Daredevil #21 Review

by Charles Martin on July 22, 2020

Daredevil #21 Review
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colourist: Mattia Iacono
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Daredevil #21 is one of those comics that strains the review-each-issue-in-isolation mould. By itself, it's good. Even calling it great, by itself, isn't much of a stretch. 

But as the capstone to 20 issues of tremendously talented, character-driven storytelling? 

It. Is. Amazing.

Let me slide the "unsatisfying in isolation" bits out of the way right at the start. The subplot moments -- involving Fisk, Owlsley, and Izzy Libris  -- pale in comparison to the Daredevil content. And #21 is a bit short of action. (But surely after two barn-burning brawl-issues, that's no sin at all.)

And what is Matt Murdock up to? As promised at the end of #20, he's surrendering himself to the authorities. #21 is the story, in scrupulous detail, of exactly how he goes about that.

No, wait. I've got it wrong.

#21 is the story of Daredevil turning himself in. The difference matters, as much as anything in this series ever has.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything that the cover doesn't broadcast: This is the moment Matt puts the suit on again. Everything that's come before leads up to this. 

That goes for more than just this volume, in fact. By the end, a key point from Charles Soule's tenure on Daredevil will play a game-changing role. 

But this is mainly a greatest-hits combination of all of this title's strengths. The guilt over accidentally killing Leo Carraro. The soul-searching denial of the Daredevil title. The ethical sparring -- with detective North in particular.

Even the ultimatum from a certain wall-crawling associate gets revisited in a spine-tingling way as Daredevil faces the music.

The script is meticulously plotted and perfectly paced. Does the art live up to the words? It does and then some! Marco Checchetto concentrates his considerable artistic talents on two important jobs: rendering expressive faces and playing awesome cinematic tricks with light and shadow.

Plus, of course, he finally finally finally gets to draw Daredevil in the costume, in the air. It's … worth the wait.

But those above-mentioned jobs come back in a big way for a powerful moment in the final scene. Matt takes his mask off just once in this issue. Thanks to stellar art, it's every bit as impactful as the long-awaited sight of the suit.

Mattia Iocono's colours are a big part of the visual splendour. His nuanced shading adds the finishing touch of life to Mr. Checchetto's character art, and the soft, modulated tones he puts into the backgrounds add a painterly richness to the settings.

I hesitate to talk too much about Chip Zdarsky's script. It's not that there are left-field twists to avoid spoiling. It's that every great line of dialogue and every momentous development -- and there are a lot of them -- will land with equal parts delight and satisfaction for readers who have invested time in this series. This issue is an ending and a beginning, and Daredevil fans are going to love both.

Daredevil #21 marks a mighty turning point in Matt Murdock's life. It's the inevitable conclusion of almost everything this volume has done with the character. But it's not a finale; this issue bangs the gong to celebrate the return of Daredevil (with supremely talented storytelling) while also charting out a dark new path ahead of him. 

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I wouldn't dream of spoiling the monologue that goes on top of the "Daredevil in flight" spread. But … it is, no fooling, a goosebump-raising "I am Iron Man" moment.