Daredevil #14 Review

Daredevil #14 Review

Art Within Art

Charles Soule (W), Ron Garney (A), Matt Milla (CA)

Cover by Ron Garney and Matt Milla

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

          Let’s revisit the grim and frightening world of the Man Without Fear, shall we?

This current story, Dark Arts, has been my favorite since Charles Soule took over Daredevil as a part of All-New, All-Different Marvel. His comic had something of a slow start, with the Tenfingers arc being good but not great. It picked up a bit from there with good issues guest-starring Steve Rogers, Elektra, and the Amazing Spider-Man (the last of which we reviewed here).

The current story presents a villain called Muse or Vincent Van Gore (the latter name I prefer, though the comic uses Muse). He is an Inhuman artist who prefers using body parts, fluids, organs, etc. to make his pieces. Daredevil has struggled to track him down and has had to seek the aid of the Inhumans of New Attilan. They have assigned Frank McGee aka Nur to aid him in the task. In the most recent issue, Daredevil’s new protégé, Blindspot, tracked Muse into the sewers and saved a number of hostages from the rogue. However, he was captured by Muse at the end of the last issue.

Daredevil and Nur are searching for clues with which to find Muse at the beginning of #14. He pushes his senses to their limits looking for the sensory “void” that is Muse. He manages to find him and leaves Nur behind. The story turns to Muse’s hideout, which is decorated with the remains of many of his victims. Among them is a photograph of Tenfingers, showing that it was Muse, not the Hand, that killed him. Soon after this is revealed, Daredevil crashes through the window.

Before the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen can get close to Muse, the demented artist decides to make Blindspot into “art.” To this end, he removes Blindspot’s eyes to match his name. He returns Blindspot to Daredevil, and the blinded man tells Daredevil to not let Muse kill anyone else.

Daredevil continues the pursuit, and he brawls the deranged murderer. The fight leads to the room in which Muse bleeds out his live victims for his paint. Dozens of individuals hang from the ceiling with paint buckets beneath them. Muse lets them drop to distract Daredevil, and the Man Without Fear has to hold back to save them. Once they are safe, he continues running after Muse.

Upon making it to the roof, Daredevil finds that Nur and the Inhuman police force have arrived to arrest Muse. Wanting to punish Muse himself, Daredevil is reluctant to just let them take the villain. Muse, to sate Daredevil’s rage, breaks his own fingers to allow for an ironic punishment. The Inhumans bring out the surviving victims of Muse as well as the injured Blindspot, the latter of whom says that it was all worth it since Daredevil was able to save the bleeding victims. The comic ends on this scene.

This issue was shocking, macabre, and damn fantastic. Muse has turned into a great villain, and I hope later writers of the series bring him back in the future. The pitch-black depths this man is willing to dive into for his “art” make him fascinating, compelling, and unnerving. He could easily stand alongside the likes of Bullseye, Kingpin, and the Owl in the pantheon of great Daredevil villains.

The pacing is great, and the comic never stops moving. The urgency of Daredevil’s mission is easily felt by the reader, and it’s very easy to believe that this could be Blindspot’s last day on Earth. The removal of his eyes allows for a real cost to be felt, and this doesn’t just feel like another great danger narrowly avoided. There were consequences. They are impactful consequences, as Blindspot is actually a really likable apprentice. I didn’t want to see him die or become blind.

The art does a lot of the legwork in this comic. Garney and Milla put together a true house of horrors to surround Muse. The Romita Junior-esque art of Garney mixed with the color pallet of a Frank Miller tale used my Milla combine to make a dreary world that is perfect for a story like this. The petrified expressions on the faces of Muse’s victims are skin-crawling. When he finally takes off his mask and exposes his own twisted visage, I flinched. His face is truly horrifying, and I love it.

This is the best issue of Daredevil since Mark Waid’s run last year. Charles Soule, Ron Garney, and Matt Milla have shown that they can put together a truly memorable Daredevil story. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it, provided you have the stomach for some truly macabre imagery.

Final Score: 9/10

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#6: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime

#6: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime

Art by Esad Ribic

Wilson Fisk was a poor and obese child. As he grew up, he began bodybuilding and training in the art of sumo wrestling as a means of self-improvement as well as self-defense. He educated himself through stolen books and took an interest in political science. He took to using these skills in his criminal enterprises, vowing to never become anyone else’s subordinate. He also knew the importance of never being directly connected to his own operations, and he stayed out of the line of fire whenever possible. This was the start of his path to becoming the Kingpin.

Fisk was careful to invest his ill-gotten gains in above the table businesses, the first of which was an Asian spice company. Long into his career, he met a woman named Vanessa, whom he quickly fell in love with. She gave him a tranquility that he could find nowhere else. They married and had a child named Richard.

It was after his power had been firmly established in New York that the modern age of heroes began. He was wary of their potential threat to his organization, and he made a point of avoiding them at first. When Spider-Man briefly retired, he took the opportunity to make moves against the international criminal enterprise, the Maggia. He united a number of smaller gangs and initiated a criminal uprising throughout New York. However, Spider-Man returned and challenged the Kingpin. The truly damaging blow, however, came when J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle outed Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin of Crime.

He was further challenged by Spider-Man in following plans and even clashed with his own son, Richard, then disguised as the Schemer. He was later invited to head the Las Vegas contingent of Hydra, and he had Richard serve as his right hand man. The available resources gave Kingpin the opportunity to achieve even greater power, but, upon discovering that the Red Skull was subverting his authority behind the scenes, rejected the organization and abandoned his plans with them.

