Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review # 33: "Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev Ultimate Collection Vol. 3"

Brian Michael Bendis reached his peak in volume two of this set and is due for a comedown in volume three as his run concludes. Fortunately, the "Daredevil" narrative does not fall far.

The same cannot be said for Daredevil's life as what we expect to happen finally happens: EVERYTHING crumbles. Wilson Fisk cuts a deal with the FBI, taking advantage of a grudge, and the bad guy wins. It's a depressing finish to Bendis' time with the title, but it's the right one.

Let's backtrack a bit: Murdock's fall begins with the return of the man who was Kingpin before the Kingpin. Alexander Bont has an axe to grind over Matt toppling him and sending him to jail. The story of his rise and fall is brilliantly rendered. Bont's ascension has no colouring, making it look like old-style pulp. When Daredevil takes him down in his original red-and-yellow costume, the colouring is done in dot style. In modern ink, Matt is nearly killed by the nearly-reformed Gladiator and barely escapes.

From there we take a left turn into a five-issue story that looks at a church focus group discussing how their lives have been altered - both positively and negatively - by Daredevil. Strange incidents have been haunting them and the reason is certainly one you wouldn't expect. However, Matt practically reveals himself to these people and you get the sense it's only a matter of time until he's exposed.

Sure enough, that's what we get from Fisk. He villainously manipulates Bugle reporter and Murdock friend Ben Urich into giving up sensitive information as the FBI gathers evidence on Daredevil in gruesome fashion. Elektra and Black Widow try to lend Daredevil their aid, but its too late. He weighs making a break for it in a spectacular closing-issue sequence, but - as had been made obvious throughout this entire run - there is no happy ending in store for Matt Murdock.

Going back in time and reading this as Mark Waid's semi-lighthearted run sits on the comic stands is quite a contrast, and despite the love Waid is getting I have a hard time saying it's up to Bendis and Maleev's body of work. You know someone has pulled off a masterstroke when an ending is depressing yet satisfactory. It's not a feeling you get often.

Bring on Brubaker!

Rating: 9/10

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