With each issue of Daredevil that passes by in Chip Zdarsky’s run the intensity has increased. The growing intensity is now about to blow up as Crossbones, Bullseye, Rhino, Stilt-Man, and Bullet arrive to create a warzone scenario in Hell’s Kitchen. Given all the heavy tension between all the gangs trying to make their claim for Hell’s Kitchen and New York City as a whole this is sure to further that story. The question is with this about to go down how will Matt Murdock and Mayor Wilson Fisk respond? These two have been embroiled in what is going in Hell’s Kitchen in their own way. Now let’s find out how everyone responds to what is about to go down with Daredevil #19.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Mattia Iacono
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As people are going about their normal day on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen a sudden explosion sends everyone running.
Crossbones, Bullseye, Rhino, Stilt-Man, and Bullet start wrecking the streets and firing shots at everyone in the area.
Outside Hell’s Kitchen Detective Nolan North is trying to get him and Matt Murdock (who is still wearing his black mask while being a nameless hero) access inside Hell’s Kitchen, since the area has been closed off to regular traffic. Detective North suddenly gets a call from his partner who informs him of the chaos going on in Hell’s Kitchen. Hearing this Detective North drives through the barricade and into Hell’s Kitchen.
Inside an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen Hector (the Daredevil impersonator) tells his dad not to worry about the noise outside as it is just “construction. After saying this Hector goes to get his Daredevil costume out of hiding.
On the streets civilians are doing what they can to help each other find cover from all the gunfire and explosions. Bullseye spots a guy helping a woman and her child find cover inside a convenience store. Bullseye fires a shot at an angle where the bullet ricochet off the wall and through the guy’s head.
Bullet reminds Bullseye they were hired to keep the casualties to a minimum. Bullseye says he made sure to only kill the guy and keep the woman and her child from getting dirty.
Suddenly Hector, in his Daredevil costume, tackles Bullseye. Bullseye’s eyes light up when he sees someone dressed up as Daredevil, telling Hector he can’t wait to kill him.
In a locked clock store a woman named Janet grabs a Daredevil mask and tells the guy named Marcus, who was trying to barricade the door closed, that doors are meant to open out not in.
Elsewhere as Detective North drives closer to the epicenter of where things are going down. Matt suddenly detects something and tells Detective North to turn immediately. The warning comes too late as Detective North crashes the car into one of Stilt-Man’s stilts.
In another part of Hell’s Kitchen Crossbones, Rhino and Bullet face off against some cops. Crossbones fires an explosive shot that sends all the cops flying.
At the same time Bullseye is completely dominating Hector. Bullseye finishes things by stabbing Hector in the gut.
Bullet comes by to tell Bullseye they have company. Bullseye turns around and see Janet, along with several others, wearing a Daredevil mask leading the community in standing up against the villains.
On a rooftop The Owl and his crew watch as Hell’s Kitchen is in utter chaos. The Owl’s men ask why he is letting this happen. The Owl reveals that he is planning on driving Izzy Libris and other mafia family’s business towards them by destroying Hell’s Kitchen.
In an alley Detective North comes to and finds Matt on the ground after the accident. Detective North hears something going on nearby.
It is shown the noise is coming from the citizens fighting Crossbones and the other villains. Detective North joins in and starts fighting Bullet.
At a nearby Catholic Church the priest and nun, named Sister Elizabeth, rush to get civilians not fighting inside the church. Rhino sees this and warns the people in the church they have ten minutes to clear out.
In another part of New York City Mayor Wilson Fisk sees all the fire and explosions coming from Hell’s Kitchen. Wesley Welch tells Mayor Fisk that no emergency services are being sent to Hell’s Kitchen and the Strowwyns have been able to suppress all word of what is going on getting to news outlets or on social media.
Back in Hell’s Kitchen, Matt finally recovers enough to find Hector. Matt senses all the people trying to fight back and help. As he coughs up blood Hector tells Matt he tried. Matt takes off his black mask and cries as he thinks of how everyone has shown him that Daredevil is a symbol that others should not carry because the responsibility is his.
Back inside the church the priest wonders what they should do. Sister Elizabeth starts to act weird as she mentions remembering how “he” put her there because it would be best for her. Sister Elizabeth takes off her nun cap to reveal she is actually Typhoid Mary.
Back on the streets Bullseye continues to enjoy taking out everyone wearing Daredevil masks. He finds another one and throws a knife at them. This Daredevil turns out to be Matt, who catches the knife and says “Not fake, Lester….Just Daredevil.” End of issue.
The Good: Through all of the chaos in Daredevil #19 we see how everything we have been reading up to this point is starting to pay off. Every major character Chip Zdarsky has used up to this point is given something to do. Those things each character does speaks to where they are at this point in the story. It also gives hints at the direction for Zdarsky’s run as bigger things are at play right now.
From the moment the first explosion is heard Zdarsky creates a feeling that there is a literal war for the heart and soul of Hell’s Kitchen going on. Focusing on the civilians that live in Hell’s Kitchen made this warzone-like chaos Crossbones and other villains created feel more real. This gave more of an emotional investment in what was going on because it wasn’t just another simple superhero vs supervillain fight happening in the city. This was a situation where people having a normal day are thrown into a situation where their lives are thrown into chaos.
