Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Since 2011, a class called Writing Superheroes 101 has been in session. The instructor is Mark Waid, and the required reading material is Daredevil. Though he and his artist collaborators have given the Man Without Fear a welcome dose of levity, the stories have maintained a significant level of weight and, at times, pure darkness.Daredevil #8 is an outstanding example of this series balance between light and dark. With artist Chris Samnee returning from a two-issue hiatus, the latest in the Matt Murdock saga sees hijinks on the open water and creepy children on the streets of San Francisco.
When it comes to high profile supervillains, Zebediah Killgrave is one that does not rank high on many lists – if he registers at all. Yet Waid and Samnee mine this material to craft a twisted take on the character. Though his would-be captives ultimately dispose of him by issue’s end, his methods and motivations are haunting. Using a nighttime home invasion as the backdrop for the issue’s opening plays into today’s perennially paranoid culture. Having the villain attack in such an intimate and vulnerable setting for the victims is not only scary, but it legitimizes a character readers may have initially dismissed. The aftermath of his actions is no less disturbing setting the stage for a well-worn but effective horror trope.
There is very little Daredevil in Daredevil #8, but there is plenty of Matt Murdock. Specifically, Waid and Samnee add new wrinkles to Matt’s relationship with his girlfriend Kirsten McDuffie. Following genuinely sweet sequence in which the two take in a date at the zoo, they are whisked off to a luncheon with Kirsten’s previously estranged father. What follows can only be described as bizarrely humorous. Ending with a farcical proposition, readers should be advised to look for the seeds planted here to take root and grow throughout the course of this current and possibly future arcs.
Chris Samnee’s return to the title cannot be overlooked. Although Javier Rodriguez’s work in issue #6 and #7 was stellar, Samnee’s presence elevates this title to the top of current superhero offerings. His linework, from facial expressions and character models to detailed backgrounds, has an innate joy that is often lacking from mainstream comics – including those with the base premise of being “fun.” That said, his work is not one-note. His use of shading is effective in creating an eerie setting for the issue’s aforementioned opening, effectively establishing Killgrave as a force to be reckoned with.
Daredevil #8 continues the series’ gold standard of excellence. Despite its lack of superheroics, Waid and Samnee have begun their latest arc is stellar fashion. There may come a day when Daredevil is not worth checking out, but today is not that day. This remains a must-read title.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com