Now that we’re entering the midway point in the Truth / Dare arc for Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil, it seems like all the pieces are in motion. The buildup for this arc has been long, and Matthew Murdock certainly has had a lot happen since he accidentally committed murder and confessed to it. Luckily for the Man Without Fear, his friends have got his back. Unfortunately for him, writer Chip Zdarsky might not. Issue 23 of Daredevil is beautiful, both literary wise and artistically. The team of Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto has been one of the most underrated duos at both Marvel and DC.
The issue follows on the last issue’s major revelation: the return of Kirsten McDuffie. After getting a call from Foggy, Kirsten decides to help him and Matt prepare for the trial of Daredevil. It’s clear Foggy had good intentions, but Matt is none too pleased to see his ex-girlfriend. For those who don’t remember, Matt and Kirsten seemingly lived happily ever after until Charles Soule had the Purple Children erase their time together from Kirsten’s memory (Daredevil volume 5, issue #20). Still ridden with the guilt of never telling her the truth about why they broke up, seeing her back and ready to be a team player adds another layer of guilt to a guilt-ridden catholic like Matt. However, to fans, Kirsten’s return is nothing but good news. One of the most influential characters in his life, her return might hopefully bring back a time in Matt’s life when he wasn’t always self-loathing.
While letting off some steam, Matt runs into his other ex-girlfriend: Elektra Natchios. What makes this moment so compelling is that Zdarsky sees the multiple dimensions Elektra has. Some might write her off as a temptation to give in to his desires, she’s so clearly much more than that. Zdarsky writes Elektra as someone who might toe the line but simultaneously works for the greater good. Some comparisons could be made between her and Talia al Ghul or Lady Shiva. That’s where her value also comes in, She’s not restricted to the same social norms and morals Matt is which also gives her the ability to have the information needed. Moreover, the power of this scene comes from their dynamic and the impact she has on the story.
This directly leads into a menacing meeting between Wilson Fisk, Daredevil, and a crawly web-head. This interaction is a gleaming example of why Spider-Man and Daredevil are some of New York’s best heroes and have one of the best relationships. Although the two might no longer remember each other’s identities, their reliance is undeniably important to each other. Both characters are riddled with guilt, self-destructive behaviors, and an unrelenting sense of responsibility to the city.
The reminder to Fisk that even if Daredevil’s gone, New York will still have a protector, and there’s still gonna be a bullseye on his head. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays into the Amazing Spider-Man title, where Fisk is set to appear in January to cause trouble. While this prepares to wrap up the issue quite nicely, it wouldn’t be fun if there wasn’t another bomb dropped on Matt. See, if Matt’s supposed to defend Daredevil in court, how’s he going to be in two places at once?
This is all in addition to the stellar writing by Chip Zdarsky, the art by Marco Checchetto is once again out of this world. It’s been said time and time again, but Checchetto’s art on Daredevil has always been nothing short of a grand slam. The definition he gives characters while also providing fine-tuned detail to both the foreground and background can bring the story to another level. It can only be defined as perfection. The facial expressions he gives the characters are another fine addition that brings the art to life. On top of this, the coloring of the story is nothing short of a perfect combination of realistic and comic-book life that makes the story even more compelling. With a series like Daredevil, it’s always important to convey emotions both that Matt’s experiencing as well as the environment around him. With art like Checchetto’s, that will always be a need not just met but exceeded.
Overall, Daredevil 23 stands out as one of the best issues in the series. Part of what makes this issue so phenomenal is even though he’s been in similar situations, the stakes have never been higher for Matt. And on top of that, it’s just about time for Matt to face the music for what he’s done. He might be able to live with himself moving forward, but that won’t mean he’ll be putting on the mask again anytime soon if he goes to jail. Yet, as scary as the future looks for Matt Murdock, he knows he has a path.