Writer – Chip Zdarsky; Artist – Jorge Fornés; Color Artist – Nolan Woodard; Letterer – VC’s Clayton Cowles; Assistant Editor – Danny Khazem; Editor – Devin Lewis; Executive Editor – Nick Lowe; Editor In Chief – C.B. Cebulski
It’ll be a cold day in Hell when Matt Murdock makes a good life decision. This week, we get to see the results of some of these bad life decisions come to a crescendo in Daredevil #18.
The main push of this issue follows the last, which ended with The Owl kidnapping Belle Libris due to a turf war between the Libris Family and the Owl’s organization. Matt Murdock wants to help because a little girl was kidnapped in Hell’s Kitchen, but is especially interested because he has been having an affair with Mindy Libris, Belle’s mother and the daughter-in-law of the Libris Family matriarch Izzy. Detective Cole rallies the police to go save her, but Matt knows that the police need his help to stop The Owl and bring peace to The Kitchen.
Now this book is called Daredevil, so Matt is absolutely key to the success of the operation, but Zdarsky’s run is smart and nuanced enough to play with this reality. The creative team still gives the fans what they want, but realizes that all of this is part of Matt’s narcissism. The idea that only he can stop The Owl may be true, because he’s the hero, but Matt is also trying to “rediscover” himself for the hundredth time, he’s going about it the same way as always, and Foggy called him out on it in issue #17. This issue continues Matt’s heroics, but with this realization now hanging over the audience that Matt could probably do more good as a lawyer/social worker, but is addicted to the danger with a touch of narcissism and a martyr complex.
This pairs well with Cole, who is very capable and is also a bit of an actual martyr for doing his job. That all said, he’s new to New York and needs Daredevil’s help to navigate the city and the politics that make it up. Cole truly is a great character for this story, where the villains are corrupt politicians and dirty cops funded by impossibly powerful oligarchs. Cole juxtaposes well here by being the honest, selfless, hard-working cop that is working to help people within the limits of the system, but is starting to see further cracks in the façade.
During the main story, Tommy Libris (Belle’s father, Mindy’s husband, and Izzy’s son) goes to confront the Owl which leads to a great ending that is worth reading without spoilers. Also, Kingpin is dealing with these oligarchs, the Stromwyns, himself after they beat and humiliated him a few issues ago. It is great to see him so vulnerable and how he reacts to that. Since his inception, he has always been the Kingpin, and now he is just another piece in a game being played above his level. To be the biggest fish for so long and then to realize that you are completely powerless is a painful realization for Fisk, and one of the great things this run of Daredevil is exploring.
Fornés’ art and Woodard’s colors have an older, simpler style to them in this book. It is reminiscent of Daredevil volume 2, one of the best runs the character has ever had. (Appropriate, because this volume is looking to be a contender for the best run). This volume has a lot in common with 2, with the grittier feel, more realistic take on violence, slightly dated/more classic look, and with New York feeling like more of a character than a location; Fornés and Woodard capture that all perfectly with the visuals. There is a scene with CC security TVs for instance which makes good use of blue backgrounds and static effects. It feels very analog and old fashioned, fitting with the rest of the book’s more classic style.
One can see this further via the use of colors; with backgrounds often colorful and detailed enough to make the world feel lived in and real. The character design is good, with realistic proportions and expressive faces. Daredevil dons a white ‘mask’ this time, as opposed to black, which is an interesting use of symbolism to show how his strategy and attitude to wanton violence has changed. It has been very interesting how this team has taken him down this road. Further, how a relatively non-violent superhero comic is probably the most compelling book out there.
The best part of this book is the climax, where Cole and Matt are driving through Harlem in the rain. The effect is simply astounding. The night view of a busy New York street, streaks of rain falling all around them leaving deep puddles, halos and flashes of light from the cars and street lights, the way the police sirens penetrate the gloom, and the slick, damp feel to the cars and ground makes you feel like you’re out there with them chasing the criminals.
Daredevil is one of the best books out there right now, with a character defining plot and career defining run from Zdarsky, with some of the best art you’ll see today. Do NOT miss ANY PART of this run.