Since the start of his run, Mark Waid’s gone out of his way to ensure that this Daredevil not be as dark as the last few creative teams on him. And not for nothing, many of the stories those teams told will go down in history as classics, and rightly so, but at a certain point, there’s only so much a single character can take and Waid seems to understand that. So he’s shown a lighter Devil, one that takes the previous storylines into account, but instead of being dragged down by them, pushes against and overcomes them. Though this issue definitely takes some darker turns, but they’re not entirely foreign as Waid’s run hasn’t been all sunshine and lollipops for ol’ Hornhead. This issue, in particular, shows the seams beginning to buckle under Murdock’s new way of life and while he’s picked up a new ally, it may be too late for anyone to do anything after the jaw-dropper that happens midway through this issue. A jaw-dropper that necessitates the return of someone Murdock likely wished to never encounter again after securing away his closest loved ones. Waid even leaves a few stones unturned for future storylines and manages to both paint Daredevil into a desperate corner while giving him a massive amount of potential for future storylines. It’s a tricky thing to do, but it’s a needle that Waid threads well.
Chris Samnee’s linework, as well as his contributions to the storytelling, are to the high standards he’s set for himself every issue, and come across looking expressive and very well paced. There’s a great use of negative space that comes off as intentional and stylistic rather than a corner-cutting method to save time, rendering whichever it actually is moot as it works regardless. Matthew Wilson does an absolutely gorgeous job as well, bringing a level of sinister malevolence to the events of the book, and malevolent it is. This is one of the darker issues and there’s a great sense of dreariness that never drags the overall tone down nor does it betray the lighter overall sense that the book has achieved.
This issue suffers from an overabundance of comings-and-goings, and while it’s all well-written and well-illustrated, it still feels like there’s too much happening all at once for any one thing to have the emotional impact it deserves. At least three, and maybe four depending on how one looks at it, large events occur in this single issue, at least one of which is a quieter, more introspective one, and it feels like could have been more evenly paced across two issues.
Too much of a good thing might not be the best, but it’s still pretty great! Waid and Samnee’s ability to take this book on a roller-coaster of tone while still keeping it consistent is one of their most amazing talents, and this issue is a great illustration of that. While things are still, generally, bright and shiny, there’s a lot happening under the surface that the visuals do a great job of exploring, making this one of the more diverse, dynamic books on the shelf. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the FANTASTIC parody cover. It's subtle, but it gets the point across amazingly well.