Daredevil #32: Kentucky Monster Mash
Daredevil just got weird. Last issue ended with Daredevil uncovering just how deep the Sons of the Serpent have run into the world of law enforcement. After stopping an attempt to begin a race riot, Daredevil began stalking The Jester, the man who is helping the Sons of the Serpent set up their network. Issue #31 ended with Daredevil about to stumble into a trap featuring the hanging body of his best friend Foggy. Now, like I said, things are about to get weird.
Turns out the Foggy body isn’t real. The Jester has set up a pretty intense trap for Matt Murdock. He’s supposed to see the body (Jester doesn’t believe Murdock is blind), freak out and grab the suicide note, which has been laced with cyanide. However, Matt Murdock isn’t your typical mark. Sensing that the body is made of plastic and smelling the cyanide, Murdock walks away, pissing Jester off in the process. In a panic, Jester sends corrupt cops to kill Murdock, another bad move. Soon, Murdock is sending the cops upstate and the Jester is now in trouble with Sons of the Serpent.
Meanwhile, the really Foggy Nelson is alive and well and coming back from his bout with cancer. Murdock turns to his friend to try and figure out a clue to the Sons of the Serpent. The two uncover a connection to black magic, so Daredevil heads to the one guy that can shed some light on black magic. Yep, Doctor Strange. Strange points Daredevil in the direction of a man who can help him, a man down in the deep woods of Kentucky. So, fake bodies, The Jester, Sons of the Serpent, Doctor Strange and the dark magic of Kentucky.
Now it gets weird.
Murdock arrives in Kentucky in time to see a riot going down. Being a big city fella, Murdock thinks it’s a lynchin', so he goes all Daredevil in order to stop them. Problem is, it’s not a racial lynching – the folks of Kentucky are chasing down monsters, good old-fashioned movie monsters. Mummy, Frankenstein, Werewolf and Satan's Daughter. Things go awry, the monsters aren’t exactly friendly, and the whole thing ends with Daredevil shot, bleeding out on the ground.
Writer Mark Waid steps right out of the box on this issue, but still manages to make it fun. The dark elements are there – Foggy’s illness, the corruption of the justice system, monsters, Daredevil shot – but Waid manages to focus on being entertaining. Modern comic writers usually take the darker elements of the story and allow them to overtake the entire narrative. Instead, Waid has an ease to his storytelling, a relaxed vibe that is unique to comic books. You can read Daredevil without having to be initiated or depressed by it.
As good as Waid is, the story needs the visual gifts of Chris Samnee to make it work. I’ve said before how Samnee is a mix between Silver Age old school and modern indie comic art. Sometimes, I feel that isn’t painting a good enough picture of his work. Samnee has a unique style, something that is instantly recognizable. His pencils are bold, but rely more on sketch techniques then thick lines. Using his delicate drawing style, Samnee builds layers to his characters, as well as wonderful details. He has an inherent understanding of comic books and what makes them special visually. Kudos also to Javier Rodriguez for his awesome color palate.
Waid and Samnee are a smashing team. Their Daredevil brings a life to the story we haven’t seen since Brubaker and Miller.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)