Yes, dear readers, this is yet another Daredevil column on Geek Goes Rogue. For those of you who’ve just joined the Geek Goes Rogue fold, I’m a huge Daredevil fan. You’ll see more in the future too. I make no apologies for it.I’ve written a long essay on why I’m a huge Daredevil fan. The gist of the essay revoves around the fact that I find Daredevil one of the most theological significant comics in the history of the genre (Thanks to Frank Miller).
My argument seems pretty solid after the first two issues of a Dardevil side series called “Dark Nights.” The basic idea is to rotate artists and writers to tell short Daredevil stories. Lee Weeks, a Daredevil veteran, is the first storyteller out of the gate.
Questions: What do you do when a comic tells a story that has no “super villain” or any huge, breathless fight scenes? How do you create a story that is beautiful, tense, and full of suspense?
Answer: Weeks gives us a story about a hero, Matt Murdock/Dardevil, and his core convictions that drive him. What are those convictions? Love. Passion for justice. Saving people he doesn’t know. Weeks tells (and shows in gorgeous art work) the story, “Angels Unaware,” in a New York gripped by a massive snow storm. In the first panel of the comic, he shows us exactly what he is going to do with the story through a simple image; white snow with a single pool of blood. A “quote box” contains a passage from the biblical book of Isaiah, “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”
These scripture “breaks” are used throughout to move the story along. Daredevil’s story begins as he is reading from the Bible, Proverbs, the words, “For the commandment is a lamp and the Law a light. Reproofs of instruction are the the way to life.” As he walks home from his office, he is attacked by street thugs as Murdock reflects on the Biblical idea of, “Who is my neighbor.” As if to answer this question, Weeks shows a homeless man carrying Murdock to the hospital. This sequence ends with another quote from scripture, Hebrews this time, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers for by doing so, some have entertained angels unaware.”
Weeks uses this quotation to show Daredevil’s continued calling (established in Frank Miller’s stories) that he is an angel sent by God to fight for the defenseless. The homeless man becomes another of a long list of people in this story “entertaining strangers.”
Daredevil, recovering from amnesia, hears with his super senses (given to him by the same radioactive waste that blinded him) of a girl who is in dire need of a heart transplant. The helicopter carrying her new heart has crashed near the Hudson and Matt is the only one who can find it.
In a heart-rending twist, Weeks shows us the story of the heart. A young boy is mortally injured in a terrible car crash. In wordless panels, we are shown how the parents decide to take him off life-support and donate his heart to Hannah. Yes, I cried when I first read this section and I’m tearing up a bit now.
This storyline draws out the main themes of the comic and ideas that Meeks is exploring. He is talking about the deep mystery of life out of death. He is taking us through the mystery of suffering. He is showing what Tolkien called, “The Long Defeat;” that is, the fight against evil that seems never-ending and with very few victories. Behind it all, we get the sense Meeks is being very Job-like by reflecting on the mystery of God’s ways and how He weaves everything together for a purpose. We may not understand that purpose, but it’s there. God has His agents. He has the doctors waiting to save Hannah’s life, the pilots who risk their lives (with one losing it), and finally, Matt Murdock, Daredevil himself.
Issue one ends with Daredevil stumbling into the snow and a quote from Proverbs, “For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again.”
Stunning, is it not? Weeks continues this remarkable exploration in issue two (released on Wednesday), by quoting from Corinthians, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Weeks uses this quote to explore Daredevil’s dilemma on who to love. The superhero races across the city towards Hannah’s heart. His radioactive senses detect numerous “crime” situations that he would normally break up. Daredevil can’t help. He knows it. He loves this little Hannah (whom he has never met) and is trying to find her heart. He knows that he can only do so much to fight evil in the world.
Matt fights through the blinding snow, saves one pilot from the crashed helicopter and then collapses after saving a woman from rape. This, Weeks shows us, is a righteous man, fighting for the good, doing “his Father’s work,” and sacrificing himself for others.
The first two issues of Dardevil Dark Nights are comic books at their finest. The beauty, the heart-rending moral questions and the mystery of suffering in the world. All the while, Weeks gives us the sense of God and His ways of working in the background. His story telling ability is exceptional and his artwork worthy of hanging up on your wall. I’m just in awe of this series so far. Do yourself a favor: run down to your local comic book store and pick up the first two issues.