Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review # 51: "Daredevil by Brubaker and Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 3"

Time to bid goodbye to Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark as they wrap up their time on "Daredevil," leaving Matt Murdock in a weird place in the process. Their final story is a bombastic romp. Unfortunately, there's other stuff to slog through first.

The opening story in Volume 3 is not very good. It isn't dull, but the payoff is lousy. New Nelson and Murdock partner Becky Blake takes on a case at the behest of Luke Cage to clear the name of an asshole lawyer who has confessed to decapitating three children. Despite Matt easily discovering that the man on death row is innocent, the question of why he delivered a false confession is the true mystery. Federal agents are involved along with a familiar mobster and a member of private investigator Dakota North's family. The story draws Matt and Dakota closer - which would become important - but that could have been accomplished without taking up so many issues.

Then The Hand comes back and all is forgiven. Thrown into chaos after learning their leader Elektra was really a Skrull (as uncovered by the New Avengers heading into "Secret Invasion,") the dark team of ninja assassins targets Daredevil... though not necessarily to kill him. His friends, though, are not so lucky.

The major player among the villains is the brand spankin' new Lady Bullseye. I was expecting a female copy of the original but was pleasantly surprised. Still a deadly assassin and still very intelligent, Lady Bullseye has the background of a victim, and has a misguided idolization of Daredevil's deadliest foe. She also finds a way to attack Murdock in a way The Hand never has before. With his allies dropping, Matt gets help from Iron Fist, new character Master Izo - the man who trained the man who trained Daredevil - and, in his inevitable return, the Kingpin. In the end, as Brubaker and Lark walk away, Matt once again finds himself trapped. Only this time it's quite different from being in jail. It's a brilliant final turn, one that's expertly hinted at early in the arc and a fitting finale for this creative team.

This is where I get off the Daredevil train as incoming writer Andy Diggle's time on the series wasn't very well-received. While Brubaker and Lark aren't able to hit the stride of Miller and Janson or Bendis and Maleev, they had a great run and did more than enough to escape the shadows left by others. While their penultimate story falls flat to a degree, they sure do offer up one hell of a finale.

Rating: 8.5/10

Up next: The Avengers from "The Avengers" team up for the first time.

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