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Comics You Should Own flashback – Daredevil #26-50; 56-81

Ah, the Bendis/Maleev issues. Will they ever recapture the magic?

Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (artist, issues #26-37, 41-50, 56-81), Manuel Gutierrez (artist, issues #38-39), Terry Dodson (penciler, issue #40), Gene Colan (penciler, issue #50), Lee Weeks (penciler, issue #50), Klaus Janson (artist, issue #50), John Romita, Sr. (penciler, issue #50), Joe Quesada (penciler, issue #50), Michael Avon Oeming (artist, issue #50), David Mack (artist, issue #50), Michael Golden (artist, issue #65), Greg Horn (artist/colorist, issue #65), P. Craig Russell (artist, issue #65), Phil Hester (penciler, issue #65), Chris Bachalo (penciler/colorist, issue #65), Jae Lee (artist, issue #65), David Finch (artist, issue #65), Frank Quitely (artist, issue #65), Rachel Dodson (inker, issue #40), Dave Gutierrez (inker, issue #50), Tom Palmer (inker, issue #50), Al Milgrom (inker, issue #50), Danny Miki (inker, issue #50), Ande Parks (inker, issue #65), Tim Townsend (inker, issue #65), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist, issues #26-50, 56-62), Dan Brown (colorist, issue #63), Dave Stewart (colorist, issues #64, 66-81), Justin Ponsor (colorist, issue #65), June Chung (colorist, issue #65), Frank D’Armata (colorist, issue #65), Richard Starkings (letterer, issues #26-41), Wes Abbott (letterer, issues #26-31, 33-41), Jason Levine (letterer, issue #32), Cory Petit (letterer, issues #42-50, 56-64, 67-69, 71-79), Randy Gentile (letterer, issues #65, 80-81), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer, issues #66, 70).

Marvel, 51 issues (“Volume 2,” #26-50; 56-81), cover dated December 2001 – March 2006.

SPOILERS below, I guess. Doesn’t everyone already know what happened?

Bendis and Maleev’s run on Daredevil has only just finished [Edit: Hey, that dates this, doesn't it?], but it can certainly take its place alongside any of the great Daredevil story arcs of the past. It’s interesting to look at this run differently than perhaps others would. What I want to look at is how Matt’s life during this run mirrors the creators’ fortunes, especially Bendis’. Not that Bendis endured the sort of wringer he puts Matt Murdock through, but I would argue that these 51 issues, which show the Fall and Rise and Fall of Matt Murdock, also show the Rise and Fall of a specific creative team. All the issues are very well done and should be in your collection, but I want to examine why Bendis perhaps lingered too long on the book and maybe tainted his legacy on it. Writers and artists stay too long on books all the time, but it’s interesting to consider whether Bendis stayed too long because he had nothing more to say or perhaps because he wanted to say too much.

Bendis made his presence known quickly on the book, as within the first few pages Sammy Silke, a Young Turk with a connection to Wilson Fisk through his father, organizes a group of men to stab the Kingpin, leaving him for dead. Silke even quotes Julius Caesar, in case we don’t get the reference. This brutal act would have a bit more resonance if Dan Chichester, then later David Mack, hadn’t taken down the Kingpin before, but it’s still a visceral way to begin a run. More than the event, Bendis is setting a tone for his run. Chichester’s Daredevil took down Fisk after building a case against him and driving him to the brink. Mack’s Daredevil didn’t even take out Fisk – it was a low-level flunkie whose twin brother Fisk accidentally ordered killed. That “death,” leaving Fisk blinded, is where we find him in issue #26, when Silke shows up.

Chronologically, Bendis’ run does not begin with Silke’s Roman-style execution of the Kingpin. I have deconstructed the timeline for Bendis’ Daredevil, and it’s pretty fascinating, especially in the early issues, to see how Bendis constructs his stories with regard to time. The reason the execution, although it comes later than other scenes, is at the beginning of the run, is obvious: This is a stunning event, and announces to the readers that nothing is sacred for this book anymore. All bets are off, and anything can happen. Bendis is, of course, setting us up for the revelation of Matt’s identity, which comes in issue #32. The Kingpin’s “death” foreshadows that more stunning event thematically, and it’s nicely done.

