"Decalogue, Part 1 of 5"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Alex Maleev, Dave Stewart (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As a group of Hell's Kitchen residents gather to discuss Daredevil's recent declaration that he's now in control of their neighbourhood, one young woman steps forward to offer up her pro-Daredevil opinion which we learn was influenced by an earlier encounter with the costumed crime-fighter. During the ensuing flashback, this young woman was on hand when Daredevil took out a hired gun that had been brought in to take him out, and after defeating the villain he took a moment to put her on the right path.
Comments: When I first heard about that this "Decalogue" arc would go back and detail the missing year where Daredevil was playing the role of Kingpin in Hell's Kitchen, I found myself wondering if there was any new ground to be covered, as Brian Michael Bendis had done a pretty effective job of bridging this gap. Still, I told myself that Brian Michael Bendis wouldn't go back to this period in Daredevil's history if there wasn't anything new to be explored, and as such I entered this issue with a hopeful optimism. However, after finishing the issue my initial fears returned as frankly this feels more like Brian Michael Bendis in wheel spinning mode. This issue spends most of its time having a group of Hell's Kitchen residents reacting to the idea that Daredevil has put his foot down when it comes to protecting their neighbourhood. What makes it more troublesome is that the debate about whether this is a good thing never really gets off the ground, as before the conversation can even get started the story shifts to a run-of-the-mill encounter of Daredevil playing the role of dashing hero, as he battles with one of his old enemies. What's more, this battle is quite disappointing, as it doesn't even bother to explain how the heck Daredevil was able to take down the Bullet simply using his fists? Now I realize that a well placed punch can take down the most massive thug, but frankly this battle was entirely a one-sided bout and it felt like Brian Michael Bendis couldn't even work up enough enthusiasm to give it a proper resolution. The way this issue ends also leaves me a little concerned that we're going to get four more issues of residents of Hell's Kitchen giving us their emotionally detached encounters with Daredevil during his missing year.
Alex Maleev has adjusted his work well to suit the material. The only other artist that I can think of that makes a habit of doing this is Tim Sale. Now, his work on this issue has a soft quality to it, as the characters look like they were taken directly from a photo, and the double page shot that provides a panel of all the people who have gathered for this meeting was a lovely looking sequence. I also loved the facial expressions of the young woman who acts as this issue's primary narrator, as every story development is perfectly reflected on her face. There's also the little details that help to sell the story, like the appearance of the young woman during the flashback scenes when it's compared to her appearance in the present day, as it's clear just by comparing the two that Daredevil saved her from the downhill slide. In fact my only problem with the art on this issue is that Daredevil's battle with the Bullet had a rather detached quality to it that didn't really convey any sense of excitement.
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