Have to love a jump-on issue. An issue where, no matter what’s come before, you can jump onto a series and not be confused. Daredevil #24 is a jump-on issue. Nothing actually happens here, but a lot is explained. Writer Mark Waid promised a lighter Daredevil, one where Matt Murdock wasn’t always facing the harsh end of life’s sword. That lasted about twenty three issues. Now, Matt Murdock and his alter ego Daredevil are facing a downward spiral. Mysterious villains, ruthless attacks, friends in crisis, Daredevil #24 helps get it all straight.
We open with the latest villain. Over these past twenty three issues, Daredevil has faced Klaw, Coyote, The Wilders and other baddies looking to do him in. His most recent battle, with Coyote, proved there was someone pulling these strings. In issue #24 we meet this villain, sort of. All we see are his/her eyes peering through what looks like a giant metallic martini shaker. Who this villain is and what the preoccupation with Daredevil is about remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Foggy Nelson is battling cancer. The outlook is grim and Matt Murdock is powerless to stop it. Making matters worse, Murdock’s budding relationship with assistant D.A. Kirsten McDuffie is essentially over now that she knows he’s Daredevil. To end things off, an ex-con, once used as a guinea pig to try and build a new Daredevil, confronts Murdock, telling him he can lead Daredevil to those behind the attacks. While this has not been a great time for the Man Without Fear, it is a good time to strap in and join the Daredevil show.
Waid has lost some of the fire from the first twelve issues. It was nice to have Daredevil involved in adventures without so much weight behind them. Now we’re back with Murdock and Daredevil being whipped by their own lives. The overall story arc is interesting, as is the martini mixer villain. It would have been nice to allow that conflict to develop before bringing in Murdock’s failed romance or his best friend’s cancer. Now, Daredevil seems a bit cluttered, like the only direction the series can fall on is to have Murdock’s life suck.
Keeping things on a lighter note is artist Chris Samnee. His work is less about innovation than it is emotion. The pencils are a throwback to the Silver Age. The bolder lines and thicker inks are now to the sixties and seventies style, as is the straight comic book style of the faces. Nobody here looks like a cartoon, but there is a certain aesthetic ideal that belongs only in comic books. Samnee doesn’t allow for much in the way of exciting panel placement. Boxes stacked on boxes is what we get physically, but within those boxes Samnee does a great job of communicating the emotions of the players involved.
Javier Rodriguez colors alongside Samnee’s style. He doesn’t over saturate anything, he rarely steps out a few basic color choices. Skin tones are mostly the same, Daredevil’s saturated red against the shadows, brown hair, muted colors for clothing, it’s all within a limited palette. Rodriguez makes it all work. His particular style of color blends easily with Samnee’s art style and together it works to keep a lighter touch on a heavier story line.
Daredevil #24 levels the playing field for new readers, but with so much going on, let’s hope the Man Without Fear doesn’t collapse under his own weight.
(3.5 Story, 4 Art)