Bendis is known for his talkiness, and occasionally these issues move glacially (well, back before the glaciars all started melting and “glacially” meant slowly). This is one of those new-fangled comic books, written for the trades, and even more so the monster hardcover editions, especially early on, when issues #26-37 really form one big story arc. However, the pace works well for this run, because these things are happening in as “real-time” as is possible in comics – days, months, even years pass during these issues, and it makes the things that happen to Matt more believable, because they’re not all happening within a few days of each other. From the beginning of his run, Bendis is building something, and to build something, you need to take your time. He does, and we are often rewarded with complex, gritty, morally ambiguous stories about Matt Murdock.

That’s what Bendis brings us, ultimately. This is a story of Matt Murdock, not Daredevil. Sure, he makes his appearances, but this is not necessarily that great a Daredevil story. He fights typical villains – Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, and the Owl all make appearances – and he meets his typical friends – the Black Widow is often around, while Elektra, Spider-Man, and Nick Fury are featured prominently – but in the end, this is Matt Murdock’s story, and what happens to him elevates this above a normal long run by a creative team and up to something special. Matt Murdock is a man, not a superhero, and throughout this run, we see what happens to a man, not when you strip him of everything material – which is what Frank Miller did to him, after all – but take away his identity. Matt’s identity belongs to the public after Bendis gives it to them, and he has to learn how to deal with his newfound and unwanted notoriety. The interesting thing about this run is that Matt fails more often than he succeeds, but he keeps trying, not because he is a hero, but because there is really nothing else he can do. Bendis turns this comic book into a chronicle of one man’s life when he no longer has any buffer zone between him and his public persona; there is no place to which Matt can escape. It becomes a fascinating study of a man with everything to lose and nothing to gain and how he holds himself together.

The early issues, of course, deal directly with the revelation in the press that Matt is Daredevil. Bendis obviously wanted to do this as quickly as possible, as it is the fulcrum around which his entire arc rotates. It’s a wonder no one did this before; perhaps, simply, Marvel wouldn’t allow it. It’s not like Bendis was the super-writer dominating the Marvel U. that he is today; he was relatively unknown when he took over Daredevil, but Quesada (or Jemas, I suppose) apparently had a lot of faith in him. The early issues of the title also came out during those brief, heady days at Marvel early in the century when anything could happen, and Bendis uses that freedom wisely. The question of whether Matt will admit to being Daredevil is toyed with, as is the idea of him quitting, two things we know are not going to occur. However, Bendis nicely sets up the debate over how the media affects our lives and how the pressure from the media can cause people to act differently than is wise. Matt has always been a “daredevil,” but with the media spotlight on him, he acts even more recklessly, and we wonder how much the public unmasking has affected him. Despite Bendis’ early problems with continuity – Foggy’s mother shows up at the hospital in issue #27 and is apparently a different woman than Rosalind Sharpe – he also builds on what has come before, at least with regard to Karen Page’s death. We wonder, even before Bendis brings it up as a possibility during the “King of Hell’s Kitchen” storyline, whether Karen’s death is the final straw for a man who has seen his share of death. Usually, when tragedy strikes superheroes, they shrug it off or deal with it. When they go nuts, they do so in spectacular fashion, like Wanda Maximoff, an interesting contrast to Matt, especially because they’re written by the same person.

Matt’s descent into “madness,” if we can call it that, is much more subtle, because we can understand every single thing he does, but when Ben Urich and Foggy sit down and look at the totality of his actions, they see a nervous breakdown. Matt denies it, of course, but we can never be sure. At the end of Bendis’ run, his utter and suicidal recklessness gets him arrested and thrown in prison – an unsatisfactory ending, but one that can be seen as logical if Matt has become disconnected with reality. Whether or not you believe that Matt has had a nervous breakdown, the very fact that Bendis introduces it as a possibility makes this a much more interesting epic than at first glance.

