Current Reviews


Daredevil #43

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens at the home of Mr. Rosenthal, where the police investigating his murder are made aware of the lawsuit turmoil involving Matt Murdock, and we see the detectives automatically latch onto the Daredevil connection. We then look in on Matt who we see is warming to the young blind woman who has come to his offices to thank him for the rescue that he performed as Daredevil, and in spite of the danger that this woman presents his secret identity, we see Matt is leaning toward accepting her dinner invitation. We then see Matt has a conversation with Foggy, where he expresses concern that his bid to protect his secret identity is hampering his effectiveness as Daredevil. However, over the course of this conversation Matt also discovers that Luke Cage is rather annoyed with him, and in a bid to discover why, we see Matt pays a visit to the home of Luke Cage. What follows is a fairly heated exchange where Luke makes it clear he dislikes the way that Matt is lying to protect his secret identity, while Matt makes it clear that while he finds the need to lie distasteful, he's also not willing to toss aside all the good he did as a lawyer without a fight. We then see the issue ends with the police showing up at Matt's office with a search warrant.

There are times when Brian Michael Bendis' more deliberate pace does leave me a bit on the edge, as when something major does hit the fan in this title, it takes far too long for the fallout to begin making its impact. Now I can't deny that this book has more interesting material currently playing out in its pages than most books on the stands, and if nothing else Brian Michael Bendis deserves credit for ensuring that this book always has something going on to keep my interest level quite high. However, with the murder that took place at the end of last issue, I can't help but want to see this series shift most in not all of its attention over to this plot, as frankly it's far and away the most immediate of Matt's problems. Now the last page makes it clear that Matt is likely the prime suspect in this murder, and we do get one fairly significant clue about the identity of the real murderer, as the man's head was ripped off, as opposed to being cut off, which would suggest an attacker of extraordinary strength (e.g. the Kingpin). Plus given the police are executing a search warrant on Matt's law office, one can imagine they are also going to want to search Matt's home, which could present a bit of a problem if Matt hasn't taken to wearing his costume & billy-clubs under his clothes.

Still, most of the material in this issue isn't devoted to the unexpected murder from last issue, but rather Brian Michael Bendis pretty much uses the issue to put on yet another dazzling display of his ability to craft real sounding, highly riveting conversations. From the rather comical hypothetical conversation that Matt has with the new woman in his life, to the equally amusing follow-up as Foggy makes his objection to this relationship known. However, the conversations aren't all geared toward being funny, as there's also a wonderful examination of the new problems that exists in Matt's life now that his secret identity has been compromised, and Foggy is allowed to come across as the one person in Matt's world who can actually see the situation rationally, even though Matt is far too pigheaded to actually follow Foggy's advice. The absolute highlight of this issue though, and perhaps of this entire arc, would have to be the conversation between Matt & Luke Cage, as we see the idea of Matt being a two-faced hypocrite in his bid to protect his secret identity is discussed, and I have to give this scene full marks for delivering convincing arguments for both sides, though due to Matt's powerful response to Luke's tirade, I have to say I'm in Matt's corner in this fight.

The work of Alex Maleev is largely the reason why I would have to say this is my favorite Marvel title most months, as his art makes Brian Michael Bendis' writing even better. I mean there's good looking art, there's great looking art, but there's very little art that I would say is a perfect match for the material its being called upon to deliver. The crime-fiction element of this series is perfectly captured by Alex Maleev's almost photo-realistic style, from the look of outright horror on the face of the woman as we see the severed head being fished out of the pool, to the outright fury on Daredevil's face as he attempts to placate his need for justice by taking out a couple lower tier drug dealers the art does some great work conveying the book's key emotional moments. There's also some rather clever visual tricks, like the series of panels that are used to give us a visual representation of how Matt builds an image of the woman standing before him, or the fact that the basketball during the issue's one fight scene actually looks like a real basketball, with the indentations on its surface used in its shading design. I know these are little, almost insignificant details, but it's nice to see an artist actually taking the time to incorporate these visual elements into their work.

Final Word:
I don't think there's another title on the stands right now that has as much going on in its pages as this series has, as with the outing of Daredevil's secret identity Brian Michael Bendis has steadily built up a story that has slowly gathered a seemingly unstoppable momentum. As the problems continue to build, the focus has now shifted from how is Matt Murdock going to extract himself from this situation, to how bad is the damage going to be when this runaway train of a plot eventually catches him. The story has shifted from a sensational lawsuit, to an outright murder investigation, and I don't think many secret identities could survive both the unblinking eye of media scrutiny, combined with a police investigation. Plus, if this wasn't enough, the book has also added a romance subplot, and Brian Michael Bendis also takes some time out to have Matt engaged in a wonderfully compelling debate with Luke Cage about whether the actions Matt's taking to preserve his secret identity are right or wrong.

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!