Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daredevil #500 Review

Apologies for the delay on this image and spoiler filled Daredevil #500 review. I had intended to have it up earlier this week, but lack of early scans for a proper image based review online and some other committments during the week pushed it back to today. Just how good was the conclusion to Ed Brubaker's run on Daredevil and what did I think of the new status quo altering ending that new writer, Andy Diggle, will have to follow up on? Read on to find out and, oh yes, spoilers this way be!

Written by Ed Brubaker, Andy Diggle & Ann Nocenti
Art by David Aja, Billy Tan & Michael Lark

Before getting into the whole review, I just wanted to let you know I've broken the review into three parts - one for each of the three parts (not counting the Daredevil #191 reprint) of the oversized anniversary issue. The reprint was a great choice and well worth reading if you haven't before.

There was also a cover gallery, which, for how small they are, I think of as a waste of space, but it was only a couple pages and I'm sure someone will enjoy it. Finally, there's an excellent pin-up gallery from a collection of the most well known creators to have worked on Daredevil. Even Brian Bendis took up a pencil and, with some excellent colouring applied, did a bang up job on his contrbution. My favourite was posted in the Moments of the Week yesterday, so you can check it out there if you'd like.

Part 1: Return of the King

Master Izo's origin revealed that, hundreds of years ago, he was one of the earliest members of the Hand and blinded himself in outrage over how corrupt the group had become and promptly left the group.

To preface the review, I dropped Ed Brubaker's Daredevil shortly after he basically fridged Matt's wife, Milla, carted her off to the insane asylum and, the final straw, had Matt cheat on her with Dakota with little to no remorse or backlash. I had been enjoying Brubaker's run, as uneven as it was, up until that point, but could not let that slide and promptly dropped the series.

However, as a Daredevil fan, I kept up to date on it through spoilers online and flipping through on the racks and have the basics of what has been going on with Kingpin, Daredevil, Lady Bullseye and the Hand's attempts to recruit Matt into the fold, so am not coming into this issue with no idea of what is going on.

Master Izo helps Daredevil finally find where Milla's parents were hiding her from him and says his goodbyes to his wife.

The issue opened up, surprisingly, with a flashback to the origins of the Hand and the enigmatic Master Izo. I loved what they did with Izo and how Brubaker has worked him into the Daredevil mythos, from his involvement with the early Hand and, later in the issue, to the origins the Chaste, the group to which Matt's former teacher, Stick, was the master of and polar opposite to the Hand.

Stick informs Izo that he is no longer the leader of the Chaste.

In fact, Izo was the master of the Chaste and we were also shown how Stick, with voting from the rest of the members, kicked Izo out of the Chaste and assumed leadership himself. I've always been a fan of the addition of Stick and the Chaste to Daredevil's origin and it's been a long time since I've seen them play a part in the title, so this was something I really approved of.

I'm also loving how Izo has seemlessly been placed into the thick of things, even being the one to first discover Matt in the hospital after his accident and informing Stick of the promising new pupil. There's also the great parallels of Izo between the first master of the Hand, Master Izo and Stick and how each turned to drinking and hanging out in bars in the real world.

Brainwashed Black Tarantula, White Tiger and some ninja pay a visit to Foggy Nelson.

Intersperced with those flashbacks to Master Izo's origin was the escalation of events that had been building over previous issues, mainly the Kingpin's betrayal of Daredevil in an attempt to gain control of the Hand and the systematic destruction of DD's life for refusing to lead the Hand, starting with the planned deaths of Foggy Nelson and the recently kidnapped Dakota North.

The entire first half of this issue played out like an action-suspense thriller and had a very cinematic quality to it with a lot of credit given to Lark's moody pencils.

Daredevil puts an end to the Owl's threat in one of the more brutal moments in his history.

This all led to Matt and Master Izo tracking down where they were keeping Dakota and laying a severe beating on the Owl and his goons. As I mentioned in the Moments of the Week, what Matt does to the Owl, as narrated above, is quite vicious and one of the more brutal beatings I've seen him, or any hero, put on a villain. I'm sure some pseudo science will fix Owl right up, but it was a chilling sight seeing Matt go off like this on one of his villains and helps sell the end to this issue all the more.

Flashback time! Black Tarantula was a plant in the Hand for Izo.

With Dakota saved, what became of Foggy? Turns out Izo had that well in hand and it's revealed that Black Tarantula was actually a plant for him in the Hand. Yes, Tarantula died, but his healing factor would cleanse the corruption of the Hand and allow him to be an inside man for Izo. Tarantula went on to save Foggy, kill all the ninja and free White Tiger of their corruption.

While the idea behind this works, I'm not a fan of the 'flashback revelation at the end' explanations for important plot points in any story, so this was the one point in the issue that really felt weak to me.

Wait? Having an army of ninja at his command is only now starting to sound appealing? I thought this was everyone's life long dream...