After the numerous failures and dangers that assailed Wilson, Vanessa pleaded with her husband to abandon the identity of the Kingpin. He acquiesced, and the two moved to Japan. She persuaded him to turn over information on his former colleagues to authorities. His associates were angered by this, and they made an attempt on her life that Wilson was led to believe was successful.

He moved back to New York and returned to his criminal activities. He turned information on his rivals over to authorities through the vigilante Daredevil. This depowered the Maggia and gave Fisk the opportunity to even further increase his influence in the New York. Kingpin then began making inroads into the city government through Councilman Randolph Cherryh. When the politician became elected to the office of mayor, Daredevil discovered the criminal connection. He also found that Vanessa Fisk was still alive. He promised to return her to Wilson if he convinced Cherryh to deny the position. Fisk agreed. This was the beginning of the vicious rivalry between Daredevil and the Kingpin.

It was around this time that Kingpin hired insane super assassin Bullseye as his main hitman.

He soon stumbled upon the then heroin addicted and impoverished Karen Page, former secretary to Nelson and Murdock. Fisk had, at this point, been inconvenienced by the two attorneys on a number of occasions. Upon offering to feed her addiction, Page gave the Kingpin Daredevil’s secret identity of attorney Matthew Murdock.

With this information, Fisk relentlessly targeted Murdock. He had the man rendered impoverished and disbarred. Upon being confronted by Murdock, Kingpin assaulted him and left him for dead. Daredevil survived the experience, but Fisk continued his assault on the hero. He sabotaged his personal relationships, continued to inhibit his law practice, and sent more threats against his life, such as the insane mutant seductress, Typhoid Mary.

After much abuse, Murdock found a weakness in the Kingpin’s armor, and he exposed Fisk’s criminality to the public. He took his wealth, his power, and his position away from him. He also sent Vanessa into hiding in Europe. Fisk was able to escape incarceration, but he was left completely broken.

He resurfaced in Japan as a part of the Stark-Fujikawa company in Japan. There, he came into possession of the Elixir Vitae, the only known cure to the then-rampant mutant Legacy Virus. This led him to conflict with the X-Men and Shang-Chi. He had intentions of using the cure to regaining his wealth. However, Storm destroyed it. Regardless, his corporate gains allowed him to once again obtain a footing in the New York criminal underworld.

He gained an adopted daughter in Maya Lopez aka Echo, whom was the daughter of a deceased enforcer formerly in his employ. Though Fisk himself killed the man, he convinced Maya that the killer was Daredevil. After Echo and Daredevil clashed, she realized that the true murderer was the Kingpin himself. Echo went after Fisk and temporarily blinded him in the assault.

Fisk lost his empire once more when an employee, Samuel Siikes, and his own son, Richard, staged a coup against the Kingpin that left him severely wounded. Vanessa killed Richard in revenge and fled abroad. Fisk himself killed Siikes and also left the country. He attempted to take back his power, but Daredevil beat him back and pronounced himself Kingpin. This led to Fisk being incarcerated at last.

However, this was short-lived. Fisk had left little evidence of his criminal dealings. He was constantly being antagonized by other inmates in prison, making him a legal liability in the eyes of the federal government. He had another advantage in his knowledge of Daredevil’s secret identity, and he leveraged this information with the FBI. Murdock was arrested, but the FBI reneged on their negotiations and kept Fisk in prison with Murdock. The hero was able to stage an escape with Fisk, but he betrayed the man as well, leaving him in prison with a wounded knee from fellow inmate Bullseye.

Fisk tried to angle a release through collaboration with Tony Stark during the Super Hero Civil War. He claimed that he knew of a base of operations for Captain America’s forces. In reality, it was a hideout for the Hammerhead. Fisk also put out a hit on Peter Parker, whom revealed his own identity as Spider-Man in accordance with the Superhuman Registration Act. This led to the shooting of May Parker. Spider-Man retaliated by brutally beating Fisk, promising to kill him if he ever threatened his family again.

Vanessa Fisk came into contact with Murdock, on the run in Europe from his own legal issues, and arranged for the lawyer to take on Wilson’s legal battle. She passed away shortly after, and Matt Murdock aided his nemesis. He had all charges dropped, but on the condition that Fisk was exiled from America. Fisk agreed, and went to visit the grave of his wife.

When Daredevil took control of the Hand and established the supernatural prison, Shadowland, Wilson Fisk saw this as a new opportunity to strike at his foe. He returned to America and began working against Daredevil, leading Luke Cage and Iron Fist to challenge the Hand as well as summoning the Ghost Rider to go after Daredevil. When Daredevil was defeated by his former comrades, Fisk took control of the Hand.

Fisk next hired Hobgoblin to steal an experimental metal from Horizon Labs, a company that employed none other than Peter Parker (whom had since wiped the knowledge of his secret identity from the world through a deal with Mephisto). Spider-Man and Black Cat pursued the metal and destroyed the sample. The resulting explosion brought down Fisk Tower.

He ran into conflict with Spider-Man once again (this time the “superior” incarnation that was in reality the mind of Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body). The Web-Head attacked Shadowland and destroyed the Hand’s base of operations in New York. Fisk went underground once again and faked his own death.

