Daredevil 36

daredevil 36Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Daredevil 36, originally released February 19, 2014. 

Patrick: I haven’t been reading Marvel comics all that long — in fact, just as the New 52 got me into reading Batman and the gang, Marvel Now got me into reading Spider-Man and the gang. My constant-comic-discovering-buddy Drew pointed out something profound very early on: Marvel is much more interested in reconciling the superheroes with the secret identities than DC is. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t tension between Clark Kent and Superman or that there aren’t similarities between Barry Allen and The Flash, but Marvel heroes tend to lead two rich, full lives that grind against each other constantly. Such is the case with Matt Murdock — the guy even has a history of aggressively asserting that he’s not Daredevil. The finale to Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s phenomenal run (for now) sees Matt Murdock and Daredevil united as a single set of priorities, values, loves, vulnerabilities and friends.

Last we saw Matt, we was confessing to a court room full of reporters that he was, in fact, The Man Without Fear: Daredevil. That’s a masterfully tense place to end an issue, but that creates some wonky pacing expectations for this one, so Waid and Samnee start our story a few hours earlier, by Foggy’s bedside. It turns out that even with Elecktra’s advice to be unpredictable — and even with his reputation for fearlessness — Matt is scared as hell to follow through with his plan. There’s a lot of fun, compelling storytelling after this opening three-page scene, but this is the emotional payoff of the whole Sons of the Serpent arc. Foggy and Matt have a simple conversation — it’s not magical, and it’s not trite: it’s just honest. In this moment, Matt and Foggy are old friends, each with their own strong convictions and their own versions of courage. Waid wonderfully avoids any kind of co-dependency tropes in this scene: it’s not like Matt draws his courage from his friend’s belief in him. I think that’s just born out of superb writing and understated, subtle acting and storytelling. Samnee and Waid take special care to slow the whole scene down, giving the conversation palpable weight and earning every damn word in the process.

Matt and FoggyIt’s such an intuitive acting moment, but not one I’m used to seeing articulated so well in comics.

With all of those feelings out of the way, we skip ahead to the present, and Matt’s announcement that he is, always has been, and always will be Daredevil. The gambit works, forcing the guilty parties out into the open. Of course, they then come storming into the courtroom with guns, so Matt’s able to suit up and be a hero the old fashioned way: with clubs! I’m making light of it, but Daredevil’s entrance is a) necessary to prove concretely that he and Matt Murdock are the selfsame person; b) totally bad ass; and c) appropriately hilarious. There’s never any real danger that Daredevil’s not going to be able to disable his attackers, and even when they hold Kristin at gunpoint, it’s not really an issue. Matt just does what he always does and takes out the attacker. That’s not to say that it’s not well staged or exciting action — on the contrary, Samnee cashes in all his action-staging chips to bring us a clear and exciting brawl in the Courtroom. While he finishes the fight off with a triumphant uppercut, it’s the way Daredevil starts the fight that tickles me in just the right way — smacking that gun out of the poor bailiff’s hand.

Daredevil says no gunThat’s the perfect mix of hyper-able and sorta-bitchy.

The fight in the Court House immediately gives way to Matt’s hearing — three judges have to decide the fate of his ability to practice law in the state of New York. They don’t actually have a decision to make, Matt’s action have essentially forced them to disbar him. But Waid writes an oddly passionate passing of judgment, one that acknowledges the value of both Matt Murdock’s service in the name of justice and Daredevil’s, and the courage it must have taken to reconcile the two. Murdock’s “private life” and “public life” are, after all, part of the same life.

With that, I’ll hand it off to you, Drew. Daredevil represents a whole world outside of DC’s New 52 to me, and I largely owe its presence in my life to you. So thanks. And thanks for writing about it so much with me over the last year or so. I’m unbelievably excited for the series to return next month — with little more different than a change of venue and numbering — so I can convince everyone I know to get in on the ground floor. That’s not much of a prompt, so let me leave you with this question: how did you feel about leaving Foggy’s cancer unresolved? The dude’s still sick, but he’s also still alive. Were we cheated out of resolution there? Or does it not matter?

