Mark Waid and Chris Samnee sure know a thing or two about consistency and “Daredevil” #3 is the latest evidence. This issue gives readers plenty of suspense as Daredevil finds himself caught between the Shroud and the Owl. As he continues to try to find his balance in San Francisco, Daredevil also has to figure out the good guys and the bad guys — sure, the Owl’s bad, but he might be badder than the last time ol’ Hornhead smacked him around.
Waid excels at finding new life for old concepts and giving once-decent ideas a shine and polish to make them great. Owl has gotten a badass boost lately in the pages of “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” and Waid calls that book’s bet, raising them all the more. This issue opens with a four page scene where the reader never sees the Owl, yet is given every reason to fear the Owl while admiring his villainous panache. The writer smartly paces “Daredevil” #3, giving all of Matt Murdock’s supporting cast and adversaries a chance to identify themselves for the reader. Waid chooses not to inundate the reader with information through caption boxes or burdensome expository dialog, but rather leaves each character to show they reader who they are and what they mean to Daredevil.
Waid is clearly working in lockstep with Samnee, giving the illustrator every opportunity to stretch. I don’t know if the duo work in “Marvel style,” if Samnee draws from a full script or if they employ some all-new amalgamation as their working process, but whatever the case may be, it works. Samnee’s cartoon-influenced deceptively simplistic style leans heavily on shadows and benefits from strong work from colorist Javier Rodriguez, continuing to redefine the visuals for Daredevil through this series. Waid and Samnee agree to let the imagery tell the story in more than a few panels, and letterer Joe Caramagna works with them to make the lettering just right everywhere else. As a matter of fact, I find it quite lovely that Caramagna treats Daredevil’s running monolog with mixed case lettering, giving readers a true sense of the order and measured pacing in Matt Murdock’s head, which makes Daredevil the Man Without Fear.
“Daredevil” #3 is just another example of what Mark Waid and Chris Samnee bring to the character and the Marvel Universe. This isn’t twenty pages of Daredevil punching people in the face, nor is it the soap opera drama of Matt Murdock slowly rebuilding his life from the shambled ruins of his greatest defeat. This is Daredevil as he should be: a fun-loving character who readers cheer for, no matter how prominently the odds are stacked against him. This continues to be one of Marvel’s best reads, and this issue does a surprisingly good job of being open enough for new readers to join in on the fun, despite being three issues deep.