A great twist can be a very, very tricky proposition to pull off. A lousy one is, of course, easy, you simply lie to the viewer and have characters behave in ways that make sense while they’re being observed, but are absolute nonsense in hindsight. A great twist needs to not only make sense, but to be well-motivated by all the players involved. There is a great twist near the end of this book and leave it to Mark Waid to have all the pieces all right into place. The buildup to the end is likewise great with the new Stunt-Master challenging Daredevil to a race up the Golden Gate Bridge, but last issue revealed that Stunt-Master is, in fact, playing puppetmaster (though a more mundane version) as he manipulates his own events from behind the scenes, taking none of the risk but reaping all the reward. And in this case, the one taking the risk is the one who stands to lose the most in George Smith. We also get a truly great, very touching end to this story that has me equal parts smiling and dreading, based on Murdock’s track record with girlfriends.
Chris Samnee shares a storytelling credit, as always, with Mark Waid but also provides the incredible linework There’s a lot of action in this issue, and it would’ve been very, very easy to lose track of the players or to cheat on things like blocking and pacing, but Samnee hasn’t cut a corner in his run on Daredevil yet and he certainly doesn’t start here. The pace, the fluidity from one panel to the next and the amazing level of detail that conveys emotion not only creates the illusion of motion, but does a phenomenal job of creating the illusion of noise. This is a very “loud” issue, and it comes across amazingly well. The visual splendor can also be attributed to Matthew Wilson’s gorgeous, old-school colors. Another artist who hearkens back to the Silver Age while still having a distinctly modern look and who has given the Man Without Fear’s title more brightness than it’s ever had before.
This storyline, much like the last one, has a rather abrupt ending, possibly owing to the fact that it was only two issues long. It wasn’t QUITE a holding pattern, especially with what happens in the last page, and it was a good story well told, but it felt like it could have used a little more build or a little more investment. I hadn’t ever heard of Stunt-Master, so his ultimate fate, while interesting, didn’t have a great emotional punch.
The fact that storylines that could be considered holding patterns are STILL this entertaining and satisfying is a credit to the incredible creative team. It’s not always perfect, but I can never wait to see what happens next, and I’m constantly impressed by how well they tell these stories of Murdock and company and with the incredible economy that they’re able to get at the real, emotional depths of the characters.