Daredevil 17

daredevil-17

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 17, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Our mission statement here at Retcon Punch has always been to foster thoughtful discussions about comic books, but there’s another idea that’s always factored heavily into our work as well: everyone’s unique perspective contributes heavily to their interpretation of any given book. It’s an idea that kept popping into my head as I read Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla’s Daredevil 17, because my feelings about this issue are heavily influenced by my feelings about Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s previous run with the character. I can only imagine that this story reads far differently to anyone without that attachment.

To be fair, Soule’s Daredevil run has been drastically different from Waid’s since the start, but the confidence and distance with which Soule presented those differences helped me embrace his “new” take (which is more of a return-to-form for the franchise, but I’ll skip the Daredevil history lesson for now); the mysterious deal Matt made to regain his secret identity always felt more like a smart plot device to facilitate the series’ new direction than a story that desperately needed to be told. Daredevil 17‘s flashback to this story, though, forces readers to reconcile the two runs, to see first hand how Waid’s Matt Murdock became Soule’s.

It’s a smart story, but one that forces me to confront Matt’s seeming emotional regression head-on, which is tough pill to swallow. That said, Matt himself is struggling in his old life, finding that his new public, celebrity lifestyle is interfering with his mission to help people, both as a lawyer and as Daredevil. Matt’s been presented with a chance to try something new, but he’s not taking to the idea.

fit

Of course, Matt’s never been one to embrace change (even when he tries to), and I don’t for a second think that he would ever progress beyond being Daredevil as long as Marvel continues to publish comics. But a major theme of Waid and Samnee’s Daredevil was Matt finding ways to change and grow and hang onto happiness despite his hang-ups, so it’s depressing to see Soule revisit that era just to give Matt a hang-up he can’t overcome. Likewise, the reasoning behind Matt’s current predicament is sound (being Daredevil invalidates his work as a lawyer, being a celebrity invalidates his work as Daredevil), but it wasn’t a problem when Waid and Samnee were telling stories set in that same time-period. I trust Soule’s take on the situation (he is a lawyer), but it kinda makes it look like Waid didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to the legalities of Matt’s San Francisco lifestyle.

I suppose that’s what I find troubling about this story; it essentially disassembles and undoes the happy ending of the previous run in a way that’s usually reserved for far less critically and commercially successful storylines.

mephisto

This joke is a more silly example, a crack about the (divisive, to put it lightly) “One More Day” story over in Spider-Man that also pokes fun at some of the wilder predictions about how Matt regained his secret identity. I don’t mean to suggest that Soule is being flippant, dismissive, or disrespectful of what’s come before in the slightest, but I can’t help but to see some similarities between this and the way the rest of this issue pokes holes through the previous run, suddenly making its status quo unsustainable. Even Matt’s joy at returning to New York — “playing my instrument again” — while completely understandable, paints the previous run as “lesser” in some ways. Or, at least, that’s the feeling it gives me, deep in the pit of my stomach.

Interestingly enough, though, Soule and Garney don’t necessarily paint Matt’s decision to leave that life behind as a good idea.

confession

The thought that this chapter in Matt’s life is a “dark time” has been broached multiple times throughout this run, and here Matt frames the story of how he regained his secret identity as a “confession,” implying that he did something wrong, something he needs forgiveness for. That makes sense, considering that the Purple Children are somehow involved (and how smart is it of Soule to hold the issue’s title until that final page? Giving us the title up-front would have changed the entire story). This is another situation where outside context helps — just seeing how the Jessica Jones Netflix series treated Kilgrave’s powers makes Matt possibly using his children all the more morally troubling. I don’t expect (nor want) Soule’s run to end with Matt renouncing the entire thing and returning to San Francisco or anything, but I do like that this opens up the possibility that Matt’s attitude in this flashback could come to be considered wrong or unhealthy.

Whatever my misgivings may be with the story’s contents thus far, there’s no denying that it’s very well told. Matt’s frustrations come from a very real, in-character place, and Soule captures Kirsten’s voice (and the spark between her and Matt) perfectly, more than well enough to make me really miss her again. Garney and Milla put in some fantastic work as well, especially in the moments when they highlight the color red against a black background (such as when Matt charges Typhoid Mary). I would love to get to see this art team tackle Daredevil’s all-red costume more often.