Bendis’ run, of course, is divided into two parts: 25 issues from Silke usurping the Kingpin’s position to Matt declaring himself Kingpin, and 26 issues dealing with the aftermath of Matt’s declaration. Looking at the first part, it’s interesting to track how Matt comes to his decision. Silke and Vanessa Fisk get into a war, with all the principals dying, fleeing the country (in Vanessa’s case), or going into custody (in Silke’s case). New York is wide open, and it’s logical to think that others would move in; nature abhors a vacuum, after all. Matt has to deal with these turf wars infringing on the only real estate he cares about – Hell’s Kitchen – and the possibility of him “taking over” is hinted at before the “Lowlife” story arc, when Bendis foreshadows the decision more blatantly in Stilt-Man’s comments that Matt and the Kingpin have always been the same person. The way that Bendis sets up Matt and Fisk as two sides of the same coin is intriguing, as well – it’s certainly not the first time it has been done, but a writer has never gone as far with it as Bendis did. Fisk loses, not his empire, which he had lost before, but that indescribable grip he had on his underlings’ souls; once Silke puts out the hit on Matt without informing Fisk, the Kingpin knows his days are numbered, because someone in his organization has lost their fear of retribution. Matt also loses the only thing that matters to him – his identity. Fisk tries to regain what was his, but Matt can’t; the best he can do is steal what made Fisk potent for so long – the sense of fear. By the time Matt brings down the Kingpin and screams that he is the new boss, we have seen a man pushed beyond what someone should normally be expected to take, and it is a culmination of his journey into the dark places of his soul.

He has tried to deny his secret, and that failed. He has tried to bring the issue into the courts with the trial of Hector Ayala, the White Tiger, and that gambit failed spectacularly, as all the things people fear about masked vigilantes materialized, including the violent death of Ayala on the courthouse steps. He tried to fight off the contenders to the Kingpin’s crown, and although that succeeded, it was wearing on him. Finally, when he realizes that Fisk is about to return and become a cancer on the city once again, he did the unthinkable. Issue #50, from its cover portraying a battered but ultimately smug Matt Murdock (one of Maleev’s best covers in the run), to the final few pages, when we see Matt only with his teeth bared, enjoying himself far too much, is a grim portrait of a man pushed past the brink. It’s horrifying to think that Matt has come to this, because even at his worst (and in my last column, I argued that Chichester also toyed with this idea of him becoming a villain to defeat a villain), we have never seen him quite so unhinged. Bendis leaves him there, ruling his New York fiefdom, and we wonder what the consequences will be of his actions.

Then David Mack gave us an excruciatingly slow-moving Echo story for five issues. The less said about that, the better.

Bendis returned in issue #56, and this is where I want to ponder whether he should have. While I respect him for not leaving Matt in such a, frankly, impossible situation for the next writer to clean up, at the same time, reading the final 26 issues of Bendis’ run, one wonders what he was really trying to do. They are fine comics, certainly, and I include them here because they are good reading, but I also include them because they form a dichotomous mirror image to the first half of the run, and I wonder how much Bendis planned it that way.

Shakespeare never gives us the climax of his plays at the end, because he knew that there would be consequences, and similarly, the climax of Bendis’ run is Matt declaring himself Kingpin. If revealing his identity to the world is the fulcrum, then Matt becoming Kingpin is the result. We need to see the consequences, but was Bendis the right person to give them to us? Alan Moore understood that once Miracleman took over the world, there was little left to do with the character, and left it to Neil Gaiman to tell individual morality tales about the people who worshipped their new god before he began to destroy Miracleman’s paradise. Bendis knows that Matt has to be brought down; it’s just a question of how. However, Moore was making a statement about superheroes, and didn’t care what happened afterward, because his statement was done. Marvel, because of the nature of serial publishing, needs to care what happens afterward, and whether Bendis cared or not, I don’t know. I do know that he attempts a “Gaiman-style” rendering of the “little people” who must adjust to the new regime, a story he tells in “Decalogue” from issues #71-75.

