When last we left ol’ Hornhead, he was in the deep South wheeling and dealing with monsters and demons for the pages of the Sons of the Serpent’s twisted, hateful Bible, and he managed to get away with a few of the more critical pages. Now he consults Stephen Strange about how best to proceed, and it seems there’s only one option: to let them know he means business. He accomplishes this in short order, but Kirsten McDuffie has more plans after Matt leaves. Dangerous plans. Mark Waid has done something absolutely amazing with this story: he’s taken something that could have been a soapbox to pontificate about the state of race relations in America and...well, frankly, he’s downplayed it. The Sons are, of course, evil and racist, but, and Kirsten observes this, they’re subtle in their hate and that is far more dangerous and infectious, particularly as they wear many masks. This isn’t a blaring neon sign proclaiming the evils of prejudice, it’s actually an incredibly effective and effecient examination as to how these thoughts and notions become so appealing to people who ought to know better, and even McDuffie’s speech is more nuanced, and even beautiful, than it would have been in the hands of a less inspired writer.
And speaking of inspired, we get Javier Rodriguez back as penciler and colorist, and there’s no reason not to predict that he’ll have “superstar” appended to the front of his title in the very near future, if it hasn’t happened already. His work on this book has been nothing short of incredible both at showing Daredevil’s powers from his perspective AND giving an absolutely glorious fluidity to his movements. This is actually a fairly light issue in terms of action, so seeing so much amazing illusion of motion is an unexpected treat. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention Alvaro Lopez’s inks, because they help frame every panel with a stark, crisp look that compliments the pencils and colors perfectly, highlighting exactly where it needs to and emphasizing all the right parts.
It’s a very minor quibble, but Dr. Strange looks...off in this issue. He looks very slight and stooped, possibly from his harrowing Infinity encounter, but he winds up looking a little bit more like his rival Baron Mordo than himself. Or a very plain version of the Mandarin.
Daredevil remains a favorite of mine, and this issue is simply another reason of how and why. Mark Waid takes concepts that shouldn’t work as well as they do and not only makes them work, but shoot far past what logical expectation tells us should be possible. I cannot stress enough what a joy this book has been to read, particularly going into it with little to no expectations. And having some of the best artists, both up and coming and established, behind him hasn’t hurt one iota. I truly think that this is as great as Daredevil has ever been.