He resurfaced in San Francisco, where Daredevil had relocated in the interest of soul-searching and starting a new law firm. This new ploy involved using the Owl as a human computer processor, Lady Bullseye, and Ikari to manipulate Matt Murdock through his loved ones, Foggy Nelson and Kirsten McDuffie. He also took advantage of the crazed vigilante, the Shroud, whom ended up killing Ikari. Daredevil was able to gain the upper hand once more and defeated the Kingpin.

In the new world that formed after the new Secret Wars, Wilson Fisk has established a company called Fisk Industries and has regained his wealth once again. He has shown himself to still be interested in criminality by using the Inhuman, Janus, to avoid the premonitions of Ulysses, whom has made it difficult for the criminal faction. Kingpin has used this advantage to set up a number of new criminal allegiances and his new plays remain to be seen.

He has a new solo series aptly called, Kingpin, set to be released in coming months. Of course, I’ll let you know how that is here, as I will most certainly be trying it.

Wilson Fisk is a man who started in rags and made himself into a proper emperor. He has used ruthlessness and brute strength, but he also believes that intellect is the greatest weapon. He is not without the capacity for love, being more committed to his now-deceased wife, Vanessa, more than anyone else. He has also shown something of a code of honor, almost always living up to his end of bargains and not killing when it is unnecessary.

Admittedly, Vincent D’Onofrio’s superb performance as Wilson Fisk in Netflix’s Daredevil series is part of what has drew me to the character originally. He brought the character to life in a manner that I had never seen before. However, it was Fisk’s intrigue, intelligence, and determination in the comics that maintained my love of the character. He’s a ruthless and terrifying crime lord, and this is what earns Kingpin the position as my 6th favorite Marvel Villain of all time.

#8: Bullseye

#8: Bullseye

Art by Mike Deodato Jr.

I know, I know, I already discussed Bullseye when I did my Top 10 Vilest Villains list. However, this will be a different and more in-depth discussion of the character, so it’s still worth your time to read. Also, without spoiling too much, expect to see more repeat offenders on this list and the DC list that I will be putting together after this one concludes.

Anyway, on with the show!

Little is known about the man known only as Lester. He has made many claims about his early life. He says that he set his childhood home ablaze to kill his father. He may have been a major league baseball player for a time, a career that ended when he killed a batter with a baseball. He may have even worked for the NSA for a time.

All that is known for sure is that he became an assassin for hire, and that assassin’s name is Bullseye, the man that never misses.

His earliest known employments took him to places such as Africa and Nicaragua, bringing him to meet individuals such as Frank Castle and Deadpool.

He soon made his operations domestic, and he implemented an extortion scheme in New York City. This plan involved a number of murders, something that brings great joy to Bullseye. In his confidence, he even participated in an interview with New York newspaper company the Daily Bugle. This brought Bullseye into conflict with an individual whom would come to define much of his career, Daredevil, the Man Without Fear. Bullseye battled Daredevil, and the mercenary won the duel. However, his extortion scheme had to be jettisoned.

Bullseye was next hired to kill lawyer Matt Murdock. This brought him into conflict with Daredevil once again. The vigilante won this battle, and this drove Bullseye mad. This defeat caused irreparable damage to Bullseye’s reputation in his own perception. He became obsessed with Daredevil, taking any and all jobs that would lead to another battle with the Man Without Fear.

He would later develop a brain tumor that triggered a number of hallucinations. The most common of these was perceiving random individuals as his arch nemesis, Daredevil. After a significant killing spree on Bullseye’s part, the real Daredevil interfered and brought down the criminal once again. He was arrested, and the tumor was removed while he was in custody.

After managing to escape from incarceration, Bullseye received a job to kill Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. However, Fisk offered Bullseye a better pay, and the assassin became employed by the crime lord. This changed when Bullseye was defeated yet again by Daredevil. Fisk hired another assassin named Elektra to replace the failed Bullseye. As a result, Bullseye killed Elektra, and this enraged the assassin’s lover, Daredevil. After another battle, Daredevil let Bullseye fall from a rooftop. The assassin managed to survive the fall, but his back was broken.

A Japanese mobster named Lord Dark Wind healed Bullseye and laced his bones with Adamantium. He returned to his criminal activities and once more joined up with the Kingpin.

During a period of Daredevil’s absence, Bullseye began impersonating the hero and began a Robin Hood-esque crime spree where he robbed the wealthy and gave the gains to the poor of the city. Bullseye began believing he really was Daredevil until the real Daredevil returned in Bullseye’s own costume and defeated the imposter. For whatever reason, this shattered Bullseye’s illusion and caused him to return to his own costumed identity.

Bullseye continued to be a blight upon the Man Without Fear’s life, killing Karen Page, learning his secret identity, and targeting Matt Murdock specifically. Daredevil would eventually carve the Bullseye insignia into the assassin’s forehead with a rock as retaliation.

When the Super Hero Civil War erupted, Bullseye was recruited by Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin to join his own cadre of Thunderbolts. Osborn’s team was charged with arresting unregistered super humans on behalf of the government, a job the group performed gleefully and ruthlessly. He ran with this incarnation of the Thunderbolts for the entirety of its existence, never ceasing his bloodthirsty ways which were only encouraged by Osborn. He killed the sister of fellow Thunderbolt, the Swordsman, and he personally executed a number of super human prisoners arrested by the team.

