Charles Soule's tenure on Daredevil has certainly been a darker turn for the Man Without Fear than the one Eisner Award-winning Mark Waid wrote. This book has played a lot with the noir-cum-mystical martial arts flick influences that have come to define the Daredevil mythos over the years. It has done this pretty well, especially when helped by artists like Goran Sudzuka. Is it better than Waid's Daredevil? No, but it has an identity all its own and is a good addition to the library of Daredevil titles.
Daredevil #21's adventure begins with the long talked-about assault on New York's criminal underworld, which Matt Murdock has said his newly secret identity will help. After the previous arc showed us how his identity once again became shrouded in secrecy, this feels like the culmination of all the plot threads that Soule has woven into the series thus far.
Daredevil, along with Luke Cage and Echo, ambush the villain Ammo and his posse as they plan to start an apocalyptic assault on New York. The heroes succeed in bringing down the cell as we get flashbacks of Matt talking to the district attorney about his plans to land a lethal blow on New York's crime scene through the justice system. Daredevil #21 ends with the implementation of this scheme, which apparently involves many of New York's street-level ass-kickers.
Matt's plan definitely inspires a lot of curiosity out of the reader, and one is left wondering where he's going with this. It seems ambitious, and ambitious has historically bitten Daredevil in the ass (see also: Shadowland). However, this seems more methodical than impulsive, so we will just have to see.
To move into spoiler territory, Daredevil taking the stand in the trial against Ammo does threaten to really start re-treading Waid's Daredevil. The DA tells Matt before this that if any of his secret-identity hero friends are asked to expose said identity, they will have to — and it may blow the case. If Matt exposes himself as Daredevil once again, well, one can only hope that Mr. Soule has a fresh take on this idea lest it begin to step on the toes of Waid's and so many other Daredevil stories from the past couple of decades.
The action scenes in this book are well designed, with a mixture of Luke Cage's headlong approach and Daredevil and Echo's martial arts beatdown. There's a cool sequence where Echo is emulating Daredevil's method blow-for-blow because the DA told Matt that Daredevil cannot "put a finger" on Ammo and his goons.
Sudzuka's artwork on Daredevil #21 remains excellent with a shadow-heavy noir-esque appearance that his helped by the dark pallet of Matt Milla. It's a very Daredevil look that has helped this series since the beginning of its All-New, All-Different Marvel launch over a year ago.
Daredevil is still a Marvel staple that has helped maintain hold together its stable of titles. Charles Soule and Goran Sudzuka are a good team, and hopefully the hits will keep on coming. Pick this one up.