I think that’s what’s bothering me: this is a great issue in a lot of ways, and my frustrations with it largely come down to how it’s affecting my perceptions of previous stories. I don’t like engaging with a story in that way, but I also don’t want to deny that that’s what I got out of the issue. I am going to keep an open mind, though, and take the rest of the storyline as it comes. I still think it could go to some truly fascinating places, especially with the Purple Children involved. What about you, Patrick? What did this issue do for you?

Patrick: I’ve actually been pretty sloppy about keeping up with Soule and Garney’s Daredevil, partially out of deference to Waid and Samnee’s majestic run with the series. I don’t need to have all of my Batmans embrace the same tone, and I don’t need to like all the things I like in the same way, so it’s not as though I was resisting this newest iteration of the character as a matter of course. However, I was feeling the tension that Spencer identifies in this issue from the very first pages of Daredevil 1. If you look back at the comment section of that piece, a bunch of us are wrestling with what this change in tone means, and how we can ever hold it in the same space as the run we just came off of. The change was so fresh that both our readers, and the comic itself, posed the question: what happened?

That was the end of 2015. Left unexamined for over a year, the question does feel a little less vital, doesn’t it? Like, at this point, we’re either accepted the fact that Matt Murdock and Daredevil changed, or we haven’t. The actual purpose of revisiting this story, then, must be to force the audience to re-investigate their questions about Matt’s newfound anonymity. Make no mistake: this isn’t Soule and Garney telling a Waid / Samnee story, this is Soule and Garney doing what they’ve done the whole time. They take a hard look at the real facts and deliver a grimy verdict. Does that always feel great? No. But “making the reader feel great” has hardly been a stated goal of this series, has it?

There’s something very smart about targeting something the readership loves to make the audience feel threatened. Think about just how rare that is. Deep down, we want to see our heroes in danger, so a reader doesn’t actually have skin in the game when Batman is trapped in a Riddler death trap. Marvel is taking those threats reader-side for a little bit — Hydra Cap is a great example of a plot development that is almost more menacing for the real world than it is on the page — and this is Dardevil‘s chance at that. The scale is just much smaller, as is appropriate for the character.

All of which is to say that I agree with Spencer about what’s so upsetting here, but I’d argue that is one of the greatest strengths of the issue. I think Soule and Garney even offer us an emotional out from their assault on the happy-go-lucky Daredevil of yore when they write about Matt Murdock’s “perspective.” It’s a stunning page that uses the language of Marvel comics to communicate a simple point: you can’t just be one thing.

dont-be-the-punisher

I absolutely love that Matt doesn’t name Punisher in his list, but Soule and Garney make it clear what can result from that kind of myopathy. Frank Castle is one of the hardest characters to write realistically without addressing some seriously disturbing mental illness. He is single-minded in a way that make him ignore the immorality of his actions, or the irrevocable consequences of his war on crime. He lacks perspective. And that’s what we need. Yes, it hurts to see a happy ending recontextualized as tragic, but we have to remember that we are more than simply fans of “Daredevil” — whatever that means. Perspective on Soule and Garney’s direction with the character — including understanding the publishing initiative around the end of Secret Wars and embracing the tone set by two storytellers we like — helps to compartmentalize this pain.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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7 comments on “Daredevil 17

  1. Great response, Patrick. I completely agree with your line about how, at this point, you’ve either accepted the new Daredevil or you haven’t. Honestly, I have. I enjoy Soule and Garney’s run, and the last year (from the gambling story through the Muse arc) has been especially strong, kicking this series up a notch to being one that I legitimately look forward to each month. But part of why I was able to embrace this run so easily, as I mentioned, is because I had that distance between it and the previous run. Being forced to directly confront how Waid’s Matt became Soule’s is ripping open old wounds, and yeah, that probably is the point. I’d already accepted that Matt’s happy ending didn’t last (as we, really, knew it never could), I guess it was more undermining the concept of the San Francisco stories that bothered me a bit. Waid and Samnee set things up so that their version of the character could have continued for a while if they hadn’t ended their run, and then Soule basically says “no it couldn’t have, it was unsustainable, both from a legal standpoint and from Matt’s perspective.” And that’s a bummer.

