Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
After seeing the Yakuza make a bold play to sell the idea that they are not about to run back to the West coast with their tail between their legs, we look in on Ben Urich who has located Matt, and is busy confronting the injured hero about the idea that Karen Page's death is the thing that is driving Matt's reckless behavior that has alienated him from all his friends, and allies. Armed with this new insight we see Matt sets out to rebuild the relationships that his behavior endangered, and the issue ends with the return of Daredevil and friends.
This issue gets Daredevil out of his funk as he comes to realize his recent behavior wasn't all that productive, and he sets out to repair the bridges he burned, which results in a wonderful final page moment where we see that Daredevil has called upon a few friends to help him deal with the Yakuza. The issue also manages to make use of Ben Urich as his quick and decisive recognition of what event has sent Matt around the bend is a solid display of his investigative reporter instincts, as his dogged repetition of the idea after Matt makes it clear that he rejects Ben's theory. There's also a great little encounter scene between Matt and Luke Cage, a character who I'm starting to become rather fond of thanks to my recent discovery of a sizeable number of "hero for Hire/Power Man/Power Man and Iron Fist" issues in the four for a dollar back issue bins. Plus it's always nice to see Jessica Jones again as I loved her reaction to Matt's arrival, and her Jessica Jones moment when Matt admits to being Daredevil. I also enjoyed the rooftop conversation between Daredevil and Luke, as I like the idea that Luke wasn't rubbing Matt's nose in the fact that he was right, but rather it was simply enough the Matt admit that he was wrong, and all was forgiven, with no melodramatics (though the newly nostalgic fan in me would've enjoyed a "Sweet Christmas"). I also have to say Foggy has really come into his own under Brian Michael Bendis' run, as he plays the voice of reason in Matt's world , and does a darn good job of it. Plus the costume color exchange was genuinely funny.
The cover to this issue is a wonderfully moody piece of art, and while I'm not sure how well it reflects the story inside, it is a powerful image. As for the interior art, I have to say I love the dark, photo-realistic style that Alex Maleev employs as there is something rather endearing about the idea that there are moments where one has to strain to make out what's happening on the page, as it adds an extra sense of realism to the nighttime scenes. The art also does some powerful action scenes, as the explosive scene that gets the issue going is perfectly done, with that shot of the exploding car doing a pretty convincing job of selling the idea that this character won't be surviving this attack. There's also a lovely one page spread where we see Matt wakes up in a strange apartment, as I love the way the sunlight reflects into the room. However, the highlight image of the entire issue would have be the final page shot daredevil and his various costumed allies. Plus I love the little extra visual touch that has Luke Cage rubbing his shoulder which makes it clear he was the one who knocked down that wall.
I'm not one of the readers who was overly attached to the character of Karen Page, as of all the women that have entered Daredevil's life she's a bit of a plain Jane. Now I realize that she has a colorful past, and that she's the one who leaked Daredevil's secret identity into the criminal underground, but frankly there was never anything about her that really stood out, outside of that one story. I mean Matt's history of being drawn to women who aren't entirely mentally stable, who are often times are looking to kill him has spoiled me, as Karen less destructive behavior in the years before her death made her a less interesting aspect in Matt's life. However, the final comments that are made by Foggy in this issue would seem to suggest that next issue we can expect Brian Michael Bendis to spend some time making it clear why her death would drive Matt over the edge, and I find I'm having difficulty getting to excited about this prospect. Still, perhaps Brian Michael Bendis will open my eyes to the idea that Karen Page can be an interesting element in Matt's world when she's not destroying it. Still in my mind Karen Page will always be standing in the shadows of Elektra, Black Widow, and even Typhoid Mary when it comes to engaging romantic counterparts in Matt's life. I also have to issue a complaint that this issue looks to have killed off a character that I had really started to warm to, and while the scene sets up another character to take over the role the late character played, I have to say I was disappointed to see such a promising addition to Daredevil's cast has been knocked off.
The Man Without Fashion-Sense:
The opening pages of this issue offer up a truly shocking scene that I'm of two minds about, as on one hand it does send a message that we really shouldn't get too comfortable as anything can happen, but on the other hand I was disappointed to see this aspect of the book's supporting players has been effectively removed from the picture. This powerful opening sequence is than followed by an equally memorable exchange between Ben Urich and Matt, as Ben manages to key to the thing that has driven Matt into such a sorry state, and he continues to push this button until Matt is willing to see the truth that he's been hiding from. the issue also offers up an engaging meeting between Matt and Luke Cage, as the two manage to put their differences behind them, and along the way we also get a welcome cameo by Jessica Jones, who plays the role of the girlfriend to near perfection, with the opening exchange between her and Luke about the CDs being a perfect we've all been there moment. However the highlight of this issue is one again any scene that involves Foggy, as Brian Michael Bendis has made the character into a vital cog in the Daredevil machine, as he brings Matt back down to earth with his every man reactions to the situations that Matt encounters.
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