Lee Weeks "Daredevil: Dark Nights" #2 is hauntingly beautiful and surprisingly complex in the way it addresses the ideas of being a superhero. Two issues in, it proves to be a fantastic look at Daredevil.
The visual scene Weeks sets -- one of a man dressed as a red devil, trudging through a blizzard in a silent city -- is immediately compelling. Weeks has everything working for him, including the stunningly evocative colors of Lee Loughridge, and it's gorgeously realized work.
Extraordinary visuals aside, Weeks' story is the true star of the issue. Though the conceit -- Daredevil humping it though a New York felled temporarily by a monstrous blizzard to get to a helicopter that crashed with a heart for a little girl's transplant inside -- is a little saccharine for me, the execution is extremely well done. When readers join Daredevil in this issue, Weeks cuts between him rushing to save someone and a man about to be beaten to death (or just shy of death). While readers Daredevil will swoop in just in time to save the man, it's instead used to demonstrate how constantly makes tough choices about whom he can save. Daredevil has to abandon this man so he can go after the downed helicopter. In other words, Daredevil is only one man, superhero or otherwise. It shouldn't be a startling idea that the hero can't save everyone, but it's not an idea readers encounter enough in comics. As a result, it feels groundbreaking.
The internal narration for Daredevil is very well done; it feels real and full of sorrow and desperation, but never maudlin. It is presented as if this is a daily fact of his life, one that he hates, but has long ago come to accept. That revelation as executed here is formidable.
This issue also has a sublime cyclicality to it. Toward the end, it brings Daredevil's choices about who to help and who to ignore even more sharply into focus as he makes a different decision than he does in the issue's opening and it costs him. It's set up to pay off in the next issue, but as is right now, it's a fascinating peek into a more realistic superhero world that I'd love to see more often in major superhero comics.
Elsewhere in the story the girl's father is predictably bargaining with the devil (or some version of him) to help save his daughter (which will naturally only make things worse for Daredevil), and the doctor and nurse back at the hospital are on their own crusade to protect Daredevil's civilian identity. These elements work well enough and service the larger plot, but the elements dealing with Daredevil and that sacrifices to be a hero are the clear star and with good reason.
"Daredevil: Dark Nights" is a must-read for any serious fan of superheroes. Full of startling and vivid visuals and powerful writing, these first two issues suggest an exceptional and moving mini-series.