Evil Geek Book Report – Daredevil By Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
I love Daredevil. Everybody has that one character who belongs to them. For a lot of people it’s Batman, but for me it’s Daredevil. I don’t know if it’s because he’s the first character I got really into as an adult upon my return to comics or maybe it’s because he’s a super hero with a film noir setting. Lucky for me he has a lot of high water marks that boil down to essential reading. After going through all of Frank Miller’s re-defining work on the character the next logical step was Brian Michael Bendis’ run from the early 2000s.
Be forewarned there are major spoilers ahead, but it’s virtually impossible not to mention them and write a review for this.
This collection includes issues #16-19 and #26-40. The bulk of this story revolves around Daredevil’s alter ego, Matt Murdock. Murdock when written well is one of the most fascinating non superhero personas out there to me. I could never read issues of Spider-Man that solely revolved around Peter Parker’s personal life, but Murdock is just as deep, convoluted and interesting to me as Daredevil.
The story is masterfully told by Bendis through an interweaving period of a few months. For the ease of the reader I’ll keep it in chronological order. As with any classic Daredevil story you know Kingpin has to be involved. Our story starts with a thug whose name is Silke, joining Kingpin’s organization. Their families were old friends. Silke needs Matt Murdock, the lawyer bumped off to help his Dad’s legal case. Kingpin (as we find out in Born Again) knows he’s Daredevil and refuses. Silke who is confused by Kingpin’s staunch refusal asks his son why and finds out Murdock’s connection. Needless to say, he is blown away that this has never been properly “addressed”. Fisk is a smart, evil genius business man; he knows what he’s doing. Silke is a power hungry young up and comer who decides it’s his time to shine.
A coup is organized with Silke rallying Kingpin’s inner circle and in a very Julius Caesar moment when his guard’s down they stab him repeatedly. Silke’s next move is to order a hit on Matt Murdock’s life. After several attempts by various low rent criminals, Murdock is brought to wits end and panicking. He doesn’t know why this is happening, who wants him dead and why it’s his alter ego and not Daredevil. Meanwhile, the Kingpin’s wife, Vanessa finds out what’s happened and she puts out an order for an assassination on everyone associated with her husband’s coup. Everyone’s gets slammed and Silke narrowly escapes and goes to the police for immunity. He gives up information on the obvious but they don’t care so he delivers the only bargaining chip he has left, Daredevil’s real identity.
Of course the police don’t believe such an outrageous claim. Part of the fun is that we get to see them piece together past events in Daredevil’s history that the reader already knows and connect the dots of how Murdock and Daredevil are associated. The order is given that even if this is true the information does not leave the police headquarters since he’s done nothing but aid law enforcement. One of the officers decides in a moment of weakness to sell the story to a newspaper. Murdock’s personal life goes from bad to worse.
It’s not proof positive yet and Murdock goes on the official record to deny it, but as the newspaper owner who published the story points out that once it’s put out there, people are going to believe what they want to believe. Murdock retaliates by suing the company. Not only is it scary for him on a personal level to have that revealed but as a lawyer it’s insanely unethical to be out prowling the rooftops and sometimes directly involving himself as Daredevil in the cases he’s trying as Matt Murdock. Against his better judgment he takes a job defending the low rent costumed hero, White Tiger who was innocent but accused of killing a cop. This becomes a reflection of how Murdock’s own trial might go and he’s horrified when the jury quickly comes back with a guilty verdict.
This is where our story ends but as you probably know this is only the beginning of Matt Murdock’s trouble. Thematically it’s a sequel to Born Again. In that we saw how Kingpin chooses to use the information of Daredevil’s identity to systematically break him as a person. Now we see what the world at large does, no doubt foreshadowing some of the effects of the Marvel Universe as a whole during the Civil War crossover. The writing here is excellent, Bendis is equally adept at giving us gangster/mafia style intrigue, psychological horror and court room procedural all over the course of this collection. Dare I say that the court room trial of the last third of the book is the most interesting? Alex Maleev’s art is not my favorite, but for the story it works perfectly. It has this sketch style that always makes me feel like I’m looking at a rough draft. The dark, ugly, violent mood of the story is captured within the art and for that, Maleev makes a good partner to Bendis.
I should also mention there is another arc at the beginning of the book since this trade paperback collects a creative team’s run and not a specific storyline. It’s mostly about reporter Ben Urich researching a story that he becomes emotionally invested in. He’s trying to figure out why a young boy named Timmy has become completely introverted and barely speaks except for about Daredevil. Our title star however, is barely in this arc at all. It’s a very emotionally arresting story but has nothing to do with the main storyline I’ve outlined above. It explores the relationship between villains and their children, which is something that rarely had I thought about but is fascinating none the less. The art by David Mack is amazing. I can see why people wouldn’t like it though. They are mostly collages against sketches and water paints. The whole product is very surreal; it’s absolutely pushing the boundary of the medium. A very unique approach to comic art.
If you’re looking for Daredevil going around kicking ass, this collection isn’t for you. It’s made up of 80% Matt Murdock, but I literally couldn’t put it down. When I finished it, I immediately ordered Vol. 2. Things are about to get worse for ‘ol Horn Head and I can’t wait to read all about it.
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Posted on April 3, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged Alex Maleev, Brian Michael Bendis, COMICS!, Daredevil, Evil Geek Book Reports, Kingpin, Marvel. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.