(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by: Mark Waid
Artwork by: Chris Samnee
Color Artwork by: Javier Rodriguez
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee do the monster mash in this issue of Daredevil which is a major Halloween treat however the nasty trick may be that this series is ending with issue #36. That’s right the buzz is that in just four short issues Marvel will be pulling the plug on one of its most consistently well written and engaging comic books being produced today. This book is a favorite of fans and critics alike, in fact this incarnation of Daredevil has put Matt Murdock back on the radar of popular culture in general. Marvel has tried re-booting, re-numbering and a host of other gimmicks to return Daredevil to the A-list where creators like Frank Miller, Ed Brubaker, Brian Bendis, Alex Maleev and Kevin Smith had previously placed him among the Marvel elite but now when Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have done the same caliber of work to much the same degree of acclaim Marvel decides that we have been given too much of a good thing and plans to cancel this amazing series. Mark Waid is no stranger to this erratic and flawed decision making that Marvel employs from time to time, they did the same thing to him when they took him off Fantastic Four however an outcry of fan disapproval forced Marvel to reconsider and Waid’s run on FF continued despite the fact that he was in the process of tying up plot threads he was working on at the time. This made for some confusing reading but Waid managed to salvage a pretty great run. Now we are faced with losing Waid’s genius mid-run once again, this time on a book he has been writing since number one. I have even heard some comic book neophytes speak of Daredevil as if Waid had created the character. Well we can only hope that history repeats itself and Marvel listens to the outpouring of fan support to keep this creative team working on this book and decides not to end Daredevil at issue #36.
The cover of issue #32 is one of the best of the year and the story is that Samnee drew the cover image and Waid constructed the story around it. This is a testament to the chemistry these two remarkable storytellers have created between them. Samnee is working at a level that very few ever reach in an artistic career, he has amalgamated his aesthetic and style with the character is such singular fashion that this visual design will forever be referred to as “Samnee’s Daredevil” in the very same way that we say “Miller’s Daredevil” or “Maleev’s Daredevil”. These artists have indelibly left their mark upon this character and enriched the visual history of Daredevil to a degree that we can scarcely think of the character without calling to mind one of their images, and that is what this cover is destined to be, it belongs beside the other iconic Daredevil covers that pepper Frank Miller’s run from #158-190, but enough about the cover let’s get to the interior of this tremendous issue.
The story opens with The Jester continuing to plague Matt Murdock with more twisted pranks designed to elicit an explosive reaction from the blind lawyer. The Jester uses scents and other ploys to lead Matt toward a confrontation with the Sons of the Serpent. This eventually leads Murdock to the seemingly overtly racist town of Stone Hills Kentucky where everything is not what it seems. Waid does a fabulous job of having Matt rely on his senses to figure out just who it is that is assailing him. His enhanced sense of smell alerts him to the monsters whether it be the scent of decaying linen bandages of the mummy or the odor of dead flesh emanating from the Frankenstein monster Matt detects these facts with his olfactory sense as well as anyone sighted person would do with their eyes.
One of the issue’s many highlights is the scene between Daredevil and Doctor Strange, the dialogue is masterfully written and the characterizations are spot on. The history shared by these two heroes serves to humanize the exchange and lend it an air of genuine friendship. Waid does a similar thing with the monsters, almost immediately the townsfolk are cast as villains and the creatures come across as unjustly vilified because of their difference in appearance and abilities. The whole issue has a Twilight Zone feel to it which is perfect for a Halloween read. The more weighty issue of racism is smartly touched upon through very thinly veiled metaphor without ever once preaching. I love this issue; it is one of my favorite stories in a run full of intelligent and entertaining narratives. Waid is truly a thought provoking writer but he doesn’t beat you over the head with his politics or points of view, instead he presents a well thought out and constructed narrative that entertains as it educates.
Chris Samnee is at his stellar best on this issue delivering several stunning splash pages as well as his usual fast-paced panel layouts. Samnee is an artist you can never say enough good things about but you don’t have to say much because his work speaks volumes, his innovative and dynamic style ranks among the most readily recognizable of today’s artists. Javier Rodriguez does an extraordinary job coloring this issue. His vibrant palette brings a type of visual electricity to the pages and makes the whole thing come to life.
So in light of the looming bad news let’s all keep a positive thought and a raised voice in favor of keeping Daredevil alive in its current incarnation and in the hands of this creative team. As issue #32 is evidence of, everything is working fine; it ain’t broke so please Marvel don’t try to fix it. I give Daredevil#32 a monstrous 4.8 out of 5. Happy haunting everyone have a safe Halloween and I will see you next time at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629