The end is here for the Man Without Fear (couldn’t resist), as Matt Murdock’s public and private worlds collide in “Daredevil” #36, putting a bookend on one era of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s time on the title.
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Chris Samnee
The Astounding Final Issue!
Nelson & Murdock are closing up shop in Hell’s Kitchen, but the occasion is thankfully not a somber one. After facing down the Sons Of The Serpent as his costumed alter ego, Matt Murdock faces them in a courtroom as they try to blackmail him into doing their bidding. Instead, Matt takes a step rarely seen and often retconned in the history of comics, and reveals his secret identity to the world. After the shock wears off, Murdock dons the red costume one more time, and settles all doubts that a blind lawyer can be a superhero.
The most genius decision Mark Waid has made during his time scripting “Daredevil” was to turn away from Matt Murdock’s traditional doom and gloom modus operandi. He doesn’t ignore the character’s past, far from it, but instead Waid uses it to show what Matt has learned from his many (many) bouts of emotional adversity: moping actually accomplishes very little. For the longest time he has been a character who reacts to things. When his identity was first exposed, Matt reacted by aggressively denying it. Waid has turned Murdock into a character who acts, who makes events happen. He made the decision to announce his superhero alter ego, and refusing to let others use the information against him. Instead of waiting for things to go bad, and then whining about how hard things are, Matt makes a clear decision and executes it. Waid’s Daredevil is possibly the most proactive take on the character there has ever been.
If the reader picks up this final issue (wink wink) expect a traditional blowout of superhero action, they’re almost missing the point. While Waid’s long career is certainly filled with examples of good old fashion super powered smack down, Daredevil has never been a character known for leveling buildings in his wake. The climax of this story is, instead, an emotional and character driven one. Not to say that the issue is just people monologuing, and Waid is sure to include the Sons Of The Serpent receiving both a legal and a physical smackdown. It’s not all just about the Sons in this issue, as Foggy Nelson reaches an important milestone as well. He as been facing his cancer with a brave face, using humor and sarcasm to ignore the seriousness of the situation. Now, however, Murdock faces a decision that could have fatal repercussions for his best friend. In a scene masterfully written by Waid, Foggy has to decide if a life permanently compromised is a life worth living. Foggy is immensely brave, and it’s from his friend, not his superpowers, that Murdock gets his strength. Goosebumps, Mark Waid, goosebumps.
Chris Samnee should draw the whole Marvel Universe, in fact he almost does just that in this issue. Samnee’s artwork in this volume of “Daredevil” is one of the reasons this series has redefined the character. Ever since Frank Miller turned Hell’s Kitchen into a superhero noir film, all subsequent artists have followed suit, more or less. While this has led to some great art, it becomes very stale and drab over time. Samnee’s work is less realistic, and far from gritty, but that doesn’t mean the series has turned into a cartoon. The issue’s opening scene between Murdock and Foggy is layered in shadows, and uses light to accent Foggy’s newly hairless head. The tone is just as serious as anything Miller did. A good portion of the issue takes place inside a court room, a dry setting if there ever was one, but it never looks dull or boring. Samnee’s style infuses everything with a sense of energy and life, so Matt Murdock testifying is almost as enjoyable as seeing Daredevil kick butt.
Speaking of Daredevil kicking butt, the Sons Of The Serpent storm the courthouse in a last bid attempt to do away with Murdock, and Samnee provides plenty of hero moments in the single fight scene. Murdock ripping his shirt open to reveal the Daredevil costume is classic in every sense of the word, and the full page of him saving his sorta-girlfriend from an attack beautifully conveys the fact that he is in complete control of the situation. The artistic climax of the issue is the moment when Murdock reveals his superhero identity, and the reader sees the immediate reactions from around the world. In a very stylized and unique way to show the information, with giant letters forming the panels, featuring a who’s who of the Marvel U (couldn’t resist again). Samnee pencils a dream cast of the next Avengers film, and if it doesn’t make every reader crave a Samnee drawn super team book, something is wrong with them.Continued below
This is not really the end for “Daredevil”, as “All New Daredevil” #1 comes out next month with the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee team intact, so this is not a tear-filled farewell. This is the end of a chapter in Matt Murdock’s life and Waid ensure’s that the change feels as natural and organic as possible. The final rooftop scene provides Samnee with the chance to pencil a send off for Hell’s Kitchen that double’s as a perfect example of his gorgeous art. It’s everything one could want in an issue of “Daredevil”.
Final Verdict: 9.8 – Buy. “Daredevil” is going out on a high note, and thankfully is not really going out at all.