Waid and Samnee’s epic Daredevil run is about to wrap up, but is there any doubt it will go out with a bang? Your Major Spoilers review of Daredevil #18 awaits!
Previously in Daredevil: “In order to protect his best friend Foggy Nelson from Daredevil’s enemies, Matt very publicly faked Foggy’s death. They then moved to San Francisco where Matt opened a new law practice with his girlfriend, Kirsten McDuffie. Rumor’s of The Owl’s escape led Matt to team up with his foe’s daughter, Jubula Pride, to find him. The two discovered that The Shroud, Daredevil’s alleged ally, was using The Owl to power a surveillance super-computer to find his ex-girlfriend, Julia Carpenter. To salvage his reputation, Matt turned to Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin. But Fisk double-crossed Daredevil, taking Julia, Kirsten and Foggy captive and forcing Matt into a death match with the assassin Ikari. Matters were only made worse when The Shroud intervened and killed Ikari.
Without a hope and with everything to lose, Matt faces his darkest hour…”
A DESPERATE GAMBIT
As this issue opens, the assassin Ikari has presented Daredevil’s bloody mask to the Kingpin as proof that Matt Murdock is finally and for-realz DEAD…
Of course it’s a trap, Ikari is dead, didn’t you read the “Previously”? Matt Murdock has stolen his enemy’s costume and come to confront Kingpin, who holds Kristen, Foggy and Julia (Madame Web, the former Spider-Woman) Carpenter hostage. It’s a tense moment, and one that only builds as Matt taunts his friends with the news of “Daredevil’s” death. It’s Foggy who breaks first, and in a startling moment, it’s HE that starts the giant battle sequence. Kingpin quickly realizes all is not what it seems, and begins a savage beat-down on his most persistent (non-Spider-Man) foe. Indeed, the sheer violence of their battle is almost off-putting, with Samnee’s art making it clear that this entire plot is about Fisk and Murdock hurting one another as brutally as possible. The whole cast gets their moment, and Daredevil’s true masterstroke in this story utilizes The Owl and his new super-computer interface to once and for all put one over on Wilson Fisk and end their conflict (at least until the new volume stars up after Secret Wars.)
THE BIG WRAP-UP
I’ve talked before about Marvel’s current publishing plan of “Creators go nuts, but make sure that they put all the toys back in the box at the end of their run”, and it works to great effect here, wrapping up the plotlines regarding Madame Web, Murdock’s legal career, his old villains and even Foggy’s health in a manner that doesn’t feel forced or crammed into too small a space. There’s even time for Matt Murdock to have an emotional epiphany, showing how deeply this creative team has gotten in his head, and really cementing that the dark, urban vigilante and the almost-too-happy, defiant smirking Daredevil are simply facets of the same complex mind. Foggy really wraps up the emotional arc of the story (I don’t want to give too much away, but remember, he’s been fighting a possibly fatal disease for most of Waid’s arc) and the only regret that I’m left with is that the excellent new Daredevil costume he’s been sporting for the last couple of issues has turned out to be just a temporary alteration of the recognizable suit. I have long been praising Mark Waid’s take on the character, finally breaking free of the ninja-laden shadow of Frank Miller and giving us a new angle on Daredevil, and this final issue puts a cherry on the metaphorical cake…
THE BOTTOM LINE: THE ENDING WORTH FIGHTING FOR
In short, it’s the satisfying conclusion to everything Waid and Samnee have been doing on this comic for the last few years, and it serves as a wonderful sendoff to an era that seems like it didn’t last nearly long enough. Whatever the new creative team of Soule and Garney have in store for Matt Murdock and company, Daredevil #18 serves as an excellent coda for the Waid/Samnee era, wrapping it all up with a tight plot and Samnee’s usual artistic excellence, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m just hoping that they keep him on the West Coast going forward, because having all his enemies repeatedly moving from coast to coast is bound to get tiresome…