    Which, again, is likely the point

    • There’s one little point I’ll push back against there, Spencer.

      “Waid and Samnee set things up so that their version of the character could have continued for a while if they hadn’t ended their run, and then Soule basically says “no it couldn’t have, it was unsustainable, both from a legal standpoint and from Matt’s perspective.””

      It’s the “couldn’t have” that I don’t think is entirely accurate. It was totally possible – that’s just not the story that Soule and Garney are telling. The world that Waid and Samnee were telling their story in DID allow for Matt’s optimism, even if that was elective optimism. Like, I think it’s important to remember that Matt’s anonymity didn’t return as a matter of course, but because someone made a choice to reinstate it: in the narrative, it’s Matt who makes that choice, and IRL, it’s Soule. Soule’s smart enough to see just how fucking audacious and violative that is, and it’s sorta thrilling that he’s about to take us on that journey.

      • I think in every way that matters, it wasn’t sustainable. Eventually, you had to make Matt Murdock a lawyer again. You lose too much without that aspect. It is the essential heart of the character. That isn’t to say Waid and Samnee were wrong to take that away (I already said it was probably the best thing they did), but they left a Matt Murdock that needed to be fixed. You took away his city, you took way his life. Hell, you could argue that that is the point of Waid’s run. That to be happy, Matt needs to burn his life behind him. That all the elements that are fundamental to the Daredevil story are also the reason why Matt will never be happy. That ultimately, what he needs is a fresh start, an escape from the exact things that caused the problems in the first place (on the other hand, that argument relies on the idea that Waid was approaching Matt’s mental health with maturity and respect, which is laughable). Waid’s run broke the fundamental elements of Daredevil. It would have to be fixed.

        It didn’t happen right away, but I’d argue that if Soule didn’t fix it, he would struggle to provide his own take – Waid and Samnee could continue indefinitely, but how do you provide your perspective on a character when your beginning is so completely influenced by the previous creative team going ‘How far can we go, if we break Daredevil?’. What can you do, that isn’t in the shadow of what Waid and Samnee did? That’s why so many runs end with, as the expression goes, putting the toys back in the box.

        To use another Marvel example, Hickman’s Avengers did the exact same thing. He had a specific thematic reason, but he broke them. He pushed Steve Rogers and Tony Stark so far, drove a wedge between them so much that they were too busy killing each other to care about the Earth ending. The Avengers is fundamentally changed. Which is why he also ended his Avengers run with the two of them dying, crushed by a building that their obsession kept them from seeing, and used Secret Wars to recreate a universe where everything was back to normal. Where you could have a traditional Avengers team. Waid didn’t do that (and that is his right, and it is important for writers to end the story as they want to. Especially when the thematic point they have been trying to make would be hurt by putting the toys back in the box), so someone else had to. And I think it is fair for Soule to want to do that, so he could make something distinctly his own.

        I’ve talked a lot with respect to DC about the need to go forward, but there is a difference between going forward and changing the fundamentals. There is a hell of a lot you can do to add to Batman without getting rid of those core fundamentals. Just as there are a lot of stuff you can add to Daredevil. When you put all the toys back in the box, there is nothing wrong with adding a few new toys, like Frank Miller’s untold additions, or Bendis’ additions of the Secret Identity troubles. But the core fundamentals of Daredevil will always be ‘Blind lawyer of Hell’s Kitchen uses his superpowers to clean up his neighbourhood as Daredevil’

        That is the sort of stuff that can’t be changed. Someone had to fix it, and I don’t fault Soule for wanting it fixed so he can give his own, independent take. Just wish there was a way to do it witout throwing out some of the great toys that Bendis added

  2. So, I decided to read this as I was interested in how Soule was going to deal with this. Because it was one of those elaborate webs that was going to be interesting. How do you avoid One More Daying (because as much as Soule makes a joke about that, it is hard to say after Jessica Jones that Purple Man isn’t the Devil). What do you do when you HAVE to go backwards. Not because you are DC’s incompetent editorial because the previous run broke the character?

