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Daredevil #18 concludes Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s fantastic run on the series with a satisfying issue, resolving all the major recent plot points and hitting some emotional highs related to the friendship between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. Although certain elements of the resolution felt a little abrupt, and this wasn’t quite as good of an issue as the past couple, it still serves as a good close on a stellar run and intense final arc.
There are really two distinct parts to Daredevil #18: one is the resolution of the final arc and the second is an epilogue, wrapping up loose threads. In the first part, Daredevil disguises himself as Ikari (killed by The Shroud in the last issue) and stalls for time against the Kingpin to save Foggy and Kirsten while The Shroud and Jubula Pride somehow convince The Owl (who can now interact with all machines) to release all available information on Wilson Fisk to the media and the authorities, meaning they are beating down his door while Daredevil beats him up.
The resolution of the threads left open in Daredevil #18 is effective but also a little by-the-book. I find it a little hard to believe that someone as calculating as Fisk could be fooled by Daredevil just wearing a different costume. Are Murdock and Ikari the exact same body size? Also, Fisk has been battling Murdock for years. Wouldn’t he develop a sense of when he was around? Waid and Samnee have been putting Matt Murdock through the wringer lately, and it’s been great. In Daredevil #18, I feel like they let him beat Kingpin and clean up the mess caused by The Shroud too easily. It almost seems as though this was a hastily put-together ending that was supposed to be more drawn out because it feels a little rushed and underwhelming as a close.
The other problem I have is that the ultimate battle for Waid’s Daredevil is against Kingpin, even though he only appeared in the last three issues. On one level, it makes sense since they are such perfect opponents. However, it’s a little strange that Kingpin is the ultimate take-down when he hasn’t really been bothering Daredevil nearly as much over the past few years (during Waid’s tenure) as other villains. Kingpin’s actions in the final arc do justify his fate in the story, but I wish some of the resolution had affected other foes.
Even with these complaints, Daredevil #18 is still a solid issue and it wraps up a great final arc, with Daredevil #17 being one of Waid and Samnee’s best issues on the title. When read as a complete arc, some of my complaints on this issue will be less important. Waid has done incredible work on Daredevil, which has had a long history of strong writing but had gotten a little bogged down in the dark n’ gritty motif before he took over. Waid revitalized the book with a different tone. It wasn’t light, but it was more fun while still visiting dark and emotional places.
Samnee has been a crucial part of Waid’s work on Daredevil since taking over, and he has some great panels in this issue. In some ways, the last scene of Daredevil #18, which occurs after the battle with The Kingpin, is one of the best. Matt is having trouble dealing with the idea that all of his recent maneuvers have left his loved ones publicly exposed and constantly in danger. Foggy gives him a heartfelt pep talk that might bring a little moisture to your eye. Samnee draws the scene beautifully, and it serves as a wonderful contrast to the fierce battle sequence that he illustrated earlier in the issue.
Incoming writer Charles Soule and artist Ron Garney will have enormous shoes to fill when Daredevil relauches. Waid has shuffled the deck with Matt Murdock, but he’s also left DD and associates in relatively stable positions as characters. Soule will be able to tell almost any kind of story he chooses. Daredevil #18 is a nice cap on a great run by Waid and Samnee and while it’s not their best work, it hits a lot of the right notes as a send-off.