Daredevil #17 Review

by Charles Martin on February 05, 2020

Daredevil #17 Review
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Fornés
Colourist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Matt Murdock is coming off a big win. He and Elektra just liberated zillions of dollars from the nefarious Stromwyns and spread it around the Kitchen Robin-Hood-style.

It goes without saying that good Catholic boy Matt rapidly turns his victory into something to feel guilty about. The supporting cast helps him along as he visits his personal stations of the cross: the mom of the crook he killed, Foggy, and Sister Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, the flood of cash into Hell's Kitchen has been noticed. Izzy Libris takes advantage of the windfall to renew her turf struggle with the other gangsters, and it promises to draw Matt back in sooner rather than later. 

By the end, Matt engineers a confrontation with the Stromwyns that answers a few questions but also sets him up for much bigger trouble in the immediate future.

As is par for the course for this title, Daredevil #17 moves several interconnected plots forward like a finely-crafted watch. The issue doesn't stand on its own very well, but it would be perverse to insist that it needs to. By this point, the creators (particularly Chip Zdarsky) have proven that they can craft a longer story over the course of many issues with exquisite skill.

#17, even more than most issues in this series, lives inside Matt's head. The narration and dialogue are polished and completely natural; I take it almost for granted that this is exactly what Matt Murdock -- a fictional guy -- would sound like. 

But this issue's script also shows that there's such a thing as too much focus; in the initial scene, the same thematic language about "being on a path" leaps from Matt's inner monologue into the dialogue of the crook's mother. It goes past serendipity, instead coming off as contrived.

On the visual front, Jorge Fornés shows off a Michael-Gaydos-esque taste for simplifying the characters while lavishing detail on the settings. It's a perfect fit for this volume's tone, breathing life into the Kitchen at every turn. The characters don't suffer for their simplicity; Mr. Fornés is good at making them emote through body language as well as facial expressions.

Nolan Woodard subtly adjusts the mood while deploying mostly-realistic colours. Several settings receive single-colour themes, shading the scenes that take place there. Green for Hammerhead's bar, red for Sister Elizabeth's church, blue for the Owl's hideout, and so forth.

Though this issue is short of action, it feels admirably eventful. It's just a lot of people talking, but the things they say matter. This is partly due to the consistent excellence of this volume's writing, but this issue doesn't rely on past numbers to make it meaningful. The prose is clear and the fresh plot developments are compelling by themselves.

The latest issue of Daredevil does what this volume does best: Push forward a complex story about Hell's Kitchen and its most tormented resident. Even with minimal action and a heavy focus on Matt's thoughts, this still feels like an ensemble story about the whole neighbourhood. It's brought to life with vibrant, realistic art and compelling twists in the ongoing plots; #17 is a fitting meal for fans whose palates have grown accustomed to high-quality storytelling.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I'm surprised by how strongly the one-page cutaway to the Kingpin hits. Seeing him on the sidelines, nearly broken, is disturbing.