daredevil502I have to admit, when Andy Diggle took over Daredevil , I was ready to drop the series – no slight towards Diggle, whose Marvel work has been brilliant from the start, but I was simply looking at paring back the monthly comics budget as the weight of $3.99 books starts bearing down on me, and as good as the series has been over the last 10 years, the story had reached a natural break point – and indeed, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a series that’d benefit from a switch to trade format. However, after the events of Daredevil: The List, I just couldn’t deprive myself of a monthly Daredevil hit (For those wondering, it was Astonishing X-Men that took the fall instead.)

Diggle’s second issue of the ongoing series, #502 , largely continues the breakneck pace set by his arrival. In the tradition of Brubaker and Bendis before him, Diggle is putting Matt through the wringer, psychologically and physically, and it’s never quite clear how in control Matt actually is of what happens to him. It’s a brilliant strategy, and the freewheeling tone echoes the early, stunt-laden Daredevil issues.

This issue, Diggle reins things back in a little with the reveal that Master Izo isn’t quite as dead as he might have seemed. It’s a justifiable fake-out, simply because there genuinely was the possibility that Murdock had crossed the line when he agreed to kill Izo last issue – unlike the suggestion of Spider-Man being “dead” at the end of an issue, this was a development that, while out of character, wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility given all the character has experienced. As long as the series is this unpredictable, there’ll be no need to worry about the stories becoming stale, and the way Matt ducks Izo’s question about leading the Hand presents genuine moral quandary about the direction that things are headed.

The series, then, is as good as it has ever been. Diggle’s run is off to a start stronger than even the most optimistic of us might have predicted, given the long shadow cast by his predecessors. This issue, with its focus on the criminal underworld, may have been slower overall than the first two Diggle-penned issues, but it was always going to be a tall order to compete with them. If this is the kind of story we can expect on a monthly basis, then hopefully Diggle’s run will be a long and celebrated one.