A TURNING POINT! With Elektra at his side, Matt Murdock has launched his most ambitious campaign against injustice EVER, but as recent explosive and destructive events have unfolded, he has found himself more and more isolated - and with fewer allies than ever before?
Matt Murdock’s dream is on fire in Daredevil #10. The Avengers have come to Daredevil’s home. His compound is burning. His allies are falling. And despite all that, he’s again stuck on God’s plan for him.
Daredevil’s liberated criminal allies fall quickly in Daredevil #10. Elektra doesn’t fare much better against the combined efforts of Captain America and Black Panther. Matt finds himself facing Spider-Man alone. The first half of the issue is essentially an action sequence before Daredevil escapes the big melee, meets Spider-Man for a second time, and tries to save the Book of the Fist so his fight against the Hand can continue. In the process, he faces Goldy again and has to reckon with whether God and fate are his masters after all.
Daredevil #10 deals with both central themes in this stretch of Zdarsky’s run: the idea that the criminal justice system is broken and whether fate, generally or God specifically, is determining the course of Matt’s life. The first theme is the better handled of the two. The discussion of the issue is easy to follow. Matt’s viewpoint remains the same for the whole series: the system is broken, heroes are bad for contributing to it, and the entire thing has to be blown up. But it is worth wondering how much we’re supposed to be on Matt’s side about this viewpoint. After all, Samson called him out last issue for using the prison escapees in his private war at the expense of their own healing process. The problem is told from Matt’s perspective, so his argument is presented rationally and with conviction. But at the same time, it feels off when Matt derogatorily calls Spider-Man, a character long established as being empathetic and inclined to give second chances, a cop. There is a growing dissonance in the series between the beliefs Zdarsky has Matt espousing and his actions and words about them.
The second theme, Matt’s struggle against what may or may not be God’s plan, is somewhat muddled. As it is handled in Daredevil #10 alone, Matt’s inner monologue reckoning with the idea that God is forcing him down a path works. Indeed, these ideas are usually handled well in isolation within each issue. Here, Zdarsky paints a picture of a tortured man trying to do what he believes he’s supposed to despite it not being what he wants and causing him and others pain.
As a component of the larger story Zdarsky is telling, though, this idea has become messy. Matt vacillates about this on an almost issue-by-issue basis (just the last issue, he was waxing about how humanity’s violent nature had, in a sense, destroyed God). In some issues, he believes he has free will. In others, he doesn’t. In some issues, he accepts God’s plan. In others, he rages against it. It’s unclear whether this theme has started to lose coherence or if Matt’s lack of clarity is supposed to reflect a potentially existential crisis of faith. If the latter, Zdarsky isn’t letting the character arc breathe sufficiently between plot advancement to convey the idea entirely.
The action in Daredevil #10 is detailed and high-energy, which continues to be a staple of Checchetto’s work on the series. But of particular note are the close-up panels on Matt, Goldy, and Elektra. Checchetto gives Elektra a moment where she is simultaneously sad to be left behind while imploring him unspokenly to do just that. The art carries the emotion in the exchange between Matt and Goldy late in the issue. Checchetto never loses track of Matt’s feelings behind his shaggy hair and full beard, and that proves critical here, where Zdarsky’s dialogue is somewhat matter-of-fact to the circumstances.
Wilson’s color choices create an animated background to stage the issue’s action. Daredevil and Elektra’s compound is in flames. Still, rather than go for a more harsh red/orange palette which could enhance the threat of the fire, Wilson primarily chooses yellows with green highlights that emphasize how the fire is lighting up the night and downplays it as a source of danger and of itself.
Cowles’s lettering is efficient and effective in the sense that it supports the issue in a general sense. But it essentially doesn’t add anything, either. The sound effects aren’t particularly energetic, and there’s almost no emphasis on dialogue except when Peter, his mask off, is shouting for Matt.
There is an unfortunate “been there, done that” sense to the dominant themes continuing through this issue. And the underlying contradiction of Zdarsky’s themes (Matt believing that the existing justice system needs to be destroyed while remaining faithful to a religion that has rigid rules and punitive consequences) feels even more on display than usual. But on its own Daredevil #10 is largely effective with a fun story and exciting, high energy visuals.
Daredevil #10: A Dream on Fire
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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