With Mark Waid and Chris Samnee at the helm, Daredevil has enjoyed more upbeat, dare-I-say cheerful adventures of late. Hell, even his trip to rescue his mother in Wakanda had its lighter moments. Point is, they do dynamite work together… which is good, because things are about to explode. (Spoilers below.)
One of Marvel's most unnerving bad guys, the Purple Man has stolen a life of luxury, simply by asking for it. That's his power, you see. All he has to do is speak to you and you're his. He was considered one of the most traumatizing villains, depending on who you ask. (For instance, Jessica Jones of Marvel's Alias fame.)
Lo and behold, Zebediah Killgrave (our man in purple) has sired a brood of persuasive little half-pints. Five of them, to be exact. (The only reason I can think that Samnee drew seven on the cover is that they fill the space, better? Or maybe there will be two more kids added next issue? Either way it's a distraction. Awww, comic book covers, no.)
The comic— known for its clean lines and crisp, warm colors— opens as Zeb and four of his bastard children break into a house in San Francisco, to recruit child number five. The eldest boy pins him down in the bed, touches his forehead, and the soon-to-be-abducted Jamie turns purple as his half-siblings… and it's terrifying.
Zeb sneaks his way through the house, and convinces his ex that without her child, she has nothing left to live for. She somberly agrees and heads for the roof. Meanwhile, a simple brush of the cheek and a purple-toned "You won't miss her" is all it takes to bring his new son in line. Good god.
Aaaaaand cut to llamas. Sorry, alpacas. Apparently at some point in the last few issues, McDuffie decided she wanted to date Matt after all. So now they're working together, and in a relationship. (If you don't believe me that it's a change in status, the last non-newspaper recap page at the front of the comic referred to Kirsten as his "let's say friend". I've mentioned before why they worked platonically, but I'll be intrigued to see where they go from here.)
After the grim, morose (and excellent) years of Bendis and Maleev, it is so damned refreshing to see ol' Hornhead enjoying himself. He's on a date! In broad daylight! At the zoo! (I love the zoo.) This leads to a trip out on the sea for lunch and cocktails with McDuffie's dad and stepmom.
Waid is on form, reminding us with little touches how Matt's faring with his super senses. Even on a calm sea, the slightest dip or bob is enough to make him queasy. Anyway! McDuffie's old man has a proposition: Eight Million Smackers in exchange for the Autobiography of Daredevil. And that's just the advance!
Matt's tempted. I sincerely hope this is a recurring plot. Just what would be the ramifications of selling his life story? What's the downside?
DD is called in by the cops to chip in with a suicide. A second would-be victim's smart phone reveals footage of the Purple Man (described to Matt by someone who can actually see).
Cut to a house somewhere in San Francisco. The Purple Man regales his kids with his exploits. We see Zeb's boredom, his effortless 'seduction' of the kids' mothers. We get a feeling for his despair. When nothing requires any effort, nothing is fulfilling. The Purple Man can have the world on a silver plate, and it'd be utterly meaningless.
His plan, now, is to "know unconditional love" from his progeny. Children who can resist him, children who would love him for him.
The thing is… he doesn't honestly know. He can't be sure if he's commanding them or not, it's been so long since he had anyone to even think of really talking to. He looks to his kids for affection, and instead gets a passel of soulless little Voldemorts in training. (Or Children of the Purple Corn.)
This panel gives me chills.
The kids refuse to respond, which only goads the Purple Man further. "Surely now that there are five of you, you're strong enough to resist me!"
Can you guess what he shouldn't have said there?
Without saying a word, the children unite and compel Zeb to walk out into the road… right into the path of a speeding streetcar. We see nothing of the carnage, which is probably for the best.
The kids are non-plussed, and decide to go out… and see the city.
Holy crap. I mean, holy crap you guys. I thought the Purple Man couldn't get any creepier, but now there are five miniature versions of him walking around, working together. Lord knows what they want, their moms are all either dead or in prison. They just cut all ties with their father, what's going to hold them back now? And what will they want?
Whatever the answer, I'll be back here in a month to tell you about it.
Casey Jones is a voiceover artist and the author of All Fall Down. His favorite color is purple. Just not that purple.