"Daredevil" #3 wraps up Mark Waid's first story on the series, and it's a deeply uneven conclusion. There's a lot to like about this issue, but it feels like two different comics grafted together. Sadly, the stitching that connects those two comics is hard to ignore.
Most of the comic is about Daredevil fighting Klaw, which is an inspired throw-down. After all, Daredevil relies on his hyper-senses (especially sound), and Klaw is a being made entirely out of sound. More importantly, though, Waid makes this version of Klaw a creepy, unnatural creation that feels less like a foe of the Fantastic Four and more like something out of a horror film. The army of Klaw-echoes shuffling through the basement is a great image to dream up, and I appreciate that Waid uses Klaw's history rather than just ignoring it to come up with a stranger, nastier version of the character as a result. There's even some great little touches that shows how much Waid has thought this version of the character through, like what happens when Daredevil tries to covertly free himself from the device. In terms of superheroing, "Daredevil" #3 is a huge success.
At the same time, though, Waid needed to wrap up the Jobrani court case. While the two are in fact connected, stylistically the gulf is huge. Shifting from fighting Klaw to Matt Murdock coming up with a way for Jobrani to win in court even with Murdock and Foggy Nelson thrown off of the case might create whiplash. That's how quickly it shifts into a different direction. And perhaps more importantly? It's a deeply unsatisfying conclusion.
The idea behind the wrap-up for "Daredevil" #3 (and supposedly future issues) might sound great in an outline, but if the end of this issue is any example, it's actually dull. Murdock in the courtroom can be done interestingly and even balance well with the superhero nature of the character, but removing him so far from the court while still making it part of the comic feels like gutting part of the premise behind the book and leaving a shell behind, rather than just cleanly cutting it off (as others have done in the past with some success).
The art by Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera looks gorgeous. Clean, crisp art that feels like a mixture of Jack Kirby and Frank Quitely (with even a touch of Chris Ware when it comes to Foggy Nelson... no, really...), the Riveras are able to balance the superhero and court portions of "Daredevil" with great ease; they can draw a three-piece suit just as well as crazy comic book science machines. And when the action kicks into high gear, well, it's great looking. From Daredevil exploding off of the machine, to his pushing through sound waves, everything is drawn beautifully. I can't believe it's taken me this long to read comics by the Riveras, but I definitely will be seeking their comics out in the future.
Maybe Waid's new idea for the firm of Nelson and Murdock will be much more interesting than it came across in this issue. But so far, it doesn't fill me with confidence. That's a shame, because everything else in this issue was great. Here's hoping the good elements show up more regularly than this potentially bad spot.