At first glance of Daredevil #18, it looks as though Waid has allowed Foggy Nelson to go from zero to a hundred in the course of a few hours. I’m not saying that the plot arc of Nelson getting fed up with Murdock’s daily heartache and superhero insanity doesn’t have merit but, in the words of Dennis Hopper in True Romance, “Slow it down, man."
At least, that’s what I thought until the end of the issue.
We open our story on Foggy, who has already scratched Murdock’s name off of the door, leaving for the day. Cue a young man who begs to talk to Matt Murdock about his sister. Turns out Murdock has a knack for teaching people how to represent themselves in court. When asked where Murdock is, Foggy replies with the line “If you are about to inquire about Mr. Murdock’s whereabouts, trust me, you would need an electron microscope to measure my interest.” Really, a professional lawyer would be so irate with his best friend he’d use that line to a prospective client?
The young man convinces Foggy to hear him out. His sister, Adele Santiago, has been indicted for the murder of Victor Hierra, the man and criminal to whom she provided professional nursing service. Turns out Santiago and Hierra were locked in a panic room together. Suddenly, the old man is dead, drained of every ounce of blood in his body, but no scars or mess on the floor.
Now, Santiago is not only facing murder but also the retaliation of Hierra’s goons. Having been around Murdock so long, Foggy has learned how to tell when somebody’s lying. Knowing the brother is telling the truth, he takes the case for free, but only after another series of jabs at Murdock, which seem out of place. Meanwhile, Murdock himself has come home to find his wife, Milla, in his bed, acting like nothing ever happened. Back when Ed Brubaker was writing Daredevil, he had Mrs. Murdock driven insane by Daredevil’s enemies. She’s supposed to be in an institution, but now she’s home and acting like the dutiful housewife.
Murdock calls Foggy, who throws a few more insults at his old partner, and asks him to go to the institution and find out why his wife was released. Foggy agrees only if Murdock as Daredevil will investigate the Hierra family. During his investigation, Daredevil sees the new head of the Hierra crime ring fall down an elevator shaft. When he leaps to save him it turns out the elevator was there and has been the whole time. The odd disappearance of Daredevil’s target is not nearly as bizarre as Foggy’s call informing Daredevil that his wife is still locked up in the sanitarium and never left.
These little bits got me to thinking. What if this is all happening in Daredevil’s mind? What if he’s still strapped to a table in Latveria, or trapped by Mole Man, and whatever they’ve given him has Daredevil tripping this whole thing in his brain? It would explain the sudden viciousness of Foggy and the return of the wife, even the criminal who might have died by Daredevil’s hand. These are all fears of Matt Murdock brought to life. It’s a stretch but, years ago, they did the same kind of thing with Bruce Banner when he had Lou Gehrig’s disease. If that’s not what’s going on, then Waid is way over doing Foggy’s sudden anger, which would be beneath a man of his talent.
The art from Chris Samnee is solid as ever. I love how he puts a modern spin on the Silver Age style of art. He maintains the heavy inks of the era but his strokes are thinner, the detail work a little more refined. Samnee never allows his panels to become too complex, even his characters are made up of only what they need to define them. The broad art gives characters weight and draws the focus to who is in the foreground of the panel rather than the entire panel. It’s a strong story telling device. I hope Waid pulls a cool trick out of his hat to explain the sudden dip in writing. I have faith.
(3 Story, 5 Art)