Daredevil’s second season hits the ground running with a surprisingly Frank Miller-esque tour of Hell’s Kitchen. Indeed, the 70s Miller vibe continues all the way through this episode, from the heatwave they set up (recalling the famous New York heatwave/blackout of 1977) to the grit of the detectives surveying the Punisher’s first murder scene and complaining about paperwork.
Essentially though, it seems to be setting up a standard episode. We see Daredevil fighting crooks, hanging out with Foggy, working at the law firm with Karen, hitting up Turk for information and finally clocking off in the evening at Josie’s Bar. There’s a sense of routine – which is then interrupted when someone decides to kill an entire mob family unexpectedly, leaving the only survivor to call in Nelson & Murdock.
Not surprisingly, the power vacuum left by Fisk’s disappearance (and the withdrawal of the other bosses from Season One) seems set to be a major theme of this series. There’s no obvious candidate to fill it, at least in this episode, so it seems likely we’ll be seeing a war between various factions. With, of course, the Punisher in the mix.
If there’s any criticism to make of this first episode, it’s that the publicity kind of blew the idea that this was a gang of militaristic attackers. As soon as someone guns down a family of Irish mobsters (Garth Ennis would be proud) we’re waiting to see the Punisher turn up because of the publicity. You could argue successfully either way – maybe they shouldn’t have teased it, maybe they should be praised for making sure the work stood alone – but personally, I was having a lot of “GET TO THE FIREWORKS FACTORY!” feelings about them spending so much time talking about “a gang” of attackers.
Other than that? A solid opener. It seems like it sets the tone a lot more than the plot, but personally I was into it in a big way. By the end of the episode we’ve got our first Punisher Vs. Daredevil fight, and make no mistake, I was practically convulsing with fanboy glee. It’s one of those classic hero-vs-hero face-offs that comics fans can’t help but love, like Wolverine and Spider-Man, or Iron Man and the Hulk. It first happened in Daredevil #183 (June, 1982) in an issue drawn and co-written by (you guessed it) Frank Miller.
As for actual references to published material, this episode is far thinner on the ground than season one was. The guy Nelson and Murdock are trying to protect – Grotto – is (unsurprisingly) a thug from Frank Miller’s Daredevil run who first appeared in Daredevil #168 (January 1981). The TV version and the comics version only really share a name, though.
But that’s not the episode’s only reference. The “Dogs of Hell” are an already-established motorcycle gang who were previously seen in the Agents of SHIELD episode, Yes Men, though it was the Nevada chapter rather than the Hell’s Kitchen one.
So that’s episode 1. Remember to keep spoilers for future episodes out of the comments for this one, please!
Read our spoiler-free review of the first seven episodes, here.