Drew: I’d say that it matters quite a bit. We often talk about truth vs. beauty in art: are we willing to suspend our disbelief for an inspiring moment, or does art have some kind of duty to reflect reality, warts and all? Obviously, there’s room for both, but I might argue that truth is more valuable when dealing with real-world problems. That is to say, it might have felt good if Foggy showed up in the courtroom to declare that he’s in remission, but it would have done so by cheapening his struggles with cancer. I absolutely value the truth in the world continuing on with no concern for Foggy’s health.

Beyond my aesthetic preferences, Foggy’s medical needs serve a functional purpose, giving Matt a reason to hesitate, highlighting exactly how reckless his plan really is. It also gives Foggy a share in Matt’s boldness, giving this issue some of that inspiring beauty I mentioned. Indeed, Matt’s actions here are truly fearless, but his plan relies on the consent and cooperation of Foggy and Kirsten, who in turn seem to draw a great deal of their fearlessness from Matt. Foggy mentions specifically that Matt’s integrity has inspired the Avengers, and we later see that spill over to the District Attorney and, ironically, the tribunal that ultimately disbars Matt and Foggy. It’s a celebration of the kind of courage comics can inspire in us — the kind of meta-commentary Waid was born to write.

Patrick, I’m glad you highlighted the directing in the scene with Foggy — this issue is full of copy-free panels, but Samnee wields them in different ways throughout the issue. When he’s showing the Serpents closing in on the courtroom, it’s visual narration; when he’s foregrounding medical equipment as Foggy mentions his own morality, it’s subtext; and when he’s focusing on Matt’s experience of the world, it’s both.

Matt's happy to not see KirstenIt’s boilerplate action/reaction, but Samnee wields it like a master. No amount of text could make that sequence any clearer. Indeed, few comics — few narratives — manage to make one character’s opinion of another so apparent without uttering a single word.

Of course, I’m curious what that opinion means for the next volume. I always feel silly speculating about the next issue — we’ll have answers soon enough — but I can’t help but wonder if the kiss at the end means that Kirsten will be joining Foggy and Matt in San Fran. She hasn’t been disbarred, but she is out of a job. Still, it seems foolhardy to move across the country for a guy you’ve had only a casual on again/off again thing with (with an emphasis on the “off again” portion). I guess it doesn’t matter — I’d read the next issue even if I knew it wasn’t going to feature Kirsten — but it ties back to the messiness of Foggy’s dangling cancer thread. Romance — like cancer treatments — doesn’t always work out neatly. Maybe she’ll come and maybe she won’t, but it doesn’t affect Matt and Foggy’s need to leave.

I’m not always one to make recommendations — I get that everyone’s tastes are different — but I’m glad I was able to convince you to check this series out, Patrick, and will gladly recommend it to anyone else who will listen. It’s just good comics. I agree that the next volume will absolutely be a great jumping on point, but will add that curious parties wouldn’t be disappointed picking up the trades of this volume, either. I’m thrilled that Waid and Samnee (and colorist Javier Rodriguez, the too-often unsung hero of this series) will be continuing together in the new volume, but I do feel the need to point out one key change in personnel: Senior Editor Stephen Wacker. Wacker has been behind so many of my favorite Marvel titles (and heck, some fantastic DC titles before that), that his name on a title page was enough to get me to buy a book. If nothing else, I’m going to miss him for that, though I’m cautiously optimistic that Ellie Pyle’s name can stand in as my new metric.

Anyway, I loved the heck out of this issue — it’s everything I hoped it would be, and somehow has me even more excited for next month’s Daredevil 1. Anybody want to read a writeup of the infinite comics that come out in the meantime?

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?

16 comments on “Daredevil 36

  1. I’m moderately color insensitve; I don’t particularly remember colors or even notice them. I wear the same color pants and shirt every day to work (black pants, white shirt) because I was weary of being told my shit didn’t match. I just don’t like worrying about them.

