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Since comic books now are so tied into the “writing for the trade” style of storytelling, I often get a personal delight in comic book issues that tell an entire story in one issue. Daredevil #5 does just that, revealing exactly how Matt Murdock was able to fake the death of Foggy Nelson in order to relocate him to San Francisco under the radar. Although the issue is not earth-shaking, it is an enjoyable story with some strong emotional moments.
If you’ve been reading the re-launched Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, you already know that Daredevil/Matt Murdock has had to relocate to San Francisco after revealing his identity in court (Murdock was disbarred as a result of the reveal). You also know that Foggy Nelson, who has been battling cancer, was presumed dead by the public but really wasn’t. So the question was how did Daredevil fool people into thinking Nelson was dead, so that he could continue his treatments while not facing grave danger from Daredevil’s many enemies.
This issue answers that question, though it is a sizable twist involved. At the start of the issue, Matt is laying out the reasons to Foggy why faking his death makes sense now that Matt’s identity is exposed. Foggy agrees with the logic but feels saddened that he will go out a nobody, fallen to cancer (a fate that he still fights). Perhaps anticipating this, Matt engineers a battle with an armored version of the Leapfrog, wherein Foggy sacrifices himself to save the day, “dying” a hero in a very public way. The reality is that Hank Pym shrinks and rescues Foggy at the last minute.
The issue’s strength is in the interaction between Matt and Foggy. They’ve been friends for nearly the entire existence of the character of Daredevil, so they’re almost like an old, married couple. They can’t stand each other much of the time but they also need and care deeply for one another. Foggy is angry that Matt enacted this plan without his consent but also realizes that Matt was doing it for Foggy’s benefit and it succeeded wonderfully.
The fight sequence in Daredevil #5 is pretty credible for something staged. Overall, Samnee’s art and Javier Rodriguez’s colors make the entire issue a pleasure to read, even the talky parts. It’s a credit to Samnee that he’s able to make a bald and thinned (from chemo) Foggy still look like Foggy. That’s much harder to pull off than it sounds. The interplay between Waid and Samnee is great here. At times during the battle, there is hardly any dialog because Waid can trust Samnee to make the sequence work without it – and he does expertly.
I’m still not entirely clear on how Matt arranged for this fight and whether the Leapfrog knows what was happening. It’s a pretty extreme and potentially dangerous stunt to pull just to fake a death. But that’s Matt Murdock, extreme and occasionally reckless. While we didn’t necessarily need this issue (since we already know that Foggy wound up in San Francisco alive though he’s thought to be dead), the details and characterization still make this a worthy one-issue detour before the next arc.