Monday, August 29, 2005

DAREDEVIL #76

Ah, back to the good stuff.

The Decalogue wasn't bad, was in fact quite good in spots, but it was exactly what it was -- an homage to a European art house flick disguised as a miniseries. Comic books are already morality plays, so throwing in opaque symbolism and mood lighting... not so necessary.

But with the start of The Murdoch Chronicles, Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev begin their swan song on Daredevil on a high note. We've got Ben Urich back, we've got Kingpin, and most importantly, we've got Foggy Nelson back. Foggy's evolution from bowtied boob to intelligent, complex man may stand as Bendis's greatest contribution to the Daredevil legacy (at least in my book) and I've missed him tremendously as the key supporting character in this melodrama.

In the first volume of Daredevil, Matt was the blind one, but Foggy was the one who couldn't see. This time around, especially with Bendis, Foggy is the observer. He watches Matt with an interested eye, afraid for his friend when Matt's recklessness gets the better of him and afraid for himself because so much of his personal and professional lives are entwined with Daredevil's. Foggy is involved in Daredevil's world and doesn't take that involvement passively -- he's fearful for them both, but he's not a coward by any stretch. Foggy is steadfast and loyal, but he's not an idealist and he's not an idiot and he knows that Matt is just cavalier enough to get him killed.

Of course, the flip side of the coin is that Foggy got a helluva lot funnier once he stopped being slapstick comic relief. Bendis's love of banter has never worked better than when Foggy and Matt are together. Their opening scene of this issue, with the blind jokes and Foggy's peculiar take on using Matt as a wingman, was fantastic. It feels like they haven't verbally sparred like that since the first time Milla walked into the room... which is precisely why it's unsurprising that the conversation is aborted by what will probably be the last time Milla walks into the room.

With things finally looking up for Matt for the first time since the outing, it's no surprise that everything comes crashing down. That it looks like Ben Urich was the engine for this latest crushing blow... There is more to this than what it looks like, of course, because Ben has previously sabotaged his own career to protect Matt and because this wouldn't be a five-issue arc if there weren't.

Alex Maleev, whose distinctive style has so gorgeously informed this title's path for so long, gets to play to his strengths -- reaction shots, still moments, and the minutia that make his shots of New York City come alive. He gets the little things, intimate details like the New York Sun paperweights at the newsstand, that are so essential in Daredevil. Because Daredevil is ultimately the love story of a man and his neighborhood.

I cannot imagine a better succession on Daredevil than from Bendis and Maleev to Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. But with the start of this final arc, Bendis and Maleev are making sure they leave a near-impossible act to follow.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I'll probably get lynched for this, because this creative team has been widely hailed as brilliant - but I couldn't be more bored by this series (Decalogue aside, somehow that worked for me). Bendis is brilliant, no doubt, but I'm looking forward to a Daredevil comic with more...Daredevil in it.

Tue Oct 04, 12:53:00 AM EDT  

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