Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with Daredevil coming to his sense before he does something very stupid, as he leaps on to a nearby rooftop before the media gathered below can get a good look at him without his mask. We then see his attention is drawn to a nearby mugging, but after rescuing the victim Matt finds that everywhere he turns, the public are seeking to prove the story that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. We then see that at least one villain has decided the story is true, as Matt's apartment is targeted by an enraged Mr. Hyde, but before Daredevil can make it to the scene we see the hulking villain is confronted by Spider-Man. As Daredevil quickly joins Spider-Man, we see the two heroes are able to take down Mr. Hyde in record time, and the two depart before the media circus can reach them & begin to pester Daredevil about whether the story is true. We then look in on Matt as he has gathered together all his allies, where he basically lets them know that they won't have to lie to protect his secret anymore, and as the issue ends we see Matt Murdock emerges from his apartment to address the gathered media.
Now I'll admit I'm a slugfest happy fanboy, so when Mr. Hyde turned up in this issue I was quite excited by the prospect to the fight that was to come. However, aside from a couple funny lines from Spider-Man, this encounter was pretty forgettable, and aside from the van that Spider-Man sends slamming into Mr. Hyde's head, I really didn't see any attacks delivered that would render the big goon unconscious. I mean yes Daredevil landed repeated blows to Mr. Hyde's head with a post office bin, and given his knowledge of pressure points I can see Daredevil landing some painful blows. However, given my exposure to numerous past appearances by Mr. Hyde, that displayed his ability to take a serious beating and still keep on ticking, I find myself wanting to reject this very poor showing by Mr. Hyde. Even worse however is the when the battle is over and one expects to be rewarded with a nice exchange between Spider-Man & Daredevil, Brian Michael Bendis offers up a highly uncharacteristic scene where the two characters exchange a few inconsequential lines before the material jumps to the next scene.
As I mentioned in my review of this week's issue of "Alias", I do find that Brian Michael Bendis is guilty of dragging his heels after he introduces a genuinely compelling idea. I mean, Daredevil's secret identity became a front page news item at the end of issue #32, and three issues later we finally arrived at the stage where Matt Murdock is set to make his statement to the waiting media. Now most times Brian Michael Bendis is able to make it quite easy to not to notice that we've received next to no forward motion on his plot, by the insertion of some delightfully engaging back & forth banter, with the previous issue being a wonderful example of this ability. However, up until Mr. Hyde's arrival on page nine of the story, the only thing of interest that occurs is the scene in the diner where we see a customer manages to add more evidence to back up the idea that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. I've already covered the battle with Mr. Hyde in the previous paragraph, so the final four pages is all that's left to comment on, and all these pages really do is set us up for what is hopefully the big moment next issue.
If I had to make one complaint about art on this book it's that the most recent issues have been a far too dark, and overly dependent on oppressive shadows to create a sense of impending danger. It's similar to the difference between a good horror film & a bad one. In a well made film the absence of lighting is able to generate a sense of hidden danger (e.g. Michael Myers slow emergence behind Jamie Lee Curtis in the first Halloween film), while in a poorly made one the bad lighting obscures the action, leaving the viewer frustrated as they try to figure out what's going on. Now I'm a big fan of Bill Sienkiewicz (the master of this art style), and I recognize that Alex Maleev & company are trying generate the idea that Matt is being crushed by an almost oppressive weight, but when even the brightly garbed Spider-Man ends up looking like he's just come straight from his day job as a chimney sweep, you have to feel that the focus on the dark & gloomy elements is being overplayed. However, I will concede there are some nice lighting effects in this issue, as I enjoyed the flashing lights that show the approaching media during the battle with Mr. Hyde.
Brian Michael Bendis is a talented writer, and his work on this series has been top notch material, but frankly I find myself wishing that he would tighten up his plots a bit, as if I was a more jaded reader I would strongly suspect that the reason why most of his continued stories play out over six-seven issues is that this is the standard number of issues that most trade paperbacks collect. Now normally I'd let his rather leisurely pace slip by unnoticed, as normally he sees fit to include one, or two dialogue exchanges that prove to be quite engaging, but this issue Brian Michael Bendis delivers an issue that felt like it was almost fighting the urge to offer up even the slightest hint of forward motion, and the rather uninspired tussle with Mr. Hyde didn't help matters much either. Pay no heed to the rather engaging looking cover either, as Spider-Man & Daredevil are only together for a couple pages, and their dialogue exchange is completely inconsequential.
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