Taylor and Liz weigh in on Daredevil: End of Days #1.
Bendis. I will always love Bendis, but this love is no longer blind to his ticks.
Two-page spread broken into lots of vox pop style boxes? Check.
A writer (in this case Ben Urich) trying to figure out how to write something? Check.
Bullseye and Kingpin front and centre despite their absence from the DD book for quite some time? Check.
Heavy preference for referencing Bendis storylines over anything else to ever happen in the Marvel Universe? Check.
But there are other questions to be asked. Does the book look good? Hell yeah, it’s a lovely return to the 00’s aesthetic of the DD books, despite ridiculous panels of people jotting in reporter-style notebooks in the pouring rain.
Is the story interesting? Sure, in that Matt clearly has some kind of internal rupture (didn’t Bendis do that before?) and then reveals something before his demise suggesting a hidden story to be uncovered. What drove Matt to the edge? Read the next 7 issues, Mighty Marvel fan, and find out!
Does this story feel right?
I can’t answer that. It’s so hard to look past Bendis the creator to the story he’s creating, that I can’t tell you whether it does feel right. This is the Bendis DD, not the Waid DD, and there’s no sign that the Waid DD ever existed. It’s hard, therefore, not to feel that you’re reading a comics hangover, the end-note to Bendis’s epic run that for whatever reason couldn’t get made back then, and so is being pushed out now, long after the context and timing have evaporated.
The biggest and most impressive catches are always the ones that got away. I’ll keep reading because I’m weak and morbidly curious, but can’t help thinking I’d rather have had dreamy, free-ranging conversations with fans for decades to come, where we wrote and rewrote the DD: End of Days story that could have been, than read a dated, repetitive epilogue to an increasingly one-note creator’s long-gone Marvel heyday.
End of Days is the denouement to Brian Michael Bendis’ dark, brilliant 55-issue Daredevil run, six years after the fact. It also marks Bendis’ return to crime fiction, which is worth celebrating all on it’s own, because Bendis writes some damn good crime fiction.
Given his current output of quippy superhero team-books, it’s easy to forget that Bendis’ early career was built writing grim-and-gritty detective stories. After a blazing rise through the ranks at Marvel, he’s written tonally lighter stuff like Avengers and Ultimate Spider-man for nearly the past ten years. But where he comes from, and where he really shines is when writing hard-boiled noir, often with a superhero twist- Powers, Alias, Sam and Twitch and, of course, Daredevil.
Bendis-era Daredevil is arguably the finest hour for both character and writer, and End of Days sucks you right back into it. In the bleak, rain-spattered landscape of a fictional Hell’s Kitchen, we’re back with the Matt Murdock that’s been battered and dragged through seven levels of hell and keeps on getting back up. It’s only fitting that his end would be a tragic one, and the kick-in-the-gut violence isn’t out of place either. With a narrative from confidante news reporter Ben Urich and another big death in the first issue, things look set to tie loose threads for the supporting cast; revisiting friends and taking his definitive rogues gallery out for one last dance, without pulling any punches.
As a collaborative effort with other renowned creative powerhouses (David Mack, Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz- basically the Traveling Wilburys of Daredevil alum), the quality of the book reflects it’s impressive roster on every level. The art is gloomy and inky and slightly trippy, and the storytelling as gripping as it is haunting.
Matt’s death is literally just the beginning of this story, and he leaves his old friend Urich with one last mystery to solve, and a final story to write. End of Days is nothing as straightforward as a eulogy, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s the kind of last chapter Matt’s story deserves: bloody, bleak, threaded with mystery and the barest flicker of hope. Not just a goodbye, but also the welcome return of a bygone era.