The Death of Daredevil storyline has had a very interesting direction that it has going for it. While Daredevil’s recent brush with death made him more motivated than ever to take down Mayor Wilson Fisk we have yet to see the former Kingpin of Crime. Instead all we’ve seen thus far is Daredevil go up against a large portion of his rogues gallery. So far he has been largely successful in leaving these battles alive, with his “twin brother” Mike Murdock saving him from Bullseye in his last fight. Now with Mike by his side how will the Death of Daredevil conclude? Let’s find out with Daredevil #612.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Black Clinic as the doctor patches Daredevil up, Daredevil wonders what his “twin brother,” Mike Murdock, motives for saving him from Bullseye is. The doctor tells Daredevil to let his wound to heal or else it will get worse.
Suddenly Vigil shows up. Daredevil throws several scalpels at Vigil to give the doctor and Mike a chance to escape. As they fight Vigil is able to get the upper hand and punches Daredevil out a window of the hospital. Daredevil is able to save himself by using his billy club to swing away.
At a diner in the Bronx Mad Thinker orders Mayor Wilson Fisk’s assistant to pay him in money or credit for helping to fix the mayoral election. He goes over how he helped Fisk win the election without others noticing. The assistant reminds Mad Thinker he has already been paid and does not want Fisk as an enemy. Mad Thinker does not take kindly to the threat and says he wants what is due to him.
In a nearby rooftop Daredevil is seen listening to all of this.
The next day at the office of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office Matt Murdock tries to convince Benjamin Hochberg that he has eyewitness testimony from Daredevil that proves the criminal conspiracy behind Mayor Fisk’s election. Hochberg is hesitant because Mayor Fisk has complete control of his office’s budget. Matt tells Hochberg to trust him and reminds him that they can’t let Fisk have New York City without a fight.
Sometime later at the Manhattan Criminal Court Daredevil is sworn under oath for his testimony. During the trial Daredevil, Cypher, Frank McGee and Reader all show the jury, judge and superheroes who are in the audience evidence about Wilson Fisk crimes and fixing the election.
After all the evidence is presented Fisk takes the stand. Fisk reminds everyone that the city knew all about his history when he was elected. He grows angrier when he is not acknowledged as Mayor by Hochberg. He eventually walks off the stand and proclaims that he runs the city to Daredevil’s face.
Sometime later there is a massive protest held outside New York City Hall. Fisk can’t believe this as he continues to say he won the election. His assistant reveals that Fisk would’ve won the election even without their “adjustments.” After a short silent moment Fisk says he doesn’t even remember why he wanted to be Mayor.
Sometime later the Daily Bugle reports that Fisk is no longer Mayor of New York City. Daredevil is happy to read this. He suddenly spots Vigil on a nearby gargoyle statue.
Daredevil jumps over to Vigil’s location and says he is ready to finish things. Daredevil and Vigil fight evenly for a short time until Daredevil is able to knock Vigil’s mask off. When Daredevil sees who Vigil is he is stunned to see himself.
As he touches Vigil’s face he gets visions of Foggy, Blindspot, his dad, Elektra and Stick telling him to look.
Matt then realizes everything with Fisk was a dream and that he is still in a hospital with surgeons working to save his life after being run over by a semi-truck. Matt thinks about how his entire life is not coming down to one epic superhero moment but instead fighting for his life on a hospital bed while surgeons work to save him. Matt opens his eyes for a moment and thinks how the fight is not over.
When Matt closes his eyes he sees Karen Page in front of him. Karen tells Matt to not beat himself up as he did everything he could.
As he starts to fade Matt says “I cannot see the light. So I will be the light. I am Daredevil. And I am not afraid.” He then suddenly has a pulse return before it stops again. End of issue.
The Good: With things were going Daredevil #612 definitely delivered an ending that was unexpected. Just as you start thinking that everything is being rushed by Charles Soule he drops a major bomb that it was all a dream. This is a twist that could’ve gone wrong from all angles but ended up being a mixed bag, which is probably the best outcome for such a conclusion.
