Evil Geek Book Report – Daredevil By Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
Another Daredevil review? Well you know old Biff doesn’t joke around when it comes to Matt Murdock. We’re moving in chronological order and when we last left off Bendis & Maleev had wrapped up there lengthy and critically acclaimed run on the character that defined him for a modern audience. Bendis spent a lot of time on the idea of identity and what it means to be a superhero almost foreshadowing what was to come in Civil War.
They put Murdock through the ringer (again) making his life as Matt Murdock both personally and professionally a living hell as well as Daredevil. In fact, Daredevil was really a minor character in their 50+ issue run; it was Murdock that took center stage. They brought their storyline to one of few logical conclusions; both Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk are sent to jail. This is where Brubaker picks up.
In my eyes there couldn’t be a more capable writer to pick up the reins from Bendis with such a smooth transition. Right off the bat we know something is a foul in Hell’s Kitchen as we see a new Daredevil patrolling the streets and kicking ass. This new Daredevil is trying to reach out to Foggy, whose disgusted by this as he prepares for Murdock’s trial. Here is the problem that this particular arc revolves around; despite being blind Murdock is going to be placed into the jail’s general population with all the criminals who Daredevil put in there. The thinking is that he’ll be killed before having to go to trial. Here’s the even bigger problem, Kingpin is also being put in general population.
Foggy comes to visit Matt and is brought somewhere else and stabbed to death! This was shocking, especially with the next issue starting with his funeral but ultimately a little hollow because you know that today Foggy is still around. But I can’t fault a past plot point just because I know a future outcome. This was done apparently to goad Murdock into becoming violent so he’ll either get killed or get caught on tape killing and then the prison and law system can wash their hands of this red hair menace. Murdock does indeed flip shit trying to find out who ordered the hit on Foggy and goes on a murderous rampage to get answers. Yet he does so real stealth like (he is a ninja after all). Fisk and Murdock call a truce between each other and eventually a whole prison wide riot erupts. Once Bullseye is unleashed it all goes to hell and the Punisher (who put himself in jail voluntarily) takes Murdock as a “hostage” and allows him to escape. Basically, this is a badass prison movie, where everyone inside is corrupt as shit.
We find out that Foggy’s alive (surprise!) and in the witness protection program. Matt confronts the other Daredevil who turns out to be none other than Danny Rand aka Iron Fist being a pal and keeping up Daredevil appearances while Matt’s in jail to distance the rumors of Matt actually being Daredevil. Which I actually think is a pretty interesting plot point and ended up being kept up through Civil War.
Free of Bendis’ setup, Brubaker is free to explore and does so immediately in the next arc. In prison Murdock was able to find out a man named Alton Lennox was behind Foggy’s “death” (the reader’s know he’s alive, but Murdock does not) and trails him in Monaco. It’s great to see Murdock as a James Bond type in ancient and exotic locations with lush expansive parties that have private bullfights. How long can you really stay in NYC for anyway?
Murdock befriends Lilly whose Dad is an associate of Lennox. Shortly after, at a party a guest of honor Matador kills Lilly’s father and the place erupts into chaos. When Murdock catches up with them in Portugal, Lennox is dead and the gangster Tombstone has Lilly. He follows them to Paris where he learns that Lilly is actually calling the shots for Tombstone and the Matador. I can’t stress how cool it is to see Daredevil in a non-modern urban setting.
Through Lilly, Murdock finds out that Vanessa Fisk is the one who has been orchestrating everything. He travels to Switzerland to confront her only to find out she’s dying. What follows is an excellent speech where she discusses how tired she is of the circle of violence created by Kingpin and Daredevil and you really see how sick and twisted the relationship is between Murdock and Wilson Fisk. She offers him a deal, she can clear his names with the Feds if he agrees to represent Fisk in court and get him out of jail. Murdock refuses.
Shortly after he finds out that the head of the FBI killed himself and admits to setting up Murdock…Vanessa pulled her strings anyway without Matt’s consent. When he returns to the U.S. he’s reunited with Foggy where they share a serious Broment. He gets his Law License back and out of “honor” gets Fisk out of jail.
One of the things that makes Daredevil compulsory reading for me besides the great storytelling is the fact that he’s almost always cut off from the rest of the Marvel U and immune to most Marvel crossover events, which is how it should be, the man’s a loner and after all the shit Foggy has been through because of Matt I wonder how he has any friends.
Overall these were two great arcs that served as an excellent continuation of Bendis and Maleev’s highwater mark. It’s nice though that the whole storyline is virtually wrapped up and Brubaker can now begin fresh from here on out. I’m excited for what he will bring to the table. Pound for pound I think he’s a better noir/mystery writer than Bendis. I sincerely hope he gives a little more attention to the lawyering side of Murdock, it’s been missing from this title for way too long. Tombstone is a great addition to the Daredevil rogues gallery and makes a lot of sense, I hope we’ll be seeing more of him as well. Mike Lark’s art for the first arc was ok, but I wasn’t in love with it. By the second one he shifted back into his Gotham Central style which is perfect for Daredevil and that man can draw one hell of a Kingpin (read: realistic).
A Strong start. I’m curious to see where these two take ol’ horn head next…
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