The interest level around Daredevil has continued to only get higher and higher with each passing issue. Chip Zdarsky has taken everything that past creative teams have done on Daredevil and taken all that to its next phase. During the course of that Zdarsky has developed several storylines around Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk, Elektra Natchios and newcomer Detective Cole North. Each character along with other side supporting cast members have created a new level of intrigue around what is going on with the crime world located in Hell’s Kitchen. Now what will happen next to everyone involved in current events of Hell’s Kitchen? Let’s find out with Daredevil #16.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Fornes
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Foggy Nelson’s office Foggy advises Joe Cararro to leverage the unnecessary search plus the fight that happened while he was incarcerated to avoid jail time. Foggy then asks Joe if he knows Daredevil’s identity. Joe only confirms that Daredevil killed his brother.
Over in a hotel room Daredevil makes Elektra some coffee after spending the night together. Elektra wonders if their history together is just her with a fighter in a perpetual mask. (Elektra and everyone in the world forgot Matt Murdock is Daredevil due to the Purple Children’s actions in Daredevil Vol. 5 #20) Elektra asks Daredevil what he is hiding. Daredevil stays secretive about his identity.
Instead Daredevil asks Elektra how she is doing as being able to book the hotel they are in means she has money. Elektra says she doesn’t have enough and that her network is giving her news about the Stromwyn Siblings. Elektra tells Daredevil that the Stromwyn’s did something to a common “friend” of theirs.
At a hospital Daredevil meets a heavily injured Wilson Fisk. Daredevil asks Fisk if the Stromwyn’s put him in the condition he is in now. Rather than answer Fisk cannot believe Daredevil is back but is happy that he is. Daredevil asks Fisk if he knows about how much in control of what is going on in Hell’s Kitchen the Stromwyn’s are. Fisk can’t help but laugh over the realization that Daredevil’s obsession over Hell’s Kitchen is going to kill him.
Somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen Izzy Libris spots Hammerhead inside a destroyed restaurant. She has her driver stop. Izzy then confronts Hammerhead over what he is doing in her territory. Hammerhead says he got a lead that The Owl’s men were around but it turns out the tip was wrong.
Izzy tries to slap Hammerhead but was stopped. Izzy reprimands Hammerhead over how her family does not assault people in public. Hammerhead says they made a deal and that he is in charge of how they will take The Owl down, which means Hell’s Kitchen is his until the deal is over.
Elsewhere, Daredevil thinks about what Fisk said about Hell’s Kitchen killing him. Daredevil does not deny this as what is happening in Hell’s Kitchen is breaking his heart because of how overwhelming all the problems in his neighborhood are.
Elektra appears and asks Daredevil if he is ready. Daredevil says he is and backs up the report that Fisk was attacked by the Stromwyns. Elektra asks Daredevil what he wants to do about it and what is he ready for. Matt admits that Daredevil is a symbol that has become tainted and that now he will act as himself to use the powers and abilities God gave him to help his neighborhood. Elektra pulls out a flash drive and says he has what he may need.
Over at the Hell’s Kitchen NYPD precinct Detective Cole surprises his co-workers that he has returned. Detective North takes everything off his investigation board off and asks if the captain is in her office. One of the other detectives confirms she is
Detective North marches into Captain Cervantes office and immediately says that the “masked man” was not responsible for the shootout in the precinct. He says it was bad cops coming after him. Detective North says he knows Captain Cervantes hands are tied by various political things but he knows she is a good cop. He offers a clean slate for both of them so that they can do their real jobs as cops.
Captain Cervantes is speechless. Seeing this Detective North says he is off the Spider-Man and other “super hero” cases because now he is giving himself the assignment of targeting The Owl. Detective North says that Captain Cervantes can fire him but he knows she won’t because he knows that she understands he is right. He then leaves the office with the final statement that once The Owl case is done he is transferring to Internal Affairs.
Later that night, Daredevil and Elektra are at Sectotec. Daredevil uses his senses to find the best way to infiltrate the building. As they sneak into the building Elektra reveals that the Stromwyn’s employ very skilled guards who were trained in the art of ninjutsu who go by the name “The Drifting.” Daredevil wonders what else Elektra is keeping from him. Elektra says that its the fact that Daredevil is the only man alive who can complete this job with her.
