Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Daredevil 15, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan D: Sometimes I forget a simple fact about Matt Murdock: he is a tricky dude. Seeing as he does not have quite as spectacular of a power set as many of our better-known Marvel heroes, Murdock relies a great deal on trickery and misdirection to best many of his foes. Off the top of my head, I recall times when he has faked his own and Foggy’s death, had Danny Rand dress up as Daredevil to help keep his own identity secret, become the Kingpin and leader of the Hand, and even become a drifter in Upstate New York. Matt has something new up his sleeve in the new arc of Charles Soule’s Daredevil, featuring a slightly different tone and art than the recent arcs of this run. The question is: did the Man without Fear bite off more than he can chew with this scheme?
Assassins are gunning for Daredevil. Again. But THIS time, it is an incognito Matt Murdock who put out the hit. Why? We don’t really know yet, or whether it ties into the chilling finish of the last arc. The conclusion of “Dark Arts” left the series with at least one large lasting repercussion: Daredevil’s protégé, Blindspot, lays hospitalized after Muse enucleated him, leaving the young hero sightless. This development strikes me as rife with narrative potential; will Daredevil train Samuel Chung to live the sightless life? Will Blindspot become bitter and carry a vendetta against Daredevil, like the inevitable feud between every pro-wrestling tag team? Or will Tony Stark make some spectacular ocular enhancements for the vigilante? The possibilities seem pretty damn exciting.
And the actual attempts at Daredevil’s life are fun to watch.
I found that the pencils of Ron Garney from the first fourteen issues, though they were suitably signature and helped establish this series’ new look, felt a bit hit or miss to me in the sense that with a less accomplished colorist than Matt Milla, textures and significant moments might not have read as easily. While I am still making up my mind about artist Goran Sudzuka’s style, which looks a bit bulkier and cartoony, I think he nailed this page. I love the small page composition touch of laying the top three preceding moments of action upon the larger conclusive panel, which paces the movement and grounds it in the inevitable finish. The characters also look dynamic and fluid, containing just a hint of that campy love which penciler Paolo Rivera brought to Mark Waid’s joyful run with the character. Also, let us not overlook the triumphant return of the Brothers Grimm — two C/D-List villains who featured as part of the Night Shift, The Hood’s gang during Secret Invasion, and most recently the Masters of Evil. Full disclaimer: I barely recognized them, and the internet told me all of that.
The internet can also tell you all about Matt Murdock’s turbulent relationship with his faith over the years — specifically since Frank Miller’s seminal run which nobody seems to want to shut up about. Daredevil failing to protect someone he cares about from harm works as a surefire way to spark off his Catholic martyrdom complex, which can either add a nuanced layer to the character, or play as a wanky plot device (*cough* Kevin Smith *cough*). Perhaps to combat the latter effect from manifesting, Soule introduces another character after this interesting page:
As simple as this page looks, I appreciate the repetition of panels utilized here. How telling is it of the gravitas of what could be a small decision — go into the church or not — if the Man without Fear, a blind man who jumps off buildings for a pastime, takes three entire beats to decide whether he can face God. Or at least a priest. Enter: Father Jordan, the newest character to fill the role of “telling Matt that all is not lost” now that we do not have Foggy. I thought his introduction made sense; I just hope Soule uses the character as more than just the rote “support during crisis” figure, or the “powerless kidnapping bait”. I mean, now that I think about it: including a priest character really makes sense after this past election cycle proved that the more fundamentalist/traditionalist groups in the country and world are banding together to make their voice heard throughout various types of media. Hmm.
Michael!! Murdock may be finding his way back to his faith, but he also finds himself in the crosshairs of one of the baddest nemeses of all time: Bullseye. How do you feel about the transition from the ambitious last arc to this more traditional-seeming Daredevil story? Also, it’s been a few issues since you’ve written about Ol’ Horn-Head. Do you think the character works within tie-ins to the likes of the Inhumans?
Michael: Point of order: I believe I wrote about the last issue of Daredevil in our Marvel Round-Up, thus I render everything you just wrote as moot. To answer your question Ryan, I think that Charles Soule is doing a fine job of bleeding the world between the Inhumans and characters like ‘ol Horn Head. This and IvX (which I still have not read) are good opportunities for rubes like me to learn a little bit more about the residents of New Attillan. In fact, I found an excessive amount of satisfaction in the way that Soule ties Inhumans into Daredevil 15. The man that catches Daredevil by surprise is an Inhuman – a fact that is so nonchalantly revealed to us in a line of dialogue between him and his son. The phrases “Inhuman” or “terrigen mists” are never used, just a brief mention of the “damn green cloud that rolled through.” Man, I really love when scripts don’t over-exposit.
I’m still trying to figure out what Matt’s whole plan is with the hit that he put out on Daredevil. At the hospital Matt learns that Blindspot’s various medical bills would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The next page gives us beardy Murdock (Beardock) throwing down a big ‘ol bag of cash for a hit on Daredevil. There is some sort of gamble going on here that we’re not seeing yet. I want to say that Daredevil putting a hit on himself is like an athlete putting money on a game they’re playing but he can’t really throw the game in this instance…right? The hows and whys of this will be answered eventually but for now it really is a nice way to lure out the bad guys and take them down. Just think of how much Batman could accomplish if he used that kind of strategy.
Speaking of, I like my Daredevil to be somewhere in between Batman and Spider-Man – a dark and brooding hero who also has a sense of humor. Call it “Catholic guilt” if you want, but Matt Murdock certainly shares Peter Parker’s overwhelming sense of responsibility. Matt feels responsible for Blindspot’s blindness, so much so that he is determined to get him the best medical care that money can buy. Daredevil’s past guilt lives with him every day: Goran Sudzuka illustrates this by visualizing those “really bad happenings” in his life.
The argument can be made that Matt Murdock is completely responsible for all of the tragedies that have happened in his wake, but it’s a weight that never truly leaves him. In Daredevil 15 alone Matt berates himself for the thought of unburdening himself by sharing the pain of Daredevil with Foggy, Kirsten, or any of his super pals. Matt made the world forget that he is Daredevil – the means of which are still unclear, but it’s clear he did it for a reason. Matt doesn’t want any more collateral damage because they have gotten too close to him, so it makes sense that he turns to someone who can’t be hurt by his actions: God.
It’s kind of amazing how little Matt gets in with Father Jordan, word-wise. He enters the confessional, tells Father Jordan that he just wants to talk, and off the holy man goes. Seriously, the only other real thing that Matt says to this guy is that he was raised Catholic. I’m starting to wonder if Father Jordan has a pre-planned lecture for all lapsed Catholics where he takes them on a walk through New York City. Kidding aside this was probably one of the most Daredevily sequences of Daredevil 15. It’s likely we’ll see the continuation of this conversation next issue and we’ll get a better understanding of the relationship between these two.
Bullseye doesn’t focus too heavily into this issue beyond the final page, but it has got me excited to see what Charles Soule has in store for him. Kingpin is an excellent Daredevil villain but with his wildcard nature, Bullseye is his true arch-nemesis as far as I’m concerned. Bullseye is revealed on the last page of Daredevil 15 – marked by a confluence of three visuals: sound effect, perspective shift, and pan out. Sudzuka takes the common BANG sound effect and transforms it into its own panel where we see the bullet pass through the victim’s neck. He then pulls out a bit to show us the body falling and Daredevil in a scope, followed by the third visual of Bullseye holding the sniper rifle. It’s a page that could go completely without words and be just as effective, but how are you not gonna have Bullseye say “bullseye”?
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