This review is based off a volume that collects Daredevil #10-14.
You know, when Charles Soule signed an exclusivity deal with Marvel a few years back, I crossed my fingers upon hearing the news in hopes that he’d one day pen a Daredevil series. After all, Soule himself is a practicing attorney and a gig such as this just seems like a natural fit for him. And while he did apply that element to his She-Hulk run, this has even more significance with me personally because Matt Murdock happens to be one of my favorite Marvel characters.
As you begin to flip through Dark Art, you’ll find the visuals are simultaneously similar and different from what you’d come to know from recent definitive Daredevil artists such as Alex Maleev and Chris Samnee. Ron Garney and colorist Matt Milla manage to achieve this effect that I can only describe as a marriage between scratches on black glass and that classic, dot-filled look as seen in comic books from yesteryear; it’s pretty distinctive and very handsome, to say the least.
For those unfamiliar, the Back in Black run returns Murdock to his home of New York City, where he now serves as a prosecutor for the city itself. And, for reasons unknown, his identity is a secret yet again, something Marvel intends on exploring in detail in the near future. As long as he didn’t pull a Spider-Man and make a deal with the devil, I think we’re good.
An added element that makes this story particularly interesting is that Daredevil now has a sidekick of sorts in Samuel Chung, AKA Blindspot (no relation to the NBC series). Interestingly enough, he works as Matt’s assistant by day, yet has no idea that his boss and Daredevil are one and the same, making the dynamic diverge from the Batman and Robin blueprint.
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The addition of Blindspot, whom – spoiler – is eventually blinded, may seem too on the nose for some when it comes to having two visually impaired superheroes in the same book, but it’s important we not forget Marvel was built on a foundation laid by flawed characters. Coincidentally, I became a Daredevil fan around the time my eyesight started to decline. Granted, I can see with corrective lenses and hope that my condition doesn’t substantially worsen with time, but I find it inspiring to see superheroes who overcome very real disabilities.
As it so happens, the antagonist of this tale is Muse, a serial killer not without powers who’s frightening in appearance and creates macabre works of art using his victims, sort of like Arrow’s take on the Dollmaker. One such piece was made with the corpses of Inhumans, specifically everyday folk affected by the Terrigen Mist. I couldn’t help but feel the crossing over was a bit too convenient given that Soule has become synonymous with writing for the Inhumans in recent years, but at least the execution came off as being organic and not at all hamfisted. I guess it’s called the Marvel Universe for a reason.
On that note, Hornhead goes straight to the top when he seeks an audience with Medusa, the Inhuman queen, in hopes of her assisting with his ongoing investigation. As taxing as the situation is for him, it’s quite intriguing to see Matt in his vigilante guise, out of a courtroom, and forced into the world of high stakes diplomacy. Again, this is where Soule truly shines.
Although the satisfying ending proved to be both bittersweet and heartbreaking, I wished to learn more about who Muse truly is, being someone who’s reading this tale for the first time upon it being released as a collected edition. We do get a look at his face (he looks like something out of the original printings of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark), and my best guess is that he was also affected by the Terrigen Mist. If my gut is right, Soule and company are playing the long game here.
As such, that gives me much motivation to read the next volume whenever it becomes available. If I could say anything about Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 3 – Dark Art, it’s that it contains the best elements of superhero storytelling imaginable as well as those you would see on the greatest of hardboiled prime time dramas – or on Netflix (see what I did there?). Seriously, it’s like Law & Order: Punch in the Face Unit.
Dark Art not only succeeds in returning Daredevil to his roots - albeit with a few twists - but also delivers rock solid superhero storytelling in the process.