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Comic books that are outside of the story arcs don’t have to be unimportant. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have put together a number of stand-alone single issues during their extended run on Daredevil. However, Daredevil #15.1, an issue outside of the current story arc, does feel pretty superfluous. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad issue. It’s not, but it doesn’t have the normal zip and emotional punch of most Daredevil issues.
Part of the problem of this issue is that it’s misplaced chronologically. This story takes place prior to the important (and status-quo changing) events of Daredevil #15. So why is it being published after that issue and why does it have a numbering that means that it will be read after issue #15? It’s a good question. This is clearly a fill-in issue, but one that takes place in a very specific time during the most recent ongoing arc of Daredevil, but not the current time. It’s pretty confusing what the purpose of Daredevil #15.1 was intended to be.
Ultimately, the time-sensitive portion of Daredevil #15.1 that takes place prior to issue #15 is only a framing device. The main story of this comic tells an episode from Matt Murdock’s past. It’s supposed to explain how Matt Murdock can reconcile the fact that he is a lawyer by day and a law-defying vigilante by night. This section of the issue, written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Peter Krause, has a decent story. However, the plot, revolving around a criminal who Matt does not believe is innocent but must defend anyway, is not convincing enough of a tale to explain the discrepancies of Matt Murdock’s day and night jobs.
The reality is that there are a lot of ethical and legal quandaries that are raised by Matt Murdock being a lawyer and a superhero. It is enough that Waid had Murdock flee New York State for San Francisco when he confirmed his identity as Daredevil. However, Guggenheim’s story makes it into a very cut-and-dry issue, one that Murdock considers once and then is always settled. I actually think the contradictory aspects of Murdock’s life are fascinating, but not when they’re handled so basically. So that aspect of Daredevil #15.1 does not feel satisfying.
There is a short second story to Daredevil #15.1 that is actually written (and drawn) by normal Daredevil artist Chris Samnee. It involves how Matt Murdock came to reveal his alter ego to old flame Karen Page. It starts with a battle against low-level criminal El Diablo and some sense-enhancing drugs. It is actually a more interesting story than the other one. It’s clear that Samnee’s storytelling talents as an artist translate pretty well as a scripter. However, due to space, the story is quick and does not really feature much character exploration or elements other than plot. So, though interesting, it feels rushed and a bit underdeveloped.
Since there are two different artists on Daredevil #15.1, the art style is somewhat inconsistent. Both Samnee and Krause are very talented and do well with their sections, but switching between them does call attention to the differences between them. Although I quite enjoy Samnee’s bold and slightly-cartoony take on Daredevil, Krause’s art during his section was a nice switch. His art is a little darker and more dramatic, a little reminiscent of a great Daredevil artist of the 2000’s, Alex Maleev. If the story had been stronger, that section could have been a nice departure.
Daredevil #15.1 has two major strikes against it: it is out of sequence with the rest of this series and its stories are either simplistic or too quick. Also, since they are flashback tales, they don’t feel as important. Despite some nice art, there’s not enough to prevent Daredevil #15.1 from feeling like an unnecessary diversion rather than a welcome one. It’s not bad but not really vital to those except for Daredevil completists.