Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Daredevil, Volume 5 Review (Mark Waid, Chris Samnee)


Down to his last twenty bucks, Matt Murdock goes to make amends with his former partner and best friend, Foggy Nelson, only to discover… Foggy has cancer. And I thought Mark Waid’s version was supposed to be the upbeat Daredevil!

Besides the crossover with Superior Spider-Man (which was pretty bland), the book follows a mysterious assailant’s plan to destroy The Man Without Fear as he attempts to spawn dozens of Daredevils by recreating Matt’s childhood accident. Who is the man with the plan? Who is Ikari? And why does Stilt-Man keep committing crimes in New York City, the most heavily superhero-populated city in the Marvel Universe?!

I’m not a huge fan of Daredevil nor have I been the biggest cheerleader for this acclaimed series but it’s had its moments, and this book is arguably the best. It’s also the conclusion of an arc that’s apparently been running since the first volume – I say “apparently” because I had no strong impression of an arc threading through these five volumes!

Nonetheless, Waid does his best to make the connections between the multiple books and almost pulls it off – until he reveals the mastermind behind it all. Really – that guy? Would that guy have been able to pull it off? And no, I’m not talking about Stilt-Man, though I do like that he’s become a running gag in this series.

However, Waid does successfully create a tense atmosphere of paranoia as Matt realises the villain’s agents are everywhere and we see him slowly losing his composure. That scene when a replacement solicitor shows up at the office for an interview with Matt was a masterstroke of bait and switches, especially with that incredible final panel! I’m surprised the attempts to re-create Matt’s accident proved so fruitful though – apparently there IS a formula for creating multiple Daredevils if you want to! Kind of makes him less than unique though…

But it’s Foggy who’s the standout character of this book. I love how Matt’s there for his pal as he goes through chemo but Foggy’s there for Matt too in figuring out the villain’s identity and telling his buddy what he needed to hear when he needed to hear it. And the coda to the book, a short story starring Foggy called Punching Cancer… man, what a tearjerker! Foggy goes to the children’s cancer ward to tell them stories of the superheroes he’s met over the years and gets upstaged by Iron Man who drops by to buck up the kids’ spirits. I won’t say anything more but it was a beautiful comic. 

And a large part of its beauty comes from Chris Samnee’s outstanding art. It’s almost redundant to praise the art in this series as Marcos Martin, Mike Allred and Chris Samnee’s art is never anything less than stellar, and everyone has mentioned how gorgeous the book looks, but, one more time (all together now!), the art is AMAZING!! I may not love all of Waid’s scripts but I’ve enjoyed the artwork in every single book in this run. 

Daredevil Volume 5 is one of the highlights in Waid’s run – don’t miss it!

Daredevil, Volume 5

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