In case you missed it, I’m thrilled to announce the creation of a new column called The Devil’s Double.
My plan is to review Daredevil both past and present stories simultaneously starting with Stan Lee’s issue #1 (1964) and Chip Zdarsky’s issue #1 (2022).
Devil’s Double Review Archive – CLICK HERE
Daredevil #4 (1964)
This issue was a lot of fun to read, especially with the Netflix Jessica Jones series in the forefront of your mind. Stan Lee puts so much thought into the character of Killgrave, aka The Purple Man, not just in terms of how his powerset can be applied but also the complex solutions both the law and superheroes need in adopt order to handle such a villain.
Daredevil issue 4 introduces the Purple Man, a former spy who is accidently doused in nerve gas that give him the ability to “command men’s will.” Although his origin story was changed for the Jessica Jones series, the character of Killgrave is fully realized here. Sure, this story is much more wholesome, but you can see the tracks being laid for future Purple Man stories – once you get past the fantastical parts of this issue. All future writers had to do was conjure up darker ways for Killgrave to use his powers.
It’s also interesting to see how Lee was already thinking beyond using Killgrave’s powers for selfish reasons. By introducing the Purple Man in a Daredevil issue, there’s room to tell a more nuanced story which includes plot points like how Matt Murdock plans to use the law to convict him or getting a confession from the persuasive mastermind, and simply how to contain Killgrave. All the while, Daredevil has to fight the waves of civilians Killgrave has enlisted to stop the swashbuckling hero. Not to mention save someone he cares about (again, it’s Karen Page).
Lee crafts a character that requires little to no work to be brought into the modern age, which really is an amazing achievement.
Daredevil #4 (2022)
This is the issue that Chip Zdarsky should have started with for his Red Fist Saga.
The action here is much more exciting; it also addresses some of the complicated rituals and prophecies The Fist and The Hand have. For example, the Daredevils’ fight the souls of the Hand’s dead, which spans across history – this includes the Vikings, Spartans, and the Turks, etc – resulting in a wedding (officiated by Stick) that only Elektra and Matt Murdock could have.
My frustration stems from the fact that this issue retreads a lot of the same ground from the previous issues. We’re introduced (in some cases reintroduced) to the Daredevils’ recruits, which includes former Hand members. Characters such as Cole are given a reintroduction despite being introduced in the last issue, albeit much more effectively.
The cross-cutting technique shows how hard everyone will have to fight and explains their motivations for fighting. Namely for the character of Cole North, the cop Daredevil brings to keep him out of trouble. His motivations, reservations, and internal conflicts are better presented as grapples with how to honor the law(s) he swore to uphold.
Honestly, this issue might have been a 4 out of 5 had Zdarsky started his arc here, but since he’s already reusing material, it lands closer to a 3.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511