Daredevil #23 Review

by Charles Martin on October 21, 2020

Daredevil #23 Review
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colourist: Marcio Menyz
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Thanks to CTG's generous "reviewer's choice" policy, I get to cherry-pick the best of the best for my reviews. I dish out a lot of high ratings and I stand behind them.

But I'll often post a 9/10 or an 8/10 on an issue in a strong series and explain it was "good, but just part of a larger story." And I think this is a genuine challenge in comics creation; mid-arc issues are at a disadvantage compared to kickoffs and climaxes and even one-shots.

But crafting a perfect "middle chapter" in a larger arc is not impossible.

The proof? Ladies and gentlemen, Daredevil #23.

It's a simple recipe. Three short scenes on the legal preparations for Daredevil's trial. A crime-boss meeting that morphs into "Daredevil threatens the bosses." A sharp Daredevil critique from Elektra. And a heart-wrencher of a Daredevil-Spidey scene.

One problem with "second act" issues is that they often have a shortage of plot development. That's not the case here! DD's legal team takes a huge (and surprising, and hilarious) step forward. Mayor Fisk names a new Kingpin. And the rift between Daredevil and Spider-Man is healed magnificently.

It certainly doesn't hurt that all this action is illustrated by Marco Checchetto at the absolute height of his powers. The cityscapes are uniformly incredible, and no less amazing are the flawless characters flashing in front of them. Mr. Checchetto's poses and faces are impeccable, and his Fisk is, for me, the paradigm by which all other renditions should be judged.

Colourist Marcio Menyz is a vital part of the art team. The artful play of shadow and light is surely a close collaboration between artist and colourist. But I think the most talented colour work in the issue is in the brightly-lit scenes, where Mr. Menyz converts Mr. Checchetto's scratchy facial shading into appropriate flesh tones. It gives the characters a lambent glow and sends them leaping off the page.

It's really all the creators working together that spins up true storytelling magic here. One striking moment that I hope isn't too spoiler-y: The Daredevil-Spidey conversation eventually involves the heroes sharing their regrets. This talk goes on for hours, and the words shift from dialogue to narration to summarize it. The art shows the heroes moving as they talk. And they end up on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The words don't come within a mile of stating it. But we know what regret Spider-Man is talking about there

There's no shortage of quality to praise in Chip Zdarsky's script. Besides the perfect pace and smooth scene transitions, his dialogue is relentlessly great. And every character's voice is unique. Look no further than the contrast between Foggy and Elektra: They're both criticizing Matt's hubris, and their scenes are practically back to back. Yet not one line, one word, of their dialogue is interchangeable. They are simply, completely, naturally distinct.

Daredevil makes the most of his last pre-trial days in Daredevil #23. He has a legal team to assemble and villains to intimidate. This is not a beginning or an ending; it is a middle chapter. But thanks to absolute brilliance from every member of the creative team, it is possibly a perfect middle chapter.

Our Score:


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