When Daredevil premiered on Netflix in April of 2015, I had a bunch of friends over to my small Harlem apartment to binge-watch it. One friend had never read a Daredevil comic, but became fascinated with the villainy of Wilson Fisk. “He’s just like Donald Trump!” she pointed out. Trump announced his presidential candidacy two months later; she was referring to the concept of a corrupt New York City real estate developer with connections to organized crime.
It seems that Charles Soule has been operating on the same wavelength, because Matt Murdock has returned to New York City to find that his nemesis, the Kingpin of Crime, is now the mayor.
<strong>Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Stafano Landini
Colored by Matt Milla
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles</strong>
MAYOR FISK Part 1 New York City has fallen to Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin – Daredevil’s greatest and deadliest adversary. Matt Murdock has the law and he has his superhuman abilities – but Fisk has an entire city on his side. What can one man do? If he’s Daredevil, he can FIGHT. PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Rated T+
Contemporary political stories are risky endeavors. With so many people offering their takes, it’s hard to say anything original. Fortunately, Soule manages to stay general enough that his story could have still worked ten or twenty years ago, and presumably will continue to work ten or twenty years from now. An expository conversation between Matt and Foggy answers all of your questions: Fisk announced his candidacy late in the election, he pivoted away from accusations of past wrongdoing, and always talked about his platform. Matt thinks he must have stolen the election, but it appears that Fisk won legitimately. He’s now mayor of NYC, and his own miniature Dark Reign is about to begin.
More than just avoiding pitfalls, Soule manages to capture some very real emotions that should resonate with a lot of his readership. Matt’s fiery denial and Foggy’s weary acceptance could have been taken right off of my Facebook feed. Matt’s boss at the district attorney’s office is the perfect reasonable moderate. “I’m old,” he says, “I’ve seen a lot of mayors. Some even worse than Fisk. The City survived them all.” Matt Murdock is now part of a justice department that serves his arch-nemesis.
If all that happened in this issue was a bunch of characters talked their political feelings, it would have been a good read. As it happens, that’s not all that happens though. Daredevil also has to navigate this brave new city, and it’s here that Soule’s restraint works perfectly. When Spider-Man’s foe J. Jonah Jameson became mayor of New York, the NYPD were suddenly armed with robot octopus suits. This is “Daredevil” though, and the new anti-vigilante policies are more subtle than that. The police sting operation is as realistic as can be expected.
It also gives Stafano Landini a chance to draw some action. Landini is heavily informed by the style of Chris Samnee, which is absolutely a good thing. While he lacks the iconic framing that Samnee does effortlessly, his character designs are a lot more easily recognizable, and his action is as dynamic as the eponymous Netflix series. Panels are drawn from surprising angles, and Daredevil contorts his body in ways a sighted person lacking his special abilities would never think to. Landini has a great time drawing Matt’s radar sense, which is rendered colorfully, contrasting with the shadowy allies the rest of the action takes place in.
Major props are also owed to colorist Matt Milla. Daredevil must have the hardest costume to color in the whole Marvel universe- it’s all red. Milla compensates with shadows that highlight what you need to be looking at, obscuring DD’s torso when you need to be looking at his limbs, or his face when you should be considering his body language. Beyond the heavy shadows, Milla also does awesome things with light. There’s one panel in particular of a taser going off that’s particularly striking. It’s a small thing in the center of the page, but the combination of hand-drawn techniques and digital effects made me stop to consider a tiny action beat for longer than the panel implied it needed. The colors were just too eye-catching to breeze through.Continued below
When Daredevil finally comes face-to-face with Mayor Kingpin, there’s no big fight scene, no evil monologue, just the sort of head games that we love to see between these two characters. Fisk doesn’t seem to have a particular evil plan; he wanted to be the mayor and now he is. They discuss all the glorious ways they can make each others lives difficult, a window breaks, and the cat and mouse game begins. By the end of the issue, you’re presented with a ton of possibility, and the coming arc feels exciting. That’s what a first issue should do.
So with a few bold moves and a subtle hand, ‘Mayor Fisk’ kicks off with a bang. What could have been a headline-grabbing disaster is treated with intelligence and care. Soule knows the law, and he knows politics, so his story is realistic and resonant. When it comes to the exciting adventures of the Pulp Hero of Hell’s Kitchen, he’s got a killer art team to make those moments shine. This was a good issue of “Daredevil” and I can’t wait to see what surprises are planned for the arc!
Final Verdict: 8.8 – This is the right story at the right time by the best team who could be telling it.