The Purple Man was something of a one-off when he was first introduced, like so many villains of the era, but leave it to Brian Bendis to take his vocal and visual mind control powers to a sinister, darkly logical extreme and have his penchant not just for serial killing, but other urges be slaked as well. And leave it to Mark Waid to show the fruits of those urges in the most legitimately horrifying way. When last we left both Matt Murdock and Killgrave, they were under a bridge and both in a bad, bad way, though the latter much moreso than the former. Waid gives us a glimpse into what depression really means as Matt struggles to even find the desire to stand back up, and it’s here we get our first glimpse of the writing truly standing out this issue: whether through personal experience or a reference from someone in his life, Waid captures what being in the throes of true depression feels like, with Murdock going into great depth as to what his meant both to him and for him before pulling himself up by his nails. Though he doesn’t capture Killgrave, he manages to get back on his children’s track, though the answer was as obvious as the nose on his face. Despite taking place across San Francisco, this is an intimate issue, featuring mostly Daredevil and the Purple...Family? That doesn’t sound right... with Kirsten McDuffie making a critical, though brief, couple of appearances.
Chris Samnee, sharing a storytelling credit with Waid, gives this book an absolute ton of life and verve, animating the City by the Bay and the characters living in it. Even with a page using only black panels, it feels earned after the previous page showed friends and loved ones (from Matt’s radar-sense perspective) fading away as his mind banishes them. It’s a striking contrast and one that Samnee pulls off amazingly well. The action later in the issue is likewise evocative and fluid, giving the characters a real sense of movement and powerful force. Matthew Wilson also brings the moody, dark visuals that this title both needs and deserves. And while things may brighten here and there, the darkness is never far from creeping back in.
The middle of the issue, and the ultimate fate of the children, feels like it wraps up a little too quickly and a little too neatly. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t exactly expecting a knock-down, drag-out fight between Daredevil and a bunch of children, but it felt like we were just gaining momentum when WHOOP! Situation’s over, everything’s contained! I wouldn't have minded seeing this storyline extend at least one more issue, thought at least one critical point looks like it'll be sticking around a little longer.
The final pages of this issue make me so completely excited to see what Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have next for poor Hornhead. Without going into any spoiler territory, though the character’s got a great cast of villains, and Waid’s even given us some brilliant ones both of his creation and from elsewhere in the Marvel U, his greatest foe has always been himself. That sounds trite, and maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true and that especially doesn’t mean that Waid isn’t ready to crack his knuckles and give us a Matt Murdock story we’ve never seen before.