Over the last few years Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have teamed up do deliver one of Marvel’s best modern runs with their work on Daredevil. Now after several years Waid and Samnee’s run has come to an end. And there is no end for Marvel’s Man Without Fear without having some sort of involvement from the Kingpin. Waid and Samnee have set things up for Kingpin to deliver yet another dark chapter in Matt Murdock’s life. Will Kingpin succeed in destroying Matt Murdock’s life? Let’s find out with Daredevil #18.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Matt Murdock stands in the shadows outside the room Kristen McDuffie, Foggy Nelson and Julia Carpenter are being held captive by Kingpin. After mentally preparing himself, Matt enters the room dressed as Ikari. As Ikari, Matt shows Kingpin Daredevil’s torn mask.
Elsewhere Jubula is trying to set The Owl free as Shroud watches. While Kingpin and Matt’s friends take in the fact that Daredevil is dead Jubula tells The Owl that they can help him take revenge for what Kingin’s done to him.
Kingpin asks “Ikari” to deliver Daredevil’s body the way he requested. “Ikari” agrees and talks about how Daredevil begged to save his friends. “Ikari” goes over to Foggy and calls him “Matt’s seeing-eye monkey.” Foggy suddenly attacks one of Kingpin’s guard, figuring out that Matt is Ikari.
Matt takes out the rest of Kingpin’s guards before fighting his archnemesis. Kingpin quickly pins Matt down with one hand and punches him in the face until Ikari’s mask breaks. Matt is able to stop Kingpin’s attack with by stabbing him in the foot.
Matt gets back on his feet and takes Ikari’s costume to reveal that he is wearing his Daredevil costume underneath it. Matt and Kingpin continue their fight with Matt using his superior agility to counter Kingpin’s attack. Matt is able to grab Kingpin in a headlock and punches Kingpin until his face is a bloody mess.
As the fight goes on The Owl is able to broadcast all of Kingpin’s information the entire Bay Area. This causes the FBI to attack Kingpin’s tower in order to arrest him. The FBI throw gas grenades into the room Kingpin and the others are in.
In all of the confusion Matt is able to set his friends free from their collars. Kingpin tries to make an escape but is stopped by Matt, who knocks Kingpin to the ground. As Matt and his friends make their escape Kingpin tells Matt he should’ve signed the papers.
Sometime later Daredevil and Julia arrive at the place The Owl was only to find that The Owl and Jubula have disappeared. Daredevil knows that while Kingpin has been taken care off he will have to deal with The Owl eventually.
The Shroud steps out of the shadows. Julia goes up to her Shroud and gives him a kiss. Shroud suddenly loses conscious thanks to Julia coating her lips with a tranquilizer to knock him out.
Over the next couple days the Bay Area recovers from all the chaos. While the mayor is able to rescind the arrest warrant out on Matt she is unable to help his credibility as a lawyer. With his credibility gone Matt and Kristen are forced to close up shop.
Matt, Kristen and Foggy hold a small celebration with some pizza and wine after all they’ve been through. Not long after, a sea of reporters, including Kristen’s dad, gathers outside Matt’s place. Kristen tells Matt to put on the charm so they can move on with their lives.
Kristen and Foggy go outside and meet Kristen’s dad. The two notice that Matt didn’t step out with them.
Kristen and Foggy go back inside and wonder what happen. Matt says he can’t just go out there and reveal to all the reporters his secrets just so books aren’t published on him. He says that would take away from everything he has built to help shield everyone.
Foggy lawyers up and tells Matt that all his secrets weren’t kept because Matt was shielding everyone else but because Matt was protecting himself. Foggy goes on to say that even with Matt’s secret revealed he will still have Kristen and Foggy by his side the entire way. Foggy and Matt hug. The three then go outside to face all the reporters.
Later that night Matt puts on his Daredevil costume and begins his night of patrol. End of issue.
The Good: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee end their run the way they began with an issue that is unlike anything their predecessors have done. While Daredevil #18 shares many elements other creative teams have done, namely the use of Kingpin, the story had a completely different feeling. Even as Matt and his friends felt impending doom things didn’t feel entirely grim.
