Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil run has been an immediate stand out since the first issue. Zdarsky has taken everything that was done in developing Daredevil and the world around him and gone to the next logical level. Everything that has happened with Matt Murdock since Zdarsky has taken over has flowed in a way that all makes sense. Even when we don’t really know where this story about the gang war going on for the soul of Hell’s Kitchen there is so many riveting things going on that you can’t help but enjoy the ride. After the most recent Daredevil issue ended with Daredevil turning himself in right after Matt Murdock made his full return as the hero what will happen next? Let’s find out with Daredevil #21.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Mattia Iacono
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: As all the reporters try to get Daredevil to answer questions Mayor Fisk defends why he was in Hell’s Kitchen as simply defending the city. He goes on to state that Daredevil is a murderer and orders the police to arrest him.
Detective Cole North tells the cops that Daredevil protect them all and that they should be arresting The Owl and his goons. The Owl says he did nothing wrong. Detective North reminds The Owl of Bele Libris kidnapping.
Izzy Libris then shows up and states that The Owl killed her son, which she can prove because she had a recorder placed in her son’s pocket when he met with The Owl. The Owl is left stunned as the cops take him away.
Detective North continues to try to defend Daredevil from being arrested. Daredevil says it is okay as he is turning himself in. Detective North personally arrests Daredevil.
The press wonders if Mayor Fisk’s office will change its policy on costume vigilantes after the events in Hell’s Kitchen. Wesley shuts the questioning down so that Mayor Fisk can go back to his office without answering any question.
Inside Fisk’s private car Wesley tells Mayor Fisk that he is being touted as a hero in what the public has titled “The Battle of Hell’s Kitchen.” Wesley then gets an incoming call from Quinn and Una Stromwyn. The Stromwyn’s tell Mayor Fisk “congratulate” him on how the situation in Hell’s Kitchen will help his re-election campaign. They then talk about reports of a nun (Typhoid Mary) joined the fight. Mayor Fisk hangs up the phone before the Stromwyn’s say anything more.
Elsewhere, while driving to the police station, Detective North wonders if Daredevil is thinking of escaping. Daredevil says he is not as he now accepts the consequences for his actions and will stop pretending he is above the law. Daredevil then commends Detective North on being a good cop, knowing when the rules fall in the right or wrong.
Another car suddenly gets in the way and Detective North is forced to hit the breaks on his cop car. The car ends up being driven by Foggy Nelson. Foggy requests to a chance to talk to Daredevil. Foggy then pleads with Matt that if the public learns that he is Daredevil people will die, including those they love. Foggy says he has an idea that can get them out of this.
The next day, Foggy and Detective North meet with District Attorney Benjamin Hochberg. Foggy reveals that he is there to meet about his client, Daredevil, and the conditions for turning himself in.
Later that night, Daredevil gets back to his place. As soon as he enters Daredevil detects that someone is there already.
Spider-Man shows up and reminds Daredevil that he warned him that he would take Daredevil in if he showed up again. Daredevil reminds Spider-Man that no other hero other than himself showed up to save Hell’s Kitchen. He goes on to say he is already turning himself in. Spider-Man once again reminds Daredevil that by returning he is making things worse.
Daredevil changes back into his classic red costume and tells Spider-Man that he is not the moral authority. Daredevil then prepares to fight as Spider-Man illegally entered his home.
Daredevil senses that Spider-Man is getting ready to do something and hopes it is the smart thing. Spider-Man eventually says that if Daredevil is lying to him he will be back. Spider-Man then leaves.
Daredevil is relieved as he is still exhausted from all the fighting. Daredevil then gets a call from Foggy and learns things are all set at the courthouse.
Daredevil then prepares to take on whatever comes next even if it means his end. He then swings off towards the courthouse.
When Daredevil reaches the courthouse were a large group of pro-Mayor Fisk and anti-Daredevil protestors have gathered. Daredevil plays off the protestors as just noise to Detective North and Foggy.
Inside the courthouse, the cops make sure that Daredevil has no weapons. One of the cops calls Daredevil a coward for wearing a mask. He is then let in.
Daredevil enters Hochberg’s office alone. Hochberg commends Daredevil on having a good lawyer as Foggy was able to argue that since the supreme court ruled that superheroes are allowed to appear in court as witnesses that their superhero identities are viewed as a legal identity. Hochberg goes on to say by trying Daredevil with his costume on it is a form of the city thanking him for all the lives he has saved. Daredevil understands all of this.
Hochberg then states before proceeding he needs to know the man behind the mask as he won’t let the system be abused by a technicality. After hesitating for a bit Daredevil takes off his mask to reveal Matt Murdock behind the mask. Hochberg is left stunned at first and then slaps Matt out of anger.
Hochberg is pissed off that Matt worked for him and kept this all a secret. Matt apologizes as he didn’t want things to come to this as he is well aware that any cases they worked on together could be overturned if his identity became public. Hochberg angrily states that a deal is a deal and tells Matt to put his mask back on.
