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Evil Geek Book Report – Daredevil By Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev Ultimate Collection Vol. 2

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Something happens to me when I read a well written Daredevil story. I’m riveted, I try to read as much as possible in a particular sitting then when I’m done reading, I’m thinking about what I read, what’s going to happen next and when I might have a chance to read more. This does not happen to me with generally any other comics (with the notable exception of Fatale).

There’s a lot that makes Daredevil a compelling read and for me it boils down to the fact that Daredevil and his alter ego, Matt Murdock are both individually fascinating characters. It’s not like the non-costumed identity is just a means to the costumed one. No it’s an intriguing look into the psyche of a warped and damaged man trying to keep up appearances and this collection catalogues the moment in time where the distinctive identities for better or worse begin to blur together into one.

(Authors note there will be TONS of spoilers. I didn’t intend for this review to be so long, but SO Much happens in Volume 2)

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When we last left Mr. Murdock in Vol. 1 things had gone from bad to worse. There was an assassination attempt on the Kingpin by a low rent hood that started the wheels in motion for everything to fall off the track. He was eventually brought into custody and outed Murdock as Daredevil and the story was eventually leaked to the press. Murdock stands firm that him being Daredevil is an outrageous claim.

Vol. 2 starts with a bang as we see Daredevil narrowly rescue a blind girl from a mack truck. The woman, Milla is smitten with him and goes to his law office a few days later to touch his face and confirm that Murdock and Daredevil truly are one in the same. They hit it off though and go on a date only to be interrupted by the police and taken into custody. Turns out the owner of the newspaper which published the Matt Murdock/Daredevil story has been murdered and of course Mr. Murdock is suspect #1, but eventually is let go.

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In the vacuum left by Kingpin’s organization, his wife Vanessa had sold off all of his territories to the highest bidder and skipped town. The only man purposely excluded from this deal was Leland “The Owl” Owsley a low rent crime lord who has been a thorn in Daredevil’s side in the past. He seems to have acquired Kingpin’s lawyers and counsel since they are virtually out of work. The Owl’s pushing a new drug on the street called MGH (Mutant Growth Hormones) that’s synthesized from his own genes. When you take it, it taps into your own genes and enhances them to the ability of a mutant. This has helped him vie for a piece of the Kingpin’s old empire. We also find out that Kingpin is alive and has been recuperating as he commits his first act of revenge on Silke, the young upstart who overthrew him by killing him in jail.

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Poor old Matt can’t catch a break because next time we see him, he’s out on a date with Milla and he’s attacked by the psychopath (and his former lover) Typhoid Mary. The shitty thing is when he’s out as Matt Murdock there isn’t much he can do to defend himself, especially if he’s not looking to invite Daredevil comparisons. After beating and burning him she is finally subdued by Murdock’s bodyguard, Jessica Jones. We find out that Typhoid had been living a pretty normal life hypnotized with her other identities at bay (she suffers from kind of multiple identity disorder where the other identities are bat shit crazy) as a Soap Opera actress. The Kingpin unraveled all of that so he could have the Typhoid Mary he use to know back and used as pawn in his master plan.

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There’s a great couple of pages where see Kingpin systematically killing everyone who betrayed him or the very least what I imagine is the aftermath of it. It’s just like the montage near the end of Goodfellas. This is only phase one of his plan. Scared, Milla stays with Matt as he tries to recuperate his own beaten body, but knowing something is a foot he can’t rest and goes to prowl the night for answers as Daredevil. As soon as he’s out of the apartment the Kingpin dispatches Bullseye (killer of two of Matt’s previous girlfriends) to murder Milla. Daredevil knows something was up and returns to beat the ever loving fuck out of Bullseye, even carving a bullseye into his forehead. It’s pretty sick and brutal but even the cops on the scene look the other way. It’s fantastic. The only thing missing is that Bullseye is in his street clothes and not his costume. I know that’s way more practical, but goddamn I love that costume and was looking forward to seeing Alex Maleev draw it.

