Daredevil #16: Foggy Nelson Breakdown

Matt Murdock survives a horrifying sensory-deprivation ordeal only to return to a life in shambles.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Daredevil #16

The last couple of issues of Mark Waid's Daredevil have been pretty intense stuff – kidnapped by Latverian scientists and completely deprived of the senses he depends on, Matt Murdock was locked inside his own mind. Now, with Daredevil #16, Hank Pym is locked in there with him.

Iron Man managed to pluck DD out of danger last time out, and we open with a weird mind-meld of Murdock's narration with Pym's memories of his past with Janet Van Dyne. Turns out that Murdock is out cold, and Pym has micro-sized himself and he's being guided through Matt's brain by Dr. Strange, trying to zap away all of Doom's nanobots that have cut him off from his senses. However, one of Pym's bug-communicating antennae is broken, and it's causing a funky sort of mind-meld where they each get way too deep into the other's thoughts. This is also happening because Matt's irradiated brain is working overtime trying to compensate for the nanobug-blockages and reach out beyond them.

It's a pretty cool parallel, comparing two guys who don't really seem to have that much in common, but having their life experiences overlap with each other. Matt lamenting the loss of Karen Page and visualizing Jan, Hank losing his weapon in the darkness of the mind and being able to channel the Daredevil sonar in order to recover. It's neat, it's interesting and it's always fun when shrinky guys have to fight things inside their friends' bodies. The only little glitch is that artist Chris Samnee uses the Giant-Man outfit rather than the Ant-Man helmet (and the script was obviously written with 'helmet' in mind). Not a big deal, really, as it's a purely cosmetic thing, but Pym nerds will notice.

The swerve comes at the end, when Matt returns from nine days of abduction to find that his best friend and partner, Foggy Nelson, has kicked him out of their firm and is absolutely furious with him. Why? Because after 16 issues of swearing he's putting the crazy, depressive misery of the last few years of his life behind him by choosing to adopt a more "Happy Matt" outlook, Nelson believes it's all a crock and Matt's mental state is in desperate need of real psychiatric help.

Why? Because when you find that your law partner has his father's skull in a drawer full of grave dirt, you realize whatever line there is has finally been crossed.

Much has been made of Waid's lightening up of Daredevil after the years of needing a stiff drink to cope with reading each miserably dark issue, but DD #16 shows he's not afraid of those depths, either. Samnee and Javier Rodriguez continues the generally brighter look to the series, with clean lines and crisp coloring even when dealing with pitch blackness. They just continue to craft involving stories in this book, and it's well worth all the Eisners it won.

Consider our hopes high for Waid's Indestructible Hulk.

8.5