The Responsibility of the Witness in Daredevil 605

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 605 begins with Wilson Fisk raising from his hospital bed to attempt to regain control of New York City. Even dressed in a hospital gown and dragging an IV pole behind him, Fisk backs Foggy into a corner. It looks like Fisk is going to get his way, but ends up collapsing to the ground — it turns out that he wasn’t well enough to exert himself so much. But he made a choice to stop letting Matt Murdock run New York City, rather that simply witnessing it from the safety of his hospital room. While the sun sets on this Wilson Fisk story after three pages, the remainder of the issue plays out that same fundamental question over and over again: what responsibility does a witness have to interfere with whatever they are witnessing? Continue reading

Who Controls the Page in Daredevil 604?

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. Continue reading

The Difference Between Mayoral Action and Superhero Action in Daredevil 602

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“New York City’s uniformed protectors are under attack by the Hand.” It’s a straightforward premise, one with both obvious drama and an obvious solution: superheroes fight the ninjas. But as of Daredevil 601, Matt Murdock is more than just a superhero; he’s also the mayor of New York. Suddenly those simple solutions don’t seem quite as simple. Charles Soule, Mike Henderson, Matt Villa and Clayton Cowles’ Daredevil 602 illustrate the difference between the streamlined drama of the superhero and the complicated drama of the mayor. Continue reading

Failure Defeated by Pure Action in Daredevil 601

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Daredevil is a punching bag. I know all superheroes suffer — conflict is the engine of story, and masked dudes with superpowers have to really be put through the ringer for a desensitized audience to feel anything. But Matt Murdock is a special case: his default state seems to be “just got beat up.” I mean, look at the cover to this issue. No one’s going to ask “oh no, is Matt gonna be okay?” Yeah, sure — he’ll be fine. He always bleeds from the face when he’s working on a plan. So part of what makes Daredevil 601 feel so unsettling is how smoothly everything goes for the Mayor Without Fear. Continue reading

Daredevil 600: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Desaulniers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Patrick: Where does power come from? I’ve been seriously grappling with this one since Trump was elected to the White House, but this question obviously extends waaaay beyond that fucking monster. Does power ultimately come from money? From social connections? From one’s willingness to sacrifice their friendships? From violence? From non-violence? As the battle between Wilson Fisk and Daredevil reaches a fever pitch, questions of where either of them gets their power are posed right alongside the question of where Daredevil 600 gets its power. This is a six-hundredth issue, after all — so what makes this one special? Continue reading

Kingpin Drowns Out Everything Else in Daredevil 599

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president, the media has been a constant bombardment of scandals, missteps, and outrage. Every new sound bite is accused of being a “distraction” from something more important, but the truth is that almost every one of these stories is important (and horrifying) in their own way. Still, so many stories flying around at once can be absolutely overwhelming — nobody can get their bearings straight or agree on which scandals to tackle first. There’s just no way to focus in a world absolutely overwhelmed by Trumpian horrors, which is exactly what Matt Murdock is discovering in Daredevil 599, where newly-elected Mayor Fisk is just as divisive, dangerous, and all-encompassing a figure. Continue reading

Clashing Tones in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

It’s hard to separate a character from the types of stories they inhabit. Indeed, it’s an idea that doesn’t even really make sense in most media, where characters tend to inhabit just the one story, but it kind of runs amok in comics, where there are countless forces pushing characters into other types of stories. There’s crossovers and cameos, which will pull the guest-starring character into the (potentially very different) tonal world of the home series. There’s cross-media franchises, which will accentuate the parts of the character that best suit the medium, whether it’s an action movie, a video-game, or a kids cartoon. And, perhaps more than anything, there’s the monthly grind of telling yet another story with this character, inspiring creators to think outside the box to find something new and exciting to show us. Those forces compound over the decades, such that a given character is less defined by the type of stories they inhabit than the range of stories they could inhabit. Such is the case with Spider-Man, who is so famously versatile to have teamed up with basically everyone in the Marvel Universe, has appeared in countless film and television iterations, and often stars in multiple comics series at once. Even so, there seem to be a few types of stories that Spider-Man isn’t quite suited for, as The Amazing Spider-Man Annual 42 illustrates. Continue reading

Fisk Keeps His Enemies Closer in Daredevil 597

by Drew Baumgartner

Daredevil 597

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

What rock did these morally pure creatures crawl out from under and, more important, how do you go from innocent millipede to White House staffer without becoming soiled or disillusioned by the dirty realities of politics along the way?

Heather Havrilesky, “Will The West Wing go south?”

There are a lot of things to nitpick about The West Wing, between its heavy-handed Sorkin-isms and its penchant for too-saccharine resolutions, but the one criticism that I can’t stand is that it isn’t realistic enough. Of course it isn’t — it’s fiction. No, these aren’t how actual White House staffers would talk about issues, because how they actually talk would be totally impenetrable to the audience the show is actually made for. Tone-deaf critics would dismiss this as dumbing-down, but the alternative is a highly accurate but totally unwatchable bore. Policy wonks may lament that there’s no television truly tailored to their niche interests, but the rest of us want something, you know, entertaining. Moreover, we understand that in order to generate drama, characters in fiction may need to speak and act in ways that real people wouldn’t (hint: real people don’t only sit on one half of a dining room table or speak in iambic pentameter). Which means the hero sometimes has to be naive in their hopes and dreams — if they know they’re going to crash on the rocks, they might just call the whole adventure off, which doesn’t leave us with much of a story. Such is the case with Matt’s attempt to keep a watchful eye on Fisk. Continue reading

The Limits to Resistance Daredevil 596

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. Continue reading

Capturing the Tension of a Post-Trump America in Daredevil 595

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The Kingpin, a literal supervillain, has just been elected the Mayor of Marvel’s New York City. If you can read that sentence and not immediately see parallels to the United States’ current political climate, then you’re clearly far blinder than Matt Murdock. In Daredevil 595, Charles Soule and Stefano Landini tap into the confusion, shock, fear, and paranoia that have come to define the last year for so many of us.  Continue reading