Eventually they make it into the buildings server room. Daredevil tells Elektra to find the terminal she needs and then continuously hide from the camera’s detection.
As Elektra gets to the terminal she needs Daredevil detects the Stromwyn’s guards quietly entering the server room.
With Elektra busy extracting what she needs from the terminal Daredevil fights all of the Stromwyn guards alone. Once Elektra is done she is surprised to find that Daredevil defeated all of The Drifting guards.
The next day Quinn Stromwyn is told about the break-in at Sectotec servers. Seeing the records from the break-in Quinn reveals he already knows that the people responsible stole three billion dollars from his family’s funds and distributed it to various charities. Quinn goes on to say that he and his sister will not try to get the money back since it would look bad that they took the funds from charities. Instead what Quinn is more interested in is who were the people that broke into Sectotec.
At Elektra’s hotel, Elektra asks Daredevil how he is feeling. Daredevil says he feels calm and asks the same question to Elektra. Elektra says she feels like herself.
Daredevil then asks Elektra why she would help him with his Robin Hood act. Elektra says that he’s grown on her and that she felt she needed to help nurse him back to health like a broken puppy.
Daredevil then reminds Elektra that he can tell when people are lying because their heartbeats speeds up. He goes on to say it is different for Elektra because with her training her heartbeat naturally slows down so he knows she is lying to him.
He then asks how much money she took for herself. Elektra reveals it was a billion dollars that she took as finders fees. This pisses Daredevil. Elektra says she the money will kickstart something big and wonderful she is starting. Not wanting to hear it Daredevil storms out of the hotel room.
Left alone Elektra leans against the bathroom sink and says out loud that she will have a lot to talk with Daredevil about later. It is then shown that Elektra has “Matthew” written on the bathroom window. End of issue.
The Good: When it comes to Chip Zdarksy’s run on Daredevil so far the best way to summarize it with one word it is: methodical. Every issue serves a bigger purpose to shape future stories that will each be big events when they get to their respective endgames. Whether those stories tie into each other or not, every story in Daredevil has a big event-level sense of importance for the world Zdarsky is crafting. And that is exactly what Daredevil #16 comes across as with everything that happens in every panel serves a greater purpose in the grand scheme of things.
Through the course of Daredevil #16 everything that happens is going on at their own pace. We never spend too much time on one scene. Even with scenes taking anywhere from one to four pages they move in a way that you feel as though much more time is being spent. But as time slows down for those it never comes across as though the issue is dragging its feet to the end. Every scene moves with a purpose that builds tension for whatever will come next. Whether that next thing happens in Daredevil #16 or happens later down the line.
Keeping things moving in this way allowed their to be greater investment in what each character decides to do. A great example of that is towards the end of the issue with Quinn Stromwyn. He only appears in one page but that is all that is needed to invest in what the Stromwyn Family will do next. It is clear Quinn and his sister have greater plans that losing billions is just an annoyance rather than something to freak out about. Also, in not having Quinn lose his temper Zdarsky is able to create an aura of danger with whatever the Stromwyn’s do next.
Part of that sense of danger around the Stromwyn Family is the state we see Wilson Fisk in during the hospital scene. There was clearly something that broke inside Fisk after being thrown out a building in the violent way he was. Zdarsky does a good job keeping us in the dark if what broke inside Fisk is a good or bad thing for the character.
Adding to what Fisk will do next is how we see the hints of his old Kingpin persona come out when he is mocking Daredevil. Even with how injured he is Fisk understands Daredevil better than anyone. He knows just by looking at the way Daredevil is standing that he is not the same as he was. Calling him out on having such a small concern of Hell’s Kitchen when what is affecting Daredevil’s neighborhood is greater than that.
Which all goes back to the inner conflict that Matt Murdock is going through. Even though he is now back in a condition where he can be Daredevil again Matt still is not sure what he should be doing. He is just following what is in front of him, as he does with following Elektra on her mission in Daredevil #16.
To Zdarsky’s credit he uses this state of unknown for Matt to examine the Catholic part of the character. Matt constantly going back to his religious teachings and God for guidance. Emphasizing how Matt feels like he must use the powers that he believes were given to him by a higher power shows how his actions as Daredevil have been guided by his faith. It is a core part of Matt’s character that is made greater with how his sensory powers give him greater connection to the pain of others. Hearing all that pain makes the guilt Matt feels in not being able to do enough even greater.
