The Hand have made Matt Murdock's life a living hell for years, but as Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto enter the crescendo of their critically acclaimed and chart-topping run, the villainous cadre of ninja may have finally gone too far, pushing Matt and every relationship he has to their breaking points.
The Fist is gone. Matt’s compound is destroyed. His quest to rehabilitate criminals outside a system he feels is broken is over. Daredevil #11 focuses squarely on Matt in the aftermath of his monumental failure, proving more effective thematically than the previous issue.
Daredevil #11 begins three weeks after the previous issue’s devastating events. Cole North, no longer able to work in what he believes is a failed system, is resigning from his police internal affairs job. Matt is crashing at Cole’s place, asleep when Cole arrives. Cole is outraged. He gives Matt a little money and kicks him out. Matt spends much of the issue walking around Hell’s Kitchen, largely wallowing in his past failures. He reads the Book of Prophecy one last time before it bursts into flames. Finally, he sees only one course of action: to confront the Stromwyns hoping to save Elektra.
Zdarsky delivers a cleaner, tighter story with Daredevil #11. It’s not as conflicted in theme and manages to unify the prophecy Matt has been following with his belief in God, God’s will, and God’s wrath/punishment. As is the case with so many stories heavily rooted in religion or mythology, readers steeped in the knowledge of the inner workings of the dogma may question Zdarsky’s interpretation vis a vis Matt. Still, in the context of the story, it works.
The way Matt reconciles the prophecies with God’s will almost read as him absolving himself of responsibility for his actions. Even if he is damned for what he’s doing and what he’s about to do to save his wife, he believes that it’s part of God’s works. This does play nicely into his confrontation with the Stromwyns because, in that sequence, he feels not just like a believer but an irrational zealot.
Cole is handled better in Daredevil #11 than at any point prior. He comes across as the one character genuinely changed by his time with Matt. Even Matt’s conviction in the cause and ideals he initially set out to build upon has been shaken. But Cole found something meaningful, and if it is Zdarsky’s last comment on the idea that the system Cole and Matt were a part of is fundamentally broken, it is effective.
De Latorre is back on the art duties for Daredevil #11, and it’s a welcome choice. While both he and Checchetto have done outstanding work on the series, they each have particular strengths. De Latorre is somewhat better at complex, emotional facial expressions. His depiction of characters usually gives them a rougher edge and greater intensity. This certainly works with Matt, but it is more effective with Cole. It underscores his passion and conviction and further sells his commitment to finding a new way to seek better justice beyond the existing corrupt institutions.
Late in the issue, De Latorre delivers a moment of absolute brutality. It’s a big shock and reinforces Matt’s sense of zealotry.
Wilson reinforces the last issue’s catastrophic inferno with critical uses of reds and oranges, and yellows in this issue. One panel is a flashback to the previous issue with Cole staring at the compound ablaze. It makes sense for the fire motif to be used. Later in the case, as Matt reads the prophecy book, distinct flames float around and above him. Behind him is the red and orange cloud of an undefined inferno that calls to mind the burning compound. The most exciting use of the color scheme is early in the issue when Cole punches Matt before kicking him out. The panel radiates yellow and light orange from around Cole as he throws the punch. It doesn’t quite call to mind the same fiery quality of the other panels, but it reinforces that same failure from the last issue.
Cowles’s lettering is uniform mainly throughout. He uses larger font a couple of times for emphasis in dialogue. And during the scene with the Stromwyns, Cowles uses wobbly-looking bubbles when the Stromwyns are scared or under duress.
Daredevil #11 is a step back up in narrative quality as this storyline comes to a close. The Iron Fist backup story is also fun and effective, though not at all connected to the main story. The main story ends on a note of equal parts desperation and foreboding.
Daredevil #11: Damned by God’s Work
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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