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Daredevil #113

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2008
By: David Wallace

Ed Brubaker
Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Matt Hollingsworth (colours)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Daredevil #113 arrives in stores tomorrow, November 26.

"Lady Bullseye: Part Three"

Daredevil #113 sees the "Lady Bullseye" arc plough onwards with its third chapter, adding further intrigue to its core plot at the same time as it builds up some interesting secondary plot strands. The sinister machinations of the Hand give the story a compelling backbone, as the power vacuum created by the Skrull-Elektra revelation is filled by an individual with motives that remain unclear. However, the most interesting sections of the issue deal with the book's secondary players, as Brubaker moves yet more pieces into position as he begins to set up a multi-faceted finale for the arc.

The storyline is already racking up a high number of supporting characters, with this issue featuring another appearance from guest-stars Iron Fist and Black Tarantula, several scenes involving the arc's titular villainess, and a further appearance from Brubaker's new character, Master Izo. Izo is an interesting addition to the book's cast - a wise and aged warrior in the Yoda mould who bears a strong resemblance to Matt's old sensei Stick from the Frank Miller era, both in design and in temperament (so much so that I'm surprised that Brubaker hasn't had Matt comment on the resemblance). He's given more than one moment to shine as a character here, and I'm already finding myself hoping that he has a life beyond this single story arc. Fans of Matt's wife Milla will also be happy to see that the book isn't ignoring her completely, as Matt makes another difficult trip to see her this issue - made all the more uncomfortable by the fact that Dakota is driving him there, and the two still haven't addressed the lingering matter of their romantic tryst a couple of issues ago.

Some writers would let this slew of secondary characters overwhelm the book's focus on its core hero, but Brubaker doesn't seem intimidated by his large cast, juggling them capably and making sure to give Matt himself enough attention that he doesn't feel neglected in his own book. The presence of each character - including the guest-stars - feels organic and logical, and none of them detracts from the fact that this is a story about Daredevil first and foremost. Brubaker also manages to make things reasonably accessible for new readers, including several brief passages of efficient exposition that don't draw attention to themselves, but accomplish an important function. These occasional lines, subtly employed, clue newcomers in to the nature and background of the supporting characters, but don't ever feel like clunky expository passages - and won't feel like a chore to read for those more established readers who are already aware of who all the main players in the story are.

The end of the issue sees Brubaker re-introduce yet another supporting character to the story. If memory serves, this character was last seen during Bendis' run, and their return to the book helps to reinforce the cohesiveness of the transition between Bendis and his successor. I won't spoil the character's identity here, but I'll be interested to see what sort of plans Brubaker has for them in future - especially given the implications of this issue's cliffhanger.

The art team of Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano and Matt Hollingsworth again acquit themselves well, playing an important role in defining the tone of the book and providing a couple of neat action sequences that add some visual excitement to an otherwise fairly static issue. The main setpiece involves Daredevil, Lady Bullseye and five Hand ninjas doing battle on a rain-drenched rooftop, and Gaudiano and Lark choreograph the scene clearly, switching between closeups and longer shots to maintain variety and controlling the pacing of the fight with skill. The rest of the issue is very much business as usual for the art team - but if you're a regular reader of the book, you'll know that that's no bad thing. It's no exaggeration to say that Lark and Gaudiano's take on the world of Daredevil is becoming just as defining as that of Alex Maleev before them, and that's quite a compliment.

If you're a fan of street-level superhero comics that are rooted in the real world, with fully-realised characters and well thought-out plots, you really should be reading Daredevil. "Lady Bullseye" is shaping up to be a real crowd-pleaser, weaving classic superhero elements into a story that also benefits from Brubaker's knack for establishing mood and atmosphere, and setting it all against a satisfying noir backdrop. If and when DC Comics needs to re-invigorate their Batman franchise again, I'd love to see this team be given the reins for an extended period. However, that would mean them leaving Daredevil, and I think I'd rather see them continue to mine this satisfying and rich seam of stories for the time being.







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