Bendis messes with the chronology once again, as in issue #56 he jumps ahead a year to the “end” of Matt’s reign. “Decalogue” comes first, however, but Bendis misses a huge opportunity to tell us how the people have dealt with Matt’s declaration, beyond the first story, when the girl is inspired by Daredevil and helps stop Bullet. Bendis gets into a demonic possession/Japanese mysticism story, and completely misses the point of Matt taking over Hell’s Kitchen, finally remembering at the very end, when Matt himself awkwardly tries to explain his actions. Taken on its own, “Decalogue” is a perfectly serviceable story, but taken as a part of the grand arc, it fails to offer us what we crave, and it’s part of the reason why I wonder if Bendis stayed too long. Going back to the earlier issues, Matt clears out his section of town, gives up being Daredevil, and marries Milla. The marriage is problematic for the reasons Milla later gives for leaving Matt – was he sane when he married her, or was it just to make the memory of Karen Page go away? Bendis suggests that it was the latter, even though Matt continues to profess his love for Milla. In issue #65, he goes to Stephen Strange and asks if he can bring people (i.e., Karen) back to life. This meeting is after Strange, Reed Richards, Peter Parker, and Luke Cage confront Matt in the park about his actions during the previous year, and it takes place after his marriage. This is a crucial point, because even though we want to like Matt, too often he has allowed his libido to override his nobler instincts. He doesn’t cheat on Milla, but he can never truly commit to her. She leaves him (briefly) because she thinks he has had a breakdown, but even if he didn’t, he can’t let Karen go. It’s interesting that Bendis doesn’t pursue this further, but it’s still there.

As I mentioned, issues #56-81 are one long denouement, chronicling Matt’s own fall from his position of Kingpin. Bendis reverts to telling standard superhero stories in these issues – the “King of Hell’s Kitchen” story is a tale of bad guys trying to take out Matt; “The Widow” story is, essentially, about bad guys trying to come to an agreement with and then trying to take out Matt; “The Golden Age” is a tale about bad guys … you get the idea. Taken individually, these are fine, well-crafted stories, but when we look at them in the grand scheme of Bendis’ run, they fail to move things forward. Only with the final storyline, “The Murdock Papers,” do we finally see where Bendis is going with his character.

“The Murdock Papers” is actually one of the weakest stories in Bendis’ run, which is unfortunate, since it closes the book on his involvement with the character. It drags and ultimately serves only one purpose – to get Matt in jail with Fisk. Bendis loses track of his characters in the arc; Ben Urich, certainly, displays horrible judgment, as does Matt. However, while Urich’s behavior is inexplicable, I think that Matt’s can be seen as Bendis returning to the idea that perhaps our hero is not completely sane anymore, which makes this arc, while less gripping than what has come before, interesting on a psychological level. Matt rushes into danger with little thought in this arc, and Bendis is showing how losing his secret identity has unhinged him a bit. Why would he go to the lawyer’s office himself, especially when he knows the FBI is champing at the bit to expose him? Plenty of people know his identity; Luke Cage could have gotten the papers. Dr. Strange could have “magicked” them out of there! In some ways, it’s sloppy storytelling by Bendis, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and look at Matt’s fragile mindset during this arc. He has had his identity exposed; he has taken the burden of cleaning up Hell’s Kitchen upon his shoulders; he has gotten married and his wife has deserted him; and countless villains have come after him because they know who he is – all in the space of about two years. Now, his nemesis is claiming he has all the proof anyone would need about his identity, and he knows where it is. Of course he might go get it himself, especially, as we suspect, he’s not completely sane. Bendis leaves us with a lot of questions, the biggest one of which is whether or not the Matt Murdock currently confined in prison is all there. It’s certainly an anti-climactic ending, but it is tantalizing.

