REVIEW: Daredevil #20

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Or – “Super-Creepy Super-Villains Are Waid’s Stock-In-Trade.”

Matt Murdock’s life is in turmoil, thanks to the machinations of a villain that he wrote off as a harmless idiot.  Now that the Spot has returned, and dubbed himself Coyote, Daredevil may be in over his (now-severed) head.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

DAREDEVIL #20
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Cover Artist: Paolo Rivera
Colorist: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Daredevil:  Things have gotten weird for Matt Murdock, as his late father’s remains have turned up in a drawer in his office, and his insane ex-wife has been appearing at his home, even though she’s safely locked away after losing her sanity.  Partner Foggy Nelson has booted him from their firm until he gets his stuff together, and Matt has discovered a causal link in all these strange happenings: a teleporting loser called The Spot, now having reimagined himself as Coyote.  Also:  He has separated Daredevil’s head from his body.

So, that’s fun…

A HORRIFYING START…  BUT IN A GOOD WAY.

The issue opens with a particularly awful moment (carried over from last issue) where Coyote holds the head of Daredevil up, while his body flails around in the background.  I am terribly creeped out, but find small comfort in Daredevils quiet smile and the thought caption, “That’s when I knew I’d won.”  The first half of the issue does something that can be very difficult:  making a (you should excuse the expression) talking-heads sequence interesting.  Daredevil treats it as a cross-examination, while Coyote explains the new criminal channels he’s opened with his powers, including gun-running, drug smuggling and human trafficking, the last of which makes Daredevil angry.  The worst revelation of the issue comes when Coyote explains that the same technology that has left Daredevil’s body separate is what he’s been using to deal in humans, revealing the storage process he uses for THEIR heads.  Gyaah.  Artistically, this scene is brilliant from both a writing and an art perspective, as Samnee’s images take a sadistic glee in making a pile of severed, screaming heads even more skin-crawlingly disturbing than the description would have it.

AND IT GETS CREEPIER.

Of course, while Dare-Head has been distracting Coyote, Dare-Body has been breaking free of its bonds, and discovering entirely new levels of body horror in so doing.  Things get even freakier as the issue ends, with a revelation about The Spot, Daredevil managing to turn the tables on the villain, and a really unexpected final page splash.  The creators manage to turn everything we think we know on its head, and Samnee nails the visuals throughout the book.  Stephen recently mentioned that he found the team of Mark & Chris to be a perfect match, and this issue makes it hard to argue with him, as the story proceeds in completely unexpected directions, and the design of the villain is truly impressive (and subtly unnerving.)  I especially like the way that Daredevil fits his ‘Man Without Fear’ role throughout the issue, using his mind and body in concert to outsmart the villains plan, staying calm in a situation that would rattle even a superhero.  Tell me you wouldn’t find it disturbing to have your body walking around while a three-eyed, fanged villain carries your face around in his hands.  It’s the kind of thing that Rodrigo would come up with for Critical Hit…

THE BOTTOM LINE: MOODY, UNUSUAL AND ENJOYABLE.

It’s pretty simple by this point:  Daredevil is on a list of monthly must-reads from Marvel, alongside Hawkeye and the late, lamented Defenders, and if you’re not checking it out, I recommend it highly.  Daredevil #20 takes a goofy old concept, turns it on its head and transforms it into something truly horrifying with seeming ease, earning a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars overall. 

Rating: ★★★★☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

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