There are two kinds of tie-in issues to large events: those that could be told at any time and those that are specifically and inexorably tied to the larger event. Generally the latter work better, in the context of a tie-in, but in this case Mark Waid shoots for the former and delivers an incredible, evergreen story that also makes sense in the context of Original Sin. I won’t reveal what Murdock saw, but it sends him hurtling to his mother, still in the service of a nunnery. When it’s revealed that she’s been arrested and is being extradited for a minor infraction, things get very political very quickly. I had some reticence that Waid would set another issue in the past, as he did when he revealed Foggy’s fate last time around, but the glimpses we get of his past are few and far between, and actually not even the focus of the issue, which helps set the stakes and reset our footing in the present. Waid’s characterizations have always been one of the strongest parts of his run on this series, but I swear he manages to outdo himself every few issues and this is one of them: we see Matt Murdock finally losing his cool and rushing into a situation without anything even resembling adequate preparation, and it absolutely comes back to bite him.
Javier Rodriguez shares a storyteller credit with Mark Waid while penciling as well as handling the colors and on both of these counts does a great job. Chris Samnee’s not an easy artist to step in after but, lest we forget, Rodriguez was Waid’s original collaborator on this title and he effortlessly reminds us of just that. His incredible eye for detail is on full display here, but it is once again, his illustration of Matt’s radar sense that steals the show every time it’s on display. Of particular note is the two-page spread of Matt in a closet listening for any scrap of information about his mission, and it’s a perfect melding of words and imagery that shows how Daredevil sorts through total chaos to find the kernel that he needs. It shows you just how used to living every moment of his life like this he is. Alvaro Lopez’s inks carry a grand weight as well: reigning in all this wild imagery and making it clear and precise can’t be easy. This is another example of small, minute details being brought to the fore as the inks emphasize things like shadow, motion and perspective, something critically important to more acrobatically inclined heroes.
To be perfectly honest: I wasn’t aware Mama Murdock was still ALIVE. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Bendis/Maleev run, but I don’t recall her ever appearing there, and while she apparently DOES make an appearance in Shadowland, it’s interesting to just have her pop up in this story with hardly a word about how rarely these two interact. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have been here, I’m saying some acknowledgement that seeing her is something of an occasion.
This is definitely a story for Daredevil fans, both new and longterm. People looking for some kind major tie-in to Original Sin would be better served looking to a different tie-in as this one could have been just as well served with information unrelated to that event. This isn’t to say that this shouldn’t have been a tie-in, but it’s more the traditional version of that phrase where fans of the book can pick it up and not need to know much, or anything, of the larger event. The writing is great, the art is beautiful, and the storyline is fraught with intrigue. Everything we could want from a new storyline.