“Golden Age” (Part 5 of 5)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Knights/Marvel Comics
The Plot: The following occurs in a seemingly random, but purposeful order: Bont throws a beaten Murdock into the streets, Daredevil tests the new White Tiger in a fight the night before, Gladiator uses what appears to be spinning CDs to attack Murdock and we jump forward to the present moment and the final showdown between all the players in our disjointed game. The status quo seems to remain intact after five issues.
Comments: So that’s it, huh? Five issues bouncing around the history of Hell’s Kitchen from WW II to present day in the disjointed, flashback method of Bendis’s first Daredevil storyline reveals … what? The torturous, round about origin of a new White Tiger – a “B” list character at best. The exact same story could be condensed into a single issue. Bont dies in an anti-climactic ending that makes a reader wonder why we were supposed to care about the character in the first place. Add a convenience story robbery scene that is difficult to track who is who and where the characters are in relation to each other, and one begins to think that Bendis is winding down his run on the title at exactly the right time.
This disjointed method of storytelling – jumping back and forth to key points of the story at different times in the characters’ life – was innovative and compelling the first time Bendis did it beginning back in issue #26. Now it’s just annoying. This is one of the more egregious examples of writing for the trade paperback committed by the House of Ideas. It undermines the very episodic nature of the comic book medium. The story fails to build sufficient linear momentum to achieve a compelling ending.
FBI Agent Del Toro receives a compelling origin that has a lot of promise. Her confusion and hesitance is the exact reaction a real person would experience if suddenly endowed with super powers. And while it’s always nice to see another female super hero appear, one based on a character most fans knew nothing about is unlikely to set the world on fire.
So Bont comes and Bont goes, victim of an MGH-induced heart explosion. Watching the changes in the Marvel Universe through his eyes was an interesting examination of the change that occurs in a neighborhood over time, but the man who was the kingpin before the Kingpin really didn’t mean much to Daredevil, the star of Daredevil. Sure, Murdock threw him in jail, but that’s it. As far as I know, this series was still Daredevil: The Man Without Fear over the past five issues, not Bont: The Old Fart Angry at Matt Murdock.
When was the last time Daredevil acted like a daredevil anyway? Sure, he jumps from rooftop to rooftop and puts his life on the line to fight the bad guys, but Luke Cage does that. Spider-Man does that. Captain America does that. Someone once described Matt Murdock as the blind man who jumps backwards off buildings with a smile on his face. Where are the break neck, jaw dropping, Jackie Chan with superpowers stunt sequences? I guess the sequences with three word bubbles per page crowded those out. Just an observation.
The Final Word: Over the course of his run Bendis has created fully realized character in Matt Murdock and the struggles he’s faced over the revelation about his identity. This story adds nothing to that. If you managed to miss these five issues, buy the trade only if you want a complete Daredevil collection.
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