I have failed to heap praise on Alex Maleev for the art on this run, but only because it’s difficult for me to speak to the artistic process. I first saw Maleev’s art in an ill-fated Crow sequel in 1996, and it has improved greatly since then. He drew almost every issue of the run, and I don’t know how much of it is photographic rendering, because the art looks too detailed to be the work of one man churning out an issue a month. It’s beautiful, however, and Maleev does wonders with the faces of his characters; I mentioned Matt’s face in issue #50, but that’s just one example. We need the facial expressions, because one place both the art and the writing fall short is to adequately convey a sense of how Matt sees the world. In my last column, I mentioned that Chichester’s first-person narrative was lyrical in describing the way Matt’s senses relay information to him, and Weeks (who wasn’t alone; Scott McDaniel did it well after Weeks left) was good at creating panels that showed us how Matt was viewing the world. Maleev rarely does this, and when he does, it’s a red smear that is very difficult to decipher, while Bendis gives us very few internal monologues in the book, something that I felt it could have used. Matt, uniquely among heroes, sees the world differently than we do, and while we can look at a panel and see it the same way as, say Spider-Man does and therefore we don’t need Peter Parker telling us what’s in it, Matt would see it very differently, and some of the most interesting pieces of writing in Daredevil have come when the writer tells us what Matt is “seeing.” That Bendis doesn’t do this is frustrating. I understand why he did it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Do I sound like I don’t like these issues, especially the final ones? I don’t mean to; I enjoyed them when they came out, and I enjoyed re-reading them in preparation for writing this. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t recognize the flaws in them, and wonder if perhaps Bendis stayed too long. He obviously had two stories to tell: The loss of Matt’s secret identity, which led to his supplanting the Kingpin, and his fall from that lofty position. That the first story is more interesting than the second doesn’t invalidate the latter, but it does make us examine it by the same standards. After Bendis made Matt the Kingpin, he began telling more standard superhero stories, which doesn’t make them bad, but it does make them a little less interesting than the first half of his run. With Marvel’s policy of collecting everything current in trades, these issues are available almost instantly (plus they have the honkin’ huge Omnibi, which are a good way to read this), and they are well worth a read. The Bendis/Maleev run, if not greater than some of the Daredevil stories in the past, can certainly stand alongside them with pride.

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32 Comments

I’m in the minority in that I vastly prefer the Brubaker/Lark run that followed this. I’m a much bigger fan of Brubaker and his writing style, and Lark >>> Maleev.

Lord Paradise

June 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I really liked Decalogue, though I agree that it didn’t really have much to do with the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen thing. A lot of it must have been because of the covers, which I loved.

Still, the reveal of Matt having been there the whole time was an excellent moment.

Anyone who’s a fan of these issues should watch Breaking Bad, on AMC; it’s very similar in its examination of a deep and troubled character who is forced to make tough decisions and basically always decides to do whichever thing is most badass. Bryan Cranston is phenomenal in it.

Lord Paradise

June 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

@Jeremy: I read about ten issues of Brubaker’s run (free on marvel.com) and none of it really engaged me. I guess I just don’t “get” Brubaker because I’ve never really gotten into anything he’s written (the first volume of Criminal came closest, but still wasn’t as good as Bendis at his peak).

Of course, Brubaker on an off day is definitely preferable to Bendis on an off day (or year). Secret Invasion #6 came out on that very same marvel.com today and currently stands with a 5-star rating. Ugh.

God knows I bitch about Bendis, but this brought me back to Daredevil, and I would vote for this as “best Daredevil” anytime, the only competition for me being full-on-classic-fun Gene Colan era stuff or Brubaker.
Bendis and Brubaker are the only “gritty” Daredevil I truly enjoy, and that includes the man who invented it, Miller (I enjoyed the bulk of it at the time, but quit before his first run was over, and that era of DD still leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth).

My problem with Decalogue was that in such a realistic (for super-hero comics, at least) run of stories, the little demon thing comes out of nowhere.

Travis Pelkie

June 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm

So I only scanned through this to see why issues 51-55 weren’t included, because some day (SOME DAY!) I will read this. Did Marvel do an Omnibus or 2 of this run?

I read the list of artists at the top, and it really makes me wish Marvel would spring for some, you know, talented people to work on their books ;)

Damn, that’s a great artistic lineup.

