My favorite Daredevil stories are the ones that effortlessly illustrate the duality that is Matt Murdoch and Daredevil. Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez’s “Daredevil” #29 — a story which begins as tale with Matt trying to use the legal system to get things done, but turns into a story where Daredevil must go around the law to do the right thing — hits the perfect balance of that duality.
The very nature of vigilante superhero stories allows readers to revel in the right thing being done — especially when adhering to the strict confines of the law lets us down so horribly. On its own, “Daredevil” #29 is a solid book that hits all the points readers love to see in good superhero fiction. However, in the context of real world failings of late, it draws an even sharper reminder of why readers seek out these kinds of stories, why we obsess about superheroes and vigilante justice setting things right. Fictional Matt Murdoch can don the Daredevil costume and set things right. It must feel good.
Though Waid’s story and writing are great, it is Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez’s attention to detail and visual delivery that really clarifies the book’s strengths. The character work is exceptional — expressive and well developed, the more minor characters are all lovingly executed with a care that suggests they could be (or are!) the stars of this book, just as much as Daredevil. Rodriguez and Lopez approach the book with a realistic and human touch that works well for a Daredevil book — everyday ordinary folks like judges and policemen, paramedics and lawyers, all drawn with care and consideration. At the same time, Rodriguez renders a gorgeous crime-fighting Daredevil with compelling, impressive action and just the right superhero snap. In a story whose plot centers on white supremacists having infiltrated the power structure of a courthouse, it can’t be stressed enough how key Rodriguez’s careful development of all the minor players is to the book’s ultimate success as a story. As usual with Waid’s Daredevil, there are also plenty of visual opportunities to show off Daredevil’s unique view of the world through his power and Rodriguez makes the most of them.
Also worth mention are the colors on this issue, also by Rodriguez, which find that perfect sweet spot for a darker hero like Daredevil without losing that “pop” fans all crave in a superhero book. Primarily done with a realistic, but relatively subtle, palette fitting for Matt Murdoch, the colors also shift beautifully to the more clandestine but heroic hue of Daredevil, who looks appropriately out of place in the bright light of the courtroom, and appropriately perfect in the dark confines of hallways and basements.
“Daredevil” #29 is likely not a book that will blow your mind, or that will be remembered forever and put on a Top 10 list some day, but it’s exactly the kind of strong “meat and potatoes” superhero stories readers should both hope for (and demand) in monthly comics. It doesn’t break barriers or break all the rules, but it still manages to be smart and well-considered, beautifully drawn and engaging.