    Because that is what Waid did. Now, I’m not going to be diplomatic like I was in the Daredevil 1 comments and say Waid did a great run. It was a piece of crap. It took a character who made just gone through a multi creator nervous breakdown, a fantastic premise of ‘after everything, could Daredevil find happiness?’ and cheated. He told a story that completely disrespected the mental health of the character, that disrespected sensitive topics and took everything for shallow effect. It is actually horrid. Simple answers after simple answers trotted out again and again into situations that needed something much more complex. Matt Murdock’s psychological state was too important to cheat. What happens when a villain gaslights Matt Murdock? You punch him. What happens when Bullseye, the man who caused the nervous breakdown in the first place, returns with the threat to do the exact same thing, but ten times worse? Have a moment of ‘What are you in the dark’, rendered cheap because Matt Murdock just keeps on smiling afterwards instead of having to make a serious attempt to address what that means. Just a cheap line about how making Matt scared agve him time to plan and respond. It is atrocious. Matt Murdock needed to have actual losses. Actual times when he truly had to deal with the fact that he was hiding from his problems, instead of addressing them head on so that he could truly be happy. You can’t shrug off attacks that directly target the vulnerabilities in Matt Murdock’s mental state. And it happened again and again in Waid’s run. It is terrible*.

    And the reason I am making clear why Waid’s run was so terrible, is that I want to make clear that when I say that Waid broke Daredevil, I am not talking about the fact that his run was a piece of shit. Waid broke Daredevil by having Matt Murdock publicly confirm that he was Daredevil. That was not the reason that Waid’s run was atrocious. In fact, it was probably the best part of Waid’s entire run. It is certainly one of the few actually really good parts of the run.

    And there actually isn’t anything wrong with breaking the hero like that. Some of the best stories are about breaking the character like that. The problem is, many of those stories also act as endings. There is a reason why ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow’ is the last Superman story. But when you disbar Matt Murdock, make it impossible for him to practice law, it needs to be fixed. When Bendis had Matt Murdock lose his secret identity, he played it very cleverly. He left just enough doubt that even though, for all intents and purposes, everyone knew he was Daredevil, Matt had just enough wiggle room. Bendis did literally everything he could do without breaking the character. Created so many stories and so much drama really cleverly. But ultimately, once Matt Murdock publicly admitted it, once that veneer of doubt disappeared, Matt Murdock was broken.

    And Soule does a great job at dealing with that. By showing that without the law, Matt has lost something, that a key part of what keeps the other heroes healthy is they have other lives, whether it is Tony and his businesses or Banner and his research (I disagree that Natasha’s is SHIELD. SHIELD is more of the same. Natasha’s is her red ledger). Back in the Daredevil 1 comments, I discussed hos important Matt’s life as a defence lawyer was, and it is the same sort of idea. The grounding of defending people in the court of law is essential (the issues around Daredevil being rendered ineffective by Tombstone suing Matt is alright, but just doubles down on the same point less effectively). On the other hand, the Typhoid Mary stuff doesn’t really work, because that exact thing has been done before. Quite simply, when Soule shifts away from Waid’s ‘Matt Murdock has admitted that he’s Daredevil’ and towards Bendis’ ‘Everyone knows Matt Murdock is Daredevil’, he falls into the problem that Daredevil has spent over a decade without a Secret Identity, and that we know that Matt has already found a way to deal with that threat.

    Still, the issue does its main purpose. Explain, from a Watsonian perspective, why Daredevil is broken and why it needs to be fixed. And the weaker arguments don’t even matter when you have that perfect Punisher moment. That’s the easy part. The real question is how you pull it off. How do you satisfyingly fix Daredevil, and make it satisfying when you are also throwing away a lot of good stuff, like the fact that his identity was out there in the first place (or, for those who think Waid’s run is good, Waid’s run). How do you do so in a way that properly contextualises Matt Murdocks actions (either making sure he does so in a way where he remains a good guy, or do so in a way that makes clear he is the bad guy. Basically, how do you avoid falling into the trap One More Day fell into)? And how do you make sure that this story, about going backwards because the character is broken, is more than just backtracking on a decade of Daredevil stories? What do you do to make sure this story also pushes the Daredevil mythos forward? That is going to be the real test of the arc

