Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto enter the ring for a championship bout as their senses-shattering run on DAREDEVIL reaches its most ambitious point yet! They’ve dragged Matt Murdock to the deepest and darkest places of his entire history—but they’re about to drag him even lower!
Matt’s quest to defeat the Hand took almost everything from him. And in Daredevil #12, he’s about to give up what little is left. Zdarsky’s run draws ever closer to its end as Matt prepares to do what any warrior of God will eventually have to do: fight the devil.
Matt’s soldiers are free. Elektra already was. As Daredevil #12 opens, Matt believes he’s done almost everything he’s meant to do on Earth. Almost. Matt tracks down Blindspot, who stands watch outside Siege Infernal, the place through which the Beast leaves hell. Or so Blindspot was told, and Matt’s prophecy book was revealed. Matt relieves Blindspot, telling him he will stand to watch from now on. But Matt’s true motive is very different. The soul of everyone who dies near the Siege Infernal goes to hell regardless. He means to go, even if he must fight through Elektra to do it.
In Daredevil #12, Matt knows he shouldn’t have created soldiers. He constantly complained about how the outside world didn’t rehabilitate criminals, yet Matt and Elektra made the same mistake by quickly turning them into soldiers. It was a contradiction that Matt didn’t seem to be aware of. Zdarsky circles back to that idea here. He doesn’t have Matt make any grand conclusions (in fact, he concedes to Elektra that they did accomplish everything they set out to do). But just showing that Matt recognizes the contradiction at work establishes a sense of self-awareness that Matt lacked for the last couple of issues before his island compound fell. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether Matt was starting to slip away from Zdarsky or whether it was an intentional inner crisis that wasn’t being given voice to. This doesn’t answer that question, but it tightens the character up, which only heightens the sense of conviction Zdarsky is giving him as the end of his run approaches.
The idea of Matt personally going to hell to fight the Beast is compelling as an extension of Matt’s struggle as a Catholic writ large and in this run specifically. But assuming he succeeds in getting there, the idea of a literal fight between Matt and the Beast (which seems to be more directly Satan-adjacent) is of questionable appeal. Zdarsky has played with several themes during this run, though, so if such an encounter ties into Matt’s questions of justice, free will, and the very existence of God, it could prove successful.
Daredevil #12’s highlight is the extended fight between Matt and Elektra–both its visual appeal and what it says about Elektra’s growth. The physical encounter is a treat to see on the page. Checchetto doesn’t draw a fight–he draws a dance. The duo’s moves mirror each other. Elektra’s sashes fly about whether she is still or moving.
Maybe most surprising is the relative stability of the two characters as this fight goes on. The faces are not tortured in expressions of stress, exhaustion, or anger. It’s unclear if this is intentional. Previous reviews have commented that Checchetto’s work is weakest regarding detailed facial expressions. As such, characters sometimes lack a sense of deep feeling. In this case, the lack of significant expression, intended or not, elevates this sequence. If the fight is a dance, it’s not messy or random–it’s a tango or a waltz. It has meaning.
Daredevil #12’s meaningful dance has beauty thanks to Wilson’s coloring, which reaches a new high in this issue. When Elektra first comes upon Matt and throughout their initial talk, they are lit by deep oranges and light reds as the two sit around a fire. This happens before the fight when the two characters express raw emotion. Once they settle into their fighting stances, the fire is replaced by light blues, dark greens, and hints of turquoise in the trees, grass, and sky. Pink leaves flutter about all during the fight. And all the while, Matt and Elektra contrast it, either in the dark red of their costumes or the total black of their shadows.
Matt’s thoughts turn solely to Elektra during this fight, and we get to the issue’s emotional core and, perhaps, the vibrant heart of Zdarsky’s run. But it is too elegant a realization to spoil here.
Cowles’ lettering, as is so often the case in his Marvel books, is very conservative. But it must be pointed out that his choice of where to place dialogue bubbles and caption boxes during Matt and Elektra’s final encounter never detracts from the striking visuals Checchetto and Wilson create.
Daredevil #12 continues to tie the series’ themes together as Zdarsky closes in on the end of his run. Anyone who doubted this run’s effectiveness, as indeed these reviews did at one point, can be reassured by these last two issues.
Daredevil #12: The Dance
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 8.75/108.8/10
User Review( votes)