Author: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
Genre: Science Fiction, Crime Drama, Superhero
Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a former criminal lawyer now turned prosecutor in the aftermath of Marvel’s huge crossover event, Secret Wars II. Blinded after an accident with a radioactive isotope, Murdock’s other senses were heightened to an incredible level. Combined with his martial arts training, he became “The Man without Fear.” He returned to Hell’s Kitchen, his old stomping grounds, where he patrols over New York city and fights crime. This time he has a young protege with him, Blindspot.
The creative team behind DD’s new run is Charles Soule and Ron Garney. Soule is no stranger to exploring the darker side of the superhero world. Recently he wrote Death of Wolverine and Superman Doomed, two gritty takes on two very popular characters. Since Soule is also an attorney, he instills a genuineness in Murdock’s court narratives. The art of Garney has been seen in everything from Silver Surfer, the Incredible Hulk, The JLA, and the X-Men. He has been listed in Wizard magazine as one of Marvel’s top ten artists.
Violence: Daredevil tracks a guy to his hideout. We do not see the fight that ensues. There is a bloody mural (very graphic) and a corpse later in the book.
Language: Nothing offensive.
Spiritual Content: There is the philosophy of pure evil and people superstitiously seeing Blindspot as a wish-fulfilling phantom in some letters they leave him.
Sexual Content: Nothing at all.
Drug/Alcohol Abuse: N/A
Positive Content: Daredevil shows vigilance against evil. He is in his fearsome black uniform, but he acts as the hero, patrolling the city. He displays humility, and even a sacrificial attitude towards those under him. The villain is treated like a villain even though he remains anonymous in the issue. His monstrous acts are viewed with fear and repulsion.
Coming out of the Secret Wars II, the entire Marvel universe was turned upside down. It was the All New, All-Different Marvel. Since then, things just haven’t been the same in the old neighborhood. Some places in Marvel are hardly recognizable.
Thankfully, there are the Daredevil stories to get me through this transition.
The essence of the new Daredevil hasn’t changed much despite his rapidly evolving comic universe. Our hero still struggles with that blurry line between good and evil. He flirts with the darkness throughout, and has to make hard moral choices in a gritty, realistic world. The creators have even found a way Murdock can have his secret identity again, which is a huge plus.
What intrigues me most about this story is the nature of the city he patrols. It reminds me of the biblical view of evil more than any other Marvel title out there. It teaches the lesson that we are sheep among wolves and we need a protector, someone who is always alert and capable of taking on the darkness.
The creative team of Soule and Garney do a great job of showing Daredevil’s philosophy of evil in the new story arc, Dark Art. They keep DD closely tied to his fallen humanity by being cautious with their use of bright colors. Instead, they coat everything in shadows, emphasize genuine relationships, and use powerful, crisp images to promote the story.
The art draws you into the drama smoothly, with hardly any inconsistencies.
In Dark Art, we see a terrifying Daredevil, like a Batman, striking fear in the hearts of an ordinary run-of-the-mill bad guy. Daredevil has a criminal captured, but he pretends to let him go. As the “no-hoper” races away, scared out of his wits, we get a beautiful dark panel of DD spread out over the city, hunting his prey.
The drawing style in the next few panels is similar to the classic Frank Miller simplicity, with sharp angles, basic black and whites, and reds slashed across the page to place emphasis on the hero’s emblem and weapons. He is an avenging angel with glowing eyes, almost flying, navigating the ever-changing thirteen miles of the Manhattan landscape.
DD’s inner dialogue is important too. It reveals his philosophy of the city, and the evil that pervades it. He doesn’t deal with the galaxy-trotting dictators who suddenly emerge from an inter-dimensional portal. Those villains are for the more extravagant costumed heroes to fight. DD deals with the evil that lives among us.
In his description of Manhattan, he tells us in subtle hints that there is no coffee break between the planetary baddies, who make big speeches of world domination. He shows us in these first few panels that monsters are always living among us. They are in the air, or beneath the street, or peering out of a third story window. Since this is the case, there is always something to watch out for. There is always something to relentlessly fight. Life is a training ground.
