Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens by jumping back two days before Typhoid Mary's encounter with Matt Murdock, as we follow a drug deal with a dealer on the street sending a messenger to the supplier, before we follow the money collector, who in turn pays a visit to the manufacturer. However, when site where the drug was made falls victim to a vicious attack by a rival gang looking to move in on the Owl's territory, we see Typhoid Mary arrives to make it known that the Owl's territory is now under the control of the Kingpin. However, when the rival gang fails to take the warning to heart we see Typhoid Mary gets an opportunity to play mass murderess. We then see the Kingpin sends the message out that he'll be holding a meeting in Josie's bar at 10pm the following night. However, while most of the various underlings are delighted to see the Kingpin is making a return to power, we see Special Agent Harold Driver of the FBI isn't among them, as he crashes the meeting, and makes it known that he's going to make the Kingpin's downfall his active goal in life. However, unlike the Owl, the Kingpin is hardly one to be intimidated, and we get a wonderful display of just how well Wilson Fisk can play the game. We also see the Kingpin makes it quite clear that he feels he's a vital cog in the machinery, and that it's in no one's interest to see him brought to justice.
There are times when Brian Michael Bendis' need to examine ever angle of the story does get a little tough to take, and ending last issue on a cliffhanger and then using this issue to jump back and show us how Typhoid Mary made her way toward her latest encounter with Matt was a bit annoying. Now I recognize that in doing so Brian Michael Bendis has built up an even greater sense of anticipation, and based on past experience with his writing I should know that he's the tortoise in this race. In other words Brian Michael Bendis is a writer who plays to his strengths, and since he's able to craft witty, realistic sounding dialogue exchanges that make most other writers look like rank amateurs, it's easy to understand why he would purposely craft his stories so that he could make full use of this skill. He's also very strong when it comes to character development, as while the Kingpin has been kicking around for decades this issue features one of those very rare moments that truly captures the underlying pathos of the character, as he's given a wonderful speech in which he basically labels himself a necessary evil, and that the city would fall into chaos if he didn't exist. The Kingpin hasn't been this much fun since "Born Again", and this is even more impressive when one considers that he's only been back in this book for only a few issues.
I must confess that Typhoid Mary is a relatively new character to me, as I didn't collect Daredevil during the Ann Nocenti era, and this is when the character was an active player. Now I've seen the character before, as she was a semi-regular cast-member in Joe Kelly's Deadpool issues, so I have a working knowledge of the character, but I have to give Brian Michael Bendis full marks for taking into consideration that Typhoid Mary hasn't been seen in the pages of this book for the better part of a decade, and as such if any character needed to be reestablished as a viable threat it would be her. This issue is a wonderful look at how dangerous the character can be, as we see her tear her way through a group of armed thugs, and along the way she performs a number of cooler than heck moves, such as deflecting the bullets away with her sword, though presumably she was also using her telekinetic abilities for an added measure of protection. The extent of her madness is also nicely reflected in the scene where she kisses the man who is slowly making his way toward her as he slides down the sword she punched through his stomach. One also has to love the totally arbitrary nature of her dialogue in that final scene, and how she manages to make a fairly innocuous song into a truly creepy display of her casual acceptance of the violence around her.
There's only so many time one can open with the sentence Alex Maleev is the perfect artist for this book before one begins to want him to do something to prove you wrong, if only to help me keep the illusion that I actually have something more to say about the art than it looks great, or my other staple it looks okay. Still, since I do have an entire column to fill, I guess I could mention the fact that Alex Maleev is a fantastic artist when it comes to conveying the cold, manipulative manner of the Kingpin, as during his conversation with the FBI agent, the art is absolutely amazing in how it manages to convey so much, using so little. I mean I don't think the Kingpin's expression changes once, but the reaction of the people around him to what is being said & done is what really sells this scene. In fact the simple fact that the Kingpin doesn't really react to the events around him lends an even greater sense of menace to the character, as it's almost like he's able to see right through the FBI agent's bluster, and when Turk has a gun pointed at his head it's far more unsettling that the Kingpin doesn't seem the slightest bit concerned. This issue also offers up a truly creepy display of Typhoid Mary's madness, as the art has her adopting an almost playful vibe, as she moves through the various gang members, carrying out her decidedly lethal attacks.
A very entertaining issue that some fans might find a little frustrating, as the book jumps back to detail events that played out before last issue's rather dramatic cliffhanger, and as such Matt's situation is left up in the air until next issue (hopefully). Still, I applaud this issue for taking the time to develop the villains of this arc, as Typhoid Mary is given a wonderful opportunity to impress upon newer readers that she is very dangerous, and her insanity is also on full display. However, the while Typhoid Mary's battle is very impressive, the true highlight of this issue is the Kingpin, as this issue has to rate as one of the best displays of the character's ability to control a potentially volatile situation, with very little seeming effort. I mean to tell the truth he does little more than talk, and yet one is left with very little doubt that the person in full control of this situation is the Kingpin. Brian Michael Bendis' writes one fantastic Kingpin, and one can't help but feel sorry for Daredevil, as he's no longer the most interesting character in his own book.
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