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Daredevil #56

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
One year after he beat the Kingpin senseless, and declared himself the new Kingpin, we see Daredevil has made good on his word as he's managed to turn Hell's Kitchen into a crime free paradise. However, the criminals have simply gravitated to other sections of the city, and a small group of heroes look in on Matt to let him know his solution is harming the rest of the city. However, Matt is not prepared to listen, nor admit that his plan is flawed.

The Good:
First off it's simply great to get the regular creative team back, as David Mack's arc did little more than make me truly appreciate what this creative team had accomplished. It's great to get the focus back where it belongs, as Daredevil remains the most interesting aspect of this title, and while this issue doesn't do much beyond establish the new status quo, it does manage to make good use of Brian Michael Bendisís wonderful dialogue exchanges, as a small group of heroes gather together to let Matt know that they believe he's gone too far, and that they are no longer willing to support his activities. Of course being my favorite character of the bunch I found myself paying the most attention to Peter Parker's comments, and Brian Michael Bendis has a lot of fun with the character as he sticks to his pattern of trying to defuse a tense situation with humor, only to bear the brunt of one of Matt's verbal attacks, when he's decided he's heard enough from this group. Still. it was good to see Brian Michael Bendis was able to use Peter to show readers how far gone Matt is as if there was one relationship that I felt would survive this change it would be the Daredevil/Spider-Man pairing, as out of all the heroes that arrive for this meeting Spider-Man's the only one who has been targeted by the media from day one, though based on recent issue of the Fantastic Four, Reed's getting a pretty good taste of how the public can turn against you.

Alex Maleev is about as perfect an artist as one could hope for given the darker tone that Brain Michael Bendis has adopted on this title. I mean yes there are moments when one has to strain the eyes to see what's going on, but for the most part these poorly lit moments help lend a sense of mystery and intrigue to the scene. In fact, the double-page shot of Daredevil that is offered up while Ben Urich brings his listener and us readers up to speed is a wonderfully imposing shot of the character, and it makes it very easy to believe Daredevil was able to drive of the criminals out of Hell's Kitchen. Now I'm not quite sure I'm sold on the idea of the beard, as if nothing else it makes his disguise as Daredevil rather pointless, but than again since the public already considers it to be fact I guess it's not the end of the world. Getting back to the art, there's a great shot to end the issue, as one can't help get the sense that Matt's in deep when one gets a look at what he's up against. The cover to this issue is also an eye-opener, even if it doesn't really tie into anything we get inside the issue.

The Bad:
This issue isn't all that deep when it comes to its plot, as after setting up the new status quo, it turns most of its attention over to a meeting between Daredevil and a small group of heroes, where they debate the merits of Daredevil's activities. The issue than ends with Matt getting confronted by a group of killers. Now I found my interest was fully absorbed by this book's new status quo, and the conversation between Matt and the other heroes does a nice job of laying out both sides. However, when one steps back and considers what this new status quo is it's little more than a scaled down version of the plot that is running though the current issues of Thor, which in itself is a take off of the original Squadron Supreme maxiseries. Now the idea that Daredevil would make an active bid to drive all crime out of Hell's Kitchen is an idea that nicely fits the character, though I do have to openly wonder if he's truly thought this plan through, as he doesn't seem to fully understand what the heroes are telling him about the negative side-effects of his crime-free neighborhood. I guess what I'm trying to say here in my meandering, column filling way is that this issue doesn't really dig all the deep into the problem, as Matt is essentially turning a deaf ear to the concerns that are being expressed. Plus, as the final pages of this issue nicely demonstrate there are decided disadvantages to setting oneself up as the top dog, which in turn makes Matt out to be a little naive.

If You Can't Stand Getting Beaten To A Bloody Pulp, Get Out Of The Kitchen:
Daredevil has drawn the line in the sand so to speak, as he has effectively driven crime out of his neighborhood, through a series of ruthless beatings, and a huge infusion of money into Hell's Kitchen. Now this issue doesn't do much more than establish the new status quo and then offer up a meeting between Matt an a collection of heroes who have come to express their concerns, only to find Matt is not only unwilling to listen but he's fully prepared to burn these bridges if they press the issue. Now Brian Michael Bendis is a fantastic writer when it comes to dialogue exchanges like this so the meeting between Matt and the gathered heroes is easily the highlight of the issue, with Peter Parker's attempts at finding humor in this situation being particularly entertaining. However, the simple fact of the matter is that there's not much action to drive this issue forward, and while we get a pretty harrowing cliffhanger, the book doesn't really offer up much insight into these villains, beyond the visual clues that we receive that lead me to believe this group is an Asian triad that is looking to establish a foothold in the competition-free Hell's Kitchen.



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