After the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion, Osborn was promoted to be the head of the U.S government’s new security apparatus, H.A.M.M.E.R. He had a number of his former Thunderbolts impersonate Avengers in his own team of Dark Avengers. Bullseye was made to be the team’s Hawkeye. He fought for these Avengers on a number of assignments, including battling Morgana le Fey, a malfunctioning Hulkbuster drone, the Molecule Man, and even Deadpool. He was later tasked with killing Daredevil. The two fought to a standstill, and Bullseye (dressed in his old uniform) detonated a fully inhabited apartment complex in Hell’s Kitchen, killing many innocents. He taunted Daredevil and escaped back to Osborn.

After Osborn’s failed Siege of Asgard, his Avengers team was arrested. Bullseye was being transported to Ryker’s Island when he escaped and ran across Daredevil once again. This time, the hero showed a ruthlessness and brutality that he had never exhibited before. Daredevil ended the conflict by killing Bullseye with a sai, the same weapon with which Bullseye had killed Elektra years before.

The Hand managed to get a hold of Bullseye’s body and performed a dark ritual to bring him back to life. However, the ritual was imperfect, and Bullseye was brought back paralyzed and unable to survive of his own volition.

Lady Bullseye, who had brought Bullseye’s body to the Hand to be resurrected, placed him in a mobile iron lung to keep him alive. Unable to perform the physical feats he was once capable of, Bullseye focused on sharpening his mind and planning abilities. He constructed a scheme to bring down Daredevil, and Lady Bullseye and another Daredevil foe named Ikari put that plan into action.

This plan eventually brought Daredevil to Bullseye himself, and Ikari and Lady Bullseye attempted to kill the vigilante within view of his paralyzed nemesis. The battle caused the floor to collapse beneath Bullseye, and he was dropped upon a number of chemical vats. This broke them open, and they leaked into Bullseye’s makeshift cocoon. Daredevil was able to save his life, but the chemicals still blinded the assassin.

Bullseye has not been seen since this battle. However, Marvel has announced a solo series for him, so we’ll see what that’s about when it’s released.

Bullseye is a bloodthirsty psychopath who enjoys nothing more than killing people. This makes him a lot of fun to read about and a joy whenever he shows up to cause more turmoil in the life of Daredevil. His skill and agility make him a great match for the Man Without Fear, and this often results in awesome skill-based fight sequences in the comic books. His obsession with Daredevil and his paranoia about his own reputation make him a fairly interesting villain as well. However, his sadism is the thing that most makes him deliciously wicked in my eyes.

He’s a heartless monster with an undying vendetta, and this is what places Bullseye at the Number 8 slot of my favorite Marvel Villains.

#4: Matt Murdock, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

#4: Matt Murdock, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

Matt Murdock was 12 years old when he pushed an older man out of the way of an oncoming chemical truck. The truck skidded out of control, and it spilled its cargo. The chemicals doused Matt and got into his eyes. He was blinded, but the chemicals also enhanced his other senses and gave him something of a “radar” sense. His father and only caretaker, the boxer “Battlin’” Jack Murdock, was later killed for not being willing to throw a fight. This left Matt without a guardian until he was contacted by a man known only as Stick. Stick was also blind, but he was a martial arts master. He trained Matt intensely, and, one day, Matt returned to Hell’s Kitchen to become its protector. He became known as Daredevil, the Man Without Fear!

Matt Murdock also fought for the law in other ways. Between his leaving the hard-nosed Stick and becoming Daredevil, he studied law at Columbia University and found a legal partner in Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. This is also where he met and had a brief romantic flame with the Greek debutante, Elektra Natchios.

Alongside Foggy Nelson, Matt opened the law firm Nelson and Murdock to protect the rights of citizens. They hired a secretary named Karen Page, and she and Matt kindled a romantic relationship. He would later reveal to her his dual identity as Daredevil.

As the vigilante Daredevil, Matt quickly gained enemies. He faced such foes as the Owl, the Gladiator, Stilt-Man, the Jester, and the Circus of Crime. He also made far more deadly enemies, such as the Kingpin, the Purple Man, Bullseye, and the ancient clan of assassins known as the Hand.

He became fast friends and allies with fellow New York super hero, the Amazing Spider-Man. The two have faced down many villains together. He also gained allies in Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, the Daughters of the Dragon, and Shang Chi. He would later become rivals with the vigilante Punisher aka Frank Castle.

He also did this weird thing for a while where he pretended to be his own twin brother to help throw people off from suspecting that he might be Daredevil. This twin was named Mike. He was cocky like how Matt behaved as Daredevil. This was a far cry from Matt Murdock, who was known to be more calm, collected, and suffered from clinical depression.

After Foggy was elected district attorney and Matt’s relationship with Karen ended, Daredevil moved to San Francisco. Here, he met Natasha Romanova aka the Black Widow. The two became crime fighting partners, and they also entered a brief romantic relationship. He found a job with a law firm here and found a more sustained love in the woman named Heather Glenn, but he couldn’t stay away from New York for long.

When he returned, he opened a new law firm with Foggy Nelson, whom was unable to be reelected as district attorney. Matt was also reunited with Elektra. However, she had become an assassin trained by the Hand. She had since left the Hand, but she was still an entirely different person. She and Daredevil battled, but they came to an understanding and worked together. However, she was killed by Bullseye soon after.

She would later be resurrected through the use of magic, and she left New York.

