ďDecalogue 5: Thou Shall Not KillĒ
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: The secrets continue to emerge at the Hellís Kitchen support group, but this month itís Mattís show.
Comments: I wonder which is really the best Bendis book. For me, it used to be Alias. But now is it Ultimate Spider-Man or Daredevil. Both books have such a different tone, but play to Bendisí strength of focused character development.
While Matt Murdockís life is decidedly grim and hard-core under Bendisís pen, he understands the character completely. Just as he does the younger, more exuberant and hopeful Ultimate Peter. Part of this may be because of their similar origins. Both have intense father issues (already-orphaned Peter lost even his surrogate Uncle Ben; Matt lost his failed boxer dad) and have confronted them again as adults (Peter identifying with the troubled Harry and fighting his father Norman, Daredevil struggling against that darkest patriarch in his world, the Kingpin). Both characters have faced Kingpin over the years, actually, but itís interesting that heís stuck more as a DD villain.
So Mattís recent hostile takeover of Wilson Fiskís operations isnít just a battle between super-guys; itís an angry child displacing a bad father, and then struggling to become the good father he knows his people need, because itís what he himself has always needed.
Interesting: Donít know why Iím going on so much about fathers in this review: something to do with the dreadful stillbirth critter that haunts "Decalogue" perhaps. Lots of grody birthing scenes this issue, complete with spectral goo. The strong religious overtones of this story bring up God the Father issues too, but Bendis counters the authoritative cover art with very human foibles and feelings inside.
In this final chapter, Matt reveals himself not as part of a ruse, but as a man on his continued mission to save and protect. Thereís also promise (finally) of a new direction for his lord of Hellís Kitchen plan that might be more productive and less defensive.
Less interesting: Itís something of a disappointment that the supernatural explanation is the one that Bendis goes with after all. The psychological implications of good and evil surrounding the devilish vision (and the parallel to Mattís angelic actions in devilish garb) seemed to be heading to some bigger, more world-shaking reveal. I was expecting Mephisto or the Watcher or some other Nocenti-level mumbo-jumbo to be behind a larger plot, but rather itís a very small plot: a weak person uses magick ill-advisedly and hurts a lot more people for that foolishness. Not bad, just smaller-scale than the story at first seemed.
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