Villains are gods and Heroes are Demons in “Daredevil #4” – a Soule-ful Review
Writer: Charles Soule
Artists: Ron Garney & Goran Sudzuka
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Now hold on. When you read this comic (and you need to read this comic), you’re going to hit a page filled with 5 vertical panels, stretched from top to bottom, filled with word balloons. And you’re going to want to throw up in your mouth a little bit. Because. Ya know. Talking heads. Voluminous word bubbles. No action. I will tell you, just take a deep breath, and remind yourself that this is a Charles Soule joint. Then stay calm, and read on. Because, quite simply, no one does verbose dialogue like Soule. The guy is simply a master. And you can rest assured that whenever you see a page like this in one of his books, what is about to unfold is a definitive chat that reveals some of the most savvy statements about the human spirit, and defining snippets that reveal a wealth of insight into the characters that has not been revealed in countless pages before.
Typically, when Soule has a scene like this, it is point-to-point between two characters. Superman and Wonder Woman. Jenn Walters and Patsy Walker. In this case, it is a scene between Matt Murdock and Steve Rogers. There are few more moral and tortured characters to have such a scene between, and if you only read that one page, you will have gotten your $3.99 worth.
Let’s rewind a bit. Our favorite demon is back in New York. And somehow he has caused everyone to forget that his alter ego is mild-mannered legal pugilist, Matt Murdock. And he’s a prosecutor. Which would seem to make it more likely for his secret ID to be found out again? Like, if Murdock loses the trial prosecuting you, and then Daredevil shows up at your apartment that same night, someone would put 2-and-2 together? Maybe it’s the same. Who knows. At any rate, Matt Murdock, Assistant District Attorney is a change of pace that makes things interesting. This arc has DD up against a mysterious leader of a cult named Ten-Fingers (classic Daredevil villain name, that). Murdock is struggling with is inner angst, as he reckons that Ten-Fingers is 2-bit enough that he should have been able to put him down by now. So he calls in Old Man Cap. Or maybe he is just trying to exorcise some inner guilt from pulling off whatever kind of whammy he did to make everyone forget his secret ID, including bamboozling Earth’s most legendary hero?
As solid a bit of scripting work as this is for Soule, the art is equally da bomb. Who the hell are Ron Garney and Goran Sudzuka?! Somebody get those gentlemen an Eisner. Stat. OK, maybe I’m building them up too much. It is very early in the season to be evoking the spirit of the most prestigious award in comics. But damn it’s good. And a lot of that credit actually goes to Colorist Mat Milla, whose shadows and shades will the spirit of The Man Without Fear right off the page. I will admit that I’m confused as to whether DD’s costume is actually now black with red accessories or if that is just stylistic shading. Panel work here is superb, and uncanny in that it is entirely symmetrical. There’s not a ton of slants, just perfect right corners, and lots of inlays and overlays. Perfectly paced via structure, and not so hog wild as to be distracting. It is almost clinical story-telling.
Soule is at nearly his best, as is always the case when he is able to tell a vignette of a story between two iconic characters in any comic book universe. Now that I get that this is what he does best, I would love for Marvel to bring back Marvel Team-Up, make Soule the only writer on that gig, and just hand him two characters a month and let him rip the surface coating of off both and play them off of each other like a banjo. Interestingly enough, there is not one word about Murdock’s love life in this issue, as that is often a bulk of the story-telling in any issue covering the most eligible bachelor in Marvel history. This is just a story about a boy who became a super-hero and still looks up to a colleague as his own personal hero. Add that Matt now has an apprentice. It will be very interesting to see how Soule unpacks that character’s story. As someone close to Matt in the combat arena, I’d say he is ripe to be murdered, but that won’t be until Soule pumps us full of emotion and compassion for Blindspot like a writer on the staff of The Walking Dead.
Daredevil has never been one of my favorite heroes. In fact, there was as time when I simply would not pick up a Daredevil comic because I found the character boring. But over the last couple of years, I’ve grown fond of the treatments he’s been given. This is no exception. In fact, it tops the cake. I have been a bit conservative in my final score, simply because this issue did not have any big reveals or especially heart-warming (or ripping) moments. I know those are coming. And since I’m most certainly adding this book to my monthly recurring pulls, I need to give Soule time to ramp. Because I know he’s not blown the cap on the potential he has working on this classic character. I consider it a high mark, regardless, when an issue gets me to add a book to my pulls, so consider that a high compliment. Mr. Soule? Ya got me.