Once Matt puts his Daredevil mask back on Hochberg orders the cops to enter and arrest Daredevil for murder. End of issue.
The Good: Just as things look to settle down after Hell’s Kitchen was turned into a warzone things got even more complicated for Matt Murdock. Daredevil #21 shows us that what Chip Zdarsky is doing with his run is playing a long chess game. Every issue is another move to complete his ultimate checkmate move.
One thing that continues to be impressive about Zdarsky’s writing is how he is able to remind readers of what took place to lead up to when you begin Daredevil #21. Zdarsky has a knack for bringing you right into the world he has crafted through the dialogue. That is shown with how he does not miss a beat with the reporters around Daredevil and Mayor Fisk that immediately remind you of everything that led to this opening moment. The way both Daredevil and Mayor Fisk act in this opening scene gets you into the headspace of both key characters.
This opening scene also is a reminder that while the gang war that took over Hell’s Kitchen has settled down for now it is far from over. Every major player from the Libris Family to the Stromwyn’s are still in play. And while The Owl was arrested he still should be kept an eye out for as he has been a wild card throughout Zdarsky’s run.
Speaking of The Owl, it was good to see Zdarsky show the reader that all the actions the characters he is using in Daredevil have consequences. The Owl killing Izzy Libris’ son is an example of that as his act in cold blood led to his arrest. The shocked look on The Owl’s face when Izzy Libris revealed she had the proof to get him arrest gave weight to how actions have consequences for characters. Marco Checchetto really shined in these moments as you can see how dejected The Owl became because of what Izzy revealed.
The same goes for how Daredevil fully accepted his actions and allowed himself to be arrested. Zdarsky really nailed how Matt Murdock does feel extremely guilty over killing someone. Even if it was an accident Matt holds an incredibly heavyweight over what he did. Him accepting any and all punishment coming his way shows how much character growth there has been for him through all of this. This was all a way to get over how Matt is finally ready to move forward both personally and as Daredevil.
Which made Foggy Nelson bringing an alternate option for Matt to take as Daredevil even more intriguing. Using the fact that the Supreme Court made it legal for superheroes to testify under their hero identities was a great way to use the fact that Foggy is a lawyer and knows the laws of the Marvel Universe. It especially works in the current climate of the Marvel Universe as we have seen Mayor Fisk’s administration pushing an anti-superhero agenda and the US government recently implementing the Kamala Law. Using the system to open the door for Matt as Daredevil to get a possible fair trial is a good move.
This added to how convicted Matt is in his actions as Daredevil now. The scene between Daredevil and Spider-Man furthered all of this while continuing the sub-plot of where these two former friends stand with each other. Daredevil calling Spider-Man out for suddenly becoming the moral police in his life and how there is a double standard in that position added to the tension of this entire scene. Daredevil standing up from himself is also a big change in how their first confrontation went when Spider-Man got Matt to give up on being Daredevil originally. It’ll be interesting where Zdarsky intends to take Daredevil and Spider-Man’s relationship as he has made it a point to have these two interact with each other at very important periods in this series.
The scene between Daredevil and Spider-Man added to why the meeting with District Attorney Benjamin Hochberg was important. Not only is Hochberg an incredibly important person because of his position as District Attorney but he was also Matt’s boss. Seeing both the shock and anger on Hochberg’s face really put into full context the ramifications to Matt’s decision to be arrest have. Because, as Matt said, if it gets out that Matt Murdock is really Daredevil than it risks destroying all the work of Hochberg and the current District Attorney’s office. There are now much more at play than just Matt’s secret of being Daredevil to be on the lookout for. Having those consequences be established gives a greater sense of importance to what will happen next in Zdarsky’s narrative on Daredevil.
How Mayor Wilson Fisk will factor in all of this will be very interesting to see. Zdarsky really does set Mayor Fisk up as a wild card in Daredevil #21. Because on one hand, we do see that Mayor Fisk still hates Daredevil and does want to see his arrest and put on trial. But on the other hand, Mayor Fisk is also still in a position where he is being manipulated by the Stromwyns. Both things pulling Mayor Fisk on different sides because while he is a position of power that is not what he pictured. Fisk knows he needs to turn things around so everything works to his advantage. How he does that could cause a lot of things going on in Zdarsky’s Daredevil to change drastically in its outcome.
As mentioned before, Marco Checchetto’s artwork throughout Daredevil #21 was excellent. Checchetto got over all the feelings that the characters from Daredevil to Mayor Fisk had in different interactions. Whether it was the tense meeting between Daredevil and Spider-Man or Mayor Fisk’s conversation with the Stromwyns, there was a different tone to everything that Checchetto got across through his artwork. That all made the dialogue even better as you can just look at the artwork and understand what is going on. All of that made the impact of Hochberg angry slap that he delivers on Matt hit even harder. You could feel the pain and anger Matt caused by his actions in this one moment.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Daredevil #21 continues the trend of excellence that Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto have been known for on this series. The consequences of Matt Murdock’s actions and decisions are felt throughout this issue. How it all works together to tell a greater story makes what happens next even more exciting to see play out.
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