Review by Frank Plowright
The Daredevil You Know is such a slim publication that it barely merits the squarebound format, but thankfully the Daredevil we know by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee is defined by quality, not quantity.
Since having Daredevil’s identity made public Waid hasn’t really dealt much with the idea. He’s had it act as a lure for the legal services of Murdock and McDuffie, and in West-Case Scenario a book deal for an autobiography was tendered, but The Daredevil You Know is all about fame. Daredevil realises he can change his look if everyone knows who he is, a very good opening story deals with the possibilities enabled by building up a strong online presence, and there’s a follow up to a previous story in which the power to watch an entire city manifests. No conclusions as to the pros and cons of fame are reached, but Waid offers more aspects than we might have considered.
Chris Samnee’s art is again peerless throughout, but best seen on the opening two-parter where old Daredevil foe then friend Stuntmaster drops by. The plot is structured to present the impossible on motor bikes, and Samnee’s extrapolations of this are amazing. However, he’s an all-rounder, and the sample art showcases his strong character-based storytelling, an anecdote perfectly delivered.
Kirsten McDuffie was a very strong supporting character during the New York days, but for much of the subsequent material she’s been well capable of a sardonic quip without really shining. It’s pleasing, therefore, to see her transcend the role she’s been allocated as Daredevil’s girlfriend to take another turn in the spotlight in her own right.
The Daredevil You Know motors along very nicely indeed until the final chapter, when Waid pulls the rug out from under Daredevil’s life astonishingly. Throughout his superhero career Daredevil has known whether or not the truth is being told simply by listening to someone’s heartbeat. It’s a gimmick Waid has worked with several times in earlier stories, as if looking for flaws in the process, and subconsciously it’s also conditioned the audience to question the accuracy of who can be trusted. When Waid drops his bombshell it’s achieved very smoothly. We’ve been shown everything that’s necessary over the previous collections and one hell of a cliffhanger leads into The Autobiography of Matt Murdock.
If you’d prefer this material in hardcover you have two options. The Rolls Royce of choices is the second Daredevil by Mark Waid Omnibus, featuring Daredevil’s entire San Francisco experience under Waid and Samnee, coupled with his final days in New York. Alternatively there’s Daredevil by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee vol. 5, which restricts itself to this content and the next paperback.