Drew: Last month, I marveled at the reveal of Otto Octavius’s Spider-Man at the end of Daredevil 21. I thought the choice of Kirsten for that first encounter was a brilliant one, since while we expect our heroes to be in the know, we’re used to civilian friends to be kind of clueless (coughJimmyOlsoncough). Of course, Marvel is playing a much longer game with Otto in the Spidey suit, so it’s a necessity that Matt not figure things out right away, either. I’m generally wary of dramatic irony that keeps the hero in the dark — it’s too often played with an obviousness that makes the heroes come off as dumb — but Mark Waid manages to find a logical, thematically resonant reason for Matt to overlook Spider-Man’s odd behavior by tying it back to his personal life.
The issue opens with Matt dealing with his newfound poverty, no longer pulling an income from Nelson and Murdock. Spider-Man confronts him, aiming to bring him in at the behest of Kirsten. Matt suspects something is up, but can’t figure out what, so squares off to fight. Fortunately, they’re interrupted by Stilt-Man attempting to rob a helicopter. Surprisingly, Stilt-Man puts up a pretty good fight, but Matt and Spidey are able to bring him down. Afterwards, Matt explains the situation with Kirsten, realizing that he’s responsible for the whole mess. Shaken at the whole prospect of fighting his closest costumed ally, Matt heads off to make an apology…
…and in a cleverly staged work of misdirection, we’re surprised to learn that it’s Foggy that he’s going to be apologizing to. That apology goes rather well — Foggy totally understands Matt’s tendency towards secrecy — but Foggy has a confession of his own: he has cancer.
Nestling Spider-Man’s appearance in an issue all about secrets is a brilliant move, and effectively side-steps any reservations I might have about Matt not pressing the issue of his odd behavior. In fact, in a charming scene, Matt asks point blank if something is up:
Because they’re friends, Matt trusts Spider-Man to mention it if something was up, so he doesn’t pursue it any further. He’s in a unique position to understand that sometimes, people just act weird while they’re working things out.
The fact that Matt rolls out of this conversation to apologize to anyone but Kirstin is surprising, but it speaks to the importance of this encounter. Matt is feeling like no one he knows trusts him, a point that is driven home when Spider-Man — who Matt pointedly refers to as the one avenger he’s closest to — openly attacks him. Matt realizes that he really does need a friend, and that maybe he has some responsibility over the fact that even his closest friends don’t trust him. Still, it seems like he owes Kirsten an apology, too, but it looks like Foggy is going to need all of his (non-costumed) attention for the time being. I expect an angry confrontation soon.
As usual, Waid creates a very immersive world, paying special attention to just how Matt experiences the world. As he’s reeling over the thought that Spider-Man would attack him, Matt runs through every defining characteristic he can: his voice, his heartbeat, his scent, his footfall, and — hilariously — his “gangly-ass posture.” Waid also finds place for these little world-building moments at the issue’s opening, as he illustrates Matt’s financial situation with a brief explanation on how the blind keep track of their money.
It’s nothing Earth-shattering, but it’s this attention to detail that has made this series such a pleasure to read month-in, month-out.
What did you think of this issue Mik? This is the first time we’ve talked about this series, so I’m curious to hear if you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. Come to think of it, have you been reading Daredevil? Sorry to bog you down with these pedantic prompts (feel free to ignore them), but I’m excited to hear your thoughts!
Mikyzptlk: Don’t worry Drew, I’m always appreciative of a good prompt! To answer your questions, I have been reading Daredevil and I have DEFINITELY been enjoying it. Although, I must admit that I had to play a bit of catch-up with the title. The New 52 has been taking up a lot of my attention but Marvel NOW! did it’s job of reigniting my interest in the Marvel Universe in general. I’m not sure why it took me so long to reacquaint myself with DD as he’s long been one of my favorite heroes. Speaking of favorites, Mark Waid has easily been one of my favorite writers for many years now, so it’s easily a match made in heaven. Or, in this case, Hell’s Kitchen!
In general, this book is an absolute JOY to read, and this issue was no different. With Superior Spider-Man being Mavel’s shiny new toy, it would have been easy for him to overshadow Waid’s overall narrative in Daredevil. Fortunately, we are talking about Mark Waid here, and instead of Spidey overshadowing anything, he’s weaved into the story beautifully. Drew went into that quite nicely in his portion of the write-up, but I’d like to talk about Waid’s use of exposition for a minute as that can be tough to handle.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the adventures of the Amaz-sorry, Superior Spider-Man, then you may not be aware of his recent transformations. Fortunately, Waid gives you all you need to know with a “Previously Page” that is common in Marvels books. It’s common to see The Daily Bugle newspaper used as a means to catch Marvel readers up, however Waid goes a step further in this issue to include a page from
Otto Octavius’ Peter Parker’s diary. It’s so subtle that I almost missed it, but it’s a clever, in-story way to catch up any DD reader who may not be following Spider-Man. Waid’s use of exposition is simply masterful as he doesn’t waste a single panel on it. One of the biggest questions I had after reading AMS 700 was how this new Spidey would interact with the other Marvel heroes. Waid chooses to explore that with a superhero battle and it just works so well. I love a good superpowered brawl, but if nothing is “said” in the midst of the battle then it becomes nothing but a forgetful blur to me. Here, Waid says something with every punch and kick and the results are just a joy to behold.
Speaking of joy’s to behold, let’s talk about Chris Samnee, the artist of this issue. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen his stuff before, but I certainly hope to see it again. His work here was definitely expressive and fit the tone of whatever scene he was illustrating. He’s definitely got his own take on these characters too which was fun to see. His Superior Spidey design is a bit different than what I’ve come to expect as Spidey’s new “claws” look a bit more like stingers. The result being a Spider-Man that is clearly different and immediately more menacing. Which, again, is good for readers who may not be as familiar with his recent changes.
There is a reason why Mark Waid is known as one of the absolute BEST in the comic book industry, and his Daredevil book is a shining example of that. Some of my favorite issues of his Daredevil run are those guest-starring Spider-Man. Somehow, Waid continues that trend even with a Spider-Man possessed by one of his greatest foes. As ever, I’m looking forward to more.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?