“But although I would check in on the book periodically over the years, it never really seemed to grab me, or to be telling stories worth my time.”
Probably the sentence that got me more e-mails and notes than any other I’ve written on this blog. It seems that I didn’t give enough attention to some of the Daredevil writers that contributed to the book between Frank Miller’s run and Brian Bendis’ run. A few people specifically mentioned J.G. Chichester’s run as one worth reading. I do own a few issues from it, but I’ve never given it much attention before, and based on your comments, I’ve started to reread it. I’m about 8 issues in, and quite frankly, I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve neglected it recently. His Last Rites story about the fall of the Kingpin is emotionally powerful, to the extent that I’m not sure the character ever fully recovered from it. I’m going to make it a top priority to collect the rest of his run soon, and I’ll report back when I do.
Daredevil – The Ed Brubaker Years (The Devil, Inside & Out Vol. 1 &2, Hell To Pay Vol. 1 & 2. Cruel & Unusual, Lady Bullseye, Return Of The King)
Any comic fan with a love of superhero comics has been there: You love a comic. The character kicks ass, the writer and the artist are firing on all cylinders, and things are awesome. And then it ends. And you have a choice: You follow the writer or artist to wherever they go next, or you continue to read the book blindly, hoping beyond hope that things will get better, even though you know they never will. In the comic book world, creative teams get pulled off of books all the time. It’s the big publisher’s hope that you won’t really care about that; that you’ll follow the adventures of the Amazing/Incredible/Spectacular Super/Spider/Bat Man/Woman/Mite/Person no matter which hapless half-wit they hire to write the scripts. I’ve long since resigned myself to such publishing silliness, and it’s one of the reason why I rarely dabble in superhero comics anymore.
And so when it was announced that Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev were leaving Daredevil, I immediately cancelled the title from my pull list. I’ve long lost any attachment to any of these silly costumed buffoons, and only follow the books whose creative teams I respect and enjoy. Great comics are great comics, regardless of the character, and continuing to read a character’s exploits long after they stopped being interesting in a futile hope that you’ll be able to recapture your youth makes no sense to me. And although I was very familiar with both Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s work, I didn’t expect anybody to come close to matching what Bendis and Maleev had done on the book.
First of all, the pass over between Bendis and Brubaker might be the best I’ve ever seen. While Bendis ended his run in the most devastating, logical way possible, Brubaker picks up the reigns seamlessly, and for a few issues it’s hard to figure out where Bendis’ run ends and Brubaker’s run starts. That’s not to say it’s derivative at all, and it’s not long before Brubaker starts to add his own take to the Daredevil mythos.
His first arc is packed full of tension. It starts with Matt Murdock at Ryker’s Island, and it seems as if things can’t get worse. And then the Kingpin shows up. And then the Punisher. Not to mention that although Murdock is in prison, there’s another Daredevil running around Hell’s Kitchen. And then things start to get worse. And worse. And worse. In fact, The Devil, Inside & Out is not only a worthy successor to the neo-noir work of Bendis, it’s pretty much a companion to it.
Unfortunately, it’s the best arc of Brubaker’s run. That’s not to say that the rest of his run was bad. It wasn’t, by a long shot. But he never recaptured the pure visceral intensity of that first story. He still added a lot of interesting concepts to the mythos: Lady Bullseye, the reintroduction of Mr. Fear, and one of the better Kingpin stories in recent memory. But the sum is never as good as it’s parts, and while Brubaker’s run touches greatness, it never fully embraces it like Bendis’ did. It’s completely worth your time and money, and if it hadn’t come right after what most people consider to be one of the best Daredevil runs of all time, I’d probably rate it higher.
Daredevil – The Devil’s Hand
Marvel had been extremely lucky with their Daredevil creative teams, and the question was whether or not lightning could strike thrice. The answer was absolutely not. I’ve been hearing for several years that Andy Diggle is a great writer, and I hope that one day I find that to be true. But so far, the only thing he’s managed to accomplish is to get me to do something I never thought I would do again: Stop reading Daredevil.
He essentially flushed down 8 years of stories by Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker, and traded them for a half-assed ninja story full of cliches that would have been out of place in the early ’80’s. Is it awful? Nope. But when you’re accustomed to greatness, mediocrity just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s just been announced that Mark Waid will be taking over the adventures of Daredevil next, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mark Waid can do with this book.
Next up: Alternate reality mutant mayhem!