Collected Comic Review - Daredevil: Back in Black TPB Vol. 1-4 (Soule/Garney)

Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 1 - Chinatown - Collecting Daredevil (2016) #1-5, and material from All-New, All-Different Point One (2015) #1
Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 2 - Supersonic - Collecting Daredevil (2016) #6-9, and Annual #1
Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 3 - Dark Art - Collecting Daredevil (2016) #10-14
Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 4 - Identity - Collecting Daredevil (2016) #15-20

In recent weeks, I've been asked what I think about Charles Soule's current Daredevil run.  My default answer has been that I've enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, being the huge DD fan that I am, that is not only very vague, but it could also easily be interpreted as just a biased opinion.  With the release of the fourth trade paperback volume last week, I felt that this was as good a time as any to re-read the run to this point and to elaborate (as spoiler free as possible of course) as to why I have enjoyed this run as much as I have.

Vol. 1-4 (Front Covers)

The creative team of Charles Soule and primary penciller Ron Garney took over Daredevil last year with the launch of the title's fifth volume in its fifty-plus year history.  A volume Marvel has subtitled "Back in Black" and that re-sets the book's status quo following the events of both its predecessor, the very highly regarded Mark Waid/Chris Samnee run, and Jonathan Hickman's Marvel Universe-altering Secret Wars.  Soule's run hits the ground running, having put Daredevil's secret identity back in place and sees him playing mentor to a new, young hero-in-training named Blindspot (Samuel Chung, an illegal Chinese immigrant who created his own battery operated invisibility suit).  These changes to the status quo may be jarring at first as they are drastic changes to Daredevil's world, but the plot unfolds in an organic, creative way over these first twenty issues, that in my opinion is very satisfying.

Vol. 1 - Chinatown (Garney)

Soule does an excellent job of balancing Matt Murdock's life as a lawyer and as a vigilante.  Yes, the lawyering returned along with the secret identity, with the slight twist that Matt now works as a prosecutor for the District Attorney's office.  Soule acknowledges the status quo changes from the get go, and proves that they were planned with a purpose as he slowly divulges pieces of information as the story progresses.  He proves that he is familiar with Daredevil continuity, at one point referencing the title's dark ages, by using the name Laurent Levasseur as a cover for Matt (a nod that will likely only be caught by the biggest of DD fans).  And later, poking fun at a campier time in the book's history when Kirsten McDuffie suggests that Matt pretend to be his long lost twin Mike and that she could pose as her twin sister Christine.  "They'll never figure it out" she mocks.  In these four volumes, Soule has already worked in appearances by Elektra, Spider-Man and Bullseye, using each in a way that not only fits the characters, but also helps seed plot points for the advancement of his overall story.  He also utilizes one of Matt's oldest foes while expanding on recent continuity from Waid's run.  On top of all that, we get some Inhuman action and the introduction of two new foes to Daredevil's rogues gallery: Tenfingers and Muse.

Vol. 2 - Supersonic (Buffagni)

Garney provides pencils for thirteen of the twenty issues collected in these trade paperback volumes, and his work really helps solidify the return of the book's darker tone.  The fill in art by Goran Sudžuka, Matteo Buffagni, and Marc Laming, helped by the continuity of Matt Milla's colors, is similar enough as to not interrupt the reading experience much.  The biggest break from the standard look of the book is Vanesa Del Rey's work on the annual, which is a stand alone story that is included at the end of Vol. 2 - Supsersonic.

Vol. 3 - Dark Art (Garney)

Soule, Garney, Milla, and company have stayed busy since the beginning of this run, churning out two years worth of issues in just a year and a half.  Even though I have been reading these issues as they have been released, upon reading all four trades together, I discovered a greater depth to this tale than I did the first time around.  In other words, it is an even stronger run so far than I remembered it being.

Vol. 4 - Identity (Sudžuka)

Soule has stated that he has further plans for Matt Murdock, which is great news as far as I am concerned.  While Vol. 4 - Identity provides closure to the biggest question facing this run so far (just how did Daredevil get his secret identity back?), its final page teases that Matt has big plans brewing for the DA's office fight against crime.  There are also a couple other small plot threads left to expand upon as well.

Vol. 4 - Identity (Garney)

At this point in time, this run has only been collected in the trade paperback format.  The run has already eclipsed twenty five issues (including the annual) and there is no sign of any hardcover editions being produced (at least through early 2018).  I'd love this run to get the over-sized hardcover treatment.  At this point I kind of hope that Marvel treats this run the way they did Ed Brubaker's: by churning out trades until the run has finished, then releasing one or two omnibus editions collecting the entire run.  As far as extras go, there really aren't many included.  The trades do reprint variant covers of the issues each volume collects.

Vol. 1-4 (Back Covers)

In my opinion, this current Soule/Garney run is underrated, and well deserving of a read through however it is collected.  Just know that Soule is playing the long game and don't expect immediate payoffs to the various plots he is exploring.  Am I a long time DD fan?  Sure, but he's introducing and exploring intriguing ideas, and rest assured when the payoffs do come, they prove to be well crafted and satisfying.  I look forward to seeing what this team has in store for Matt Murdock moving forward.

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