While Matt was busy saving everyone in his life, the Kingpin used that time to meet with the Hand's four leaders (well, three with Elektra gone due to Skrull nonsense) and make a claim to become their new leader. I liked the execution of this scene, but, after that single issue with Kingpin where he tried to settle down and was nearly killed by the Hand, I figured he was here for revenge. He's had a criminal empire before and could have easily reassumed control without using the Hand. Still, the change of heart still worked for me. Just felt like they were going in a different direction based on previous issues.

Izo explains to Matt he must not let Kingpin become leader of the Hand at any cost, even if he must assume leadership himself.

With everyone safe, Izo and Daredevil rush to the meeting between the Kingpin and the Hand. Izo explained that Matt must stop him from becoming leader at all costs, even Matt must assume leadership himself. This led to a rather rushed conclusion that saw Lady Bullseye, who had been quite formidable in earlier chapters, taken down in the span of a few panels and Kingpin's plans foiled as Matt just corners a Hand leader and accepts their offer to lead them.

Izo, ever the busy bee, has his hands in every pot, including the one that was manipulating Lady Bullseye all along.

The aftermath to Daredevil becoming the new leader of Hand saw him resign from his law office, leave a note to Foggy to put his stuff in storage, Kingpin sulking in his ivory tower with the ghost of his dead wife taunting him and, most noteworthy of the bunch, the revelation that Master Izo had been the one that put Lady Bullseye into play in the first place.

As I said above, I love the addition of Izo to the mythos and his character, even now, is a complete enigma to me. Is he a good guy? A bad guy? He didn't want the Hand to be evil, but rejected the Chaste's pure anti-thesis to the Hand direction as well. He worked to stop the Kingpin here, but is also working with Lady Bullseye, whom he manipulated to get this whole thing rolling in the first place. Just what are his goals here?

"Damn it feels good to be a gangsta..."

Finally, with Matt as the new leader of the Hand, Brubaker has left Andy Diggle with an even bigger cliffhanger to follow up than Bendis did for him and I'm thrilled with the story possibilities that come out of this. And Matt isn't completely alone with the Hand either. Both White Tiger and Black Tarantula will be joining him as plants that are supposedly still loyal to the Hand. I haven't been this excited for where a story is going probably since the last creator change on Daredevil.

Part 2: Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil Preview

Bullseye, I know you've lost to Daredevil more times than I have to Spider-Man, but I'm gonna let you try and kill him anyways.

Part 2 of this anniversary issue saw a preview for Diggle's first work with the character for the upcoming The List one-shot. I liked the Matt/Hand parts of this preview (not sure if this is an actual preview that will be in The List issue or new content acting as a prelude) and look forward to a Bullseye vs Daredevil match up hinted at here, but we get an amazing Bullseye vs DD fight in Part 3 of this issue and just had all kinds of Lady Bullseye action. There's also the whole Bullseye never wins aspect to it that kind of deludes the premise going in. Still, I liked what I saw here and am looking forward to Diggle's tenure on the book.

Part 3: 3 Jacks

Swing and a miss!

The final bit of new content from this issue was by Ann Nocenti and David Aja. Aja's art speaks for itself and was simply amazing. He still has an incredible knack for panel layout and composition. One scene I really enjoyed, and this could have been at Nocenti's request, was the use of heart rhythms below images of the girl in the story that showed when she was lying to Daredevil.

Nocenti's story was equally as impressive. It's set in the past and features the aftermath of a Daredevil/Bullseye fight in a rather surreal type of setting with a young girl and punch drunk fighter. I'm not sure if they are merely projections of Matt's pysche or actually there either. It's a great read and boils the character down to what makes him tick without being an outright recap or rehash of old content either.

Verdict - Must Read. Brubaker and Lark go out with a bang with what has been the best of these renumbered anniversary issues from Marvel. I loved the additions to the Daredevil mythos which add to without diminishing other writer's contributions over the years, as well as the new status quo that showed great care in keeping Matt's old life and loved ones safe and sound (most would just kill them off hamfistedly) while still putting Matt in a bold new direction that will be a lot of fun to follow. Top notch issue and highly recommended.

Related Posts


Radlum said...

I loved this issue too (certainly better than the other milestone issues that came out this year); the main story was handled quite well except for the rushed ending (the reveal of Black Tarantula as a mole for Master Izo wasn't bad since at the end of Lady Bullseye arc, Izo said that he had an inside man and it was hinted that it was Black Tarantula). The reprint of Miller's story was a great addition since DD playing russian roulette with Bullseye is one of my favorite comics of all times.
Nocenti's story was good too, but David Aja's art made it even better.
I hope that Diggle can keep up with Brubaker's work since he did a pretty good job after Bendis's excellent run with this character.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I got the feeling that the two characters in 3 Jacks stood for his parents, in a sense. The guy what what his father could have become and the girl was perhaps where his mother had started. Whether they are real or not is important, and I like that. It doesn't afect the story too much at all if they are real or just in DD's head, it's all about DD and his thoughts and how he's affected, so I thought Nocenti did a great job with that one. Aja's art was also spectacular!

