At a glance, “Daredevil” #28 goes down a familiar path. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez introduce Nate Hackett, a former bully of a young Matt Murdock. Initially, readers can sense the structure of the story as Nate needs legal help thanks to a little stint with the Sons of the Serpent. But as the climax of the issue hits, what starts out as standard (but entertaining) becomes a bit more interesting, and piques a greater interest in the next issue.
Those early pages are familiar; hero having to help a former tormentor is a trope that most comic book readers have seen before, after all. Waid keeps the comic moving through, partially through continuing the storyline with Foggy in the hospital so there’s something else to distract. It’s also been long enough since the creative team has presented Matt Murdock in a legal context that readers may have forgotten that the new shtick has Matt briefing his clients on how to represent themselves while Matt sits in the back of the room.
There are two things that ultimately make the writing in “Daredevil” #28 not just work, but work well. The first is that Nate is never a truly nasty person. We get to see everything from not only Matt’s side but Nate’s as well, a reminder that there are two sides to every story. It softens the character a bit, and makes his well-being something that you can start to get behind. The second is the previously mentioned cliffhanger, one that suddenly takes what looks like a small story and expands it into something bigger and far-reaching. That’s the best use of the serial format; don’t just end on a sudden moment, end it on something that stokes your interest and makes it suddenly that much bigger.
It doesn’t hurt that Rodriguez (who provides the colors for regular series artist Chris Samnee) provides some great pencils in his own right. Daredevil leaping to another building with a full suit tucked under one arm, shoes in hand, and tie fluttering in the wind is an image that could have looked same-old same-old, but instead is gorgeous. That’s in part because of the attention to the foreground; the way that the clothes move through the air, flapping and dragging in the air, gives it a strong sense of energy. Superheroes are almost always graceful, and the lack of grace of Daredevil’s civilian clothes provides a beautiful contrast, the clashing of his two worlds under the pencil of Rodriguez. Drinking in the background, it’s a meticulously detailed cityscape. Water towers, skyscrapers, exhaust fumes, individual bricks in a wall — everything is drawn just so, and Rodriguez uses a great color palette of yellows, oranges and blacks to give it that perfect look. The art’s a winner, and that’s even before the big two-page spread with Rodriguez bouncing a billy-club from the head of a criminal to the walls of several panels; it’s a clever and visually appealing usage of the sequential art format.
“Daredevil” #28 is a fun issue that’s drawn beautifully. Waid’s scripts continue to entertain, and as much as I like Samnee’s art on the series, I’d love to see Rodriguez be the regular fill-in artist for whenever Samnee needs to catch his breath. Another solid comic in a dependable series.