Matt proposed to Heather Glenn, but the relationship went sour. After she left a drunken message for Matt to come save her from a fabricated threat, Matt ended things with Heather. She later killed herself. This only fed his depressive tendencies.

Karen returned to leave another impact on Matt’s life, but it was not a positive one. She had attempted to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles, but she failed. She turned to pornography, and she became addicted to heroin. In her darkest hour, she sold out Matt’s secret identity. This information found its way to the Kingpin, whom used it to start a campaign to destroy Daredevil’s life.

Despite her betrayal, Matt and Karen managed to reunite and entered a serious relationship once more. However, this was destroyed by a new foe, Typhoid Mary. Mary is a bipolar mutant with telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers. She was hired by Kingpin to torment Matt Murdock, and he cheated on Karen with her after Mary made sexual advances towards Matt.

As his life continued to spin out of control, a New York tabloid was onto his double identity. To escape this, he faked his own death, a ploy in which he left Foggy and Karen in the dark. He took on the identity of Jack Batlin (a play on his father’s boxer title).

After some time, he was able to return to the identity of Matt Murdock. His happiness was soon crushed when Karen Page was murdered by Bullseye. She left him money in her will, which she instructed Matt to use on something for himself. With this money, he rebuilt Nelson and Murdock with Foggy.

He found romance again in a deaf woman named Maya Lopez, though she was being manipulated by Kingpin. She also had special abilities (she could mimic any physical motion she sees) and skills, and she became the hero Echo. She fought Daredevil, but she was made wise to Kingpin’s game. She turned on Fisk and temporarily blinded him.

He found another romance in the blind woman named Milla Donovan. They even married. As Matt’s sanity was going downhill, she learned that it may be, in part, due to their marriage. She left him after learning this.

His identity was threatened once more when a newspaper outed him as Daredevil, which he denied. He deposed the Kingpin and aided in the containment of the Raft breakout that led to the formation of the New Avengers.

The FBI, having enough evidence to pursue Murdock, arrested him for being Daredevil. The incident left Foggy to believe that Matt had died. He was able to break out of federal prison alongside Frank Castle.

He escaped to Europe to wait for the storm to blow over, and he left the Iron Fist to play the role of Daredevil in his absence. Vanessa Fisk, the wife of the Kingpin, laid out an elaborate plan to have Matt absolved of his crimes. She was dying, and she wanted to corrupt Daredevil by having him defend her husband in court. She expected him to agree, so she enacted this scheme. He refused and turned on both Fisks. She later died, and Matt was able to return to the U.S with his identity safe once more.

He returned and reunited with Foggy and the firm. He also found Milla Donovan had been institutionalized by an old foe called Mister Fear. This further damaged Matt’s psyche. He also faced a new foe calling herself Lady Bullseye. She worked for the Hand, whom were making a resurgence in New York.

To combat this, Matt was forced to align himself with Kingpin. This shattered his friendship with Foggy, and he was fired from Franklin and Murdock. When Kingpin attempted to take control of the Hand, Daredevil stopped him. Matt Murdock then chose to become the new leader of the Hand to prevent it from causing further chaos in Hell’s Kitchen.

His leadership went as smoothly as it could at first, but Norman Osborn, then the director of the national security organization H.A.M.M.E.R, challenged his authority. He sent Bullseye, then masquerading as the Avenger Hawkeye, to antagonize Daredevil. He detonated a fully inhabited apartment building. This sent Daredevil over the edge. He reunited the five lords of the Hand, and he sent his ninja foot soldiers to take back the streets. He then built a massive castle in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen called Shadowland, equipped with its own prison.

After H.A.M.M.E.R fell and Osborn’s Dark Avengers were arrested, Bullseye managed to escape from S.H.I.E.L.D custody right in the middle of New York. Daredevil was the first to track him down. He battled the assassin briefly, but, when Daredevil acquired one of Bullseye’s own weapons, he impaled the villain for the world to see.

The Avengers decided that this was the final straw, and they charged Luke Cage and Iron Fist with ending Daredevil’s reign in Hell’s Kitchen. Meanwhile, the Hand’s activities in New York were steadily escalating. The Hand managed to seal the demon upon which their organization was founded, simply called “the Beast,” within Matt Murdock to solidify his place within the organization. The Beast corrupted Murdock’s soul and pushed his actions to further extremes.

White Tiger and Black Tarantula, two other vigilante heroes, were asked by Matt himself to keep Daredevil in check. However, White Tiger was corrupted by the Hand, and she dispatched Black Tarantula at the first opportunity. Black Tarantula barely survived the experience.

Elektra attempted to talk sense into Matt personally, but she was quickly turned to his side as well. Matt even hired longtime foe Typhoid Mary to work as his personal guard.

Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Spider-Man all attempted to talk Daredevil into dismantling Shadowland. He refused, and he and the Hand brutally beat the heroes and sent them out of the castle. In a last ditch assault, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, the Daughters of the Dragon, Moon Knight, Shang Chi, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine united to bring down Daredevil and the Hand. Iron Fist was able to use his mystical powers to expel the Beast from Matt, and they were able to dismantle the Hand from there.

Questioning his very identity, Matthew Murdock knew he couldn’t go on with the way he had been doing things. He asked T’Challa aka the Black Panther, in exile from his own kingdom, to watch over Hell’s Kitchen in his absence, and Matt Murdock went soul-searching in the American Southwest.