    The coloring in this series, and this issue in particular, is spectacular. The colors transcended the art and words through the whole hospital scene. This was an enjoyable series to read and even more enjoyable to look at.

    It’s hard to not be excited about Daredevil in San Francisco.

  2. It’s curious that the two most readable Marvel books (in my opinion) have moved their characters to San Francisco – first Lady Hawkeye, now Daredevil. Sounds like bleak New York was made the home of continuity-heavy, mandatorily tied-in comics, while sunny San Francisco became the home of more per-se readable stuff.

    I have to say I like it.

    • You know, it didn’t even occur to me that moving to San Francisco might curtail the crossovers Daredevil is involved with. That actually bums me out a bit, because I’ve actually really enjoyed the issues where Spider-Man or Giant-Man help out. The west coast is a brave new world for Matt, and I’m excited to see some of that newness, but a part of me will miss those casual crossovers. Maybe Frank will have to follow some criminals north?

      • The crossovers between heroes I like, but there’ll always be some good reason to do it. They’re more special when they’re rare, and anyway my beloved Kate Bishop is just around the corner.

        (To think of it, they had also moved Echo and Moon Knight to California before. An effect of the growing importance of Hollywood for the company?)

        What I think is refreshing is that, with the move, Matt doesn’t need to get involved when nazi robots/alien races/hero feuds/mutant catastrophes show up to disrupt stand-alone storylines.

        • Sure. I guess I never thought of this series as really doing that, anyway — it’s been so street-level. We didn’t get Daredevil issues of Age of Ultron, Infinity, or Inhumanity. This volume has always operated in its own New York, which I’ve always really liked about it.

        • Practically no one got really involved in Age of Ultron, anyway. Not that they knew about it. 🙂

          (The Brazilian edition of Age of Ultron just hit the newsstands today. Not willing to buy it again.)

    • Kate’s in LA, which is pretty different geographically. I get that the both have similar California vibes, but they’re also totally different cities separated by hundreds of miles. I don’t know of any other Marvel SF characters, but a handful are moving to Los Angeles – Punisher is there right now (and it’s hard to say whether he plans on staying or not). I like the idea of spreading the heroes around a little – NYC is great and all, but it’s be nice to get some other cities populated with heroes.

  3. I’ve been reading your write-ups for the past month or so and I’ve gotta say they’re absolutely great. You guys really get down to discussing the issue and not just, “Well, I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it.” The discussions are interesting and thought out. So, thanks for that. Anyway, about Daredevil. It wasn’t lost on me that this series started with a kiss and ended with a kiss. It’s that kind of circular storytelling like Stephen King did with the Dark Tower series that I like. But, it also makes me think about DD’s future. Will we see the same ground being tread except in San Fran? I don’t think so. These guys obviously have great respect for the characters and the story. I feel there’ll be more info on Foggy especially since he no longer has health insurance. So, we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it and sounds like you guys are too.

    • It started with a kiss? How did I forget that? Really?

      MUST
      GO
      REREAD
      ISSUE
      ONE.

      Drat. How did I miss that? I’m even more impressed with this issue now.

    • Hey! Thanks for reading, commenting AND complimenting us!

      I, too, have a lot of faith in Waid and Samnee to keep delivering the goods as this series rolls on to SF. They’ve been at the absolute top of their game here, and I can’t wait to see how a change of location changes the mood of this series.

      Good catch on the circular nature of the kiss (with a dip, no less). That was such a fun moment in the first issue, and it’s exciting to be reminded of it here. What a good issue.

      • Absolutely. You guys are great. I’d love to do a guest review with you guys sometime if the opportunity every arises. Don’t get too many opportunities to do a discussion with like-minded people. Anyway, on to San Fran!

        • Hey, we’d love to have you! Having these kinds of in-depth discussions on comics is exactly why we’re here. I see that you’ve filled out the guest writer form! You should expect to receive an email from Patrick within the next couple of weeks to set something up!

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