Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Daredevil #116-500: Return of the King

This story was entertaining enough, but I never really felt a sense of momentum or danger in Ed Brubaker's final story. Master Izo seemed to have things so well in hand and DD was always so competent, that most of the danger in this arc has been my concern about what would happen to Black Tarantula and White Tiger. They made great goons for the Hand, but I really do dig the way Master Izo set up Tarantula to come in to play later. It was well set up by Brubaker, it was clear there was something going on, but we didn't know exactly what until issue 500.
Lady Bullseye is an interesting new addition to DD's rogues, since she doesn't really bring anything new to the table. Elektra is probably a better fighter and we see in issue 500 that being at Bullseye's level of hand-to-hand combat isn't enough to seriously threaten DD (that was a great moment, by the way). I'd say the neatest thing about Lady B is that since she's a lawyer by day, she can challenge Matt Murdock just as effectively as she does DD.

Brubaker ends the arc with some interesting choices. Kingpin is back in his normal role as crime boss of New York. Lady B is off the scene. Milla is written out since she's off with her parents. All status quo stuff. But DD himself? That's where Brubaker throws the curveball. I love that it seems to be a new habit for the outgoing DD writer to leave the new guy in a tight spot. With Andy Diggle coming on, he's got to deal with DD being the new leader of the Hand. That's an evil organization, but DD is going to try to steer them towards good, with Tarantula and White Tiger "watching his back." That's a fantastic status quo, and it could lead to some neat interaction in upcoming stories. I'd love to see DD interact with the Agents of Atlas, since both now lead evil groups.

Overall, this was an interesting arc, but not one that I was on the edge of my seat to read. Perhaps it will hold up better when read in one sitting. It was well crafted, but it didn't have the frantic excitement of DD's time in prison or travels in Europe. I wasn't as emotionally invested since Milla was never really in danger, and the main players all kind of deserve the situation they find themselves in.

Michael Lark's art is wonderful. No one does gritty street action better; he's the perfect artist for this title. His "turned" Tarantula and Tiger looked fantastic; I even thought their body language seemed different while they were turned. His action scenes looked great too, with DD and Izo flying about kicking butt. In fact, the mood and storytelling with his pencils are good enough to elevate my grade to good, since I do want to re-read the entire arc to savor those pencils again.


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