DAREDEVIL IN HELL! Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto are on the last leg of their tour de force through Matt Murdock's life...and afterlife.
Matt Murdoch is in hell. Literally. Daredevil #13 catches up with the former leader of the Fist as he descends into the depths of the underworld for one last fight. The fight he finds is far from what he expected, though. And it will throw everything he believes into doubt.
Daredevil #13 rejoins Matt in hell. He’s fighting his way through a host of demonic creatures in search of the souls of his friends and in the hope of finding the Beast. Matt is successful in both respects, and if he can defeat the Beast he can save all the souls trapped in hell. Unfortunately, Matt finds another enemy as powerful as the Beast along the way.
Talking about Daredevil #13 without giving away the issue’s big twist is difficult. Suffice it to say that the central concept ties into Matt’s religious beliefs and his faith in the prophecies connected to the Fist. Though the issue doesn’t say it directly, there is an implication that much of Matt’s actions with regard to the Fist, and therefore the consequences of those actions, are the result of his own sense of pride. He was God’s instrument. The prophecies were intended for him. He was meant to save the world from the Hand. And when it all fell apart, he alone was going to fight the Beast and save his friends’ souls.
This twist does lead to a good turn for Matt near the end. He remembers what God is and considers that maybe the Fist was not the correct way to fight in God’s name. It’s that realization, and how he views himself as a result, that gives him the best shot to rescue the souls he’s come to rescue.
The one caveat to the issue’s effectiveness is that it likely won’t hit as hard for readers who have not been following the entirety of Matt’s growing involvement with the Fist and his continually developing relationship with Elektra in Zdarsky’s run. On its own, the issue isn’t difficult to understand, and the concept is straightforward enough. But without that background knowledge coming in, the strength of the reveal and Matt’s turn at the end isn’t as powerful.
Matt spends the entirety of Daredevil #13 in hell, and Checchetto’s depiction of it is quite effective. He delivers some of the expected imagery with lava, fire, and ugly demons. He includes barren, rocky landscapes and a mix of chains. And he draws a grotesque Beast and accompanying higher demon. It’s everything you want in a climactic battle in the underworld.
There is also no shortage of action on the issue. Unsurprisingly, Matt has to fight his way through hell to save his friends. One of Checchetto’s strengths throughout the series has been big fight sequences, and that remains the case here. Checchetto’s liberal use of lines and shading enhances detail for every character in combat and adds a greater sense of movement. The fight feels more kinetic.
Matt’s costume remains white throughout the issue, but it never takes on a glowing quality–Wilson never gives it the quality of there being any kind of divinity behind it. Wilson keeps the costume more subdued, almost darker white–just distinct enough from the landscape and creatures around him. While there isn’t a lot of contrast at times, Matt never gets lost on the page.
Daredevil #13 is very wordy at times. Cowles succeeds in most cases keeping the dialogue and narration flowing with the art. But there are moments where parts of the page feel overly cluttered. Cowles doesn’t deserve all the blame here. The size of some panels likely made it more difficult for Cowles to position dialogue and captions.
With two Zdarsky-written issues left after last month, the natural thing would be to expect a two-part final battle against the Beast to rescue Matt’s friends and tie up what loose ends remain. Daredevil #13 proves to be an effective and surprising penultimate entry, and it leaves the final issue’s events even more up in the air.
Daredevil #13: God is Love
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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