Running with the Devil: Daredevil #17 (Review)
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
This is a story that has been anticipated for quite some time. Matt Murdock outed himself as Daredevil some number of years ago (three to be exact). Since then, Marvel has spitted lots and lots of events. About 13. And in and over that time, Marvel has had lots of opportunities to overwrite this particular continuity nit. A temptation too strong to endure, Marvel finally did it. Somewhere on the exit side of Secret Wars / Battleworld, I think? I lose track with these things. At any rate, since Charles Soule took the reigns on this series, the exact "how" of Murdock regaining the covert veil of his secret identity, how he put that particular djinn back in the box, has been a mystery. It looks like now, finally, Marvel and Soule are going to pull the curtain back on this one.
Daredevil #17 opens much as probably 50% of all Daredevil comics open, with Matt confessing to a priest (seriously, Murdock, get over it). Matt does the basics; tells the priest that he's Daredevil, that everyone used to know it, and then everyone didn't. A confession. A story. And away we go.
As always, Soule weaves a poignant and intricate tale, evoking waves of emotion and allowing for reflection on the character that is Matt Murdock. My only takeaway from this issue is that not a lot happens, but that's less of a nit with a Soule comic because I could read his monologues and dialogues forever. I really like the portrayal of Matt's San Francisco love interest, Kirsten McDuffie. She is written as sharp, witty, but more than anything, she is unflinching in the face of danger. In the presence of all the crazy that comes with dating a publicly known super-hero. I also love the deconstruction of Murdock; that despite everything that he has accomplished as a hero, what he really loves is practicing law. It is a similar ennui that many of us face. How regardless of how high we climb, we can become listless and dissatisfied if we lose the opportunity to do the things that we first loved.
Garney and Milla turn in a pretty spectacular bit of craft on art. And I have to give the heavier weight of the props to Milla (since colorists tend to not get as many accolades as the penciler). As with any Daredevil comic, there's a ton of panels that happen in the dark, and Milla's colors sing, especially when he uses the splashes of red on Matt's glasses and other background elements in the scene. There are a lot of panels in this issue that I could call out, but the one that I really love is a scene with Matt and Daimon Hellstrom in a bar. Not only just because it is these two characters in a bar, but because it is largely black with bright oranges from Milla on Hellstrom's hair and pentagram. Just wonderful.
The combination of story and art really nail this issue in every way that I normally look for. There is even a neat reveal at the end, one that should be particularly popular while we are still in the afterglow of the Jessica Jones series on NetFlix. As a matter of course, I rarely score these bridge or transition issues in the strata I reserve for the elites, but still, this is a perfect jumping on point for anyone who has not been on Daredevil but has been looking for a window to get in. With the reveal, this arc has the potential for all kinds of craziness, as well as some pretty horrific action along the way. This might be one of the best story / art combinations going on in comics today. I'd recommend giving it a try.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10.0
With one of the best creative teams going today, Daredevil #17 starts to pull back the curtain on how Matt Murdock did the voodoo that he did do to get back his secret identity. With a great story that allows us to peer inside and see just how Matt was impacted when he went public, this is an insightful tale further breaking down the man that is Daredevil. While not a lot happens in this issue, it is masterfully written by Soule and unfolded on a page by Garney and Milla. Wonderful stuff and a great appetizer to warm us up for the unraveling of a mystery starring one of Marvel's best loved heroes. If you were looking for a place to jump on, here it is.