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Daredevil figures out that Kingpin sent both Typhoid Mary and Bullseye to buy him some time and keep Daredevil occupied while he reclaims his territories and begins to put his criminal empire back together. Like so many times before, we see Daredevil reach his breaking point. Driven by fear and exhaustion he hunts down and brutally assaults Kingpin (similar to the scene in Born Again) but this time it’s different. Leaving the Kingpin in a bloody pool, Daredevil rips off his mask in a crowd of people and declares himself the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s an exhilarating and terrifying moment, you can tell Matt has been pushed too far both mentally and physically. He’s tried of the cat and mouse game. No matter who he stops from corrupting Hell’s Kitchen, someone always come in to replace them. He finally has had enough.

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The next portion of our story happens a year after Murdock declaring himself the new Kingpin. The events are being told by Daily Bugle reporter, Ben Urich. Immediately after the “incident” Daredevil went on a 6 week string where he basically violently assaulted everyone in the underground who still was an issue. As a result, Hell’s Kitchen is terrified but cleaned up. Murdock wins the multi-million dollar lawsuit against the newspaper that outed his identity and hands all the money over to restoration of Hell’s Kitchen. Him and Milla have been enjoying an unprecedented period of happiness in their personal lives.

Of course being that this is Matt Murdock, we know it doesn’t last. He’s confronted by Reed Richards, Peter Parker, Luke Cage and Dr. Strange about crossing the lines super heroes just aren’t supposed to cross. Ruling in fear with their identity exposed is bad for business. Matt hasn’t even been appearing as Daredevil anymore. You know he’s losing his shit too because he has facial hair and that hasn’t happened since Born Again. Ultimately, Murdock blows them off and ignores them.

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Perhaps he should have heeded their warning because 100 members of a Yazkua gang came into take Hell’s Kitchen away from Murdock and yet another intense and bloody battle ensues. The FBI eventually is able to break it up and Matt escapes into the shadows. We find out that Urich had actually been talking to Milla and that within this time her and Matt had been married. Urich decides to track Matt down and finds him in a secret Hospital only to confront him about his bizarre behavior over the last year. He tells Matt that he thinks this is all prolonged nervous breakdown related to the death of Karen Page by Bullseye. The Yazuka bomb the FBI and we see a very satisfying moment where Matt realizes he’s been wrong and suits up as Daredevil again with the help Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Spidey they take care of the rest of the Yazuka.

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The next portion of the story is a bit strange. It focuses on Black Widow but ties into the Murdock saga. Basically, Widow’s been compromised but told to lay low, so she goes to hide with Mr. Murdock thinking that the enormous spotlight on him will take any focus off her. In the meantime, Matt reveals that Milla has asked for an annulment of their marriage. It turns out not all blind people like having to deal with super villains in their day to day life. Who knew?

The psychotic mad man, Jigsaw starts trouble downtown and Daredevil and Black Widow quickly subdue him. Later on we see Jigsaw at the Murdock & Nelson law office pleading with Matt since he’s Daredevil. Murdock of course denies the connection which infuriates him. Later on Matt and Natasha are having lunch and are almost assinated by a highly trained sniper. They confront him but he manages to escape. Ultimately, S.H.I.E.L.D. ends up handling him. Of course if that wasn’t enough, Jigsaw breaks into Murdock’s apartment to prove his point and Black Widow subdues him. This whole portion of the story holds your interest, but it’s a lull compared to the previous heights and doesn’t really further the story.

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Also included in this collection is issue #65, a 50th anniversary issue. It fills in the gaps from the last year of stories but with different artists handling each vignette. It’s interesting but ultimately unnecessary.

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This collection as a whole, simply put is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s no exaggeration to say that it takes super hero comics to new heights. It picks up on threads of Frank Miller’s redefining character run and just continues to push the boundaries. I can’t believe there’s a whole other volume left! I can only imagine where Bendis is going to take Daredevil next.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on June 5, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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