“Golden Age – part five”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Alex Maleev, Dave Stewart (colours)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Michael Bendis wraps up his latest arc on the much-lauded Daredevil, and whilst it’s a fairly interesting read, there’s something lacking about it that makes it seem merely good next to the great work that he’s shown he’s capable of producing on the title. "Golden Age" certainly hasn't been his best work on the series: the arc as a whole felt a bit too padded-out and this issue simply didn't end with as much of a bang as I'd hoped, returning everything neatly to the status quo and sidestepping the impact that Bont’s public unmasking of Matt could have had. Whilst the multiple-timeline structure has been an interesting experiment, I somehow expected all the threads to come together a little more meaningfully here, as – with the exception of a neat final page which is a nice nod to a major character in the Daredevil mythos – everything in this issue is set in present-day continuity.
Perhaps Bendis’s conception of such a multi-layered arc was a little too ambitious. Instead of a densely-layered plot of the type that we’ve seen before in his Daredevil, where layers of story are peeled away and more meaning uncovered through a constant exploration of different timeframes (as in his first arc with Alex Maleev, "Underboss”), this story merely gave us brief glimpses of bits of story which would have made more sense if told in a linear fashion. The result has been a piecemeal story which has struggled to find a focus, despite some interesting visuals and some interesting new characters.
If I sound completely down on the “Golden Age” story, then I don’t mean to be. There have been some great new developments over the last few issues: Alexander Bont was a decent new character, and a worthy addition to Matt’s rogues’ gallery; the scenes with Matt and agent Del Toro were great, and added a lot of depth to their fledgling relationship; and I loved all the flashback 60s-style sequences, with the end of this issue being a particular highlight. I’m running out of words with which to praise Alex Maleev. Suffice it to say, he keeps up his excellent standards here, with the aid of Dave Stewart’s atmospheric colours.
Ultimately though, too little happened for this arc to be spread out into 5 issues, and so many little things were in motion at the same time that there wasn't really enough time to focus on the character of Matt (or even Daredevil!), which is always the strongest element of Bendis’s take on the series. Bont’s eventual fate was a little disappointing and anti-climactic, and the Gladiator’s fantastic melancholy and tortured characterisation in this arc was dispensed with a little too hurriedly for my tastes by simply throwing him back into prison. A shame for an arc which showed so much potential - but still a decent enough Daredevil story from the current team.
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