    *Ultimately, though, the series would be really easy to fix. Quite simply, change the main character from Daredevil to Batman. Batman is perfectly suited for the premise, but hasn’t gone through a 100 issue nervous break. Batman recreates himself as someone positive, even as he faces threats that seem dedicated to pushing his new outlook to the limit? That would work. Alfred can take the place of Foggy’s role, and then just ask how much focus on Robin you want to have. Honestly, I think DC is a much better place for Waid than Marvel. Waid’s style of writing would probably be a much better fit for DC’s philosophy of ‘Superheores as Gods/Ideas’ than the Marvel philosophy of ‘Superheroes as People’

    • Categorically disagree about Waid’s run with the character. I don’t think it’s fair to ask that anyone’s work on a character incorporate every piece of that character’s psychology in a meaningful, point-for-point way. Waid’s Daredevil was always purposely and actively suppressing the darkness in his past – multiple characters called him out on it repeatedly, but it’s a front that he continually puts up.

      Also, man, it bums me out to think that you missed out on all the incredible moment-to-moment storytelling in that series because you didn’t buy the psychological turn the character takes. I know not all comics are for all people, but Waid’s Daredevil is one of the best runs I’ve ever read – more fun and exciting and interesting than literally anything else I was reading at the time.

      I also kinda recoil at the implicit suggestion that comic book characters cannot change. It’s like, the opposite complaint you have with Rebirth. I’m sorry you felt that your version of the character was somehow violated, but I was finally presented with a version of Matt Murdock that I felt like I could give a shit about. A 100 issue nervous breakdown? I don’t have the history with the comics or the patience to deal with that directly. In fact, how could anyone? You can’t just shit on a character in one direction FOREVER and hope it’s interesting. Waid found new ways to explore Matt’s pain by giving a new set of coping mechanisms.

      And last thing I’ll say about this, because it sounds like we just have intractably different opinions on Waid’s run: I don’t think you do need to make a case that Waid broke Daredevil in order to make your greater point that Soule had some serious logical and psychological work to get the character to where we saw him in issue #1. It really comes off like you just want to sucker punch a run that a lot of us liked. Which… fine, I guess, but personally makes me needlessly defensive, and then I write three paragraphs about why I liked that series, instead of being able to engage you on the points you’re making about this issue. You’re totally entitled to that opinion, but coming in hot like that makes it hard for me to want to have a conversation about it. I don’t want to come off as pedantic, it just rubbed me the wrong way and wanted to let you know.

      • The reason I did the comment the way that I did was that I knew that my opinion of Waid’s work as a whole and his Daredevil run in particular and already been established and known (though it may have been forgotten, when Rebirth became appeared and was even worse). In fact, I had a big argument with Drew about it in another comment section about this run in particular. I remember him trying to tell me that when the Purple Man turned up, everything starts happening, an argument I find far too close to the ‘it gets good 60 hours in argument used on bad video games.

        Because I knew my opinion on the run was known, and because I was going to be discussing the idea of Daredevil being ‘broken’, I wanted to contextualize why my opinion’s of Waid’s runs were completely unrelated to my problems with the run itself. I wanted to make clear that when I discussed how Waid broke Daredevil, it was clear that it about the nature of comic book properties as a whole. That, in fact, the stuff I mentioned when I used the word ‘broke’ referred not to my opinion on the quality of the work, but on the needs of the franchise. Because despite my well known dislike of the run, I actually liked the elements I said broke Daredevil. I actually do. And I tried to make that clear

        Because my argument was that no matter how much I preach the need to go in new directions, there are aspects to the characters that are inviolable. Stuff that cannot change. This isn’t me saying characters can’t change, because that goes completely against my philosophy. But that change has to happen within these parameters. And honestly, the reason I call these parameters inviolable is not because I personally think they shouldn’t be changed, but because I’m aware that no attempt to change these factors will remain permanent. It is basically the same discussion I had in the Ultimates comments. We all know that Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Odinson are going to return to status quo, and therefore it is important to find ways to have things change and present new ideas in ways that are sustainable.

