I was born in 1977, when muted shades of brown and orange still reigned supreme in fashion and home decor. From the time I was old enough to have my own opinion, however, I loved purple. I was not yet two and still in a stroller when I grasped a pair of purple winter overalls and refused to let go. My mom obviously had to buy them. When I was a little older, I had a favorite night gown that was white with purple trims and dotted with various shades of purple and lilac flowers. I wore it until it fit as snugly as sausage casing. To this day, I will immediately spot any purple object or detail when I enter a room (if that counts as a superpower, it is of questionable use), and I painted my own bedroom walls a dark shade of purple. Needless, to say, this issue “had me at hello,” to quote a famous line from a movie. “Hello” in this case being the cover.
If incoming colorist Matt Wilson wanted to win me over with his first issue on the title, he definitely picked the right palette. To be fair though – and I’ll return to the art side of things below – that choice was obviously driven by the decision on behalf of the creative team to bring back old Daredevil villain Purple Man. This time, he’s kicked his already substantial level of creepy up a few notches, and Daredevil #8 marks the first chapter in what feels like a classic horror story.
While the middle portion of the issue revolves around Matt’s civilian life, Waid & Co. spend a substantial amount of time at the beginning and end of the issue setting up the return of Purple Man and his spawn, and this becomes its own self-contained prelude to what awaits in the next two issues. Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, has always been depicted as someone with complete disregard for other people, viewing them only as means to an end. He is a psychopath and murderer, and Daredevil #8 explores his actions and personality further.
On the one hand, Killgrave is depicted here as an unapologetic predator who uses women, one of whom appears to be very young, for his own sexual needs. This is what we’re expecting of him, based on his history. On the other hand, the motivation behind his seeking out the “purple children” rests on the realization of how ungratifying it is to simply coerce people inte loving him. It is, as he points out, a hollow kind of love which leads him to demand something more real. In a tragic but inevitable twist, he ends up inviting hostility rather than love, and the end of issue packs a real punch.
This is truly a horror story, and it is a stroke of genius on behalf of storytellers Waid and Samnee to use children as a plot device. There are few things creepier than creepy kids. Anyone who’s seen Children of the Corn, Village of the Damned or even Omen can attest to this. (For more examples of evil children from pop culture, check out this list on YouTube.) It remains to be seen what additional horror tropes will pop up in the next couple of issues, but this story is off to a fantastic and suitably disturbing start.
The middle portion sees Matt and Kirsten spend the day at zoo and, later, with Kirsten’s father and step-mother out at sea. I can’t remember the last time I saw Matt get this much civilian “air time” in an issue (maybe in Daredevil #12, vol 3?), far away from the Daredevil action, though there is some of that too. Here, the creative team unapologetically let Matt and Kirsten roam free for a few pages; it’s a fun read, and not without a clear purpose. Much is revealed about Kirsten’s background, and the state of the law firm, and it’s always interesting to see Matt out of his usual element.
Daredevil is a character who can adapt to fit any genre, and we’ve seen many examples of his amazing range during the last three years. Fortunately, Chris Samnee’s art does every kind of story justice, regardless of what that entails. With new colorist Matt Wilson onboard, he keeps knocking out page after page of pure excellence. Samnee’s art is never too cluttered or more complicated than it needs to be, but he always includes just the right amount of detail to make scenes feel authentic, such as the toy dinosaur in the little boy Jamie’s room. It makes you want to reread every issue just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Samnee’s style may be described as cartoony, but that doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games. The first few pages are chilling, and the many truly violent scenes in this issue have just the right amount of tension. Wilson’s art is a great compliment to Samnee’s line art. I’m particularly fond of the light, airy blues of the scenes set at sea, as well as how he uses yellows to contrast perfectly with all the gorgeous shades of purple Daredevil #8 has to offer.
This three-part story is off to a great start, and the whole team delivers yet another gorgeous, engaging and perfectly paced issue. Don’t you dare change a thing!