Monday, August 19, 2013

Review # 32: "Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev Ultimate Collection Vol. 2"

Volume two represents the peak of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's run on this book, putting it on equal footing with Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. With Matt Murdock's life in danger of going to hell, this raises the stakes by giving him much more to lose.

After saving the life of a blind woman as Daredevil, she manages to track Matt down at his law office and - through touch - deduces his identity. The two end up falling in love, which instantly leads to Matt growing concerned about her fate. While he's had flings, Murdock has truly loved only two women before - Elektra and Karen Page - and they were both killed by the assassin Bullseye. With Matt spotting him among a crowd in the previous volume, this threat looms large.

But Matt has his hands full already. The publisher of the paper he's suing over the actually true story that he's Daredevil ends up with his head ripped clean off his shoulders. Matt and his new belle Milla are forced to share this stress as Murdock is cornered and questioned. It doesn't take long to figure out that this murder was perpetrated by the Kingpin who has regained his health and at least part of his eyesight. He sets out to distract Matt while gradually reclaiming his old empire. The best of those distractions? You guessed it: Bullseye, sporting a new look based on Colin Farrel in the feature film. There's a noted difference at first: his bullseye is tattooed on his forehead, not carved in.

That would change.

Wilson Fisk's actions - including erasing Typhoid Mary's hypnotherapy, sending her on a Mamas and the Papas-humming killing spree - end up backfiring, however, as he drives Murdock completely over the edge. The two face off in an epic fight scene where Alex Maleev bows out for a series of panels drawn by every former Daredevil artist alive and contractually able to do appear. Gene Colan; the aforementioned Klaus Janson; John Romita Sr. They and many more go punch-by-punch. Daredevil makes a snap decision that - again - gives him more to lose. While things appear to be working out for Matt, finally, you can see that there's a potentially heavy price to pay. Some of Murdock's compatriots feel he has already.

By the end of the volume, things have begun to crumble for Matt once again as he's forced to confront his psychological issues. Fortunately, he's not alone as former fling The Black Widow turns up for some "beat the s*** out of some hoods" therapy. Maleev's drawing of Natasha, by the way... HUMMINA HUMMINA HUMMINA!

If it didn't come through beforehand, this all shows how writing Daredevil was a labour of love for Bendis. His treatment of the source material and the wonderful things he has to say about all the contributing artists drives it home. Absolutely incredible work and - without a doubt - the peak of his run. Possibly the peak of Marvel Comics since the turn of the century.

We'll wrap it up next.

Rating: 10/10

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