Daredevil is one of the most down to earth superheroes in the Marvel Universe. His powers and personality make him the kind of person you can root for. Recently, I’ve been delving into the Man Without Fear’s history and I came across the graphic novel Daredevil: Back In Black: Chinatown. Written by Charles Soule, the story revolves around Matt Murdock returning to New York with a new purpose. In the depths of Chinatown, Daredevil learns what it means to take on an apprentice for the first time.
The story opens from the perspective of a young Chinese immigrant called Sam Chung. As an illegal, Sam is forced to scrape by to make a living in America. He looks after his sister and works late into the night just so he can get by. Fed up with the corruption in his neighbourhood, Sam becomes the vigilante Blindspot. On his first night in costume, Blindspot meets Daredevil. Seeing potential in the boy, Daredevil decides to train him.
Daredevil and Blindspot investigate The Church of The Sheltering Hands, a cult that’s shown up in Chinatown. Led by the mysterious Tenfingers, the cult promises safety for illegal immigrants, which I found to be one of the most gripping parts of the story. Millions of immigrants struggle to make money and they can often be forgotten by society. Without anywhere else to turn, people will follow someone who offers to make their lives better.
During the day, Matt works to prosecute Tenfingers and expose him as a fraud. After a witness refuses to cooperate, Daredevil realises Tenfingers is a bigger threat than he thought. Throughout the story, Daredevil’s faith is tested, a defining trait of the character. Matt chooses to put his belief in the law, while Tenfinger’s religious zealotry offends his Catholic principles.
But at the same time, clear parallels are made between Daredevil and the man he’s fighting against. Both believe their powers are God given, that they should use their abilities to carry out his will. Matt doubts himself a lot, to the point that he contemplates confessing his mistakes to Captain America. Soule’s portrayal of Daredevil is a beautifully crafted character study of a man wrestling with his inner demons.
“I have abilities – powers – that other people do not. I decided on my own, no one elected me – that having those abilities meant I was chosen. I would save people. And anything that got in the way of using those abilities…was against the will of God. And my logical lawyer brain told me that anything I needed to do to make sure I could continue to use my abilities the way God wanted me to…well, it was justified. That is exactly what Tenfingers believes. And he’s a monster. Isn’t he? And if he is…what does that make me?” – Daredevil
I enjoyed Daredevil’s relationship with Blindspot. I found both of them to be similar, as they chose to defend their own neighbourhoods. Their dynamic became complicated when Matt learned that Sam’s mother was working for Tenfingers. Even so, Blindspot defended innocent people against his mother, confirming Matt’s faith in him. Blindspot is the break out character of the graphic novel, and I’ll definitely be reading more stories about him.
Ron Garney’s art brings the kind of moody atmosphere you’d want from a Daredevil story. Many panels are cast in shadow, presenting New York as a dangerous place to live. Matt’s black costume is awesome as well. It’s stealthy, sleek and helps him blend in with Garney’s seedy NYC.
Daredevil: Back In Black: Chinatown has all the ingredients of an amazing comic. There’s action, emotion and beautiful art. Buy it now on Amazon.
Matt’s relatability can also be seen in his mental health struggles. His battles with depression are worth looking into because they prove that healing yourself is an ongoing process.