Which adds a greater layer to how Matt has fallen back into his relationship with Elektra that can be toxic at times. That toxicity lies in the fact that a major part of Matt and Elektra’s connection is based on the rush of being in action together. We saw that with how Matt and Elektra were overcome with adrenaline from evading the cops that they started having sex in the middle of the woods. The attraction between them continuing to pop up when they are in the middle of some big fight shows that it is a big part of what keeps their relationship going.
While that attraction is visible we see how quickly things can fall apart once things slow down for Matt and Elektra. Especially with the current status quo of everyone forgetting Matt Murdock is Daredevil the tension of the secrets both keep from each is apparent. It speaks to the other key part of their relationship being that Matt and Elektra wish to be completely open with each other but can’t help but keep secrets from each other.
There is no reason for Matt to keep his identity of being Daredevil a secret from Elektra. The same goes for Elektra when it comes to keeping Matt in the dark about why she needed a billion dollars to build something. Zdarsky uses all this secret keeping to perfection as it shows us where both characters are at the moment. It also builds another storyline that you get instantly invested in as we don’t know what Elektra’s plans are.
Building off Matt’s secret identity being a big deal, keeping Joe Cararro around is strengthening this part of the series. Through the short one page scene with Foggy to get legal help Zdarsky creates greater interest in what Joe will do. The character is such an enigma in terms of how he will be used moving forward. That sense of unknown around Joe’s character gives Zdarsky the opportunity to use him in any other character arc in this series. The potential makes Joe one of the most intriguing characters in this series.
Detective Cole North’s character arc also continues to draw a lot of interest. With Daredevil #16 Zdarsky finally gives us a payoff to the interactions Detective North has had with Spider-Man and Daredevil recently. Him making it clear to his captain that he is switching from the super hero cases to focusing on taking down the Owl was a rewarding moment for the character. This is exactly what you want to see Detective North do as he finally takes control of his destiny.
With Detective North making this decision to go after the Owl and then switching to Internal Affairs after the case is done it’ll be interesting to see to see how the rest of the precinct responds. Captain Cervantes is the biggest question mark as her silence when Detective North was making things clear spoke to how she is now questioning the position she should take in the grand scheme of things. It won’t be surprising if we see Captain Cervantes take a more prominent role in this series. What role that will be is anyone’s guess.
The same goes for the role that Hammerhead and the Libris Family will play in everything that is going on in Hell’s Kitchen and New York City overall. Both Hammerhead and the Libris Family come across as wild cards in the story that Zdarsky is developing. While Zdarsky draws close connections to The Owl and his attempt to become the new Kingpin of Crime they also have ties to Daredevil, Fisk and the Stromwyn’s. They may end up being the key to driving everything together as there will be a point where storylines start crossing over with each other.
Jorge Fornes absolutely knocks it out of the park with his artwork throughout Daredevil #16. Fornes is at home with Daredevil as he brings to life how every story is grounded in the characters who are fighting over control of Hell’s Kitchen and the grander New York City. Fornes captures how intimate things are as Zdarsky pairs characters up together. Whether it’s Daredevil and Elektra or Detective North and Captain Cervantes, there is an intense aura around every scene that Fornes brings to life.
Fornes also shows a great handle of action sequences as Daredevil’s showdown with The Drifting showed. In the short time they were introduced Fornes was able to get over how skilled The Drifting squad was to prove what Elektra was saying was true. At the same time it gave Fornes and Zdarsky the chance to show how far Daredevil has come in returning to his previous fighting form.
Credit also needs to go to Nolan Woodard, who does a wonderful job coloring Fornes artwork. The color palette that Woodard employs adds to the tension of every scene. In turn it helps you get more invested in what is going on in every panel Fornes draws as the coloring matches the tone of the story is looking to achieve.
The Bad: Nothing
Overall: From the moment Daredevil #16 begins Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Fornes and Nolan Woodard draw you into the story and don’t release their hold until the very last panel. Every character that appears on a panel is character you are invested in. Whether its major characters like Daredevil, Elektra and Wilson Fisk or new characters such as Detective Cole North and Joe Cararro, there is a reason to be invested every word and decision they make. It’s all just further proof that Daredevil is one of the best comic books on the market today.
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