Daredevil #7

Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni's "Daredevil" #7 picks up right where the cliffhanger left off last issue, with the bombshell of Elektra's desperate search for her daughter. The plot elements aren't original, but the central plot twist still packs some emotional punch due to Soule's pacing and Buffagni's visual flair for with facial expressions. Even before Murdock's ruminations in the captions, the reader is ready to believe in Elektra's anguish from the softened lines of her facial muscles and the sad stillness in her gestures and eyes when she talks about her child.

Soule's plot structure and pacing are excellent. The tension is high during the entire story, especially in the scenes between Elektra and Daredevil. Buffagni's page compositions, transitions, perspective and use of use of overlapping panels all keep the dramatic tension high throughout the opening fight scene. He continues to use zip-a-tone textures here, which isn't quite necessary; his technique for it doesn't add depth or interesting texture. It detracts from his clean and pretty linework, but it also adds a retro-looking, jittery tension.

Throughout "Daredevil" #7, the use of colored panel outlines and gutters reinforce the primary accent color and atmosphere without being too distracting, as Matt Milla's palette is on the simple side. In the first and last scene, the combination of black, white, red and gray preserve the depth and high contrast created by Buffagni's confident use of dark inks. However, in the scenes with monotones of orange or blue, he flattens Buffagni's backgrounds.

Milla's cyan and orange monotones don't help the scene where Murdock calls Linda Carter's clinic to check up on Blindspot, which feels flat and rote. It's a reminder of both Murdock and Blindspot's good hearts, but it adds nothing new. The dialogue in particular feels stale, even though it sets up future office scenes. Daredevil's legal career has gone back to being on the backburner in the last few issues, so hopefully this is a move in a direction that might remedy the balance. "Daredevil" #7 also doesn't reveal much about Daredevil's reclamation of his secret identity, but it does build up related suspense around an unnamed villain who knows enough to use Elektra against Daredevil.

The closing scene between Daredevil and Elektra has the same emotional poignancy as the opening scene. Again, Elektra carries the dramatic tension. Buffagni pushes the character through rage, shock and then a believable relief. He imbues Elektra with grace, even as she's picking herself up off the floor.

The path that Soule takes with Elektra is too easy. She's a scene-stealer, but her character doesn't go through any new motions; she's still a tormented, potentially salvageable femme fatale. "Daredevil" #7 just puts her through more trauma, getting almost all of its juice from kicking a damaged soul once again with the overused tropes of brainwashing and trigger phrases. It says a lot of Buffagni's skills that he's able to make the last scene emotionally effective despite Soule's plot trickery with the phone and the mind control. Beyond her personal tragedies, her beauty, her skills and the love/hate chemistry with Daredevil, there's not a whole lot else to Elektra. Soule and Buffagni are able to breathe life into the outlines of an old relationship between Elektra and Daredevil, but they haven't expanded upon it yet.

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