It didn't even hit me until this new issue of "Daredevil" showed up on the shipping lists that we didn't have an issue last month. Turns out the book has temporarily shifted to every two months, although there's a one-shot for May to try and help fill that gap. That said, as soon as I started reading "Daredevil" #506, it was like hanging out with an old friend. The events of the previous issues are still fresh in my mind, something that's a good sign for the general strength of Diggle's run to date.
This storyline, though, is definitely marking a slight shift in "Daredevil" that we haven't seen in quite a while. Brian Bendis and then Ed Brubaker had gone for a more realistic approach to the character and his surroundings. Sure, there were still super-powers on occasion, but even those felt somewhat muted and downplayed. Here, though, Diggle and co-writer Antony Johnston are bringing back some temporarily abandoned elements of "Daredevil" eras past. And one of those elements, specifically, is the Hand's use of magic.
I was fully prepared to reject this re-introduction of the fantastical to "Daredevil," if only because it looked like it might clash with what we've had for the last ten years on the title. I shouldn't have worried, though. The return of the dark arts into "Daredevil" ends up clicking in just about as well as, say, the White Tiger being resurrected by the Hand during Brubaker's run on the book. It's just a little more overt here, and it makes sense that in a story where someone's trying to assassinate one of the stronger power holders within the Hand that they'd use any means necessary to do so. The issue itself is mostly predictable, but in some ways that's what Diggle and Johnston are going for. You can feel Daredevil's frustration at the lack of understanding, and it serves as a good distraction for our title character so that he doesn't see what's really going on underneath his nose.
Marco Checchetto provides guest art again this month, and his art is a little more exaggerated and standard comic book style than regular artist Roberto de la Torre. It's not bad, but I'm not completely convinced he's a good person to sub in for de la Torre. Checchetto is surprisingly best at the quieter moments; Bakuto lying on the floor stunned, or angrily confronting Daredevil. The fight scenes, on the other hand, feel a little messy and off. There's something not quite right about the staging of those parts of the comic, with some panels feeling a little too much like a smear of art across the page rather than distinct figures and actions. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth tries to provide a muted look throughout the issue, but I think it backfires in the action sequences, where a brighter and more crisp look might have helped.
Diggle's run on "Daredevil" has been slightly uneven; some issues great, others a little too by-the-numbers. Maybe it's the change of scenery for the story, maybe it's having Johnston on board as a co-author, but it does feel like things are stabilizing as a result. Hopefully once de la Torre returns, Diggle and Johnston can get the book up to full speed. Diggle's first issue had a lot of great potential, and I think with the proper attention the book can get back up to what it promised there.