WRITER: CHIP ZDARSKY
ART: STEFANO LANDINI
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2021
REVIEWED BY: ROLLO TOMASSI
Daredevil #34 feels like we are coming close to the finale (for now) of Zdarsky’s Daredevil run. Several plot points are finally coming together with an issue that breaks Matt out of Prison and looks like he’s on a collision course between Elektra and Bullseye.
After last seeing Matt looking as if he‘s taken over the prison in the midst of a riot, Detective Cole is sent in as an attempt to reason with Matt. We learn that the big conspiracy Matt was trying to uncover in the prison involved the Warden doing experiments on the inmates. Matt discovered a plan to infect the inmates with a virus that makes them more psychotic and able to infect others in the community. Why? Well, the point was to continue the endless cycle of incarceration so people in power can continue to profit from it.
The story continues with Matt providing an impassioned speech to Cole about how frustrating this is. Putting aside the problems with this profit-making plan (how do you control who the infected ex-cons come into contact with?), the setup was a great scene that allowed Matt to come off less controlling than usual. People forget that one can argue with training and experience Matt may have a more disciplined mind than even Batman. So, to see him giving into his anger almost gleefully, is scary.
Now, as interesting as the story development was, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the progression of Detective North. Cole has evolved into an interesting new addition to Daredevil’s supporting cast. He is someone that can actually go toe to toe with Matt in a fight and is quick to call Matt on his self-righteousness. Also showing his keen Detective skills, Cole quickly notices that Matt himself is actually infected by the virus.
However, as the story continues through the chaos of Cole and Matt’s fight, the Police attempt to retake the Prison. And finally, Matt escapes… but only after he finds out that Bullseye is back in the city. Therefore, Matt feels like he needs to stop him. Meanwhile, Elektra spends the issue getting ready to make herself bait to draw Bullseye out so she can hopefully stop him. When she finally meets up with Bullseye, Elektra is surprised to find someone there in a “DD” shirt ready to team up with her. And, it’s not Matt!
The prison confrontation between Matt and Cole is the highlight of the issue. Throughout this series, Cole has come and gone periodically, but outside the opening issues of this volume, we haven’t had a lot of good time spent with Cole. Likewise, despite technically being the “Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen” these days, since Elektra became Daredevil, she has felt like she’s stuck in neutral.
Bullseye being the reason Matt finally decides to break himself out of prison just didn’t have the impact it should have. Daredevil has smacked around Bullseye so many times over the years that each time he’s brought back it loses its importance. Yes, villains come back all the time, but the Daredevil/Bullseye rivalry has been largely milked from one big story close to 40 years ago. Yes, Bullseye also killed Karen Page over 20 years ago now (damn I feel old). But since then, does Bullseye really feel like a big threat when he appears? What Daredevil needs is for someone to develop a more diverse Rogue’s Gallery besides constantly going between Bullseye and the Kingpin. He’s had other foes over the years and they need to find a way to make them more interesting.
Moreover, The art by Landini captures the prison riot and all its chaos in a nice fashion. Elektra’s DD costume looks great. Plus, the art retains that grounded street-level style familiar to those that miss the Daredevil Netflix series.
I know I sound like I’m down on Daredevil right now but I’m really not. Daredevil #34 was actually much better than the past few issues. Several plot points are finally coming together. The Cole and Matt fight is by far the best aspect of the issue. And, with the series planning to end or go on hiatus with issue #36, it feels like things are coming together to make an enjoyable finale.