In a small New Mexico town, Matt still came across corruption. He brought down a drug lord by the name of Cavalera. This experience reinvigorated Matt’s will to fight for justice and the innocents. He returned to Hell’s Kitchen and relieved Black Panther of his position.

In an effort to keep himself from going down a dark road yet again, Matthew Murdock forced himself to be more optimistic and outgoing, both as Matt Murdock and as Daredevil. He was quickly approached by Steve Rogers aka Captain America, whom was concerned after the events of Shadowland. He managed to persuade the Captain to allow him to continue his work, but Rogers assured him that, if he suspected anything like Shadowland happening again, he would bring Daredevil down personally.

He reestablished his friendship with Foggy Nelson, and the two opened up Nelson and Murdock once more. He even found a new lover and coworker in a woman named Kirstin McDuffie.

Matt Murdock, at last, publicly outed himself as Daredevil in a legal struggle with the white supremacist group, the Sons of the Serpent. This complicated his life, but it also simplified how the public perceived him and his struggles for justice.

Daredevil, the Punisher, and Spider-Man cooperated once again in an effort to capture an immensely powerful piece of hardware called the Omegadrive. It was a disk containing catastrophic information on many of Earth’s heroes. The three were able to acquire it from the criminal organization called Black Spectre.

Daredevil even officially joined the New Avengers during the events of Fear Itself. He aided in their fight against the Phoenix Five during the Avengers’ war with the X-Men.

He faced many more struggles in his career as Daredevil. He battled the Klaw. He recovered his father’s remains when his cemetery was rooted out by the Mole Man. He was briefly captured by Latverian forces and experimented upon. He fought a new and deadly foe called Ikiri.

He also discovered that his closest friend, Foggy Nelson, had developed cancer. He faced many struggles in helping his friend fight this, and this was worsened by many of his old foes now targeting Foggy for his association with Daredevil. He helped Foggy fake his own death in a battle with a technologically enhanced Leap Frog, and this took the target off Foggy’s back.

After and intense battle with the Jester and the Sons of the Serpent and another battle with a revived but paralyzed Bullseye, Daredevil returned to San Francisco with Kirsten and Foggy. There, he continued his fight for justice.

He aided the children of the Purple Man to come to terms with their powers and parenthood, and this experience convinced Matt to become more open about his depression. He agreed to allow Kirsten’s father to write a biography on him. He aided the Owl, whom was being used as a human computer tower. He attempted to cooperate with the intensely unstable Shroud.

He came to another confrontation with the Kingpin, whom was connected to the scheme involving the Owl and meddling with the Shroud. Fisk hired Ikiri to bring down Daredevil, but the Shroud killed Ikiri. Daredevil was furious with the Shroud and cut off all association with the vigilante. Despite this, Daredevil was able to defeat the Kingpin once more.

In the events after Secret Wars, Daredevil has returned to New York with Foggy. He has taken on a new black costume, and he has even acquired an apprentice named Blindpost with a suit that can allow him to become invisible. Matt has also done something to remove the knowledge of his identity from the minds of the world with the exception of Foggy Nelson. The specifics of this procedure are yet to be revealed, and it is apparently a part of a plan to bring down many of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.

Since then, he has battled the Hand yet again as well as a mysterious cult leader called Ten Fingers. He has also gotten a job in the district attorney’s office.

Matthew Murdock is a hero who has faced the very worst in life. He has loved many women, and he has lost almost all of them in very gruesome and scarring manners. He is a hero who is dedicated, above all else, to protecting his home turf of Hell’s Kitchen and has only left when felt forced.

He, like many heroes, has the credo of non-lethal force. However, he has faced some of the vilest humans like Bullseye and the Purple Man. He has a deep festering rage inside of himself that he knows he can’t allow to be free. This is complicated by his depressive tendencies. Despite this, he has still struggled to be the best guardian of his home of Hell’s Kitchen that he is capable of being. He abstains from taking a life despite these challenges (with the one exception).

This combination of qualities is what makes him such an intriguing foe for the Punisher. As Frank says in the Daredevil Netflix series, “You’re one bad day from becoming me.”

Daredevil is the troubled, committed, and endlessly engaging and relatable defender of Hell’s Kitchen, and this is what has placed him at Number 4 of my Top 10 Favorite Marvel Heroes!

 

Further Adventures of Daredevil:

Daredevil #9

 

Daredevil #9

Daredevil #9

A dash of trouble in the larger Chinese metropolitan area

Charles Soule (W), Goran Sudzuka (A), Matt Milla (CA)

Cover by: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $3.99

One thing before we get rolling: this book has been out for a couple of weeks now. Usually, I wouldn’t review it that long after release, but my local comic shop received damaged copies of the book. Consequently, it took me longer to get a hold of this issue. I still want to talk about this book though, so I hope you’ll forgive the tardiness of this review.

Charles Soule is a writer that had a tough challenge thrown in front of him when he signed on to write Daredevil. He had to follow Mark Waid’s now-legendary run on the book. Waid left quite the footsteps to follow.

The creative team made a smart move right off the bat when they decided to take the book back to its grittier past. Waid’s book was a bit more upbeat and high-flying than Daredevil has been historically. The character of Matt Murdock was chattier and more openly charismatic than he usually is. To try to emulate that tone and style would have seemed unoriginal for Soule and the rest of the creative team.