Yeah, I’m not a fan of Bendis’s Avengers stuff at all, but he did great work with DD.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 8, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I like most of this run immensely. Somewhere around the Black Widow story, though, I think it kind of starts marking time until the Murdock Papers, and noticeable plot holes start turning up here and there.

Agreed. Although, as Greg was saying, I get the feeling jumping ahead one year may have been a bad move on Bendis’ part. I think he missed the chance to tell a lot of interesting stories about Matt’s rise to power. Sure, his first arc after Mack’s Echo story kind of touched on this, as did “Decalogue,” but it also seemed like jumping ahead a year took some of the wind out of Bendis’ sails.

Have to disagree about Greg’s assessment of “The Murdock Papers,” though. I thought it was one of the strongest stories of Bendis’ later run. A lot of the stories directly preceding it seemed to meander (the Black Widow story was waaay too long, for example), but “The Murdock Papers” was a lot more focused. Plus, Bendis does a splendid job with the return of you-know-who…

Something else, I remember: early on in the second half of Bendis’ DD run, someone approaches Matt and offers him the chance to run for mayor. That was never really followed up on, was it?

Woops. Meant “agreed” with regards to buttler’s comment, but I agree with what Omar said, too. The Black Widow story was kind of the turning point in terms of quality, at least for me.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I managed to get ahold of the hardcovers for the Bendis/Maleev Daredevil run, and enjoyed their collaboration immensely.

However, I really did not enjoy the Brubaker issues that followed thereafter.

Guess, I’m not really a Brubaker fan.

funkygreenjerusalem

June 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I like most of this run immensely. Somewhere around the Black Widow story, though, I think it kind of starts marking time until the Murdock Papers, and noticeable plot holes start turning up here and there.

Black Widow or Typhoid Mary is where I stopped.
The book had just stopped after such a great feeling of momentum.

I was aware of some of this because I got that free Daredevil Saga a while back, but mostly this is new to me since it came out during my lost decade.
I really hated the idea of his identity being revealed when I heard about it, though. It may make a great story, but there’s a difference between a good story and a good story that’s part of an ongoing series– I really wish more writers would learn how to tell the difference. Matt is the kind of guy who desperately needs his privacy, and this is a genie that is pretty much impossible to push back into the bottle. (I know, they did it with Spider-Man. But they still haven’t explained how, and I worry the explanaion is going to be deficient when it finally does come.) It does seem they’ve been working hard to establish doubt since this story ended.
(What is it with Marvel’s prejudice against secret identities in recent decades? Hardly any significant character has one any more. They’re nearly all professional heroes now, and the loss of variety is boring.)

This does sound like an interesting story, though.

I’ve hated Maleev’s art in every story I’ve read by him. Can anyone explain why Greg Land is widely reviled for tracing photographs (or whatever it is he does), and yet Maleev is praised for doing the same thing, but with much uglier results?
I do love some of the other artists mentioned here, though. I’m really glad Gene Colan was able to come back, even if it was just for one issue.

I’ve read a few of the recent Brubaker issues. They’re all right, but it hasn’t been good enough to buy every month, at least not with my income.

Am I the only one who’d like to see a return to the less depressing pre-Miller style of Daredevil, at least for a while? Dark stories can be great, but not if that’s all you get, year after year after year.

It’s nice to see someone else who doesn’t worship David Mack and everything he does.

I loved this run, but that whole puking up a demon baby really screwed it all up for me. That to me was the closest this run came to a “jump the shark” kind of moment.

funkygreenjerusalem

June 9, 2010 at 1:17 am

Matt is the kind of guy who desperately needs his privacy

That was probably why they did it to him.

It does seem they’ve been working hard to establish doubt since this story ended.

He spends a lot of the story trying to make people think it’s not him.

What is it with Marvel’s prejudice against secret identities in recent decades?

This story kicked off quite a few of them… the arc and fallout from the reveal is quite good.

Travis Pelkie

June 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

Man, I was just looking at Diamond’s site, and saw that next week, there’s a volume 1 omnibus of the Bendis/Maleev DD coming out for 35 bucks. Burgas, either you have amazing timing, or you work for Marvel ;)

Of course, I won’t HAVE 35 bucks to spend…

This week and next are two great weeks for comics, it looks like.

