I turned out to be slightly off in my earlier post. Daredevil #17, released yesterday, is the second-to-last issue of the run, not the last; there’s one more issue to go before the new creative team takes over. So, how do things stand? (Spoilers ahead, obviously.)
I read this issue with an eye to the upcoming plot developments hinted at in the AV Club interview, primarily whether or not my favorite supporting characters were about to be killed off. And… jury’s still out? On the surface, sure, it looks really bad for Kirsten and/or Foggy. Fisk only needs one of them as a hostage, and as Matt says, he doesn’t bluff. But there’s still hope.
As someone who consumes a lot of fiction, and occasionally attempts to create some, I’m going to attempt a bit of meta-analysis. The salient trope here is Unspoken Plan Guarantee. While fighting Ikari, Matt’s internal monologue indicates that he’s figured out a plan to save everyone, but other events intervene before he can go into more detail. That means that there’s a very good chance that Matt will actually get to implement his plan successfully. Of course, it’s also possible that Matt will carry out his plan and save everyone–with the exception of whichever hostage Fisk is about to go ahead and shoot. But we don’t actually see any of the hostages dead before the end of the issue. Which could be because no one is going to die, or could be to keep us in suspense about who’s just died… and I’m going in circles now. No way of knowing for sure until the last issue hits the stands.
Still no indication of how Matt could possibly get his secret identity back. (Maybe that’s part of his unknown plan?) In the absence of any clues, it’s time for a round of wild speculation! A few possibilities:
- Retcon: Identity reveal? What identity reveal? Kind of a cop-out, and at this point rolls back several years of continuity, but simple, and allows the writers to conveniently ignore any loose ends.
- Faustian Bargain: After failing to make a deal with the metaphorical devil (Fisk), Matt makes a deal with a literal devil. It’s been done before, but might be interesting in this context given that Daredevil is a devout Catholic.
- Time Warp: Matt goes back in time and prevents his identity from being made public. A thorough way of making everyone forget, but either adds too many plot complications or becomes a deus ex machina. Also, hard to pull off in one issue when time travel isn’t already part of the story.
- Obliviate: Mass mind wipe via magic, mad science, or alien tech. See above re: deus ex machina.
- Witness Protection: Credit to Andrew for thinking of this one. Daredevil burns his identity as Matt Murdock and takes on a clean civilian identity. Matt’s deal with Fisk in issue #16 could be seen as foreshadowing this, but there are logistical problems; if Daredevil pops up again after Matt Murdock disappears, a blind lawyer who’s just moved to town is going to come under immediate suspicion. (It’s clear from the AV Club article that Matt will be continuing his career in the law, albeit as a prosecutor this time.)
- Universe Reboot: The new story takes place in a different universe than the old one. Given that the new run will be part of All-New All-Different Marvel, this is likely, but it’s a retcon by any other name.
Retcon/reboot are the Doylist approaches (how can the creators most efficiently rewrite canon into the desired state of affairs?), while the rest are Watsonian approaches (how can events in-universe conspire to create the desired state of affairs?). I’m a little torn as to which I would prefer. The in-universe explanations are all bound to seem a little contrived, but it feels like cheating for the writers to just ignore all previous events and start over. More speculation to come once the last issue comes out.