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Pragmatism beats principle in ‘Daredevil’ #17

daredevil 17

Daredevil #17
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee
Published by Marvel Comics

It’s hard to stomach that Mark Waid’s Daredevil, which has been hitting stands every month for around four years, is about to end, but it is indeed going to be that time very soon. There’s a feeling of culmination in this penultimate issue, bringing back plot threads from not just the start of the “Marvel Now!” relaunch in 2014, but even before that from the first major part of Waid’s run. The result is solid modernistic superhero storytelling with high stakes, tough battles, and a constant questioning of the hero’s philosophy and capability. It’s a great read, page-for-page.

Thanks to all of the different threads that have been building in this run for the past few years, Daredevil finds himself in the middle of quite the storm. The stress is palpable, each plot point serving as an effective piece of an unstable Jenga tower. There really is a genuine sense of unpredictability in this issue all the way to the end, too. Despite there only being a single issue left before a new writer hops aboard, there’s no resolution in sight by the time the issue ends with a killer cliffhanger. Something that would otherwise be a relief for Daredevil actually serves in this moment as a horrific foretelling, making the scene all the more dreadful.

Before that cliffhanger, however, is a pretty major character moment that makes sense and gels wonderfully with the themes at play at this point in the story, despite being a bit rushed. The end of Waid’s first big arc saw Daredevil hack away at a big part of his character in order to be more principled, and that was only taken further in the second big arc.  With everything crumbling around him, he makes a quick decision that strips away that principle for pragmatism. It works, but it is such a moment that it was strange to have just a few panels dedicated to it.

The book looks astounding as always, thanks to Chris Samnee’s pencils brought to life with vibrant coloring from Matthew Wilson. There is so much color, but at the same time the palette is held back to maintain a more arresting, tense tone. For all of the lush greens of Kingpin’s garden, there are plenty of ominous black shadows and scenes filled with yellows. The brilliant sense of motion this series always nails is still  here, every action flowing from panel to panel elegantly.

If this issue has one job to do, it’s to ramp readers up for the conclusion, and it definitely does that. What exactly is going to happen to this elaborate Jenga tower is an open question, but it appears a no-brainer that no matter what, Waid and Samnee will make sure it’s a blast to read.


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