Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky Volume 2 (2022)
Reprints Daredevil #11 – 20
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Marco Checcehtto, Franceso Mobli, and Jorge Fornes
When we last left Matt Murdock, he had reached one of his lowest points. He’s having an affair with a woman who married into the mob, the Daredevil is being actively hunted by the police, Wilson Fisk is the mayor of New York City, and he’s been physically broken down. This is the moment that Elektra shows back up in his life. Other civilians have picked up the mantle of Daredevil but are in over their heads. Elektra sees her role at this moment to remind Matt of why he is crucial to Hell’s Kitchen. There’s also Detective North, a transfer into the NYPD who is determined to bring down masked vigilantes and stop the roiling corruption in the police force. Tensions are incredibly high, and the powder keg feels like it will blow.
Chip Zdarsky has been one of those brilliant revelations for me. As I’ve stated before, Daredevil is one of those superheroes I haven’t read much of, so I don’t have a long-standing love of the character like I do for Spider-Man or the X-Men. Nevertheless, Zdarsky has managed to bring in all the character elements and showcase why he’s an essential part of the Marvel Universe. One of the main focuses of this Daredevil run is the structure of organized crime in Marvel’s NYC. An early Daredevil foe, the Owl, has been revamped into a vicious mob boss who is not afraid to get blood on his hands. As a result, he makes Fisk look reasonable.
It could be argued that Wilson Fisk is part of a trio of co-stars alongside Murdock and Detective North. He has a moment in the first half of this collection that looks to color his trajectory for the rest of the run. In a moment of mental collapse, he murders a wealthy guest at a dinner party in someone else’s house. The sequence has Fisk’s right-hand man taking control of the situation, covering things up, disposing of the body, and framing it as Fisk discovering someone had committed suicide in the bathroom. However, what is most compelling is the character work Zdarsky does with Fisk, showing him as anything but cool, calm, and collected. He’s gone “legit,” The pressure of so many eyes on him like never before is getting to the former mob boss.
Zdarsky’s influences are evident, particularly Michael Mann’s films. There’s an excellent issue where Murdock disguised as Daredevil sits down for coffee with North at a diner a la Heat. Their exchange is an integral part of understanding the relationship the characters have and how it will change soon. Murdock is driven by deep guilt about the violence he’s responsible for, and we learn North transferred from Chicago for similar reasons. This scene also does a fantastic job of explaining why reliance on vigilantism is very dangerous. North believes he needs to be held to greater accountability for what he did, which fuels his passionate crusade to do the same to the police and masked heroes in the city.
By the time we reach the halfway point, so many forces are pitted against Murdock. The NYPD. The Libris crime family. The Owl. Hammerhead. The Stromwyn Twins. Fisk. It showcases how wonderfully Daredevil operates in the underdog position. The best stories for this character are when he has been beaten down so low it seems like he can’t possibly win. Some incredibly shocking moments happen before this book concludes, particularly around Murdock’s affair with the mob wife. I know the Devil’s Reign event is happening right now that is the product of these stories, and I have to wonder how high the stakes could go. They feel so heightened here.
My vote for the best moment of the volume is when the Stromwyns spend some money to bring in a team of very effective killers like Bullseye, Crossbones, and The Rhino. Hell, Zdarsky makes Stilt-Man feel like an incredibly dangerous foe to go up against. Marco Checcehtto’s gorgeous artwork brings the massacre of Hell’s Kitchen to life. It’s one of the most kinetic action sequences I’ve read in comics in a long time. Zdarsky cuts between the villains’ revelry in death & destruction with the people of the Kitchen scrambling to survive and Murdock being pushed even further. If that wasn’t enough, there’s an incredible reveal involving a character who otherwise seemed to just be part of Murdock’s redemption arc. I don’t know much about Daredevil lore, but I knew who this was when I saw them, and my jaw dropped. By the end of this book, you’ll see Daredevil and Fisk back to back physically fighting some of the hero’s deadliest foes. If you have even an inkling of interest in Zdarsky’s run, I highly recommend you start reading it. This is some of the best superhero comics right now, and he’s coming soon to DC to begin writing Batman.
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