This is the final page of this month’s Daredevil issue by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee.
I placed it here because, even though it may spoil plot points, it’s wonderful and needs to be discussed. This is a perfect example of the ability of comics to present information in a manner totally unique to the medium.
First, there is only one line of dialogue; the narrative is delivered via images only. The heartbeat behind the doctor visually represents the intensity of the situation. Looking at the panel, you can “hear” the rapid beating the same way Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil) would. Notice that it fills the panel in such a way that only the doctor and the EKG spikes are seen. This shows us that Murdock is aware of only two things in this room: the doctor and his heartbeat.
Panels 2-5, Foggy (Matt’s best friend) acknowledges Matt’s comforting arm on his shoulder, then looks into his friend’s eyes, despite knowing that Matt can’t see into his back. I love how the background disappears during this short sequence. For Matt and Foggy, this one moment was between them and no one else, so the background fades away.
In panel 6, Matt lowers his head because, thanks to his ability to hear the doctor’s spiked heart rate, he knows what’s about to happen. Rereading this whole page, it’s much more touching knowing that Matt is aware of Foggy’s condition prior to the doctor’s apology. Foggy has tears in his eyes in panel 4 because he understands, and he knows what’s coming.
Finally, the last panel, instead of being omitted, is all black, reinforcing the bleakness of the situation.
This whole sequence could only work in a comic. It could be argued that it would work in a film, but a film would determine the pace, whereas in the comic, the reader does that for him/herself. That moment with Matt’s hand on Foggy’s shoulder could last 10 minutes if a reader wishes. And the cuts in the sequences—close-up on Foggy’s welling eyes to Matt’s hand to close-up of Matt’s face—would be too frantic in a film. The editing would seem strange and erratic. As a comic, however, it enhances the strengths of the medium.
Seriously. Go out and read this issue. Buy it. Download it. Steal it from your friend (but not me). If you want to see an example of how comics can be literary by being unconventional, this is it.