Since the Hand made their presence known in New York City by taking out Mayor Wilson Fisk they basically taken over the city. With the Matt Murdock forced to becoming the Mayor of New York City it has lead Daredevil to make a lot of interesting choices. Now with the war with the Hand getting out of control the big question is how the city can even survive all of this. That question has made Charles Soule exploration of the supernatural element of the Hand an intriguing thing to incorporate to this series. Now with Daredevil’s back against the wall how will things go? Let’s find out with Daredevil #603.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Mike Henderson
Colorist: Matt Milla
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On the West Side Highway in Manhattan a woman is racing out of the city from something that is chasing her. The woman barely gets passed a crashed helicopter while going at top speed.
Suddenly the Hand appear and destroy the woman’s bike. The woman takes off her motorcycle helmet and she turns out to be Elektra. When Elektra gets ready to fight the Hand, Daredevil appears out of nowhere. The Hand all retreat as soon as Daredevil appears.
Elektra questions Daredevil on why the Hand ran away when he showed up. Daredevil says he is not. Elektra says she can feel the Beast’s presence and she is leaving the city to escape it. Elektra tells Daredevil he should do the same. Daredevil says he can’t do that.
Daredevil then convinces Elektra to stay to help him protect the city by offering to discover the person who previously controlled her to believe she had and lost a child. Elektra accepts Daredevil’s offer.
A little later Foggy tells Daredevil he is crazy for going out on patrol and recruiting Elektra. Daredevil says Foggy won’t like his next decision and tells his friend to get him in contact with Ryker.
At the Ryker’s Island prison Matt Murdock tells Hammerhead, Owl, Black Cat and Diamondback that he will release them from prison as long as they use their power to protect their respective areas of the city from the Hand. Hammerhead happily accepts the offer for all of the gang leaders.
Sometime later, at City Hall, Foggy tells Matt he is crazy for letting all the crime bosses out. Matt says that the crime bosses will act as his generals in the war against the Hand since they also want to make sure to protect their areas of control. Foggy asks about Wilson Fisk’s condition.
Matt says he has no time to worry about Fisk, who we still see in a coma.
Matt takes Foggy to the Mayoral Crisis Command Center to show him how the Hand are using the chaos in the city to reach the Beast’s endgame, which he won’t allow to happen.
At the Temple of the Beast, the Hand priest tells the Beast to give the city what they need. The Beast releases a gas that causes some of the citizens to start to go crazy.
As the gas covers the city Matt, Foggy and Blindspot talk on the roof of City Hall. Blindspot mentions that the heroes of the city have helped keep things quiet even though the cops are all gone. Matt thinks that is not a good thing since it means the Hand are busy gathering resources.
Matt suddenly collapses as the Beast’s gas continues to consume the city.
Inside the Mayor’s office the EMTs on scene have a hard time helping Matt since he needs to go to a hospital but can’t be taken outside due to the gas.
Suddenly someone in full armor and gas masks approaches City Hall. The person says he can help Matt and Foggy tells the other city officials to let the person in.
Once inside the person takes off his gas mask and reveals his name to be Father Jordan, Matt Murdock’s priest. End of issue.
The Good: Even though Daredevil is not a character known for getting involved in the supernatural. That said, the way Charles Soule has integrated the supernatural element of the Beast and Hand has made this a story that is hard not enjoy. Soule has used this supernatural element to continue to establish how Daredevil goes about protecting his city. Daredevil’s approach was made even more interesting with the choices he made in Daredevil #603.
Daredevil #603 is a purely a set-up issue. Soule spend the entire issue setting the different chess pieces that Daredevil is working with in order to take on the Beast and Hand. Throughout this issue Soule drove home this part of the story as Daredevil is playing chess, even though the long-term ramifications of his choices are dangerously unknown.
What helped keep Daredevil #603 from being boring with all the set-up involved was the pacing. Soule made sure to keep the issue moving, never wasting time with one particular scene. The quick pace of Daredevil making moves to help protect the city added to how urgent things have become with the current crisis. And knowing the characters who Daredevil gets involved in actually ends up elevating the threat level of the Beast and Hand.
That is really the most impressive thing about this story arc. Over the years the Hand have been nothing but a joke as Daredevil and other heroes have easily taken them out. But issues like Daredevil #603 help build up the Hand to be an organization that is not a joke. They are someone to be taken seriously as they have created pure chaos within New York City.
The threat level of the Hand was given additional weight with Soule having Daredevil recruit all the major crime bosses as generals. The act of releasing Hammerhead, Black Cat, Owl and Diamondback will eventually lead to major ramifications. That is something we know that Matt understand but given what is going on this is a calculated risk that he is taking. It’s a risk that makes for interesting future stories as Daredevil has to deal with the crime bosses who are newly motivated after their imprisonment down the line.
Adding in Elektra to the story was also a nice touch. As always, Elektra is someone that could be a wild card as Soule made her intentions clear with her conversation with Daredevil. Seeing how she was motivated by survival when we first meet Soule makes us understand where she is at this point in her life. At the same time, Daredevil tapping into her desire for revenge is a reminder of what actually drives Elektra. It was also a good way to build towards a future story involving Daredevil and Elektra revisiting the events of their previous meeting that Soule wrote.
All of these alliance made Foggy’s worried outlook on everything Matt is getting involved with a good way to ground everything. Soule does a good job presenting Foggy as the everyman of this story. He is the voice of reason that Matt is ignoring in this war against the Hand. It makes the friendship between Matt and Foggy more compelling. This could be something that damages their relationship with how Matt is ignoring his friends concern.
It was also interesting to see Father Jordan be brought back. This is a character we’ve seen a little bit of but no major development given. Now with Matt placed in a dangerous coma-like state Soule opens the opportunity to expand on Father Jordan’s character. What that actually means for this story and his relationship with Matt will be very interesting to see.
Mike Henderson’s artwork was solid throughout Daredevil #603. Even though we are going down the more supernatural realm Henderson keeps the story grounded with his artwork for the issue. The opening scene had a feeling being cool as Henderson gave a good sense of motion with Elektra speeding out of the city. He also made the recruitment scenes have more intensity with how he drew different character emotions that showed that each character had their own motivation for being Daredevil’s allies in this story.
The Bad: The only thing that Daredevil #603 did not do so well was with how Henderson drew Elektra after she took off her helmet. If Daredevil did not say her name it would’ve been hard to tell that she was supposed to be Elektra. The way Henderson drew her does not match how she is normally draw. She looked more like a random character rather than the Elektra fans are used to seeing.
Overall: Daredevil #603 is a strong set-up issue that makes the threat the Beast and Hand pose to New York City to be off the charts. The pacing of this issue helped drive home how desperate things have gotten for Daredevil as he recruits villains he recently put in prison. That act along with other decisions that are made all create greater interest in what Charles Soule has planned for this series.