It’s not exactly the end of an era, but it is the end of the series, as well as the end of Daredevil’s days in New York as Mark Waid and Chris Samnee wrap up another phase of Matt Murdock’s life in “Daredevil” #36. The surprising cliffhanger from last issue sets up a rapid sequence of events in this one that lead to a life-changing moment for both of Murdock’s personas, and a new status quo that will kick off the new series next month.
Waid crafts a near-perfectly paced final chapter, kicking the issue off with a brief, low-key flashback that gives a deliberately foggy (pun intended) indication of Matt’s plan, without looking too closely (pun intended again) at the specifics. This gives some shape to Matt’s seemingly reckless revelation last issue, but allows for some surprises to still emerge here. Waid then returns the story to the present in the immediate aftermath, and after the immediate fallout, from last issue. Samnee boldly illustrates the ramifications, both literally and figuratively, in a sequence that includes a deceptively simple but effective single-page layout.
From there, Waid and Samnee collaborate on carefully building the story with an ever-increasing level of tension, carried equally by Waid’s script and Samnee’s layouts, unfolding in the most fitting environment that such a story could: in the courtroom, which is now a venue appropriate for both Murdock and Daredevil, in light of this fresh disclosure. (A spoiler alert and an early conclusion for readers who don’t know and don’t want to know the nature of the big surprise: anyone who’s even remotely enjoyed Waid’s run on this title should stop reading here and pick up this thrilling and satisfying final issue.)
For those who already know the big secret, Waid’s decision to have Matt out himself as Daredevil is a daring move (pun still intended) that’s both smart and timely. Yes, Brian Michael Bendis went down a similar path already, and got years’ worth of terrific stories out of it, but a reveal like this is not only the proverbial genie that can’t be put back in the bottle, but also one that many would have thought couldn’t be uncorked again.
Waid, however, has found a way to do exactly that, by taking the total opposite approach in the form of a willing, courageously-motivated outing this time. It comes across as fresh because it’s a heroic move here, rather than a villainous one, and at the same time ties off all of the lingering doubts that every writer since Bendis has had to address at some point or another. There is no genie to deal with anymore, and Waid can now focus on another whole set of consequences, as well on a Matt Murdock that’s comfortable with his decision, something that truly has not been addressed before.
As one character mentions to Daredevil, “you really lead with your face, don’t you?” That has been nature of Waid’s Matt Murdock throughout his run, epitomized here in this issue, and that statement is also a stage-setter for the upcoming series. “Daredevil” #36 is not only a superb ending to a storyline, and to the series, but also a fitting example of why Waid’s series has been so incredible, with a Matt Murdock who’s consistently been heroically bold, brash, and a man who is truly without fear. And that is not a pun.