I cannot believe it has been over four years since Waid took the horns of Daredevil and though Samnee is synonymous with the book, his first issue was actually number twelve. The pitch was simple: Daredevil was going to be happier. The first ever cover even featured a sneaky little grin. This was met with great scepticism from myself, as it is not possible to just will a person into positivity. But that is not what Waid actually did because if you were to ask the question; what are the cardinal characteristics of Matt Murdock? You would answer with honour, morality, respectability, determination, tirelessness, and devotion but if you delved a little deeper into the Miller, Bendis and Brubaker runs you may wish to add confusion, depression, solemnity, pessimism, and anxiety. He has been all of these things because ultimately he is a man that has seen failure and the ones he love suffer needlessly because of his actions as Daredevil. Now you answer me if any of those emotions have not appeared in Waid’s run of this book, and even more interestingly which ones don’t appear in the final issue of the run.
Matt Murdock has lived in difficult times and suffered some appalling tragedies, but what I never understood was how he managed to get out of them. Even with the earlier writers, it always seemed to be a case of turning the corner and being positive again, or finding a friend who offers forgiveness until the next unfortunate event. Hence you can understand my scepticism at the newfound optimism. Mark Waid didn’t just turn a corner, he guided you through every part of it. His entire run has been rooted in introspection, even the title of the final arc alludes to that: The Autobiography of Matt Murdock. Every difficult circumstance affords the opportunity for Daredevil to understand what his opponent is thinking and how to get out of the situation. Not only is Matt’s personality under scrutiny but those of his opponents are too. We have seen some incredible character profiling from the vulnerability of a childhood bully, the love lost of another blind hero, the emotional fragility of purple children, the jealously of an older daredevil and most poignantly, the failings of a mother and father. The stories are those of struggles and how to overcome them, and not just with Matt but all of his enemies. Waid does not allow Murdock to wallow in self pity like so many creators have done before. He takes the positive outlook and drives Matt towards it, and the internal monologue acted as a barometer of his mood throughout. It has been an incredibly emotional ride with the final arc dedicated to finally extinguishing the archetypal adages of Daredevil, his identity, his penchant for vulnerable women and his not so depressive tendencies.
Mark Waid has had an incredible selection of artists to join him, which began with Paolo/Joe Rivera and Marcos Martin and soon saw full artistic duties handed over to Javier Rodriguez and the fantastic Chris Samnee. The latter pairing have created a Daredevil tome with incredible expression and creativity, one that is rarely seen elsewhere. They developed a way of depicting sonic waves and sound effects that actually helped to understand how vulnerable Matt is because he is blind but also how insightful his heightened senses are in a battle. It almost seemed as if Waid gave them a fight scene to arrange and they just worked on the most inventive original sequence of pages time after time. Not only that but the actual emotions on the page were versatile and perfectly timed. The colours have always been bright, even when they weren’t which continued with Matt Wilson taking the reigns from Javier over the past year. The covers always conveying interesting ideas and to this day my favourite one will be of Murdock running a washing line with the hanging clothes incidentally spelling out his name.
The final and probably most important aspect of the book that cannot be forgotten is the relationships Matt has had throughout and especially that with Foggy. Most of the previous runs will attest to this rapport but this incarnation struck the biggest chord with me, especially in the faking of his death and his battle with cancer. Each and every time it is Foggy that truly understands Matt and is the only motivation he will ever need. I struggle to think of many truer and tested friendships in the whole of comics and is one to cherish and rejoice in for many years to come. And with that I say the biggest and most heartfelt thank you to Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez, Matt Wilson and Joe Caramagna. Farewell thee Matt Murdock, I really wish you wouldn’t go.