Current Reviews


Daredevil #46

Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens by looking in on an actress named Mary, who we see is paid a visit by the Kingpin, and during the ensuing conversation it soon becomes rather apparent that Mary has a secret. As Kingpin successfully manages to reawaken the darker second personality that lurks within sweet little Mary, we see Typhoid Mary makes her return to the Marvel Universe. The book then looks in on Milla, the blind woman who has recently entered Matt's life as a possible romantic interest, as we see her debating with her aide/friend whether she wants to continue the relationship, or is his secondary life as Daredevil too big a hurdle for her to get used to. We then look in on a former employee of the Kingpin, as the man is paid a visit by his former boss, and during this encounter we learn Wilson Fisk is very much a fallen man, as his criminal empire has been shattered, and his wife Vanessa has vanished along with most of his money. After seeing Kingpin express his displeasure at what happened in the wake of the assassination attempt, the book then jumps back to Matt, as we see he's being forced to deal with a number of new problems, including a parade of frivolous lawsuits from villains he beat up over the years. However, when Milla arrives in his office all his problems vanish, but this momentary respite is short-lived as Typhoid Mary pays him a visit.

There's a gap in my Daredevil collection for the better part of the early 1990s, so I'm not overly familiar with the character Typhoid Mary. However, I do have her listed in one of the Marvel Super-Hero Role Playing Guide books that I picked up at a garage sale a few years back, and as such I'm got a fairly comprehensive listing of her powers, as well as a pretty solid summation of her history, and how her whole split personality disorder functions. In fact after I managed to track down the copy I was looking for, I must say I was rather surprised by the array of abilities that Typhoid Mary is able to draw upon, as in addition to pyrokinesis which she uses to deliver a wonderfully intense cliffhanger, I also see she has telekinesis & mind control included in her bag of tricks. One also gets a pretty good sense that from the levels listed in the book that she's more than capable of holding her own in a physical contest with Daredevil, and now that she has the luxury of attacking Matt when he's not in costume without raising the Kingpin's ire, I can easily see her making Matt's every waking moment a living hell. It certainly makes one wonder how Matt's going to be continue his current strategy of denying that he's Daredevil now that Typhoid Mary has been unleashed upon him.

Speaking of villains making a return to the pages of this book, this issue also marks the ever impressive return of the Kingpin to the role of a major player within these pages, and I must say the wait for his return has certainly been worth it, as Brian Michael Bendis writes a great Kingpin. There's a wonderful exchange in this issue where Kingpin looks in upon one of his former underlings, and in addition to serving as a wonderful means of bringing us up to speed of the Kingpin's new status quo, the exchange is also a fascinating examination of this relationship, as these two men discuss what happened after Kingpin had fallen victim to the assassination attempt. In fact the man's final words to his former boss are just about as perfect a final words one could want to say before one's murder at the hands of the Kingpin. I also rather enjoy the new status quo that the Kingpin is operating under, as while he's able to bring Typhoid Mary back under his control (so to speak), the truth of the matter is his criminal empire has been scattered to the four winds, and in the wake of the assassination attempt one has to think that many of his rivals (those that are still alive), would look upon his current lower tier status as one that they would prefer he remain at.

The art is what really sells the atmosphere of the writing, as while Brian Michael Bendis comes up with the plot twists & the inspired dialogue, it is Alex Maleev who makes it work so effectively. I mean the opening page of this issue is a great visual method of introducing us to the contrasting personalities of Mary & her decidedly darker half Typhoid, as the book opens on a brightly lit sound stage before moving back to the darker confines backstage, which nicely mirrors the slow, but seemingly inevitable shift in personalities. The art also does some wonderful work reflecting the personality shift, as when Mary picks herself up off the floor & looks up at the Kingpin, one is left with absolutely no doubt as to who's in control. There's also some strong work on the scene where the Kingpin looks in on his former minion, as I loved the way that the Kingpin's shadow settled over the man's body on the opening page, and the little throwaway moments, like the man going for a gun that isn't there, before he turns to the bottle for comfort in what he knows are his final moments. There's also the nicely understated feeling of romance in the air as Matt & Milla go for a walk, and how effectively this sense of optimism is shattered when Typhoid Mary makes her arrival, to end the issue with a truly shocking display of her power.

Final Word:
I don't know all that much about Typhoid Mary beyond the basic, split personality assassin gimmick, but this doesn't make her return to these pages any less powerful, as that final page is easily one of the most harrowing cliffhangers Brian Michael Bendis has unleashed upon us thus far. The book also brings the Kingpin back into the mix, and I can't tell you how much his return has bumped up my interest in this title, which was already at a ridiculously high level before. Simply put this is the best title coming out of Marvel, and this is actually say quite a bit considering Marvel is currently undergoing a creative upswing on most of its titles. This book is telling a fairly ambitious, multi-layered bit of crime-fiction, that is so densely plotted that it almost feels like a novel. However, thanks to the opening recap page and the smartly written dialogue, the material is never confusing, so there's no reason to not be reading this title.

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