by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back.
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track.
If you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul.
You gotta keep the devil
Way down in the hole.
Tom Waits, Way Down in the Hole
There are plenty of great morals to learn from The Wire, but one that left the biggest impression on me is the thought that many Americans simply don’t have access to the American Dream. Each successive series does a great job of detailing why both policing and education fail to end the drug trade, why politics fail to fix the police or the schools, and why the press fails to fix politics. It’s a disheartening lesson to learn, for sure, but it’s one we must reconcile with before we can mount any meaningful solutions. Unfortunately, many American’s are still too enamored of the old narrative of the American Dream — the kind represented by Matt Murdock’s “orphaned fighter’s son to high-powered attorney” origin — to accept that not everyone has access to that dream.
Take Sam Chung, for example. His family’s immigrant story represents another version of the American Dream, of a family coming to the land of opportunity in hopes of finding a better life. Only, their status as illegal immigrants left them vulnerable to exploitation, forcing Sam into low-paying jobs and driving his mother into the arms of a crime lord. Sam fought as hard as he could against the temptations offered by the likes of Tenfingers, but that struggle eventually cost him his sight and, as we learn in this issue, his mother’s immortal soul.
Which is where Daredevil comes in.
Matt assumes Sam needs Daredevil’s help, but it turns out, all Sam wanted was a bargaining chip to get his mother’s soul back. In that way, Sam’s own broken American Dream story reaches its lowest point — far from self-perpetuating opportunities, his family is chasing sunk costs from choices they were forced to make when they were just starting out. This is the story of how good people are forced to do bad things when faced with an indifferent system. It’s the story of failing to keep the Devil way down in the hole. (And, ironic as it may be, we can all agree that the Blind Boys of Alabama do the best version of that song, right?)
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?