“Daredevil” #8 drops Matt Murdock and the reader into a very expensive Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament in Macau. Matt can’t use his senses to figure out what his cards are, meaning that he’s literally playing blind, but — as Charles Soule, Goran Sudzuka, and Matt Milla show us — sometimes you don’t need to see what you’re holding in order to win big.
Soule’s story is part one of a larger plot, but it’s much to his credit that this can stand entirely on its own and be thoroughly enjoyable. It starts out simply enough, with a basic setup explaining why Matt can’t uses his senses to “feel” what’s on the playing cards, even as we learn why it doesn’t matter on some level. It’s a fun little treatise on the art of reading one’s opponents and bluffing, plus a little dash of good luck. Soule has thought this scenario through, even down to how the stacks of chips would need to be the same worth in order to make it work. It’s a sharp story, one that wouldn’t work with any other superhero.
It’s much to Soule’s credit, then, that he’s able to up the ante in the final round of the tournament as Matt tangles with a telepath brought in as a ringer for the casino. It affords Soule a chance for a fight in a setting that otherwise wouldn’t allow one (although he cleverly moves it to the mental arena rather than having the characters slugging each other over the poker table), and simultaneously makes Matt’s position precarious; it’s also another moment in the story that applies itself best to Daredevil, rather than any other hero. It’s some seriously smart plotting, combined with fun little details like the setting (unlike the rest of China, there really is a casino in Macau) or the problem with any potential winnings. Again, this is a lead-in to a larger story, but you can pick this up and enjoy it entirely for what happens at the betting table.
Sudzuka returns in “Daredevil” #8 to draw the entire issue, and — as far as I’m concerned — he’s always welcome back. Sudzuka echoes Ron Garney’s hard edge here, with sharp cheekbones and an overall angular look. That meshes well with Milla’s colors; the black, white and red betting table looks slick and classy, and the contrast as Matt’s uses his abilities makes each part pop out at the reader that much more. Sudzuka makes the action feel tense and energetic in the fight against Apex as they move all over the place. This is a creative team that’s come together expertly; it takes a hell of a lot of work to make it look this easy.
“Daredevil” #8 is probably my favorite issue of this series to date; all of the creators are on point, and it’s a neat way to use a superhero universe to tell a story about the nature of gambling. Soule, Sudzuka and Milla should be proud of what they’ve done here. This was a very pleasant surprise and a reminder to not ever write off the genre. Excellent work from all parties involved.