil’s world, however, and the action is limited to the city. Plot wise it is a self-contained one-issue arc and nothing ground breaking but there are some nice set pieces in here and a little added to an on-going romance sub-plot to make it worth the read.
Probably the best moment in the comic is when Silver Surfer accidently fires on one of Matt’s employees and Matt without hesitation spears him through the window. It’s a great play on Daredevil’s tag line ‘the man without fear’ as he attacks a cosmic being who would seriously fuck him up in a fight. It’s one of the first times in Waid’s run that Daredevil has seemed like he really is a bad ass and I appreciated the set piece. Unfortunately it subsided very quickly into quite a cheesy segment where Daredevil, smug once more, surfs through the New York skies on the Silver Surfer’s board. That is, however, to a big extent the territory and tone that Daredevil V3 operates in, and is in keeping with that spirit.
A big theme throughout Daredevil V3 has been a focus on how Matt ‘sees’ the world with his radar sense: panels with purple lines contouring shapes and objects against a black background. When Silver Surfer came into a Daredevil comic, we are shown how Silver Surfer views the world too: ‘The Surfer distinguishes sentient beings by reading their “inner light”, by what our souls look like to him’. In a number of panels this is illustrated for us in blurred yellow shapes. It’s really interesting to have this aspect of Silver Surfer picked up on and illustrated. Just as the Surfer came into an inherently “street level” comic and was forced to conform to those rules rather than dragging the action into his own galactic habitat, it feels like the Surfer also came into a territory where the way people ‘see’ is a prime concern and it only makes sense that his unique perspective should be explored and illustrated. I think it’s a great touch.
All in all, as I’ve said, Daredevil #30 is essentially a single-issue event that adds a little colour to a romance sub-plot. This is actually quite clever when you look at this issue within the context of the bigger picture of Daredevil. On one level this issue serves as distraction and relief from the dark sub-plot of Foggy Nelson’s battle with cancer. The issue doesn’t mention Foggy’s cancer except in the recap but it is in fact Foggy’s absence that is the driving force behind the furthering of the romance sub-plot that is, essentially, the lasting effect this issue will have on the series. Kirsten is only working at the law firm because Foggy is away in hospital. This is not mentioned. However, it is with a focus on Foggy’s office inhabited by someone other than Foggy that this issues opens and closes, both times with Matt ‘looking in’. Superficially he is ‘looking in’ at Kirsten, but what is really there – the sub-plot behind the sub-plot – is the absence of his best friend, battling cancer, a fight Daredevil can’t help him with. It’s subtle but the whole issue, which prima facie writes out the dark cancer sub-plot, is in fact angled in such a way that there is no escaping Foggy’s absence. Excellent writing.
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