However, they also made a couple of missteps along the way since then. Namely the series has had a lack of Foggy Nelson, they brought back the concept of Daredevil having a secret identity. The former of those is an issue because Foggy is easily one of the most endearing supporting characters in comic book history. The latter is an issue because of the challenges that Daredevil having a public identity posed for the character. It added a new dimension to his super hero career, and it also showed growth and change in the story dynamics. Change is something that’s pretty rare in mainstream comic books, and it was nice having that in this book. That being said, it has been made into a plot point in the first few stories of the series, so perhaps Daredevil’s identity will be public again before too long.

Has this run of Daredevil been as good as the previous one? Eh…no, not really, but it has been a solid series nonetheless, and I’ve enjoyed it.

The current story has brought ole-Hornhead to China in search of information. In the previous issue, he defeated a telepath in a game of poker at a casino which allowed him access to the upper floors of the building. There is a briefcase containing the information he needs on the top floor.

After reaching his upper floor suite, Daredevil contacted Spider-Man to aid him in this effort. After meeting up, Spider-Man and Daredevil break into the top floor suite where the man with the important briefcase is located. The man escapes in the ensuing brawl. DD and Web-Head track him to Hong Kong using a tracer Spider-Man put on the briefcase.

Upon locating the man again, Spider-Man and Daredevil ambush him and his men. This time, Spider-Man manages to snag the briefcase while Daredevil finishes the man’s thugs.

On the roof, Spider-Man refuses to hand over the briefcase, as he has noticed that he is missing some of his memories with Daredevil. This is disconcerting to Spider-Man, as the two have had a long history of collaborating. Daredevil admits to Spider-Man that he did something to remove the memory of his secret identity from the world as a part of a plot to bring down a bunch of powerful gangsters, including Kingpin, Black Cat, the Maggia, and others. The briefcase holds information necessary to enacting this plan. This satisfies Spider-Man and he hands over the briefcase.

This issue is probably my favorite of the series thus far. The pacing is fast, the action is fun, and the dialogue between Daredevil and Spider-Man is endlessly entertaining. These are two heroes with a long history of working together, and they act like it. Daredevil is even willing to fire a few quips back at the notoriously fast-talking Spider-Man, and this really makes their relationship believable.

The art is really good too. It really solidifies the noire feel that this book is going for, even if most noire-esque stories don’t happen in China. This comic and its art make it work.

This comic also really benefits off its own simplicity. There is the goal: the briefcase. There are the players: Daredevil, Spider-Man, and the Chinese Triads. It flows smoothly from there. The comic essentially goes dialogue, fight scene, dialogue, fight scene, dialogue. The dialogue is so enjoyable and the fight scenes are so kinetic that it all just works.

It also advances the backstory with Daredevil mind-wiping everyone of his secret identity too. The briefcase has information about it. There, you have your plot advancement. It seems like such a simple play, but it kept me from feeling impatient about that story. Plus, of course, you have the tidbit at the end about Daredevil doing this as a part of his own plot to bring down the big bad criminals of the world.

This series is not its predecessor. It’s not trying to be its predecessor. Charles Soule is out to tell grittier Daredevil stories with a darker tone than Mark Waid. He wants to make his stamp on the DD legacy, not merely recreate someone else’s. That’s respectable, and he’s done a fine job so far. Give this book a chance, and, if nothing else, buy this issue. It’s truly great.

Final Score: 9/10

A Discussion on Daredevil/The Punisher 

A History of Daredevil

Civil War II: Kingpin #1

Civil War II: Kingpin #1

 

“Shouldn’t Have Come Back”:

Matthew Rosenberg (W), Ricardo Lopez Ortiz (A). Mat Lopes (CA)

“The Death and Birth of Janus Jardeesh”:

Matthew Rosenberg (W), Dalibor Talajic (P), Jose Marzan Jr. (I), Miroslav Mrva (C)

Cover by: Aaron Kuder and Israel Silva

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Price: $4.99

I love villain books. When written well, the bad guys are just as interesting as the good guys. I love seeing what makes these kinds of characters tick and what exactly their motivations are. Often times, you can find that they’re actually sympathetic and even relatable. Magneto does what he does for his people. Baron Zemo is constantly grappling with his ambition and his father’s legacy. Black Adam wants to defend his country. Deathstroke just wants to leave a legacy and provide for his family.

Lately, villain comics have been a bit tenuous, but that’s really the case with any form of entertainment. The current Thunderbolts title is one of my favorite pulls. Cullen Bunn’s recently ended Magneto and Sinestro were both really good. His ongoing Uncanny X-Men (which has leads like Magneto and Sabretooth) is a really solid read. Carnage is pretty good. The current run of Deathstroke has its ups and downs. However, then you have the New Suicide Squad and the Illuminati which are nigh-unreadable. Don’t get me started on Harley Quinn, Deadpool, and their myriad of titles.

That discussion is coming soon, but it’ll have to wait for another day.

So where does Kingpin stack up in this mixed landscape? Ehhh, really not good.

Before I get to the plot, I want to get back to talking about what makes a good villain book, so I can show you one of the major places where this book fails.

A good villain book makes you want to root for the bad guy. For my example, I’m going to use my go-to for great comic reading: Cullen Bunn’s fantastic run on Magneto. This is a book that puts you right in Eric Lensherr’s headspace. You feel his pain. You see what he’s gone through and how it still haunts him every day. You see how it feeds his ongoing brutality. That book actually made me tear up at one point. Seriously, check it out. It was Magneto #17, it’s a masterpiece. I very much intend to write a Barely Retro Review of that issue at some point.