As for the main, the ending seemed anti-climactic to me, we all saw it coming. A major change was coming and he'd already been offered the leadership of the Hand, seemed pretty obvious that he would then take it. I'm not saying I don't like it, but man it's painting a whole new corner for him to be in. I'll give it time to play out though. Hopefully it makes Tarantula more of a player in the series, even have Foggy trying to track Murdock down...there's room to move.

I will pick up The List, but I'm not sure I like Murdock killing now, it seems so out of character, especially when we are also shown that DD's gun has no bullets...hmm, seems like a contradiction of sorts.

But, overall, I liked the issue, I liked how long it took to read and I'll stick around. Here's to more awesome Horn Head stories!

Anonymous said...

Ann Nocenti! Where as she been all this time? She's really dropped off the radar. Her DD run is one of the great under-appreciated comic book runs of all time.

Christine said...

Actually, Daredevil has not been turned into a killer. If you go back and re-read the Dark Reign: The List story, it's very clear that the order to kill those men was given by someone else without Matt's involvement or approval. I doubt very strongly that Daredevil will ever be written as a killer, either directly or by giving someone an order to kill. The Hand will most likely continue to kill, but probably only because Matt will not be in complete control of all activity, as is clearly the case in the scene we were shown. Portray Matt as a murderer, and Daredevil probably loses a third of its readership, that's how strongly most people feel about it. It would be foolish for Marvel to go there.

Kirk Warren said...

I thought that was Lady Bullseye in disguise doing the killings, either to get back at Izo through destroying Matt or at his behest.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Ah, reread it, so when the Hand guy says it has already begin then this is what he's talking about. Interesting. I figured that it was a Hand ninja doing the work, but I blindly believed that Murdock already had full control of his ninja army. I guess he doesn't, and that could be very interesting for them to explore.

Christine, if you agree that DD should not be written as a murderer then do you think that explains why the DD movie kinda sucks so hard? MSJ should never have let DD leave Quesada on the train tracks, that was just the first mistake he made on that flick. So disappointing.

oakleyses said...

replica watches, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, jordan shoes, chanel handbags, nike air max, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet, nike outlet, christian louboutin shoes, christian louboutin, oakley sunglasses wholesale, burberry handbags, prada handbags, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin uk, coach purses, polo outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online, nike free, true religion outlet, tory burch outlet, coach outlet store online, christian louboutin outlet, tiffany and co, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet, prada outlet, coach outlet, michael kors outlet store, coach outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet online, tiffany jewelry, kate spade outlet, longchamp outlet, kate spade

oakleyses said...

sac hermes, converse pas cher, timberland pas cher, jordan pas cher, mulberry uk, michael kors outlet, true religion outlet, north face uk, new balance, nike air force, michael kors pas cher, sac longchamp pas cher, vans pas cher, north face, ray ban uk, louboutin pas cher, hollister uk, guess pas cher, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike air max uk, air max, true religion jeans, nike free uk, ray ban pas cher, nike air max uk, nike free run, true religion outlet, polo lacoste, hogan outlet, michael kors, nike blazer pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike air max, burberry pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, nike tn, oakley pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike roshe, ralph lauren uk, hollister pas cher, lululemon canada

oakleyses said...

chi flat iron, hollister clothing, north face outlet, ferragamo shoes, mont blanc pens, nike roshe run, jimmy choo outlet, mac cosmetics, nfl jerseys, asics running shoes, baseball bats, hermes belt, new balance shoes, wedding dresses, nike trainers uk, mcm handbags, beats by dre, valentino shoes, babyliss, p90x workout, lululemon, bottega veneta, oakley, hollister, herve leger, nike roshe run uk, insanity workout, vans outlet, ghd hair, soccer jerseys, north face outlet, giuseppe zanotti outlet, timberland boots, abercrombie and fitch, longchamp uk, soccer shoes, nike air max, iphone 6 cases, nike huaraches, reebok outlet, instyler, celine handbags

oakleyses said...

swarovski, coach outlet, ugg uk, vans, replica watches, uggs outlet, uggs outlet, hollister, links of london, pandora uk, ralph lauren, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, marc jacobs, ray ban, toms shoes, uggs on sale, supra shoes, pandora jewelry, lancel, wedding dresses, thomas sabo, converse outlet, louboutin, hollister, ugg pas cher, pandora charms, ugg boots, montre pas cher, swarovski crystal, ugg, juicy couture outlet, juicy couture outlet, karen millen uk, nike air max, converse, gucci, ugg boots

Post a Comment

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Crisis - Comic Book Review Blog. Comments are always appreciated. You can sign in and comment with any Google, Wordpress, Live Journal, AIM, OpenID or TypePad account.