by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I took comfort in some of the facts of the matter. For starters, while he won the electoral college, he actually lost the popular vote by more than a million votes. This wasn’t some nation-wide referendum on misogyny and white supremacy, but a statistical loophole exploited by opportunists and trolls. Trump may be in office, but with a historically low approval rating, he is not representing the interests of the people he was elected to lead. But this is a cold fucking comfort. A man in power, even if a widely reviled one, still commands the resources and the authority to make some terrible stuff happen. Wilson Fisk, in his mayoral victory, is an obvious and easy stand-in for Trump, and while Daredevil may be confident that the people of New York City aren’t actually behind Fisk, there’s no denying that the office itself has power.
Writer Charles Soule deftly bounces around between the perspectives of the police in reticent pursuit of the Man with Without Fear and that of Daredevil himself. Both the cops on the street and the superhero in the sky are conflicted: Fisk is a dirt bag, but he is the final word on law and order in New York City. More than that, as they mayor, he is New York, and any assault on Fisk could be read as an assault on the City. It is perhaps faulty logic that drives this conclusion, but compartmentalization is a hell of a thing, and the law may not have room for it. If the mayor says Daredevil attacked him and sets the police against his assailant, then they are duty-bound to stop him. It’s more than the oft-repeated “they were just doing their jobs” — these cops are just holding up their sworn duty. It’s not a beat cop’s job to re-litigate laws in the moment, just to enforce them. Soule and artist Stefano Landini drag that enforcement out to cover the majority of the issue, battering our hero with sonic blasts and beanbag shotgun rounds.
Of course, Daredevil slips away to fight another day. But then Matt Murdock gets called upon to serve the Mayor’s Office in much the same way the police were. Fisk offers him the role of Deputy Mayor. Landini takes this moment to present the reader with the exact same image of Matt three times in succession — no change in acting, just one agonizing moment stretched out into a wordless thought-storm.
Soule very smartly withholds Matt’s voiceover narration on this page, instead letting the lessons of the issue stew in the reader’s head. Does Matt accept in order to infiltrate the Fisk operation to destroy it from the inside? Or does he see an opportunity to do good in an evil administration? Or is he simply duty bound to carry out his role as a trusted attorney? We gotta believe that Matt will continue to resist Fisk, even as he assists him, but I’m terrified to discover what the limits of that resistance must be.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?
I felt at times underwhelmed by Matt’s awareness of what was going on. He sure seemed surprised and fooled by everything here. I guess I’m not accounting for the arc before this, where he when he got back home Fisk was suddenly mayor and he hadn’t had time to acclimate. But he sure seems unready (other than the invisiroo-switcheroo gambit) for everything that is happening.
Maybe that is part of him – constantly thinking on his feet in midair, letting his cleverness and skill and ability to guide his landing.