To get back to the point, a good villain book tries to raise the protagonist up to be on par with the heroes, even if their actions can be grievous. It makes you root for them.

A copout to this is to make the heroes look scummy without making the villains look any better. This book does it a lot. The Illuminati and often times Deadpool do it as well.

To move onto the plot: it’s confusing. Yet, at the same time, it doesn’t really do much. Wilson Fisk is trying to organize the criminal underworld to take advantage of the current Civil War between the heroes. He has a NuHuman by the name of Janus whose only apparent power is being a blind spot to Ulysses’ premonitions. It also shows (in a very confusing manner) how Fisk came to find Janus. The backup story is how Janus got his powers and how he has been shuffled around between crime lords for some time.

Guys and gals, this book is really not good. It makes so many missteps. It honestly reads kind of sloppy.

The plot is a meandering mess. That telling of how Fisk and Janus met is told in a flashback that occurs completely without warning or signal. The book just jumps back in time and hopes you catch up. I had to go back and reread a couple of times to figure out what exactly was going on. A book should not force you to disengage from it just to understand the order of events.

The Kingpin doesn’t have much room to be himself. There’s one spot where he intimidates Jigsaw which was kind of tense, but beyond that, he’s just sort of the tent pole that this comic surrounds. The mere existence of Janus’ character in this book defangs Wilson Fisk a bit. Fisk is an intelligent and dangerous crime lord that has used his mind to get through some difficult situations in the past. It would have been interesting seeing how he could work his way through the Ulysses situation where criminals are being captured before they commit the crimes. Heck, he could have used the judicial route to protest these very unlawful incarcerations. However, this book takes the easy way out and hands Kingpin a magic solution to this potentially interesting setup for a story.

The unlawful incarcerations aren’t the main thing that make the heroes that show up in this comic unlikeable. It’s the personality they are given. Sam Wilson, Spectrum, and Night Thrasher (I guess he’s active again now, that’s cool, I’m a New Warriors fan) to essentially intimidate Kingpin for little to no reason. They look like a bunch of thugs, and Wilson and Wilson have a pissing contest in which neither of them look clever or intimidating. Hawkeye shows up later to essentially look like a pompous moron.

Janus is your usual weasely, third-rate crook. He actually kind of reminds me of the character Weasel, but he’s even less likeable or appealing. He really adds nothing to this comic as a character. I’m certainly not made to care about him.

The art doesn’t do this comic any favors either. It’s very stylistic, and the characters look more like amorphous blobs than people. The details aren’t shown very well. The gratuitous gore, which I’m usually all in for, looks really unappealing. Sam Wilson ends up looking like an alien. Plus, it tries to do cute little things for humor’s sake that really just do not work. When Wilson Fisk and Captain America have their little stare down, actual red lightning is drawn between their eyes. When Hawkeye is making his coffee while trying to intimidate Fisk, he pours a lot of sugar, and the word “sugar” is written multiple times next to the stream of sugar to express just how weak Barton likes his coffee.

The colors are really washed-out looking too. I suppose this is meant to give the book an aged feel or maybe a noire aesthetic. I didn’t really get either. It just made this comic look a little worse.

The backup story about Janus’ history looks a little better in terms of art, but it’s also just giving me information and history I really don’t care about. Janus isn’t an interesting character, and I already picked up on the fact that he’s meant to seem like a loser. I didn’t need the further reinforcement that he is a loser. This space could have been used to make the main story go a little farther. As is, the main story really doesn’t do anything in this issue. It’s just a shaky setup with very odd pacing.

I don’t like rending a comic limb from limb like this. I want every comic I read to be good, especially the rare villain titles. However, this one was not enjoyable in the slightest. It’s not interesting. The characters aren’t engaging. The art doesn’t look appealing. It’s just a total train wreck. Give it a pass.

Final Score: 2/10

#1: Zebediah Killgrave, The Purple Man

#1: Zebediah Killgrave, The Purple Man

 

Zebediah Killgrave is easily the vilest of comic book rogues. I knew he had to be number one the moment I started this list. His crimes are numerous and horrific, and his motivation is nothing more than his own pleasure. A word from his mouth, and all who hear it become his slave. He emits a virus that is absorbed by his victims that force them to follow his commands. He has used this power to rob, rape, and murder. He forced the former super heroine Jessica Jones to sit and watch as he raped two other girls. He killed 30 people in a restaurant once by simply telling them to stop breathing. He has manipulated people into killing the ones they love.

The Purple Man has no end goals. He doesn’t love anyone except for himself. He is the embodiment of human selfishness and apathy. He’s not insane, and he can’t claim any trauma created his evil. He is simply a terrible man given a great power.

He leaves a long-lasting trauma in the victims that manage to live through an interaction with him, as they remember every detail with great clarity. They know their will is not their own, and they want to stop. However, his power is nigh-absolute. Only on scarce occasions has anyone overcome it.

Zebediah Killgrave is a vile man with an incredible ability, and he begs the question from the reader, “how many people would behave differently with that kind of power?”

 

And that wraps up the list folks. I may do this kind of thing every two or three weeks. I like the format, and I’ve heard from some that they really enjoyed this list. So, until next time, keep reading comics!