Friday, 14 May 2010

Not-Quite-Retro Review: Daredevil - Golden Age

Daredevil (volume 2) #66-70 by Bendis / Maleev

I turn to the not yet distant past for my latest review, and one of the darker, more obscure corners of Brian Michael Bendis' critically acclaimed run on Daredevil.
Golden Age is an intriguingly paced look back at the man who was Kingpin before Wilson Fisk and what happens on his release from prison after decades behind bars.
The first thing I noticed about Golden Age was the art. Alex Maleev's work is beautiful, realistic and richly coloured by Dave Stewart. Maleev's work manages to be moody without being overly dark or grimy, a mistake made by many of his contemparies. He also switches effectively between the differing time periods, altering his artwork without it being jarring and creating a strong, consistent tone.
Thankfully Bendis is able to craft a story to match the sublime artwork. His dialogue is, as usual, smart and witty throughout, managing to fit the earlier time periods without being too cheesy. His characterisation is spot on as well. Matt Murdoch is a grim, isolated protagonist, obviously affected by the traumatic events of his recent past (recapped well for those who haven't read the stories) while Bendis effectively builds up a new villain in Alexander Bont over the course of the five issue arc. Bont's anger and bitterness are conveyed superbly well through Bendis' writing and Maleev's cinematic pencils as the reader is treated to a widescreen look at his rise, fall and return.
It could be argued that Bendis' epic falls down slightly in its final act and although I agree that it was a slight anticlimax, it was definitely in keeping with the tone of the rest of the story. One area that the story does dissapoint in is the gratuitious appearances of one of Bendis' slightly less successful 'pet' characters, in this case an ill-fated reworking of obscure 1970's superhero The White Tiger. The character is interesting enough in her civillian guise in the opening chapters but only serves to get in the way of the central plot after her flirting with heroism begins.
Nevertheless, despite having read very little of Bendis' run before this story I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. This generation spanning epic is the perfect fit for Bendis and Maleev's cinematic style.


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