Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.22.2013 – Daredevil #26

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

943
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.9
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 52.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee
Colors by Javier Rodriguez
Cover by Chris Samnee & Paolo Rivera

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

Daredevil is a great comic book. We’ve talked a lot about how great Daredevil is. We’ve talked so much about how great it is that we kind of ran out of ways to talk about its greatness so we sort of stopped talking about it. There are only so many times you can say, “Daredevil was great… again.” Right? It’s a great comic book being put out by some of the most talented people in the business who are working at the top of their game.

What’s a word that’s better than “great”? Sublime? Majestic? Superb? Daredevil #26 is better than great; it is damn near perfect single issue comic book.

I feel like Mark Waid could write anything right now and it would be great (well, other than The Green Hornet, apparently, that’s been something of a misstep). He’s been on one of those creative rolls for the last few years that must drive most other writers mad with envy. And for all the great work he has done the pinnacle must be Daredevil. It must. He took a character that was mired in the doldrums of pain and despair, stuck in a a status quo that nobody cared about, and he injected new life and vitality into him. Matt Murdock became compelling again. He became someone you wanted to spend time with on a monthly basis again. He did this by adding a sheen of lighthearted whimsy to the stories. Matt was not only smiling again but he was laughing. He wore an “I Am Not Daredevil” shirt to a party (after his identity was publicly exposed, again, in a previous story) and he roguishly stole kisses while he was saving the day.

What Mark Waid was really doing was the brilliant part. He was building Matt Murdock back up while simultaneously he was slowly and methodically tearing him back down.

Now this is the part where normally I’d be looking for a spare piece of rope and a sturdy beam. There’s only so much depressed and broken Matt Murdock that one man can take. But Waid’s brilliant move was to treat this entire story like an action-adventure thrill ride. Sure, someone was breaking Matt’s life down again (and we’ll get to that in a minute) but it was happening in a fun, summer movie-thriller kind of way. Think Argo rather than Requiem For a Dream. So while Matt Murdock is clearly upset and clearly watching his world crumble around him, there’s never any wallowing. There’s still a strong vein of Fun! Exciting! Adventure! throughout the whole story.

None of this would be possible without the art team bringing Waid’s script to life (and there’s a neat little bit of backmatter in this double-sized issue showing the process from script to finished page in Daredevil #26). When this series started we had the amazing art duo of Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera trading off penciling duties which were enhanced by the exquisite coloring from Javier Rodriquez. The book looked wonderful. But Daredevil really took off when artist extraodrinaire Chris Samnee came on board. That’s when you could feel things really start to gel. (And it was so apparent that Waid and Samnee’s old-school-in-the-best-possible-way styles worked so well together that they managed to squeeze in a Rocketeer mini-series for IDW Publishing while still pumping out Daredevil on a monthly basis.)

Which brings us to Daredevil #26. Matt Murdock is having a rough go at it right now. Not only is his best friend and business partner, Foggy Nelson, currently engaged in the beginning stages of the fight for his life against cancer, but he just had his ass handed to him quite brutally by Ikari, a mysterious assailant dressed in a modified version of Daredevil’s original costume who appears to posses the same powers that Daredevil does but with the added bonus of being able to see. It’s a mouthful but that’s what Daredevil is dealing with right now. He’s a little on edge. Some mysterious villain sent Ikari after him and has infiltrated, and is in the process of destroying, Daredevil’s life with utter efficiency. He sees threats everywhere. The guy coming in to interview to take over Foggy’s work at the practice while he’s away getting treatment? He’s must be working with Ikari. The nurse administering Foggy’s chemo therapy? He’s probably in on it too. It’s thrilling to watch as Matt Murdock dissolves into deep puddle of paranoia, and even more thrilling to see that even as he appears to be breaking down again, Matt’s instincts are right on the money. Yes, when the shadowy figure pulling everyone’s strings is revealed it’s not entirely shocking, but I don’t think it’s meant to be. The thrill comes in the chase and watching Matt try to put together the pieces of the mystery of who is coming after him while everything is falling apart around him and he’s quite literally fighting for his life and the life of his best friend. Daredevil #26 is that moment in the story when all the clues fall into place for our hero and everything finally makes sense and it’s deeply satisfying for us the audience even as we see that our hero is in grave danger.

And if all of that wasn’t enough to earn Daredevil #26 the Pick of the Week, and it was, there’s a bonus story after the backmatter. It’s a story that features no rooftop-to-rooftop derring-do or shadowy supervillains but it does feature a bunch of heroes. In this story, done by the regular creative team, Foggy Nelson is brought by his doctor to the children’s cancer ward because Iron Man is coming to visit the kids but he’s late and Foggy knows some superheroes personally so he’s cool by association. He’s nervous about speaking to the kids but he finds that the kids less interested in him and more interested in writing and drawing a comic book in honor of Iron Man’s arrival. The story they produce is a not so subtle metaphor for the battle against cancer and it lifts your spirits even as it’s breaking your heart. I don’t know how many of you have had loved ones go through the horrific fight against cancer, but I have and it’s awful (even though they ended up beating it and are in remission, the memories are terrible). And I don’t know if Waid or anyone else on the creative team were inspired by any of their own personal experiences, but this Foggy Nelson story feels intensely personal and I’m glad that it’s being explored.

