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Since taking over the writing duties on Daredevil #1 (the previous volume), Mark Waid has shown off some really interesting storytelling choices, usually with collaborator/artist Chris Samnee. Waid’s initial run was 36 issues that mostly told one long, complex story. However, since moving Daredevil to San Francisco in the latest volume, he’s told more separate, self-contained stories. Daredevil #7 caps a short two-issue arc related to Matt Murdock’s mother.
Since he began in 1964, Daredevil’s origin (by Stan Lee) stated that he had been raised by his father, boxer “Battlin’” Jack Murdock, in Hell’s Kitchen. His father is killed after refusing to throw a fight, pushing Matt into becoming Daredevil. It wasn’t until Frank Miller’s legendary run on Daredevil in the mid-1980’s that we found out that Matt’s mother had left to become a nun, going by the name Sister Maggie. In the great story arc “Born Again” (often hailed as the best Daredevil story ever), a seriously-wounded Matt is cared for by Sister Maggie.
The question that had never totally been answered in the comics was why Matt’s mother left when he was a toddler. Waid has decided to tell that story finally. In Daredevil #6, Matt seems to remember a violent confrontation between his father and mother, leading him to believe Maggie left because she was being abused. However, after rescuing Sister Maggie from a kidnapping plot by the Wakanda government (she was protesting something Wakanda didn’t want to receive attention), we learn Maggie’s real story.
We find out in Daredevil #7 that the violent confrontation remembered by Murdock is only partially true. It was actually Maggie who lashed out at Jack. He shields young Matt and Maggie injures herself. Why was she lashing out? It turns out she was severely depressed and paranoid, largely related to postpartum depression. This is a daring move on Waid’s part because postpartum is still widely misunderstood. If this motive had been applied in previous comic eras, Maggie would probably have diagnosed as having “baby blues” or “hysteria.” Waid, however, sensitively and powerfully tells Maggie’s story.
The art on Daredevil #7 (and Daredevil #6) is handled by longtime Daredevil colorist Javier Rodriguez. Rodriguez is making the shift to full-time illustrator, which means he’s leaving Daredevil for other books, but he leaves on a reallyhigh note. His art is superb. It’s not quite as elongated and fluid as Samnee’s, but his figures are impressive, and he nails the emotional beats as Maggie tells her story.
The only drawback to the issue is that the detour through Wakanda is so short and resolved so (relatively) easily that it’s a bit anticlimactic. It does show Matt Murdock as an astute strategist, as he executed a plan that does not require him to fight his way out of Wakanda. While I always enjoy seeing superheroes resolve a situation using their mind rather than their fists, it feels a little too easy here. Maybe Daredevil #7 could have been the rescue in Wakanda, and #8 could have been Maggie’s story.
Still, that’s a pretty small complaint on an otherwise excellent, short story arc. It’s really interesting when creators are able to add to a long-standing character’s backstory in a way that is respectful to previous creators and their stories while still adding something significant and true to the character. It’s not easy, and Waid and Rodriguez manage it with Sister Maggie’s story in Daredevil #7. I’d guess that Murdock will soon become involved in long stories again, but the short ones have been very enjoyable.