I didn’t like the Bendis/ Lark stuff at all, I liked the Brubaker/ Lark stuff much more and found it more accessible.

I’ve hated Maleev’s art in every story I’ve read by him. Can anyone explain why Greg Land is widely reviled for tracing photographs (or whatever it is he does), and yet Maleev is praised for doing the same thing, but with much uglier results?

Because (unless I’m mistaken) Maleev takes his own photos and is consistent in who he uses for each character.

Greg Land gets other people’s photos out of magazines and uses a different model for the same character in consecutive panels – and has lousy storytelling skills.

As for “uglier”, well that’s in the eye of the beholder. Maleev’s style doesn’t work for everything, but it was spot on for Daredevil.

I vastly preferred Brubaker’s run to Bendis’s, but mostly because what I’ve read of the former feels stretched out to fill each trade.

Gokitalo: No, they never did anything with the mayoral candidacy. I wonder why Bendis brought it up.

I started out liking the Brubaker/Lark stuff, but even more than the Bendis stuff, it was unrelentingly depressing. Bendis gave Matt a little bit of joy in his life, but I read Brubaker’s stuff for over a year and it just got me down. Oh well.

I was hooked by the “Underboss” trade, then for me it was downhill after that. Depressingly little happened between issues 31 and 40, and while I was intrigued by the battles with Owl and Bullseye, it drove me crazy that DD wailed on Kingpin at the end of issue 50, defeating him with ease. I had always liked that he could never take down in one-on-one combat, and for me it was cheap that he beat Kingpin so easily. Plus, I thought Maleev made Kingpin look more like Grotto in that issue, not terribly menacing.

Never read the end of the Bendis run, just because I didn’t want to invest any more time and money into it. Maybe someday…

Mike Loughlin

June 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

I liked this run a lot, but the issues between the Black Widow story & the Murdock papers were so disappointing. I thought Golden Age had a great set-up, but a lousy conclusion. Decalogue was just off. The Black Widow story was boring. Plus, Daredevil being saved by other people over and over was grating.

Brubaker’s run started out awesome, but got repetitive quickly. After the prison break, Matt never won, and not much was resolved. Although it worked for me when Bendis ended his run with a status quo change, the last issue of Brubaker’s run didn’t. I wanted to see some closure on his stories, but it didn’t happen.

Lord Paradise

June 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I liked Black Widow but that might just be cause I’m a fan of the character, especially in the Daredevil context.

In retrospect “introducing the new villain: A guy with a dog whistle!” was kinda lame, though.

I think Bendis’s DD is his strongest mainstream superhero work. He is perfectly suited to the character.

I love Brubacker in Captain America, Gotham Central, and Iron Fist, but in DD he comes across as Bendis-lite or something. He has almost the same noir-ish, street-level sensibility as Bendis, but without the experimentation.

@Jeremy: Brubaker’s first arc is one of my favorite stories of all time, and his Gladiator arc with Rucka and The Return of the King were both also fantastic, but I found that it meandered a lot in the middle. It wasn’t bad, but only those two other arcs came close to the quality in The Devil in Cell Block D.

[...] above, and pick the damned things up. Clearly they’ve [...]

@Mary re: Maleev v. Land

Perhaps because Greg Land uses photo reference to cover deficiencies in anatomy and storytelling. Also perhaps due to the fact that his tracing is used in service of cheesecake and not much else. Maleev’s use is obvious but not derrivative of the reference, used for practical storytelling purposes and is obviously a starting point which the artist layers their own particular style onto. At least, imo.

Personally, the line for my opinion is drawn on purpose. Maleev uses the reference to frame shots and a jumping off point. Land’s use feels more like a shortcut to avoid doing the hard work.