That sense of darkness has been big difference between what Waid and Samnee have done compared to their predecessors. There was never point in the story that felt like everything happened so that Matt couldn’t get out of his situation. Waid gives proper care during the course of the issue to show us how Matt does indeed have a plan out of everything. Whether that plan ended up working was questionable but just adds to the fun of the story.
At the same time the constant questions of how Matt will defeat Kingpin permeated the entire issue. This is where Waid is able to use our preconceived perception of Daredevil stories against us. Because as long time Daredevil fans know, no creative team run has ended without some major death. And up to this point we haven’t really had that during the course of Waid’s run. So because of that there was a constant sense up until the final page of this issue that someone was going to die.
That type of tension helped to elevate Matt’s predicament as he tried to delay Kingpin long enough to have Shroud and Jubula accomplish what they had to do. This further fueld the doubt Matt was going through his mind as he was doing his best to sound like Ikari. The dichotomy between Matt’s thinking process and what he was saying out loud as Ikari made you watch every little thing he said to see he slipped up.
Kingpin calling Matt’s “Ikari” out by giving him the details of Matt’s “death” was excellent. It was a great way to add further emotion to Kristen, Foggy and Julie’s predicament as Matt went into detail about his supposed death. All the details were dropped was a great way to have Matt drop a hint to Foggy without Kingpin noticing. In this way, Waid was able to show us how deep Matt and Foggy’s friendship goes as Matt had full trust in his best friend to recognize a trigger phrase.
This helped set-up the ideal situation for the final Daredevil vs Kingpin fight. Once again, the fight was properly brutal with Kingpin using his strength to overpower Daredevil early on. Watching Kingpin continuously punch Daredevil in the face until the Ikari mask broke was a great visual to show Kingpin’s rage over being duped. This against the wall situation helped to emphasize Daredevil’s fighting style being based on a combination of agility and ingenuity with how he was able to turn things around.
The end of this fight was also well executed as Waid was able to put Daredevil over on Kingpin. This rare win stood out even more thanks to the fact that we didn’t see the typical major death in Daredevil’s supporting cast. The lack of major death made this a much more decisive win as Daredevil was able to win with his plan actually working.
At the same time, I liked how Daredevil knew that for his plan to take down Kingpin to succeed he had to set-up another future threat to his life. It’s only appropriate for the future threat to be The Owl as he is the other villain most connected with Daredevil. And the way Waid executed setting The Owl up in the future leaves plenty of things open for the new creative team to create their own story.
The ending with Matt getting cold feet over facing the media was a great way to cap off Waid’s run by once again emphasizing Matt’s two most important relationships. Foggy’s closing argument was a nice social commentary on how hard it is for superheroes to continue to have a secret identity. The way he argued his case for Matt to let his shield down was also done in a way that showed great care for each other.
As always, Chris Samnee’s artwork is spectacular. Samnee is able to add further levels to the tension that Waid created during the Daredevil/Kingpin confrontation. Little things like Kristen, Foggy and Julie’s facial reactions to Matt detailing his own “death” really helped to show how desperate things were getting. I also loved how he choreographed the action sequences. Everything from how brutal Daredevil and Kingpin’s fight was to the chaos created when the FBI got involved was visually intense. And through all the intensity in the artwork Samnee was still able to maintain his brighter, more adventure like artwork throughout all the events.
The Bad: The one thing that I did not like about this issue was Shroud’s side story. Shroud has been a character that for all Waid has done with I have not connected with. Even with the characters connection to Julie Carpenter felt weak since there wasn’t much depth given to buy into that relationship. This lack of depth hurt the impact of Julie’s decision to help in getting Shroud arrested.
Overall: Daredevil #18 capped off Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run on this franchise in excellent fashion. Just like their entire run, Waid and Samnee went for a different type of Daredevil ending, one in which saw the character finally get a “happily ever after.” The entire set-up leading into this finally made Daredevil finally coming out on top even more rewarding as a fan of the character and this run. While I can’t immediately say where Waid and Samnee’s run ranks amongst all the Daredevil creative team runs it was excellently executed and something all fans of the Man Without Fear should put on their reading queues.