Daredevil #76


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Daredevil #76


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Alex Maleev
  • Inks: Alex Maleev
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The Murdock Papers Part 1
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 24, 2005

Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev begin their final arc on an epic and award-winning three year run covering The Man Without Fear.

Over the past three years, Matt Murdock has been put through a ringer; he’s been outed as Daredevil in the tabloids, he’s been married and divorced and he’s established himself at the top of the totem pole as the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. And that is barely scratching the surface. Now, the predicament that is most central to his being, his "secret" identity, is coming clearly back into focus.

As Daredevil enjoys the greatest level of popularity he’s ever had, the original Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, sits in Leavenworth Penitentiary. The delays in the federal case against him have clued him into the fact that there is no evidence, but he still wants to strengthen his case even further by bringing the life of a certain crimson vigilante and his alter ego back into the public eye. Big whoop…except the tool Fisk is using to wield this spotlight is Murdock’s trusted friend, Ben Urich.

Bendis’ run hasn’t focused on the spandexed title hero so much as the struggles of his blind alter ego. Some readers have had a problem with this, but this approach has injected a lot of humanity and, more importantly, logic into the story. We’ve gotten to see Matt Murdock at his most vulnerable throughout the run, which makes sense considering the man has somehow maintained a fair amount of secrecy from the public for years without the use of an important sense. It seems Bendis realizes the difficulties this would bring about even when the character’s other senses are superhuman (so follows the idiom: "You have to see it to believe it."). Another thing that Bendis has nailed is Wilson Fisk. He isn’t so much the imposing physical presence as he is highly intelligent and calculating. He knows how to work the system to get what is essential for his personal survival. This makes the character so much more interesting than when he’s been portrayed as the equivalent of the bully at the playground shaking down the weaker kids for their milk money.

Alex Maleev is also leaving after this story arc. His artwork has grown on me over the course of this run. Though his action scenes still lack some zest, he made this book the epitome of what a pulp/crime book should look like with his gritty take on the human underbelly of vigilantism. Like Bendis, I also like that he has taken liberty to bring Fisk back down to human size. While still imposing, Fisk now looks more like a large human being rather than a Caucasian cousin of the Hulk with a binge-eating disorder.

Ed Brubaker has already stated that when he and Michael Lark take over in a few months, he will be dealing with repercussions from the Bendis/Maleev era. It’s good to know that these things aren’t going to be swept under the rug anytime soon. And honestly, by the looks of the cliffhanger here, I’m pretty sure it’s unavoidable.

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