Over two years after writer Mark Waid first took charge of The Man Without Fear and made him a brighter, happier and more fun guy to be around, he and artist Chris Samnee bring to a close the major storyline that tied together all of the shorter story arcs leading up to “Daredevil” #27. Fittingly, Daredevil literally ends up face-to-face with the villain responsible for much of the misery in Matt Murdock’s life over that time, his longtime arch-foe Bullseye.
It’s a bit of a disappointment that Bullseye — totally incapacitated except for his mind and his sight, with his body now cocooned in an unsightly life support system that looks like an over-pressurized water heater — is in no condition to physically fight his nemesis. This takes nothing away from Daredevil’s climactic battle with the similarly-powered ninja assassin Ikari, which is tense and well-choreographed. However, when Daredevil and Bullseye are in the same room and there’s a fight to be had, it’s probably a safe bet that fans would rather see Bullseye play a part other than an ugly room decoration.
Waid’s mischaracterization of Bullseye as a master schemer rather than as a master assassin is about the only flaw to be found not only with this issue, but Waid’s entire run so far. The notion of having to tie all of the past arcs of this series together doesn’t really seem necessary, as those stories were outstanding on their own. Regardless, the final showdown doesn’t suffer for it and is superb, as Waid pushes Daredevil nearly to a point where the character had not been since he took over the title. DD appears all too ready to let some serious harm come to his foe, and come the story’s end, Waid intentionally leaves questions about his involvement in Bullseye’s fate unanswered. One can presume that this loose thread will be woven into a story at some point, but for now Waid’s reason for not addressing this remains unclear.
One of Waid’s trademarks throughout his run has been the strategic insertion of surprises at key moments within the story, and he successfully does the same here, in the form of cameo appearances from unexpected guest stars. While these cameos are brief, they are game changers in Daredevil’s final confrontation with Ikari. They’re also the kind of nuggets that appeal to readers’ inner fanboy personas.
Samnee’s simpler, lighter art style does the same for the title as that of predecessors Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera: it matches the overall brighter tone of the series, and even in darker moments keeps the story from seeming too dark. By sticking with traditional panel layouts, his art combined with Waid’s sunnier approach to storytelling give this issue and the series a retro feel, making it just flat out fun to read.
The ending of this lengthy saga and its epilogue have swansong written all over it, but that simply isn’t so, as Waid is slated to be back for future issues. Closing out many of the subplots from past issues, this issue is an excellent springboard for future storylines, and demonstrates why “Daredevil” remains one of Marvel’s best titles.