In Daredevil #20, Charles Soule and Ron Garney deliver a satisfying conclusion to the “Purple” storyline, revealing the final puzzle pieces in the mystery of how the world forgot that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. He also returns Daredevil to a characterization of Hell’s Kitchen’s avenging angel that readers will recognize and appreciate. Gone are the apprentices, the girlfriends, and the distractions from Daredevil’s mission, and in their place stands a hero focused on a better future for his city. As if to reinforce the focus of Sole’s script, Garney’s art marks quite the departure from the more abstract styles of recent creative teams, his different line work seeming to physically represent this new beginning.
Similar to other Marvel characters with television/film incarnations, the comic book version is undergoing a shift to bring Daredevil more in line with his on-screen counterparts. Soule is the ideal author to achieve this alignment, avoiding ruffling the feathers of longtime readers while making the character accessible to those who arrive to the comic via the screen. His earlier work on Superman/Wonder Woman established the writer’s sensitivity to the difficulties heroes face in establishing and maintaining worthwhile relationships, a sensitivity he uses here to allow Matt Murdock to choose to start over with a clean slate. It comes at a great cost, however, as all such decisions do, when Matt reveals his secret to Foggy and breaks up with Kristin.
Soule balances the heart-wrenching character moments with plenty of action, as Daredevil dares to enjoy being, well, Daredevil. Testing the viability of his newly concealed identity, he beats up San Francisco’s thugs until he’s certain that the Purple Children did their work well. Interestingly, near the end of the issue, we learn that this revelatory story is actually a confession Matt is giving to Father Jordan in Manhattan. It’s refreshing to see this element of the character return now that he has so few options for counsel.
Ron Garney’s art showcases the red-suited Daredevil relishing his abilities and his newly recovered capacity to help without the burden of judgment. Garney’s fine lines are accompanied by deep inks and a panel construction that is comfortably predictable for the dialogue scenes and less rigidly structured for the action scenes. The two-page spread is going to become an iconic representation of Daredevil — it’s outstanding work. Matt Milla’s colors provide excellent depth throughout. This well-planned issue is a physical representation of the new freedom Daredevil has due to the return of his secret identity as well as the restrictions now in place around Matt Murdock’s interpersonal relationships.
Storytelling in comics doesn’t get any better than issue #20 — an ending and a beginning, exciting and heartbreaking, and totally worthy of Daredevil.