Focusing on normal people at the beginning made the second half of Daredevil #19 have greater meaning. Hector returning to being the imposter Daredevil is an example of that. Up to this point Hector’s story was solid but was getting lost in the shuffle of all the other plotlines Zdarsky was developing. That changed with Daredevil #19 as Hell’s Kitchen was in desperate need of someone stepping up to save the day. Hector being the one to step up showed that he has a heroic heart even if his skill level isn’t there to actually take over as Daredevil.
Adding in the short scene of Hector telling his dad that the noise outside was just construction was a great touch. This short scene reminded the reader why Hector became the imposter Daredevil in the first place. It also provided an emotional investment to the character that is felt when Bullseye stabs him and starts coughing up blood while in Matt’s arms.
Hector’s arc paying off speaks to how well Zdarsky wrote all the villains in Daredevil #19. The most impressive part of Zdarsky’s writing for the villains is the fact he never lost a sense of their individual voices. Crossbones acting as the leader of this made sense as he would best understand what they were hired to do. Meanwhile Zdarsky shows how Stilt-Man, being a low-tier villain, sees this job they were hired to do as an opportunity to increase his name value. Both these villains were used just enough to get their villainous actions across while leaving the others to have a bigger spotlight.
Speaking of spotlight, Bullseye and Bullet were definitely the villains who stole the show on this end of things. Zdarsky did a great job playing these characters off each other. Bullet being the one to point out that they were hired to make sure there weren’t many casualties while causing their own brand of chaos. He was the straight man to the killer attitude of Bullseye. It enhanced how absolutely evil Bullseye is as he did not hesitate when he made his own reason for killing the guy who was helping a mother and child get to safety.
Zdarsky also did a great job adding to how things escalated even more when people decided to step up to defend Hell’s Kitchen. Specifically using people wearing Daredevil masks as leading the charge made this be a much more impactful resistance. It emphasized how Daredevil has become a symbol of hope in the community. Having that be a symbol shows the important positive impact Matt has had as Daredevil to the community he grew up in.
That symbol acting as a trigger for Bullseye to be even more forceful in his actions was a great reminder of their rivalry. You could see the change in Bullseye’s face that he loved the fact people were wearing masks as it gave him a chance to kill “Daredevil.” This is something that Zdarsky can build beyond this upcoming clash between Bullseye and Matt Murdock’s Daredevil.
Speaking of Matt, Zdarsky did a fantastic job paying off all the build up for Matt’s return as the true Daredevil and Man Without Fear in this issue. We’ve been slowly seeing over the last 18 issues how Matt has been regaining the skills and fire that he carried as Daredevil. Sensing how so many people not only stand up against the villains causing chaos but use Daredevil as a symbol was clearly impactful for Matt. This was the last trigger that Matt needed to finally realize that Daredevil is who he is and he had to stop running away from it. Taking Hector’s Daredevil mask was a nice touch to complete the arc that tied these two together.
Putting all this together made the moment when Matt said “Not fake, Lester….Just Daredevil” to end Daredevil #19 a pure hype moment. That punctuated this issue perfectly. It was the announcement that Matt was ready to not only be Daredevil but also the symbol Hell’s Kitchen needs.
Now with Matt back as Daredevil it’ll be interesting to see how Wilson Fisk reacts to this. Daredevil #19 showed us that Fisk has lost the control he thought he had as Mayor of New York City. For all his power he was unable to stop what is happening in Hell’s Kitchen from going down. How this ends up affecting his future in politics will be very interesting to see.
The re-introduction of Matt as Daredevil should also spark a strong reaction from The Owl. With what is going down in Hell’s Kitchen it was clear that The Owl saw it as an opportunity to claim the title of Kingpin of Crime. Now there is a huge wrench that could ruin The Owl’s dream from becoming reality. This is another plotline that will be interesting to see play out in the aftermath Matt’s return as Daredevil.
While not a big part of the issue I appreciate that Zdarsky did not forget Detective Cole North’s importance to this story. Seeing him quickly act by driving to the police barricade when he heard what was happening in Hell’s Kitchen showed how he does not have to think twice about saving people. Even with being injured after the car accident we saw Detective North step-up to fight Bullet. Things like help further the development of Detective North as a character you are invested in.
In the midst of all this chaos in Hell’s Kitchen it was interesting that Zdarsky chose this time to have Typhoid Mary make her big return to Daredevil. It was an unexpected twist that added another layer of interest to what Zdarsky has planned in the future. Zdarsky has shown a great ability to give every character multiple layers. Typhoid Mary should add a fun new dynamic to what is already going on in this series.
For all the things Zdarsky got right in Daredevil #19 none of it would have had the impact it did without Marco Checchetto’s phenomenal artwork. Checchetto nailed the chaos that Crossbones, Bullseye, Rhino, Stilt-Man, and Bullet brought to Hell’s Kitchen. It is thanks to the artwork that you’re concern level for everyone in Hell’s Kitchen was so high. There was a visceral feeling of concern as we saw how scared everyone was as they tried to find somewhere they and others could hide.
Capturing all the emotions on characters faces really helped elevate everything that was going on. Whether it was Hell’s Kitchen’s community standing up for themselves, The Owl maniacally looking on at what was going on or Matt Murdock becoming Daredevil again, every scene hit the perfect note. Checchetto’s ability to bring all of this to life in such a spectacular fashion is so awesome to see as a fan.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Daredevil #19 is a masterclass of how to use every building block up to this point to provide both a payoff to what has been built while continuing to add to what’s already there. Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto did a fantastic job building developing several storylines throughout Daredevil #19. All that development made the ending as impactful as possible with Matt Murdock taking a big step forward.
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