        This list of inviolable features grows, when people like Frank Miller add important new ideas that get permanently added. The things that define Clark Kent will always be his status as a survivor of Krypton, his upbringing in Smallville, his job as a Reporter for the Daily Planet, his life in Metropolis, his relationship with Lois Lane, his opposition to Lex Luthor, his strong morals etc. The things that define Batman will always be the billionaire who lost his parents in Crime Alley, the oath to fight crime, the fact that he is the World’s Greatest Detective, his status as a philanthropist, his close connection to Gotham, which is always crime ridden, his choice to avoid guns or killing etc. And any attempt to create new ideas (which I am certainly supportive of) need to fit with those inviolable facts. If you don’t, you break the character (like Alan Moore does in the masterpiece Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, which is why is ends with Superman retiring). And breaking the character isn’t a bad thing, but it requires you or someone else fix things later, or a story that isn’t supposed to be followed up on. And with Daredevil, the inviolable facts include, among things like Catholic upbringing, blindness and Foggy Nelson, the fact that he is a lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen (and probably the darkness as well). That is why, this is the case where it is required to go backwards. Waid’s approach was never going to be sustainable

        In fact, the point I was trying to make was exploring the difficulty of being in the one situation where you have to go backwards. That’s what interests me about this arc. As the guy who says ‘Comics should always move forward’, my comment was an attempt to discuss ‘What do you do when you HAVE to go backwards?’. I felt the more interesting thing for me to do, given my stated position on the importance of going forwards, was to try and reconcile my stance with the fact that this story by its very nature can never be what I want it to be, than to sit here and make the same points I would use in a story that had the choice to be something else (like Rebirth). So I tried to ask questions like ‘How do you restore those key ideas, without falling into the trap that going backwards means?’ It was trying to explore the ways that Soule was attempting to dramatise the need to restore the status quo and restore one of those inviolable elements, and the ways that Soule could help but get good ideas caught in the collateral damage (like Bendis’ work. Or Kirsten, though I think it would be disrespectful to what Waid tried to do with her to keep her in the darker stories and have her become yet another fridged Daredevil girlfriend).

        I’m sorry for expressing it poorly, and I’m sorry for making it seem like I was attacking people who liked Waid’s run. Even though I wanted to make sure my known dislike of Waid’s run was contextualised with my opinions on the inviolability of certain character elements, I did try and have moments that mentioned other’s people’s opinion of the run, while being honest in my own opinion.

        Also, you should read that 100 issue breakdown, or at least the Bendis and Brubaker stuff. It isn’t just 100 issues of the same thing. It is one of the most rapidly iterating and rapidly changing arcs of comics I can remember. Goes between multiple different types of crime dramas, a legal thriller, a prison drama, globe trotting pulp adventure and more genres, with constant change into interesting status quoes. A truly fantastic run, underpinned by a character escalating crazy situations into crazier and crazier circumstances as he struggles to deal with Karen Page’s death. Fantastic run

        ______________________________________________________________

        This just here is a better expression of why I dislike Waid’s run, and why, in my opinion, I disagree with how you describe the comic itself

        When your run is specifically about the fact that Matt Murdock had darkness, in his past, not addressing the reason he had darkness in his past is a problem. Waid’s run was all about the fact that Matt Murdock had just had a nervous breakdown, and so that was important. The fact that Matt Murdock used to be Kingpin, or that he was sent to prison, or that he back leader of the Hand wasn’t important. Or anything that was done with respect to, say, Vanessa or many of the other important characters of those runs. In fact, the fact that the nervous breakdown started because Bullseye killed Karen Page isn’t important. The fact is, if you are going to write a run that is about Matt Murdock, as you describe it, ‘suppressing the darkness in his past’, you actually have to show that. And people calling him out on it doesn’t count. If your premise is ‘suppressing the darkness in his past’, then his psychology matters

        The problem isn’t that it is a new direction. You are right, that would be hypocritical of me. It is the fact that it handled the new direction badly. Just because I want my comics to go in new directions doesn’t mean they can do it badly. Look at the first six issues of Batgirl of Burnside as a counter example. These runs have the same aims. Both Matt Murdock and Barbara Gordon make a choice not to be dominated by the darkness in their pasts. Meanwhile, they face a series of specific threats designed specifically to weaponize that past against them. But the difference is massive. Barbara Gordon is forced to constantly evaluate and adjust her approach and grow in order to survive

        Matt Murdock finds himself in deeper water than ever. His life was always on a knife’s edge, balancing enemies against each other so that they don’t burn his world down. But now he has replaced gangs with international terrorist organisations, all after him. His fresh start has put him into the exact same impossible situation he used to find himself in, but worse. What does he do? Makes a clever plan and wins. What does this mean for his psychology? He keeps doing exactly what he is doing, with no change nor sign that in ignoring the darkness, he’s made things worse

