Current Reviews


Daredevil #36

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with Matt Murdock holding a press conference where he announces his intention to sue the pants off the Daily Globe for their story which claimed he was Daredevil. As he lets the gathered media know that he won't be answering any more questions until the case has been settled in court, the book jumps ahead three weeks as we find Matt busy preparing his case against the Daily Globe, and we see that he's delighted to discover the paper only has one source to back up the claim that they made, and they refuse to identify who this source is. We also learn that for the past three weeks Matt hasn't suited up, and we see him turn down an offer from the Black Widow to join her on a little rooftop jaunt to seek out criminals they can pound on. As Natasha begins to worry that Matt may have retired his Daredevil identity for good, we see her make a call. We then join Matt as we see he's having dinner with Vanessa Fisk, and she offers him the name of the FBI agent who leaked his secret identity to the media, while also letting him know that Fisk interests in New York City have been sold off among the various gangs. As the issue ends we see Matt gets a visit from an old friend.

It's always disappointing when it appears that a writer has committed themselves to a bold new direction on a title, only to see them rushing back to the status quo when the material is ready to cross the line of no return. Oh, I'll give Brian Michael Bendis full marks for making me believe he was going to stick to his guns and make a move that would forever alter Daredevil's corner of the Marvel Universe. However this issue uses the escape hatch that I must admit I really should've seen earlier, as the news that Matt Murdock is Daredevil is standing on shaky ground from a journalistic sense, unless the reporter who penned the article did follow the reporter's code of getting the scoop confirmed by two separate sources before viewing the idea as fact. Still while this easy fix to the problem does make sense, there is a part of me that can't help thinking about what might've been if Brian Michael Bendis had decided to continue forward on that path, and offered up proof that Matt couldn't have dismissed with a lawsuit. However if Matt does win his 400 million dollar lawsuit against the Daily Globe then I imagine this book would change somewhat.

Now this issue does explore the idea that Matt might've taken Foggy's speech to heart, and that he's decided to abandon his Daredevil identity. However, unlike the ousting of Matt's secret identity this idea does pack quite the same punch, as no matter how much Brian Michael Bendis plays up the idea that Matt has hung up his costume, I simply don't buy into it. Now part of this unwillingness to believe is due to my being a lifelong fan of Spider-Man, and given his tossing in the towel is a staple plot in that character's book, I'm had a lots of exposure to the idea. Second, while Bruce Jones is proving to be the exception to the rule over on the "Incredible Hulk", the simple fact of the matter is that I think it's safe to say the overwhelming majority of readers are buying this book to read about the adventures of the Man Without Fear, and not the crusading efforts of Matt Murdock. Now what this story should be able to do though is act as a nice means of defining why Daredevil does put on the suit in spite of the misery that it has brought into his life. Plus when Matt does decide to take up his Daredevil identity once again, we should also get some nice tension between him & Foggy.

Alex Maleev's work is great for establishing a certain mood, but I find myself wishing at times that his style wasn't quite so dependent on heavy shadowing, as there are scenes in this issue that don't quite work as they are suppose to be lighter in tone, but the art insists on making everything look dark & moody. There's also a key scene in this issue where Vanessa Fisk & Matt have a sit-down, and it ends with a one-page shot of a painting, that I'm guessing is highly relevant to the final comment made by Matt, but I must admit I couldn't figure out who the two characters shown were, or why they were relevant to the conversation (though the one on the right does look like Brian Michael Bendis). Still there's also scenes where the heavy shadowing is used to great effect, like the page where a mystery woman looks to undress in Matt's office, or the final page shot of Matt's rooftop guest. I also enjoyed how the sound effects were incorporated into the panel design in the opening pages of this issue, as it's nice to see that Doom Patrol's Tan Eng Huat isn't the only artist making use of this artistic trick. Oh, and the cover to this issue is also quite eye-catching (one has to love the Joe Quesada inspired billy-club line).

Final Word:S
I really think that I should stop reading interviews with comic book professionals, as when they're not busy spoiling surprises that they should be working hard to preserve, they're busy making intentional vague statements that are misleading enough to have me thinking they're really going to turn the book their discussing on its ear. I mean Brian Michael Bendis steps forward and announces that this current Daredevil arc will have lasting repercussions, and I suddenly forget that comic writers have been saying this exact same line since Superman first hoisted that car above his head. Silly old me whose been reading comics for decades fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Yes Brian Michael Bendis had me convinced he was ready to overturn the apple cart, and then he does an 180 degree turn & he managed to put the cat back into the bag. I really shouldn't be all that surprised, but I am disappointed that he didn't follow through on the idea, as it would've made the issues of slow buildup worth the end result.

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