Conor Kilpatrick
I would love to see more of these backup stories.
conor@ifanboy.com


Comments

  1. Totally agree!

    This issue was absolutely fantastic with everything clicking. Matt going out of his mind in fear, Foggy rallying him to fight on, the big reveal of the man behind it all. Just amazing stuff by Waid. And Chris Samnee! What a turnaround from the messy pages we got from him earlier in his run. Great pages throughout this thing and especially with the back up. The back up alone would have made this POTW for me if that’s all we got here.

    Amazing stuff here. This series is FINALLY back to the level of perfection we got when Rivera was artist. I was worried a couple of months ago this series lost its step for good….But thank god I was wrong.

  2. The main story was nice but that backup… I especially enjoyed seeing a great artist like Samnee draw the kids drawings in their comic book. I’ve lost two friends to cancer this year, and you are right Connor, it’s very good to see the issue explored in this creative way. I too hope we see more of this kind of story, not every issue perhaps, but now and then.

  3. I knew this would make POTW. And rightfully so.

  4. FINALY! yes! How long has it been? issue 12? 10?

  5. Spot on in every respect, Conor. And as if his interior work wasn’t enough, Samnee’s cover is simply inspired. What a book!

  6. Great review.

    The pace was amazing. I really felt like I was being pulled along rhythmically, almost like my eyes were shifting from panel to panel to a metronome.

    Even the script excerpts in the back had a pace, while still giving Samnee a ton of freedom. It’s like Waid sets the tempo and Samnee’s the drummer who figures out which beats to play. These guys have entered the Morrison/Quitely, Brubaker/Phillips more-than-the-sum-of-their-parts club.

  7. Awesome cover art. I love how the clothes on the wire spells out Daredevil.

  8. Completely agree!

  9. Sad the pick was not Green Lantern #20, as I felt it was a very strong, bold closing chapter of Johns’ lengthy saga. Don’t have this week’s Daredevil yet (my store tends to under-order Marvel of all things, especially the less Avengers-y stuff), but it’s been incredibly solid week in and week out, so I’m not surprised it’s amazing again this week. Looking forward to reading it.

  10. What elevates this book so often is just how smart Waid and Samnee are in it’s construction. It’s all in the little things. The way the words get cut off with the closing elevator door, a nasty little message you read(and Murdock hears) and understands just too late to do anything about it. You can FEEL his frustration. And it’s one of those things that works best in the comic book medium.

    Later, when Matt takes the adrenaline and escapes, Ikari is on the rooftop talking. You(and Ikari) think he got away; he talks about Matt being somewhere else, probably somewhere away from humans who can get hurt. The last panel shows Lady Bullseye asking a question, it’s relatively calm moment here of conversation

    then BOOM Daredevil bursts into the room, adrenaline lines pumping. Usually when a character bursts in a room like that, it’s telegraphed; you see the hero flying/swinging to the location, or perhaps a character is in danger and right before they’re hurt, dramatic entrance! Here, it blindsides you, just like it blindsides Lady Bullseye and Ikari. We had no idea how much time has passed since Ikari lost him, and their quiet conversation seemed to promise a cliffhanger. The shocking Daredevil entrance is actually shocking!

    It’s things like that, like the brilliant “Try the red one” reveal or the “heads in the closet” reveal from earlier issues that show the level of which Waid and Samnee are working. Waid is a guy who’s been writing these superhero things for YEARS. Decades, even. He knows all the tricks, all the cliches, he knows how to subvert them, how to lead you on for one thing, then pull the rug right under your feet. He and Samnee are making this Born Again story sing in a way it hasn’t since Mazzuchelli last drew the book.

    Waid’s Daredevil is as good as anything on the market today.

  11. I dropped Daredevil somewhere in the middle of the Spot / Coyote storyline. How far back would you suggest going back to get most of the story? Or, can I just jump right back in with this issue?

    • I would suggest #23. The back issues are worth hunting down, trust me.

    • I’ve been buying and reading this in hardcover so I’m a little behind. I picked up and read this with no problem, if you can get the back issues do it, but if not you’ll be fine.

  12. Completely agree with this being POTW. Very soild issue and the bonus story was touching and heartfelt.

  13. This has turned out to be oe long story and when its all done it could be a great epic! I hope its wraping up soon though, I dont think it needs to be much longer. Just this story not mark waids run in general. maybe after seeing how it ends I will go out and pick up the hd collections they put out:) Gotta love a good bullseye story:)

  14. Waid and Samnee are definitely the best creative team in comics at the moment, great pick Conor!

  15. Funny, was reading this earlier today (so awesome — loved the back-up too). And once I finished it I thought “I bet this will be the POTW for iFanboy” — and sure enough…

  16. ochsavidare (@ochsavidare) says:

    I’ve read the first two or three issues of this run but wasn’t blown away by it. Seeing how you guys keep praising it I guess I should give it another try.

  17. It’s a talent like Waid that illuminates the small, subtle turning points in a story- ‘Benson’s’ menacing taunt through the crack in the door, or even more perfectly, last ish, ‘try the red one.’ And lest I forget, Samnee’s uncluttered artwork- great stuff.

  18. Biggest comic regret of the last year is falling behind on this book. It’s so fantastic.