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Now that the fanfare of the re-launched first issue of Daredevil and the 50th anniversary issue #1.5 has passed, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee can get back to doing what they’ve been doing with the character for a while: telling great stories. Issue #2 of Daredevil brings in the C-level Marvel character The Shroud and makes him seem not only interesting but very capable. The issue also sets up a pretty terrific cliffhanger for next time.
The Shroud is a mysterious superhero created in the 1970s by Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe. He’s probably best known as a member of the Heroes for Hire for a time. He possesses the ability to “see” using dark energy as well as use that energy to create any shape he chooses. In Daredevil #2, he is mentally unbalanced. He imagines that all of the attention and acclaim being directed to San Francisco’s newest superhero, Daredevil, is actually going to him. He’s also kidnapped gang members and is torturing them to get information. When he’s confronted by Daredevil, the Shroud agrees to lead him to the new head of crime, which turns out to be the Shroud!
In addition to utilizing one of Marvel’s plentiful auxiliary characters, writer Waid is also throwing out some pretty interesting thematic ideas in this issue, regarding doubles and identity. In many ways, the Shroud is a “double” for Daredevil: he too is blind and has superhuman abilities that actually allow him to see better than normal people. The Shroud imagines himself as the hero that Daredevil is, even though he has never done anything as significant as Daredevil. Interestingly, becoming the head of crime is also something that Daredevil has done, when he became the new “Kingpin” of New York by defeating Wilson Fisk, back in Brian Michael Bendis’ 2006 story arc, “Hardcore.”
Just as Waid did with less characters Mole Man, Kang, and The Spot earlier in his run on Daredevil, he’s made The Shroud compelling. His powers, though rather ill-defined, are rather formidable. By delving further into the psyche of The Shroud’s alter ego, Max Coleridge, Waid gets to something new about The Shroud. Whether he’s lost his mind a little or has been driven by jealousy so much that he’s turned bad, I want to learn more about The Shroud – which is something prior to reading Daredevil #2 I’d never have imagined I would type.
As much as artist Chris Samnee’s illustration style has really made Daredevil pop in a fun, comic book way, he’s given a different challenge with The Shroud, which he aces. The world of the Shroud is literally darker. He even has a dark costume, so Samnee has find a way to employ other artistic elements. There is so much “dark and gritty” art style in comics today that Samnee has to do this issue differently to avoid looking like other comics. He really rises to the challenge, making the Shroud and his dark tendril-like energies look unlike Daredevil but also unlike other “dark” characters.
With the surprising end, Waid and Samnee have set up the Shroud to be a significant character in Daredevil, at least for a few issues. I think it would be fascinating if the “double” element was explored further. Will Matt Murdock see anything of himself in Max Coleridge the way Max sees himself in Matt? Will that make Matt question his approach to his new home city? We’ll soon see in the pages of Daredevil.