The main reason that this twist in Daredevil #612 works is because it all goes back to the mortality of Matt Murdock. While Matt has superhuman sense at the end of the day he is just another guy that can still get hurt. Playing with that fact made the reality emphasized that while Matt can get hurt just like a normal person what makes him strong is the fact that he is a fighter.
That is something that Stick reminded Matt in his vision before we saw Matt go through his dream of how he wanted to take down Wilson Fisk. The fighting spirit that Matt has opens the door for him to be a much different Daredevil when he heals back up. Now Matt will be much more aware of his own mortality, specifically how he could easily die at any moment. This in turn allowed Soule to leave Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto the opportunity to explore Matt and Daredevil in a different way when they start their run.
The entire reveal of the dream also made the fact that the entire story of Daredevil sense of urgency in taking down Mayor Wilson Fisk make much more sense. As Matt was fighting for his life in the real world, in his own head he probably had a sense of this fact and he subconsciously needed to end things quickly. In turn, it made how proud Daredevil felt in his “victory” be much more bittersweet when the twist was revealed.
This also made the fact that we didn’t see Wilson Fisk until Daredevil #612 even more understandable. Things went way to perfect with Fisk never acting against Daredevil in the normal way we expect him to.It also allows Fisk to continue to act as Mayor of NYC, something that still has a lot of potential to be used in stories for Spider-Man, Daredevil and other street-level Marvel comics.
Given the twist of Daredevil #612 it made Phil Noto’s artwork much better. Noto’s art style works very well with how everything in “The Death of Daredevil” ended up being something Matt’s head. Looking back on it now all of the artwork does have a look of it being a dream. Even the action had a feeling that it was all working out to perfectly for Daredevil given the injuries he had in his dreams.
The Bad: As much as I liked the twist it was not without its faults. One of the things that kept it back was the reveal of who Vigil was. It was something that was way to in your face to make Matt realize he was in a dream. It would’ve been much more impactful if Vigil ended up being Karen Page, Foggy Nelson or another character from Daredevil’s past. It would’ve work much more into how Matt was close to death than it just being him behind the mask.
What else hurt this reveal for Vigil was the involvement of Mike Murdock. Though Mike Murdock’s re-introduction was interesting at first it has quickly lost steam. The character as a whole just does not have anything that makes him someone that adds to the story. And his involvement in “The Death of Daredevil” could’ve been easily replaced by any other supporting character.
Speaking of which, Mike’s screen time should’ve been given to someone like Foggy. The character just disappeared even though his presence would’ve made everything feel more important. After all if there is one character that would be the one that questioned Matt’s decisions as Daredevil it would be Foggy. Even in a dream he is the character that would’ve played an important role in this.
What made the story even weaker was the fact that during the trial scene Daredevil was allowed to give his testimony without revealing his identity. It would’ve made the entire scene more impactful if Matt sacrificed his secret identity to take down Fisk. In doing something like this it would’ve emphasized how Matt would do anything to make sure Fisk was kicked out of office. But with everything going so perfectly it just made how perfect things went feel wrong, even if it was a dream.
Also, because of the twist ending the involvement of the Mad Thinker ended up falling flat. Everything about his rant is actually hurt by the revelation because at the end of the day it did not matter. Instead it just a way to speed through to the trial rather than Matt finding real evidence. Instead the entire trial was based on the jury and judge taking everything on Daredevil’s word since everything from the trial was from Matt’s perspective. It would’ve been nice if Mad Thinker was actually forced to be in the dream trial to give his role in the story a greater sense of importance.
Overall: Daredevil #612 delivered a twist ending that subverted the expectations for a story called “The Death of Daredevil.” A lot could’ve gone wrong that would’ve made Daredevil #612 a lackluster ending. Instead what we got was a conclusion that was a mixed bag. Charles Soule did an effective job showcasing the mortality of Matt Murdock. Unfortunately Soule also slipped up on the execution on several plot points the twist ended up affecting negatively. In the end these positives and negatives ended up canceling each other out, making “The Death of Daredevil” an odd note for Soule to end his run on.