        Barabra Gordon, just moments after creating a fresh start, is attacked by villains created out of her past, taking something she was scared of and weaponising it against her. What does she do? She reaches into her past for the positives – her father’s love and guidance – and uses those tools against them. What does it mean for Barbara’s psychological state? She has learned how to reconcile the good in her past with her need for a fresh start

        Matt Murdock is assaulted by a villain who gaslights him, utilising attacks from his past (including events from that 100 issue breakdown) designed to make him and his friends doubt his sanity and empower all those dark stuff that he specifically tries to suppress? He punches a dude. No sign that this has caused a change, or made the darkness worse.

        Barbara Gordon faces a man who manipulates her image, simultaneously controlling her narrative to treat her as a victim and triggering her? Barbara punches him, then starts a Batgirl social media campaign designed around rewriting the narrative around Batgirl to the way that Barbara chooses to be seen

        Matt Murdock finds himself under attack by Bullseye, the man who has caused him untold pain. The man behind two of the most defining tragedies in Matt’s life. Bullseye’s plan is to complete Matt’s fall, pushing him to the brink. Make Matt give up, surrender to defeat. Even goes so far to threaten the death of literally everyone Matt cares about, finishing what Bullseye started when he killed Elektra and Karen Page. What does Matt do? Makes a plan, then has a ‘Who am I in the dark moment?’, before giving all sorts of wise words about how being afraid gave him time to think, but in no way addressing what such a near defeat against the architect of all his misery means to a man desperately trying to suppress his darkness.

        Barbara Gordon is manipulated into a date designed specifically both to trigger her feeling’s of inadequacy, and her negative memories of the worst stuff about her life, in an attempt to trick her into overcompensating. What does Barbara do? Falls for it, breaking her confidence. She shifts from someone outspoken and proud of who she is to someone ashamed of her actions, regressing backwards for the first time.

        It was here that I basically gave up on Daredevil. The moment-to-moment storytelling, thanks to an utter refusal to commit to character and a choice to evade whenever drama appeared, killed the run dead. I just gave up on hoping the run would ever get round to being about something and only checked in casually, until the shift the San Francisco, which I used as the perfect jumping off point. I mean, I did story by story comparisons with Batgirl, but it is worth noting that the Daredevil stories were multi issue arcs, while the Batgirl stories were a single issue long. And I got infinitely more out of them.

        I wanted Daredevil to work. I loved the premise (before this run started, I had a pitch that was almost exactly the same for another Marvel character, that I thought up in a ‘if I was a Marvel writer’ daydream). I loved the commitment to being new. But being new is no excuse for poor writing. Which is why I’ll happily praise books like Power Man and Iron Fist or Ms Marvel or Gwenpool, but have been harsh to Patsy Walker, despite the fact they all represent new ideas and I really love the premise of Patsy Walker. Quite simply, I kept waiting to see Matt Murdock’s new coping mechanisms be dramatised. I kept waiting for a story to be told using those new coping mechanisms, instead of having them used as an excuse not to have anything stick. What does it mean that that Daredevil was suppressing the darkness, instead of using Catholic self punishment? How does that change the way he processes things? But I found myself sitting there, finishing yet another storyline with no end in sight and no development. As empty calorie comics go, it was good. But it was also the run that first got me thinking about my opinion of Waid as a whole, and where I started coming to the conclusions that, in my opinion, he is terrible.

  3. Disclaimer: I like almost all of the takes on Daredevil. While Waid/Samnee’s run wasn’t my favorite, I didn’t dislike it, and I see why Waid took the turn he did and was unapologetic about it. Soule, I think, is equally unapologetic about it being his take on the character, and stating what he thinks is essential to the character, some of which were downplayed or removed in previous runs (esp. New Yorker and Catholic).

    I interpreted a lot of this differently. Some of the traits I find interesting in Daredevil are his arrogance, selfishness, and hubris. I felt like Soule had Matt as much creating a rationalization to get his secret identity back as actually needing it back. He’s doing this not so much because it needs to be done but rather that he wants it and thinks he can do more if he has it.

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