Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Roberto De La Torre
Coloring by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering by VC's Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
On Sale October 7th, 2009
Is the Hand just a weapon, that can be used for good as well as evil? Or is it a self-imposed prison, a one-way ticket to damnation?
It's this question that really sums up Daredevil #501, a rock-solid cautionary tale that feels epic in scope, as we witness the Last Temptation of Matthew Murdock.
Storywise, Andy Diggle really starts his run with a fantastic introduction that hearkens a little bit to Boondock Saints -- using the adage about evil triumphing when good men do nothing as a counterpoint to the debate about ends justifying the means -- but it's the end of the first act that suddenly runs electric. Without giving too much away, Diggle actually surprised me with his choices, and it really helped set a hopeless, almost Shakespearean tone to this tragedy. This scene alone is worth the purchase -- the action is well-paced, and more importantly, it's a shining character moment for all involved.
After the first act, however, the issue seems to slow down a bit. The second act -- which primarily is used to flesh out the supporting cast a bit -- flows pretty well, giving some good exposition and setup for them in the future. The one quibble I had, however, was the fact that Foggy's greatest fear -- Matt Murdock being corrupted by the Hand instead of controlling it -- didn't feel quite as convincing as it could. The guilt was all right, but the fear wasn't. It's the final scene with Matt and Master Izo, however, that sort of stumbled on the dismount -- it seemed to recount the intro a little too much, and was a little too wordy (and whiny) for my taste.
In terms of the art, Roberto De La Torre is definitely a smooth transition from the work of Michael Lark and Alex Maleev. The jagged shadows, while not as heavy as his predecessors', look great, and while his anatomy feels just a little too beefy for my taste, De La Torre is great at pulling the camera back at just the right moment to give some amazingly fluid action. Whether it's seeing the newly-redesigned Hand ninjas jumping off a building, or seeing just a quick cut back to Matt's chief enforcer, the Black Tarantula, it all looks great. One page in particular -- where De La Torre manages to fit twelve panels into one page -- is really masterful, as he manages to balance clarity and brutal pacing. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth is also an unsung hero here, as he is likely the biggest contributor to maintaining the visual consistency from the previous art team.
Andy Diggle has certainly opened up his tenure on Daredevil with a bang, as he injects a new level of tragedy into our hero's life. Obviously, any casual reader would know that Matt Murdock has always been plagued by loss and bad choices -- but I feel like the stakes have really been heightened in this issue, as he is struggling with a newer, even more dangerous adversary: hubris. Whether you're thinking of Macbeth or you're thinking of The Godfather, Daredevil is meddling with forces that are scarier than even he comprehends -- and watching that struggle is both horrifying and profoundly satisfying. If anything, Diggle and company now have to worry about coming to a payoff that's worthy of such a great first issue -- but at least for now, like Murdock and the Hand, this team has me firmly in their grip.