“Daredevil” #13 is an interesting issue because much of it isn’t actually that good, but that seems to be almost by design. The issue muddles along with some exposition, then some punching and it’s all a bit rote — but the ending comes along and pulls together all these threads you couldn’t even see. Does the retroactive kick in the pants make this book worthwhile after the fact?
The first thing that grabs you when you open this issue is the art. Khoi Pham and Tom Palmer are hopelessly outgunned before they even get a chance because they are working in the inky shadows of Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin and Chris Samnee. Not only are those three artists amazing at what they do, their styles are also congruent. They keep a flow and tone in the book that Pham doesn’t deliver. His art isn’t bad, but it isn’t what people want from this title. It conveys the bare necessities and has some fun, but it lacks the panache we’ve come to expect.
Putting Javier Rodriguez’s colors over Pham’s work should help to build unity and tie this art into the current flavor but all it does is make everything feel more out of place. Rodriguez has been doing a very pop styled bright job on this title. Daredevil’s world isn’t the grim noir setting of previous years, this is a world of hope and fun. Rodriguez tries to bring this tone but it does not mesh with Pham and Palmer’s line work. The two build an almost anachronous problem on the page as the varying tones build to a nil result.
Most of this issue is just a lot of punching. Pham works some great wit into the background (‘In Joke the Musical’ is just about perfect) but the story here lacks. It’s just a massive brawl and we really all expect more from Mark Waid and co. This is lackluster and by-the-numbers stuff. Then the final four pages drop and everything changes. The reveal at the end of this issue is quite amazing, mostly for its simplicity. It’s almost a cheat but you’ll be caught grinning so hard it won’t matter. Waid tops the reveal with one more twist — the final four pages of this comic are fantastic, but does their brilliance make me go back and see the first sixteen pages with kinder eyes? No.
“Daredevil” #13 builds to brilliance on the shoulders of middling pages and story. It’s a shame this transition issue, as it feels, is matched with a transitional art team. This issue is not essential and though the ending is so very good (have I stressed that enough?) the rest is forgettable.