By Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
“I’m gonna need the room.”
Father Jordan, Daredevil 604
Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 604 is all about controlling space. Within the world of the story, that’s about dispersing satanic mists, or driving out swarms of ninjas. On the metatextual level, that’s about which character commands the space on the page. With the introduction of the Order of the Dragon (or Ordo Dragonum, if you’re nasty), the pages become thick with both action and potential, but it’s still on Daredevil to take control of every square inch of the city… and by extension, every inch of the page.
Soule and Henderson have been doing a lot of this compression-and-release technique in the last five issues. Long scenes full of dialogue and exposition in the mayor’s office, contrasted with breathless action scenes that are light on copy. That is as effective as ever, with the added question of who seems to be controlling that spacial release. Let’s take an example from early in the issue — still in the office of the mayor, even. Matt lays unconscious, and Henderson places his subject on the extreme left side of the panel. There is more unaccounted-for space, but Matt does not drive the reader to it. In fact, Father Jordan sorta steps up in the next panel, and both with his outstretched index finger and speech, directs the readers attention to the other side of the page.
We learn a lot from these two panels. Matt cannot control this space, but his allies can. Father Jordan makes a meal out of this momentary control, spilling the whole history of the Ordom Draconum, dating back to the fifteenth century. And that’s all super cool — what’s more fun than ninja warrior priests? Those warrior-priests fighting Nazi-sea-monsters on the beach!
Of course, Father Jordan and the Ordom Draconum can really only be Daredevil’s enforcers, and the space (both in the city and on the page) needs to be controlled by Daredevil. I absolutely adore the sequence of Daredevil and company closing in on the Beast’s stronghold. Henderson gives Daredevil the tools to close the space between himself and his enemies, giving him higher ground and forward kinetic energy.
Soule and Henderson don’t really let us see the resolution of this scene — all we really know is that the Beast slips away, and the Hand regroups. So, where does that leave us with who’s controlling space on the page? The last page has an intriguing answer to that question. Wilson Fisk.
This splash page completely obliterates the gutter, and even has its own internal panel in the form of the door frame. And Fisk can’t even be contained by that. While everyone else has to gesture or speak or flip around to fill the page, Fisk does it simply by virtue of showing up.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?