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Daredevil #57

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
With one hundred Japanese thugs gunning for him we see Matt wades right into the battle, and his attackers quickly discover their considerable numbers are working against them, as Matt doesn't stay in one place long enough for them to overwhelm him. As the battle rages we see Matt is a one man fighting machine, and before the police arrive to break up the party he's taken down at least a couple dozen of his attackers. We then jump to the next day where we see Matt has vanished, and Ben Urich is called upon to find him.

The Good:
This issue does ask and answer the biggest question of the recent arc that has Daredevil essentially lay claim to Hell's Kitchen, and that is why the heck haven't any villains made a move against him? I mean his secret identity is all but public knowledge so he doesn't really have anywhere to hid if someone was to come gunning for him. Now I'm a bit of an old school when it comes to comic book slugfests, so I was a bit disappointed that the first big attack wasn't by a member of Daredevil's rogues gallery, but than again I can understand why Brian Michael Bendis would think a battle against one hundred killers would be more impressive than yet another trouncing of Stilt Man. This issue also manage to deliver a truly unexpected shocker on the final page, as we learn something important has occurred in Matt's life during the year that we've been away from the character, and I have to say while it's a natural development of a relationship, I was completely blown away by this revelation. The issue also manages to open with a solid explanation for why costumed super-villains tend to pull jobs that are sure to draw the attention of their hated rivals, such as the daylight bank job, or the meaningless rampage through the middle of Times Square, and this opening exchange manages to act as a solid introduction to the threat that Matt is facing in this issue, as well as deliver a great opening line to start the battle off.

There are moments when the art is a little too dark, and I found myself straining to figure out what was going on in some of the panels. However, I must say that this extra effort did help with the sense of chaos that comes with the idea that Matt was fighting one hundred killers. The opening shot of Matt leaping into battle is a fantastic visual, and the sequence where the attackers unload the hail of gunfire in Matt's direction was also a fairly intense bit of art. I also loved the shot where the tear gas is introduced as it adds an alien element to what had been a fairly intense bit of marital arts action. The framing sequence dealing with Ben Urich and his mysterious listener is also worth a mention as it has a nice washed out quality to it that nicely reflects the idea that Ben Urich is a character who is supposed to look like he's accustomed to dealing with the dredges of society. I mean he looks well worn, and has probably seen more than he should. A great looking cover as well, though I would like to know what the Japanese text on the cover says.

The Bad:
The problem with pitting Matt against one hundred attackers is that while it makes for an impressive showing of our hero's abilities, simple logic states that Matt can never be allowed anything but a perfect display of his fighting abilities, as once the book has him stumble and fall under the wave of attackers than essentially the fight is over, as Matt's only hope of victory stems from his rapidly moving from one attacker to the next, and never staying too long with a single opponent for fear of being converged upon. This in turn results in an entire battle which consists of a series of one panel encounters where Matt is pounding on one or two attackers before moving on to the next encounter. It also doesn't hurt that his attackers are the equivalent of the generic thug, with the only element that sets them apart from the thugs that heroes are continually interrupting in mid-mugging is the insistence that these thugs are part of a group called the Yakuza, who are apparently the Japanese underworld. Now this doesn't really make them more interesting as they certainly look to be sporting the same glass jaws that one finds in the run-of-the-mill goofs who are forever getting themselves webbed up in the alleys of the Marvel Universe. In the end the battle isn't as much fun as it might've been largely because in spite of being outnumbered a hundred to one, the battle never really delivers any moments where I found myself concerned that these villains would be able to take down our hero.

You Think I Look Bad, You Should See The Other Hundred Guys:
When you really think about it sending one hundred guys to deal with a single individual is a bit excessive, and while I guess one could be hoping that sheer numbers would eventually wear him down, as this issue proves it's difficult to wage a battle of this scale in the middle of a city without drawing in the police. One also has to think the sheer number of opponents would work to Matt's advantage, as he can leap about delivering his attacks without having to give a second thought to whether he was hitting the right person, while you would have ninety-nine other guys getting in the way of your attacks. Still, the idea of Matt doing battle with one hundred killers is a very cool idea and this issue manages to execute it about as well as one could have hoped, as there's a nice range of attacks, with a fun little Jackie Chan sequence when Matt makes use of a car's radio antenna and then its side mirror as weapons in the battle. The big surprise of the final page also worked exceptionally well as we see Matt's personal life has taken an unexpected step during our year away from the character.



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