I'll admit that when Andy Diggle took over "Daredevil" from outgoing writer Ed Brubaker, I was ready to drop the series -- no slight towards Diggle and artist Roberto De La Torre's abilities, I was simply looking at paring back the monthly comics budget and the story had reached a natural break point. However, after the events of "Daredevil: The List," it was just impossible to stop.
Diggle's second issue of the ongoing series, #502, continues the breakneck pace set by his arrival. In the tradition of Brubaker and Bendis before him, Diggle is putting Matt through the wringer, psychologically and physically, and it's never quite clear how in control Matt actually is of what happens to him. It's a brilliant strategy, and the freewheeling tone echoes the early, stunt-laden "Daredevil" issues -- the main difference is that the unknown Matt has flung himself into is a bigger one than simply leaping off a building, and the risks he encounters are far greater than a 12-storey drop.
After the kind of opening issue that left readers' heads spinning, Diggle brings things a little back down to earth with the reveal that Master Izo isn't quite as dead as he seemed. It's a justifiable fake-out, simply because there genuinely was concern from the readership over whether Matt had actually lost it or not when he agreed to kill Izo last issue. As long as the series is this unpredictable, there'll be no need to worry about the stories becoming stale, and the way Matt ducks Izo's question about leading the Hand presents genuine moral quandary about the direction that the character and plot are headed.
De La Torre's artwork retains the gritty, sketchy and noir-ish look that previous artists Michael Lark and Alex Maleev brought to the series. Daredevil has been remarkably consistent in its tone over the last 10 years or so, and it's a compliment to say that the artistic team are ensuring that the look stays at the high level it has attained.
Overall, Daredevil is as good as it has ever been, and Diggle's run is off to a stronger start than many would have predicted, given the long shadow cast by his predecessors. This issue, with its focus on the criminal underworld, may have been slower overall than the last two installments in Diggle's run, but it was always going to be a tall order to compete with the first two showings. Despite the downtime, "Daredevil" is currently as good as it has ever been, and hopefully Diggle's run will be a long and celebrated one.