Daredevil (2015-) #612
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Phil Noto
Daredevil #612 is the conclusion to the 4-part “Death of Daredevil” story arc. It also serves as the conclusion to Soule’s run on Daredevil, wrapping up three years of stories and setting up Zdarsky’s run in February. So, is it a satisfying conclusion? Did Daredevil really die? Neither question holds a simple answer, however, it works well as a single issue regardless of that.
I’ll give Soule credit for going somewhere I didn’t expect with the conclusion. Genuine surprise is rare in the “Big Two” books, so I always make sure to appreciate it when it happens. Though, that doesn’t mean the twist was totally worth it. While I found myself surprised that the story went to a place I wasn’t expecting, I can’t say it was entirely satisfying. It ultimately falls back on a tired trope. I’m conflicted on saying that it was the wrong decision, as it was well done and foreshadowed in previous issues, but I found it undeniably unsatisfying. It works as a reflection on the entirety of Soule’s run, but not so much from a story standpoint. A successful subversion of expectations is not always the strongest choice.
If you look past those ending pages, the book does still hold a significant amount of excitement. My personal favorite moment was the courtroom scene full of costumed heroes testifying against Fisk, as I’m a sucker for plotlines about superheroes in the judicial system. It was at that point when reading I started to feel that the plot was wrapping up too neatly, and I expected to complain about the ending being “too easy”. That feeling is what makes the twist so difficult for me to dismiss. Soule built it up very well, but it makes the arc feel almost pointless beyond making a statement.
I talked up Phil Noto’s art quite a bit in my #610 review, and that issue is still some of the best work I’ve seen from him. This one, however, feels like a slight step down. Noto has always produced gorgeous looking work, but for a time his sequential work suffered from stiffness. He has obviously gotten better in recent years, but there are bits in this issue that are still a bit stiff and awkward, much like the old Noto days. Let me be clear though, even a flawed Phil Noto is a sight to behold, and he really only falters within the shadow he cast himself. I suspect this step down in quality was due to the bi-weekly shipping that plagues so many books these days (curse you, editorial!). There are still pages in here that demonstrate his abilities very well, like the page with Kingpin in his office looking out over a sea of protestors. While it is simple in concept, it’s absolutely drenched in symbolism on top of being beautiful to look at.
Daredevil #612 is not a bad conclusion to Soule’s run, I would be more inclined to describe it as complicated. It’s still full of solid characterizations and great art, both of which have been a staple of the series since it’s beginning in 2015. This arc has been a stellar reflection on what Daredevil has gone through in the last three years, but a somewhat lackluster one when asked to stand on its own two feet.
This arc has been a stellar reflection on what Daredevil has gone through in the last three years, but a somewhat lackluster one when asked to stand on its own two feet.