Whereas Spider-Man would wrap up the bad guy and leave him dangling on a light post, Daredevil is using this unsuspecting criminal to map out the dark corners of Manhattan, remembering even a minor detail like a single flag post. “Knowing this flagpole is here could keep me alive,” he tells himself as he tracks the criminal to his hideout.
In this way, DD approaches every night as we are told to do in I Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Being watchful and prepared is the key in this story arc.
DD follows the thug, who leads him to three others. What happens to them isn’t too nice.
But what about the man when he takes off the mask? We don’t witness the typical hot-shot lawyer, Matt Murdock. He is a lowly prosecutor, working under someone else, and his office seems to be downstairs in an elevator shaft. He is holding his side because he is hurt from an earlier scuffle. He is a hero who feels pain like we do.
In that murky cramped little office, Samuel Chung appears. Sam is young, headstrong, and cocky, even after having his arm broken by Elektra back in issue # 6. Murdock can relate to this kid as he watches him through his dark shades. He is seeing a mirror of his younger self, ready to go out on an adrenaline high to fight crime.
The art cleverly displays subtle expressions and body postures, and shows the attitudes of both mentor and protege. Murdock tries to act like he isn’t too concerned with Sam’s choices, but the dialogue and close-ups show there is a growing affection behind the surface.
Sam appears naive, ready to take his chances with evil. We get the feeling he can’t wait to get out into the night as Blindspot. He rushes along, telling Matt (who he works for as his law assistant) that he needs to go . Matt knows all too well. It wasn’t long ago that he made the same mistakes. Murdock offers advice: “Don’t push yourself too hard, too quickly.”
This is another warning to be sober and vigilant because Blindspot may be about to get a crash course in this living city and the demons who lurk in the shadows. He is in his suit, ready to take on the world. His costume is all black and white. That is ironic, because he sees everything like that right now; no shades of grey and definitely no red. He doesn’t look at the world through the eyes of the Daredevil just yet. He is almost drunk with his invisibility abilities.
A ruthless killer issues a challenge. The blood of a murder is artistically crafted into an intricate mural. This sick art plays on DD’s idea that evil never rests. How will Blindspot, still a rookie superhero, handle his confrontation with this unadulterated evil?
In the next few issues of Dark Art, Daredevil may have to bear the burden of this case. In Blindspot’s rush to action, it seemed he wasn’t prepared for the twisted mind of the still-hidden adversary. Perhaps it is Daredevil’s demon to battle now, to try to protect his student? When Blindspot tells DD he shouldn’t touch anything in the crime scene, DD responds:
“It is (a crime scene). Mine.”
Those three words he spoke were almost as if Daredevil said, “It is finished.”
This book drew me in with incredible storytelling. We also have a “Man without Fear” who handled all the curses and horrors and evils of this world, yet without sin.
Although Daredevil is no angel (pun intended) he does demonstrate the biblical theme of redemption as the first issue of Dark Art concludes. With that same gritty style of art seen in the beginning, and a horrendous red murder scene swirling in the background, the shepherd guides his sheep away from the lurking wolf.
If you are looking for a title that closely follows a biblical view about the spiritual war we wage, and doesn’t pull any punches, I recommend you check this series out right now. And take DD’s advice to be sober, vigilant, and ready to go on the offensive.
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+ Great story + Good character development + Keeps a consistent gritty-noir theme throughout
- Not a whole lot of memorable panels for those who buy books for art - Scenes that have fighting are cut short for poetic purposes
The Bottom Line
Where other Marvel characters have been dramatically changed, traditional fans will love Daredevil as it maintains its gritty urban atmosphere and its emphasis on character development. The power of the story takes preeminence. Many Marvel titles are experimenting with an upbeat, almost cartoon feel, but DD stays close to its roots. Check it out and see.