“Daredevil” #5 concludes Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s first story arc on the title, as Daredevil, Blindspot and Tenfingers have a final confrontation and the Fist attacks. While most story elements are wrapped up, it manages to do so by shedding a lot of what made those earlier issues work so well.
There were two key elements that made Soule’s earlier scripts work so well: Tenfingers never became a mustache-twirling villain, and Matt Murdock’s career as a lawyer was never left out. This issue seems to gleefully shed them both. Tenfingers’ behavior in “Daredevil” #5 doesn’t merely shift from cult leader to super villain; it outright ignores any previous depiction (which was the main selling point of “Daredevil” #4). Tenfingers uses his followers as bait and then demands they all be killed; there’s no subtlety present as Tenfingers barrels his way to the bottom of the proverbial sewer. When he tries to have those who saw him weak be murdered, it’s not just less interesting, it’s a bad cliche.
Similarly, Daredevil’s utter abandonment of his duties as a lawyer lacks any sort of finesse or cleverness; he just leaves his paralegal in the lurch and heads off to the fight. This is the sort of behavior you’d see in comics several decades ago when no consequences ever seemed to happen, but serial storytelling has evolved more than a bit since then. Hopefully, there will be some repercussions, but how this behavior doesn’t result in his being fired is a bit of a mystery. In the previous issue, Soule paid much more attention to Matt as he tried to juggle his two jobs; seeing them abandoned here is more than a little frustrating.
There are some good bits in the writing, although they’re both centered around supporting character Blindspot. First and foremost, I love his way of using social media to get a message to Matt through his Daredevil super senses. It’s an immensely clever and very modern in a way that few references could otherwise be. Secondly, the conflict between Blindspot and his mother is handled well; it could have easily been over-the-top or in your face, but Soule writes it in a way that feels satisfying, even as there will no doubt be a follow up down the line.
Garney’s art looks good overall. Some of the best moments are the ones that contrast the fight between Blindspot and Tenfingers’ disciples as well as Daredevil versus the Fist. The side-by-side action feels similar, yet Garney keeps it from being a perfect (and hard to believe) match. Matt Milla uses his colors to give the two scenes distinctly different looks; Blindspot’s is icy cold, while Daredevil’s is red hot. When Tenfingers holds his hand up against the unseen foe that corners him in his office, there’s a wonderful usage of shadow, as though we can “see” the unseen figure lurking just off panel. The one stumbling block is the strange pattern which appears over a lot of the art and feels like it’s a cousin of the old zip-a-tone effect. Whatever the reason, it feels unusually pixelated and distracting.
Overall, “Daredevil” #5 is an alright superhero comic, but — in comparison to the earlier chapters — it’s a big step down. The first three issues were excellent, but this chapter feels the most average and standard in the line to date. After several years of fantastic “Daredevil” comics (and a hit Netflix show that just released its second season), average and standard are two adjectives that shouldn’t be used to describe this comic. Hopefully, we’ll get back up to the heights of the earlier issues soon.