Sometimes solicits can be grossly inaccurate. They’ll give teases, a hint or two of what is to come or maybe just some goofball nonsense to entice you of what is to come. The unfortunate aspect of the solicit is that, a lot of the time, they’ll give information that throws you off; it’s not purposefully false, but it doesn’t do a good job of describing the interior of the issue a lot of the time. In superhero comics, this happens all too often.
But let it be known: when the solicit here says that this is by some of the greatest creators in Daredevil history, it’s not just hyperbole — it’s stone cold fact, and every inch of this comic is proof.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack
Illustrated by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz
– Revealed at last…how it ends for the Man without Fear!
– In the near future, investigative reporter Ben Urich has one last story to write — what was Matt Murdock’s the final secret?
– A story years in the making brought to you by some of the greatest creators in Daredevil history!
In the last few years, the “Daredevil” franchise has changed. In the wake of “Shadowland,” which was the epitome of the dark road Matt Murdock walked along, 2011 saw a complete retool of the title so that Daredevil was less grim throughout. Gone were the days of the grit, the noir focus, the Hell in Hell’s Kitchen; it was all replaced with a swashbuckling do-gooder who had a change of heart and decided he needed more optimism in his life. Granted, this was a critically acclaimed change, but for someone who grew up reading the darker days of “Daredevil” from Bendis’ run and Miller’s run, the transition was wildly off-putting. And, truth be told, it still is.
This, though? This is pure, classic “Daredevil,” my friends. This is the way it was, the way it should always be. This is a return to yesterday in a way that beats nostalgia away and breathes fire into the life of a corpse. This is Daredevil.
The plot of “End of Days” is very much reminiscent of the old “The End” line Marvel published in and around 2003. Telling the story of Matt Murdock’s final moments, the book begins at the end as Daredevil himself dies and we’re left with a grand mystery as to the hows and the whys of it all. Coming along with us for the tale is classic “Daredevil” character Ben Urich, the intrepid investigative journalist who figured out Matt’s secret life — but now the situation is a bit different; the ante is upped. And if the first issue is any indication, this is going to be one heck of a thriller comic.
Urich’s central narration is perhaps the first indication that this story is on the right path as it gives Mack and Bendis the perfect tool through which to connect with the reader. The role allows the reader to connect to the story in a more earnest way; given that it’s a tale of Murdock’s death and the events surrounding it, the reader gets the ability to sit in as a spectator of the Marvel Universe. You’re actually drawn into the book on the same level that the other citizens of Hell’s Kitchen are, and as Urich investigates this aspect only becomes more clear. It’s a dark world that’s being presented, but for fans of the “Daredevil” title you end up feeling right at home (and almost too cozy, in fact).
In fact, as odd as it is to say it’s nice to see everything go dark. Waid’s “Daredevil” certainly has it’s own characterized nature to it and a bevy of talented artists have turned out career-best work in the pages of that book, and yet seeing the streets of Hell’s Kitchen covered in rain-soaked streets with suspicious characters on every corner just feels right. While this book may be classified as an “alternate reality” (the recap of Daredevil’s history, for example, reveals a few noticeable changes), everything feels familiar. More importantly, due to the abundance of light, the dark ends up feeling refreshing. Lowering ourselves into the dirt with Urich has never felt so good.Continued below
Of course, this is a book that absolutely screams “Bendis!”, in the best of ways. The entire issue is very reminiscent to Bendis’ run on the title, with a few obvious callbacks, and the book finds a lot of old Bendis-isms in play that haven’t been used. One scene in which Urich interviews people on the street is straight out of an early issue of “Powers,” and the fast-paced dialogue and Mamet-esque exchanges are all of what made Bendis such a renowned name in Marvel comics in the first place. As much as this is the character of Daredevil returning to what made him work, this is Bendis playing in an old playground, and it’s great to see some of these ticks and storytelling tools in play.
The presence of Mack clearly has an effect as well. Bendis’ original run on “Daredevil” was very stylistic to a recognizable extent, especially in the juxtaposition of dialogue against scenery. However, with Mack as co-writer it never seems to overboard (in a manner of speaking). Those familiar with Bendis’ notable ear for dialogue will see that there are quite a few moments that read a bit smoother, a bit more streamlined; there’s less emphasis on people stuttering over words or back-tracking in sentences, but the characters become more concise — and this is especially apparent in Ben Urich’s article, which we read somewhat throughout the issue. The timing of lines, the pace at which they come, and even the moments where Urich doubts himself: this very clearly the collaboration of the two writers in sync, and they work incredibly well together.
The final dart in the Bullseye (pun intended) is the work of Sienkiewicz and Janson. Fans of Frank Miller’s run will certainly remember both artists and the famous scenes that they brought to life, from “Love and War” to Elektra’s initial death, a scene oft-imitated. All of what made that run so great and memorable is back: the energy, the moody atmosphere, the vibrant kinetic sense of motion, the vivid and emotional character work. This comic is a Miller-baby’s wet dream (pardon the visual), and the scene that features a back and forth of sorts between both Janson and Sienkiewicz’s signature styles is the clincher of that. If there was ever a case of “come for the story and stay for the art,” this would be it.
“End of Days” #1 is a love letter to Matt Murdock. It’s a bit early to say as this is only the first issue, but when all is said and done this has the potential to be a new Daredevil classic, perhaps on par with “Born Again.” If getting something this good means waiting five years, then it’s probably safe to say all comics need a five-year gestation period before coming about. Rest assured, though, that if you want a comic book with creators firing on all cylinders, this book is for you. “End of Days” has a lot of love thrown into it and it shows quite vividly, and as staggeringly different as it is to what the “Daredevil” title is like now, it still manages to fit into the ever-expanding world of Marvel comic like hand in glove. It hasn’t been too long within the new direction, but it’s nice to see that Daredevil is able to return to his roots so seamlessly when put in the hands of the right creators.
In fact, comparatively, the “Daredevil” ongoing that currently exists could be compared to some off-brand generic cola. What Bendis, Mack, Janson and Sienkiewicz are making is Classic Coke. And do you really want to live in a world without Coca-Cola?
Final Verdict: 9.5 – AND THAT COVER BY MALEEV! Man!