I remember buying this run and dropping it after the Black Widow arc.
Early on, I remember issue after of issue of Matt and Foggy discussing on what he was going to do, and then about ten issues later he met the press and lied.
There is a fine line between decompressed and boring and by the time the Black Widow arc rolled around I was bored to tears. (And I like the Black Widow!)
I have a fondness for Daredevil. I discovered him during the Typhoid Mary storyline written by Ann Nocenti and collected him into Inferno. Shortly after that I stopped collecting comics. When I returned, I bought the Daredevil Marvel Knights relaunch. I own the Frank Miller Visionaries.
Bendis’ run just made me feel like it was going somewhere until I realized it wasn’t and I was out of money. Over $100 is a lot to ask the buying publing to accept for a story that meanders and doesn’t have a satisfying ending.
Maybe Bendis isn’t the writer for me. I bought Powers, Alias, and Daredevil at various times, but I never LOVED them. His New Avengers was dropped after 16 issues and I think I lasted that long due to Spider-Woman (a character I love and got me into comics.) Now if I see his name attached to a title, I tend to avoid it.
I do want to say Bendis has talent and great ideas, but the execution is just awful. His stories don’t zig or zag, they just stay the course to the boring, logical conclusion.
I sometimes wonder if he does the Stan Lee-Marvel approach where he would give an artist a plot to draw, the artist would draw what they want, and then Stan would come in and script the issue. Considering Bendis’ rants (I’ve read the Powers letters pages) and that some of his artists aren’t native English speakers, this could explain the fluctuating quality of his work.

[...] Comics You Should Own flashback – Daredevil #26-50; 56-81 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Boo… [...]

[...] Michael Bendis’ run with Michael Lark is, of course, absolutely phenomenal.  But there’s lots of articles already written about it, I’ve read it already about three times, and I just have no interest in reading it yet [...]

Jan Robert Andersen

April 14, 2014 at 3:29 am

Having read the Frank Miller, Frank Miller/David Mazzuchelli, Ann Nocenti/John Romita Jr, Frank Miller/John Romita Jr, and even the D.G. Chichester stories the 1998 relaunch was both returning to form and revitalizing Daredevil as a character and title.

Following the stellar Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada, David Mack took over with Brian Michael Bendis scripting #16-19 with David Mack. Bob Gale the came on from #20 until #25 with Bendis/Maleev taking over from #26. At this point the relaunch had cooled down and I had in fact left the title.

This lengthy run from #26 to 50 and again from #56 to 81 is indeed a great run. This just might be some of the best writing from Bendis and as a whole this run stand on its own and set a new standard on the title. Until then the title somehow stood in the shadow of the Frank Miller runs and this run broke out from this. Sure Daredevil was still quite a depressive character and the title was at times very dark and gloomy.

The Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark run from #82 to 106, followed by a short Ed Brubaker/Greg Rucka/Michael Lark run from #107 to 110, Ed Brubaker solo again from #111 until #119 and the renumbering #120 to #500 are somewhat better. Looking at the two runs it just seems very natural that next run builds on the former run and getting even better.

Brubaker is probably a better writer than Bendis and doesn’t have the talking heads and as many recurring themes. Bendis has some flaws in his writing and at times he especially has difficulties ending a story/storyline. Brubaker has very few if any flaws like this and is far better at endings.

Despite reading most Brubaker titles like Scene of the Crime, Deadenders, Batman, Detective Comics, Gotham Central, Authority Revolutions, Point Blank/Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, Fatale, Velvet, Captain America, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, Winter Soldier, Secret Avengers, Immortal Iron Fist etc. he is very versatile and impressive writer.

Bendis has a similar impressive body of work including AKA Goldfish, Jinx, Torso, Sam and Twitch, Powers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias/Pulse, Avengers/New Avengers/Mighty Avengers/Dark Avengers, House of M, Secret Invasion/Siege etc. but has quite a few misses along the way making him more hot or miss.

Andy Diggle had the difficult if not impossible task to follow these runs until the next relaunch. With the 3rd relaunch Mark Waid took the title and character in another direction and both built on the Frank Miller, Nocenti, Kevin Smith, Bendis and Brubaker runs as well as breaking out from these in tone and feel.

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