Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens in Allenwood Federal Prison where we see Mr. Silke (the gangster who sold out Daredevil's secret identity to the FBI), is visited by the last person in the world he would want to see. We then look in on Matt as he's deep in conversation with Foggy about what he should do next, and we see during this exchange Foggy apologizes for adding to Matt's grief with his rant about how being Daredevil was destroying his life, as Foggy has come to realize how important being Daredevil is to Matt. The book then shifts its attention to the Owl, who discovers that unlike the Kingpin, he's not untouchable, as his club is raided by the FBI, and the lead investigator has a grand old time trying to torment the Owl into attacking him. Naturally the Owl's limited reserve of calm is pushed past the breaking point, and the Kingpin's former legal advisor is able to do little to stop the Owl from attempting to kill his tormentor. What's more the lawyer is left with very little motivation to continue to advance the Owl's interests after he is told about the rather distinctive way that Mr. Silke was killed in prison. As the issue ends we see Daredevil arrive in time to keep the Owl from making his escape, and as he's leaving the scene Daredevil happens to overhear a conversation where he learns some rather disturbing news.
While the opening recap pages on most Marvel titles only get a courtesy glance from myself, one has to love Daredevil's page, as every month it's called upon to recap more and more, as Brian Michael Bendis continues to add more story elements to the book with every passing month. Now this month we do get what looks to be the final chapter on the Owl & his drug running empire, but this is quickly replaced by the return of an even bigger plot element, as a fairly major player makes their to these pages in a very big way, and incidentally we also appear to have solved the mystery of who killed Mr. Rosenthal, but the why is still a bit fuzzy. Now I'm not complaining about this book's rather expansive plot, as I've been with this book since the first issue of this run, and there's nothing quite as rewarding as a story that is doing such an effective job of building its final product. As we close in on the big finish that presumably will hit this book in issue #50, I can't help but admire how nicely Brian Michael Bendis has managed to keep all these various plot elements in play, and so that the new plot twists manage to play out without really taking any of the edge off the plot twists we received previously. Plus, how can one not love the sense of dread this book's final line manages to deliver.
This issue offers up yet further proof that Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best writers I've ever come across when it comes to the delivery of engaging dialogue, as he's one of the only writers who can deliver a three page exchange between two characters, and when it's done I'm left wanting more. I mean I'm a dyed in the wool slugfest junkie, and talking heads have always been viewed as a necessary evil, as writers need to a place to develop their characters, and deliver the necessary exposition that one needs to enjoy the big fight. However, while there have been writers in the past who have made talking heads issues highly enjoyable (e.g. Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League), I don't think I've ever come across a writer who could make it the preferred opinion. I mean this issue offers up a battle between the Owl & Daredevil, but except for allowing Alex Maleev to put on a fairly impressive visual display, this battle is easily the least interesting part of this issue. I mean how can one not be riveted by the exchange between Foggy & Matt as they discuss what to do next, or find great delight in the scene where the FBI agent pretty much rips apart the pretense that the Owl could be a suitable replacement for the Kingpin. In fact the bit where the idea of federal protection is offered is one of the funniest exchanges yet.
I really don't think there's a better one-two punch working in comics today, as Alex Maleev is the ideal fit for this book's material. His ability to deliver the key moments of the book is what leaves me the most impressed, as there's a great scene in this issue where Mr. Silke receives a visitor in prison that is so utterly perfect in how it reveals its big surprise that I couldn't have been more pleased by the final product. I also love the new battle scarred appearance of this character, as I truly didn't think there was a way to make this character look even more imposing than they already did. The art also does some great work on the scene between the Owl & Special Agent Driver, as one can almost see the knives that the Owl is staring at the insolent FBI agent, and the perverse delight that Driver is taking from pushing the Owl's buttons. There's also the deer caught in the headlights expression of the lawyer, as Agent Driver begins dropping some hard to miss clues about a certain character's return. As I mentioned in the above column, this issue also allows Alex Maleev to deliver a fight between Daredevil & the Owl, and while the Owl ends up being little more than a punching bag in this encounter, the sequence is a fairly solid display of Daredevil's fighting prowess.
This book is starting to become a regular labyrinth of a story, as Brian Michael Bendis has been continually adding to this plot and with everything linked to what has gone on before, this book has achieved a degree of complexity that one rarely finds in the pages of a comic. Now while this makes the material a little daunting when it comes to newer readers, the opening recap pages do a pretty fair job of detailing all the major details, and for readers who have been with this story since the beginning, it's rather exciting to see everything is starting to come together in what is guaranteed to be a memorable finish. I love the idea that this book is able to explore its material from a variety of different vantage points, and that Brian Michael Bendis has also developed a multitude of secondary elements to this plot, as there's nothing quite so rewarding as a book that not only thinks big, but is also able to deliver big when it starts laying out the cards it has been dealing.
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