"Daredevil" #18 opens with a visit to the office of Franklin "Foggy" Nelson where the glass decries an absence of Matt Murdock and their former partnership. Murdock's name is removed from the door of "Nelson &" and he took the ampersand with him when Foggy kicked him out.
As if that wasn't depressing enough, Mark Waid puts Matt Murdock through a mental wringer in this issue, attacking Murdock through his heightened senses and causing Daredevil to grasp at thin air while jumping to unnatural conclusions. Yes, that's a lot of cliche, but when Waid puts it all together, it becomes a new story filled with drama and intrigue. Foggy and Daredevil have to work together to solve a mystery, but the end result is only going to drive the pair farther apart.
Waid has absolutely taken complete ownership of everything that comprises Matt Murdock and Daredevil -- the good, the bad, the refreshingly human supporting characters and crazy circumstances -- and he makes Daredevil a better character for it. Other writers have put the Man Without Fear through multiple wringers and tried to break him down in order to build him back up. Waid has decided there's no need to build Matt Murdock back up, but there are a few shaky blocks in the foundation and the roof might need a fresh set of shingles, which begin to blow lose a little in this issue and gives the reader a bundle of uncertainty to sit on until the next issue hits the stands.
It's a true testament to the work Waid produces when the artists on this book continue to be of an incomparable caliber. When Marcos Martin left, I was apprehensive. After all, Paolo Rivera couldn't handle this book all by himself, could he? Yeah. He could. And did. Then he decided to move on. That's when editor Steve Wacker brought in Chris Samnee, who is just a few more issues away from completely inserting himself into the pantheon of Great Daredevil Artists. A perfect fit for a book that stars a "normal" man with an abnormal desire for justice, Samnee's art gracefully dances between superheroics and every day troubles. Foggy discussing Mr. Santiago's case in a law office is just as visually striking and carefully constructed as Daredevil hitching a ride on the underside of an elevator. The visuals on the book are rounded out and completed with Joe Caramagna's well -- placed word balloons and captions and Javier Rodriguez's unbridled coloring.
With Mark Waid writing, "Daredevil" is a comic book that consistently delivers. The awards and recognition the title has garnered certainly adds some credence to that claim, but look no farther than this issue to find a stellar example of how Waid balances superheroics, personal character development, action and humor. As everything seems to be crumbling around him, Daredevil doesn't give up. The supporting cast don't become automatons or disappear completely. Every setting, every person weaves into the fabric of this story. "Daredevil" #18 offers a great spot for new readers, lapsed readers and fans of the Man Without Fear to embrace the optimistic uneasiness that makes Matt Murdock such an appealing character, especially as written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee.