The Devil’s Double – Reviewing Daredevil #5 from 1964 and 2022
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Daredevil #5 (1964)
Issue five of Daredevil welcomes Wallace Wood as the latest artist to the series. Wood’s redesigned Daredevil costume gives the hero the now iconic double-D initials on his chest, and the villain of the week is Matador, a fallen bullfighter disliked by the public for his cruelty and brutality towards the bulls. The crowd taunts the bullfighter distracting him long enough to be injured, but Manuel Eloganto disappears and vows revenge on society as the masked burglar known as Matador.
This story is about as melodramatic as a poorly-written high school drama. The Matador’s motivations are confusing. Eloganto is someone who wants to be remembered for his crimes, yet he also wants to be the underdog to cultivate a Robin Hood-like persona among the public, which doesn’t make sense since he never seems to steal from the rich to give to the poor. Also, he’s convinced that his most memorable crime will be the robbery on a burglary alarm factory. He doesn’t steal the money; he steals their alarm system as a way of guarding the treasures he’s stolen. And for some reason, Matt Murdock believes the people will be swayed to think the Matador is a hero despite his criminal activities.
A news broadcast reveals that Matador is the target of a city-wide manhunt, and the public seems to be terrified, but the people’s opinion changes almost instantaneously after Daredevil is defeated in a public battle. Children are seen playing in the streets arguing over who gets to be the triumphant Matador and who is the losing Daredevil. This scene has all the camp of a G.I. Joe PSA – even Matt and Stan Lee point out that children love a winner even when that winner is a criminal.
This is one of the harder stories to support because Matt’s motivations go from wanting to be a hero to wanting to be accepted by the public. If that wasn’t enough, the B-plot sees Matt continuing to struggle to profess his love for Karen, and the love triangle is further complicated by Foggy wanting to propose and asking for Matt’s advice. The most interesting part of this story is the fact that Matador is finally a villain who has the same strength and agility as Daredevil, which will pave the way for characters like Bullseye, Elektra, Ikari, The Hand, etc. in the years to come.
Daredevil #5 (2022)
The last time Chip Zdarsky did the ‘white prison bars’ on the cover was the highly sought after Daredevil #25 (2020), which saw Elektra donning the Daredevil costume for the first time. It might also be a sign that Zdarsky is about to tell an epic story.
I love this issue. The pacing is tight, and all the introductory stuff is taken care of in the first few pages. Inner tension and turmoil is built as Matt Murdock questions everything: his beliefs, whether this is God’s plan or Matt’s ego, if magical powers are a gift or something that when left unchecked will be the Fist’s undoing. Not only that, but The Hand has sleeper agents as heads of states, and the Daredevils are about to launch a recruiting campaign/jail break of the prisoners in the Myrmidon.
This issue also tests Daredevil’s resolve. His senses have been heighted to the point that he’s basically an empath allowing him to feel people’s emotions making his battle even more personal when facing an enemy.
Daredevil also shows his resolve in spades when he has a showdown with John Walker (aka U.S. Agent). Zdarsky’s writing, Rafael De latorre’s art and Matthew Wilson’s colors all come together to bring an incredible fight in the dark to life. The close-ups are minimal, showing just enough of the characters with desaturated colors against a black backdrop. Daredevil’s monologues are razor sharp, and his confidence is almost menacing. Just as effective are the panels that reveal how Daredevil sees in the dark. There’s more detail than I’m used to seeing and the minimalist color of Daredevil being the only thing in color (red) is super effective.
Just as successful is the juxtaposition. Daredevil’s fight with Walker shows a confident Daredevil, but Zdarsky quickly upends that confidence by showing the one man Daredevil fears – Robert “Goldy” Goldman. Granted, we never see what Robert does to get sent to Myrmidon, but clearly he knows something Daredevil doesn’t. Now Matt’s convictions are shaken. Does he recruit Goldy or leave him in his cell? The icing on the cake is that Daredevil’s actions are now considered to be an Avengers-level threat.
Everything in this issue is done so well. The art has a cinematic quality to it, the colors work to hide or highlight both emotion and action, and Zdarsky’s writing is on point here leaving me wanting more. So much of the action is so well depicted and has such strong imagery that this issue transcends the page. It would be a crime if Marvel Studios doesn’t use any of this for the upcoming Daredevil Reborn series or even a showdown between Daredevil and U.S. Agent.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511
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