Daredevil #9: Let’s cover the cover

Nope, this is not a review. I don’t have an advance copy of Daredevil #9 and this issue won’t show up in Marvel’s digital store for almost another hour as I’m sitting down to write this. (I usually buy my Daredevil comics twice since they tend to take another day or two to arrive in my local comic book store in Stockholm.)

However, I thought the cover this month was spectacular enough to warrant its on post while we’re waiting for the rest of the story. It’s not only breathtakingly beautiful, thanks to Chris Samnee’s inimitable line art and Matt Wilson’s rich colors, it’s also the kind of cover that you can read things into. It tells its own story, and if you’re familiar with Daredevil canon and Daredevil’s first meeting with the Purple Man – in Daredevil #4, all the way back in 1964 – you’re bound to get an even bigger kick out of it. Let’s have a look!

The cover to Daredevil #9 (vol 4), by Chris Samnee and Matt Wilson

As mentioned, this cover (click on it to zoom in!) becomes even more spectacular when you add Killgrave’s first appearance to the mix, but there are many reasons this cover stands out to me on its own. Before the Purple Children storyline began last issue, we had had a long stretch of issues – most of volume 4, really – with relatively little to bother the main character. Sure, his best friend has cancer, and someone is trying to kill him every issue, but going by superhero standards, and Daredevil standards in particular, things have been looking up for Matt Murdock. And you see it right there in his smile on this cover. Now, it’s not a jubilant smile, or even a triumphant smile, but it is the smile of confidence. In fact, his whole posture has that carefree look to it.

Given what we know about the Purple Man’s power set, passed on to his offspring, this look might be interpreted as that of someone spellbound by their powers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Matt appears to in control, oblivious to cliff he’s about to step off of, and even to the fact that he’s descending. The outline of Purple Man’s face is menacing to look at, and a big part of what makes the image so enthralling, but from Daredevil’s perspective, the slow descent he’s embarked on is disguised as something else. The contours of Killgrave’s face are safe, there’s nothing to set off any alarms.

An interesting visual contrast is the one between the buildings on the left and the bright haze on the right. Daredevil’s path appears lit by a spotlight below, unseen by him, of course (though he does look as if he’s ready to step out on a stage and greet an audience), but more than anything, taking that step off the cliff appears to mark the end of the safety of a tangible physical reality and the beginning of apparent annihilation. That we are unable to see the street below, or anything beyond the haze, cleverly suggest a meeting between Daredevil and a mental or spiritual void, more so than it does a physical threat.

This cover also uses Daredevil’s blindness to great effect. With the Purple Children standing quietly atop their father’s face (which, by the way, is a great way to hint at the legacy element of their introduction to the Marvel Universe) they watch quietly as Daredevil walks to his doom. While Matt may not be your average blind man, the fact that they are holding his cane is still significant. What the cane allows blind people to do is probe their surroundings, get to know them and, most importantly here, learn where it’s safe to step. The symbolism of this form of guidance being taken from someone is quite chilling. The Purple Children’s behavior also contrasts nicely with Matt Murdock’s good deed as a child. He saw a blind man in danger and rushed to save him. These menacing creatures are doing the very opposite.

The color of Daredevil’s costume, and the placement of the equally bright logo, also make this cover stand out, and provide a great contrast to the more muted tones of the background. The logo also appears to be hovering, further strengthening the overall sense of uncertainty.

Killgrave instructing Karen to jump, as seen in Daredevil #4 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando

One of the things that makes the choice of having Daredevil step off a cliff is how it reminds you of the Purple Man’s first appearance. In Daredevil #4 (vol 1), by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando, he nearly sends Karen Page to her death by ordering her to step off a building. He was unsuccessful that time, but in the cover above, he’s looking to finish what he started. Compelling people to jump to their deaths is clearly a part of Killgrave’s “MO,” and it’s one of the things that makes him so threatening. He can kill without touching someone, simply by taking their sense of self away.

The cover to Daredevil #4 (vol 1), by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

Even looking at the cover to Daredevil #4 (by Jack Kirby), you get the sense that the cover to this week’s issue represents some kind of revenge for Killgrave. On the cover to Daredevil #9, he takes up much of the bottom half, dominating the scene, becoming the embodiment of Matt Murdock’s path to destruction. On his first Daredevil cover, he is a small figure. He’s placed at the very top, but forced to look down on Daredevil successfully rescuing Karen Page. In this case, it is Daredevil who triumphantly lays claim to most of the available surface. And, he has already jumped, under his own guidance and with a full sense of control. Without reading too much into the contrast between these two issues, published almost exactly fifty years apart, I still think that the contrast in scale and perspective makes the cover to Daredevil #9 even more interesting.

And, having said that. I think it’s time to actually read the issue. I will be back with my review later. In the mean time, how do you guys feel about this cover? Are you sold on it too?

Christine Hanefalk

Christine Hanefalk

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Christine is a die-hard Daredevil fan who launched The Other Murdock Papers in 2007 to share her passion for Matt Murdock and his friends with other fans.

3 comments

  1. I agree with you on the cover, though you found a LOT more to analyze than I did. (I dissect text wayyyyyyy more often than I do artwork). With art, it tends to be “I love it” “I hate it” or “It gets the job done, now where are the words?” This one falls squarely into “I love it” territory.

  2. The Purple Man really upset me as a kid, the idea of him and his powers. I’m a little embarrassed to say I started a letter to Stan Lee asking him not to use the Purple Man anymore that never got finished (think I encountered ‘Alias’ too early.) His appearances since those days have almost always just been to get badly beaten and locked up again, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s done with such an inherently creepy character when he’s being used sincerely.

  3. I agree with almost everything you said, including how spectacular the cover is overall. One thing that I notice, however, is the hue of DD’s exposed face. The purple of his face says, to me, that the Purple Man does, in fact, have some sort of control over him. I understand that it could simply be the artistic representation of the purple of the cover reflecting off his face, but I dunno… Seems more significant to me than that.

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