- Posted by Johanna on September 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
- PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics; $2.99 US
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are turning out what might be the perfect superhero comic.
Daredevil #31 has inspiration and hope in dealing with a real-world battle, as Foggy Nelson struggles with cancer treatment and finds a support group. There’s soap opera, as Matt Murdock copes with Kirsten McDuffie, former girlfriend, joining his law firm to help in Foggy’s absence. It’s a rare thing, these days, for a writer to handle the supporting cast so well — or heck, to even remember he has one, and that we care about the humans around the heroes as much as the costumed cast.
There’s humor, as we get to laugh at Matt’s complications in the situation. There’s heroics, as Daredevil uses his powers — but not too much, since Waid does an amazing job coming up with situations where they’d be limited. They’re not used as hand-waving “everything’s fine now” plot devices but abilities with their own limitations. Plus, Samnee draws the way Matt sees the world wonderfully, with visual tricks to remind us he’s different. I never would have realized an iPad would be useless to him, for example.
There’s even comment on a major issue of our time, as Matt and the others watch the verdict come in for a significant case. A rich white bigot has been acquitted of shooting a black teen with a life of promise ahead of him. Given the racism on trial, a mob forms, and it’s incited by a supervillain (because this is, ultimately, a superhero comic) to hunt down the jurors who came back with the “wrong” (but legal) verdict.
Superhero comics are terrific vehicles to play out “what if”s for current cultural issues, particularly when we feel injustice is being done, and this one’s a doozy. We can sympathize with wanting to punish those who let a murderer go free, but in this case, the involvement of a white supremacy group to rile up hatred through technological trickery adds so many other levels of questions. Should we trust what we see on TV? How far should vigilantism go? Does the motivation behind the drive for justice matter?
The skill comes in blending all of these elements, all part of the best superhero titles of the past, in fresh, balanced ways and with well-done artistic storytelling. It’s a terrific read with a “gotta have the next issue now” cliffhanger. Plus, these stories mean something more than a quick adrenaline hit. The level of artistry on display, verbally and visually, is heads above most of the other titles in the genre today (even if the cover has nothing to do with the contents).