While I realize we have Avengers and X-Men battling it out, and that Swamp Things and Animal Men are raising Cain against the coming of The Rot, I’d like to take a few minutes out of your day to discuss a book that's out this week and is really, very surprising. Daredevil: End Of Days #1 is the kind of thing I wish comic book did on a more regular basis. There is nothing epic happening here, in fact this What If? plot of Daredevil dying is just a launching pad for a story that looks to get deeper and more interesting.
I did just say Daredevil was dead. Yep, killed by Bullseye on national television, and that’s just the beginning. Turns out Daredevil had been MIA for years after killing the Kingpin in a very public brawl. Wait, what? Daredevil kills? Daredevil dies? Just what in the hell is going on here? The story is told from the point of view of Ben Urich, now an aging writer of a soon to be closed Daily Bugle. In this reality, the Bugle is still owned by J. Jonah Jameson and the death of print has finally reached the paper’s hallowed halls.
For those who love film, the structure of Daredevil: End Of Days will really appeal to you. During his final battle, Daredevil said one word, “Mapone”. Nobody heard it; none of the news cameras caught it, only a Hell’s Kitchen housewife recording the battle on her cellphone. This tidbit of information falls into Urich’s hands and now he’s off to find out what the hell “Mapone” is. Don’t fret; Urich makes a joke about Citizen Kane in the story. Everybody is well aware of what writers Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack are borrowing from.
The story works because it’s focused more on Ben Urich, a tired and beaten version of his former self, trying to make sense of what’s happened and also trying to figure out when he lost his passion for what he does. This is an extremely personal comic that relies much more on a sense of connection to the characters than action. Don’t get me wrong – action abounds here between the gory battles involving Kingpin and Bullseye, but it isn’t the entirety of the story.
Urich continues to try to find out what “Mapone” means as he struggles with a way to tell the story. Revealing bits of how Matt Murdock’s life unfolded and how their estranged friendship still hurts him, Urich is the human core of the entire book. Bendis and Mack write him with such grace that you’re instantly involved with the famed reporter. You’re reading this more to hear his story than anything about Daredevil. Even the weird twist ending of this issue doesn’t detract from our connection to Urich.
The art is breathtaking, though to be honest I’m not sure whom to praise. Klaus Janson does the pencils, while the final art (whatever that means) and the paintings come from the genius mind of Bill Sienkiewicz. The two artists combine forces to make some of the most lush and complex pictures I’ve seen in comics for a long time. The movement is wonderful, and just below the surface of everything is that bizarre Sienkiewicz style of anatomy. Daredevil: End Of Days #1 is not only a great read; it’s gorgeous to look at.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)