Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and Jason Copland’s “Daredevil” #33 finds Daredevil recovering from wounds in Kentucky thanks to a mob. Brought back to life — perhaps quite literally — he sets off in search of the Darkhold book, which his rescuers want to get their hands on as well.
In order to get to the Darkhold book, Daredevil must cross what is essentially a magical barrier, enchanted with unimaginable horrors built from pure hate by the Serpent Society. Daredevil’s monster-movie rescuers warn him about how impossible it is, but Daredevil, not one to be dissuaded, takes on the challenge without a thought. The twist here, that the villainous Serpent Society devised the challenge not so much to torture people trying to cross, but as a test to see who was able to endure the hate and thus “be one of them” is a good one, even if you can see it coming. However, Waid and Samnee do such an excellent job of delivering a consistently strong story throughout that the plot doesn’t bet the whole farm on the twist, allowing instead for things to just unfold naturally.
It’s only Matt’s lack of sight that actually allows him to succeed in crossing the magical horror show that gets him to the Serpent Society and thus the book — another intriguing aspect of the story. Even without sight, Matt struggles greatly with the task, and though that element is handled about as well as can be expected for the short amount of page time, it was tough to really feel how horrific the challenge was since it was largely not detailed out for us (not that I really wanted to see it). For a regular person, it would have been a nightmare, but considering that superheroes — especially a relative dark hero like Daredevil — have seen and been in more incredible situations, Matt’s words about the difficulty of the challenge ring a bit hollow.
Copland’s art with exceptional colors by Javier Rodriguez is effortlessly engaging, straddling that line between cartoon and realism that best fits the book’s tone and sensibility. Copland delivers the B-Movie Monster characters with exactly the right affection and wink to their famous iterations, while still making them his own. Copland does a great job in how he renders Matt’s lack of sight and the compensation of his other senses. Although, while Matt’s sense elements work well as executed, because we only see what Matt sees in the “horror scene,” the story does lose some impact in translation. The style of this book is generally not one that we would expect to show us what it’s like to wallow in pure hate, but since the story is asking us to imagine it, it does fall down a bit in getting us there.
“Daredevil” #33 is a great example of a solid comic. While the issue isn’t the pinnacle of Waid’s seminal run, as the writer’s series winds down, it’s all the more important to appreciate the shocking high consistency of “Daredevil.” This book’s exit will leave a gaping hole in Marvel’s line, but readers are incredibly lucky to have had it this long.