Following the mediocre Shadowland event, the Daredevil character was ready for reinventing. Two vastly different miniseries were written within a few short years of the event to provide very different codas to this chapter of Daredevil. As I had previously written here, the Shadowland event was not a great success, and did some damage to the integrity and principles of Matt Murdock’s character. In order for either, or both of these “endings” to work, they had to attempt to reestablish Daredevil as a wholly good person, flawed perhaps, but good and not the selfish monster of Shadowland.
Daredevil: Reborn: First, the in-continuity, glorified reboot for the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, written by Andy Diggle and art by Davide Gianfelice. Diggle was the very same creator who led Matt Murdock through the wringer with his cap of the Daredevil, Vol 2 run in 2011 and the Shadowland event. So this Reborn arc set out to examine the fallout of Matt’s self-destruction, and, I think, to remind audiences that he was still a hero. The whole premise was pretty hokey though: rather than face the consequences of his actions, Matt flees to the Southwest, while his friends are left to clean up the mess he left. His retirement from the hero biz is short-lived and not particularly believable, since the first inclination of something being wrong in this run down Southwestern town drives Daredevil to suit up and take down the crooked cops and drug runners ruining the town. Even his “unlikely ally,” the blind kid with an abusive father figure, didn’t feel very inspired.
The art was ok, but nothing special, and the whole concept felt more like a means to an end, rather than a cohesive story arc. Overall, this four-issue miniseries is definitely skip-able. It’s a below-average look at the complex character and just feels like a letdown after the strong work Bendis and Brubaker had put in only a few years earlier. Just head right into Waid’s relaunch (I’ve heard it is good, but have not yet had a chance to read it).
Rating: 3 of 10
Daredevil: End of Days: In contrast, the End of Days arc is Bendis’ homage to the character of Matt Murdock. Rather than accepting some of the bizarre creative decisions that followed his run, Bendis chose to ignore them. That’s right, he just kind of retcon-ed them out of his continuity. Instead, Bendis wanted to right an arc that would act as a eulogy to Daredevil and provide closure for some of the more serious emotional developments of his own, Eisner Award-winning running (reviewed here!). This series also featured a number of classic Daredevil creators who came together to collaborate on this classic tale of Daredevil’s final days. With art from David Mack, Klaus Janson, and Michael Lark, covers by Alex Maleev, and writing credits for Ann Nocenti, Bendis, and others, it truly felt like a group effort. That made this miniseries a truly collaborative sendoff for such an iconic character, and one that capped decades-worth of material. Though the plot elements drew mostly from Bendis’ own run, there were certainly references to crucial developments during Nocenti’s and Miller’s runs as well.
I don’t think this counts as a spoiler, since it happens in the first issue and the title largely gives it away, but this whole story is about the fallout from Daredevil’s eventual death at the hands of Bullseye. The death scene is brutal and sudden, which makes it rather shocking and gives the whole event a more realistic and less romanticized version of Daredevil’s death than I would have expected. Bendis’ writing throughout the arc is phenomenal, as is his ability to integrate all of the key supporting cast from across Daredevil’s history into important roles in the story. Told through the eyes of Ben Urich, the quest to find a fitting eulogy for his friend felt like a good blend of personal and documentarian qualities. The art, though varied, really did fit the mood, and the composition of each book seemed very well-measured. The stylistic changes were considered much more thoughtfully than the average comic is, and made for a very well-composed story.
My sole complaint regards the ending, which is also a bit of a *SPOILER*. The revelation of who Daredevil’s successor was seemed ok, even if he was clearly unequipped to fully fill Matt’s mantle (no innate superhuman abilities or sensory perception). But I really didn’t think it made sense for his daughter to be this new embodiment of Stick. Was it really meant to be Stick’s spirit reincarnated? Was it a metaphor? Why would she have been waiting around for Timmy? It didn’t really make any sense to me. But that was just the final 10 pages, so hardly enough to spoil a tremendous effort.
Overall, this End of Days series was a great and fitting conclusion to the Daredevil mythos. While definitely a “What If?” or “out of continuity” story, the tone and plot progressions seemed to truly follow how each character might have been expected to behave. Bendis’ run on Daredevil is probably a prerequisite in order to properly enjoy this miniseries, as it was designed more for fans of the character than to simply appeal to general comic readers. But either way, it is a great read and a very well-executed miniseries. Definitely recommended.
Rating: 8 of 10