“Lowlife (part 5 of 5)”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Matt Murdock is accused of murder, his secret identity has been revealed, his friends have isolated him, and his enemies have put a deadly new drug onto the streets. You can only push a blind man with a billy club so far. This issue, Daredevil strikes back!
With characteristic emphasis on personality and dialog writer Brian Michael Bendis closes out the “Lowlife” story arc. Angst has been the primary emotion and motivator throughout the last dozen issues of Daredevil. Friends and enemies alike have confronted Matt Murdock, questioning his morality, his ethics and his identity. From best friend Foggy, to the FBI, to The Owl to the media there has been little relief for Matt. So when the opportunity to vent his frustration is provided the resulting violence is completely understandable – in fact, it’s welcomed.
The Kingpin is back. I’m not spoiling anything, Bendis revealed this last issue. Daredevil has a respect, perhaps even a fondness, for the Kingpin, which borders on the absurd when you consider their previous conflicts. Matt remarks to Foggy “I knew where I stood with Wilson, I knew the rules”. Sounds like something a lawyer would say. Oh sure, you’ve killed a few hundred people, but I like your style. The next time they meet I fully expect Daredevil to put Kingpin into a headlock and give him a big noogie. Maybe they’ll even share a nice slice of pie and a cappuccino.
Alex Maleev, we meet again. The art over the first half of this issue is spectacular. Even though it’s 100% talking heads this is where Maleev’s scratchy, background-less style excels. We get an epilogue with Mr. Silke, the would-be Kingpin killer, who’s serving time in a minimum-security prison. He laments to the other cons how he could have been somebody were it not for Daredevil; Maleev makes him look like the petty chump he really is. But the art tails off in the second half. The Owl is Maleev’s most inspired character design; he conveys the most psychotic menace of any bad-guy since Bob Kane introduced the Joker in 1940. But the climactic battle with Daredevil falls flat. The montage fight scene covers several pages, but there’s nothing really special about it, probably because the camera is kept at a level and consistent viewpoint. Considering all of the pent-up rage Daredevil has harbored some dramatic angles would have created a lot more impact. My love-hate relationship with Alex Maleev continues.
For the concluding chapter of a storyline there are a whole bunch of unresolved threads. The emerging relationship between Matt and Milla Donovan is referenced briefly, but it’s not concluded in any way. The new mutant-enhanced drug, MGH, remains on the street but there’s still no word on who originally created it. Then there’s still the big question of whether Matt killed Mr. Rosenthal or how about that whole identity thing the media is pursuing. I expected more finality from Brian Bendis, but I suppose he has more to say on these subjects in the future. My expectations for “Lowlife” were unrealistic. The setup in the first couple of chapters was so good that I’m probably being a bit unfair in my criticism.
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