Filed under: Comic Reviews, Marvel Comics | Tags: Alex Maleev, Ben Urich, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Michael Bendis, Bullseye, David Mack, Frank Castle, Klaus Janson, Mapone, Matt Hollingsworth, Punisher, The Daily Bugle
The first two issues wowed me (#1 & #2) in this 8 part series and having passed the halfway mark I’m still engrossed in a story that seems to have harnessed a feel of familiarity and the unknown in equal measure with mystery abound surrounding the last words of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil has been the catalyst for an investigation by The Daily Bugle’s own Ben Urich.
It’s got the “Citizen Kane” vibe to it with the whole “Mapone” word being the last word spoken and the main clue in a mystery Urich is clamouring to solve. Across issue 3, 4 and 5 we get drawn deeper and deeper into the investigation and the Mack/Bendis combo of writing has us almost sitting on Urich’s shoulder as we walk the streets and ask the questions alongside him. A title VERY easy to get lost in as a result and one that makes you try to race ahead and help figure it out……that being said…..five issues in and I’ve got no real clues yet as to what it all means…..and that’s the hook.
What happens in these three issues though is that Ben’s investigation takes us into an older, more mature Marvel Universe where crime and crime-fighting have long since been out-grown to be replaced by families, real-life and incarceration in some cases. That’s the vein of realism that’s been injected into this story and I think that’s the standout aspect here – the trudge of an investigation, the frustration of most answers leading to more questions while the real centre of the investigation hangs over both Ben and me, the reader, like a challenge we’ve been set.
We drop into Elektra’s new-life with kids, we get the suicide of Bullseye and then a confrontation between Ben and Punisher as he rots in his cell but these are eased in with great skill by the writers here and the plot is gaining momentum as each issue passes. Characters are recognizable enough but there’s a clear intent to highlight their frailties that have become apparent with the passing of time….that is until the “Mapone” word is mentioned to the Punisher aka Frank Castle. Frank recognizes the word instantly and Ben knows it but as is usually the case with a character like Frank he doesn’t give away a thing.
We may not know what or who the word refers to but we are gradually being let in on the secret it may hold, the power it has and its significance in being the last word Daredevil speaks to Bullseye as he acts out his long-awaited revenge. Ben’s investigation takes him back into the lives of other allies/enemies of Matt with an attack in a hospital ending with Ben being thrown out an upper-floor window. Ending with one of the many glimpses of Daredevil that have been dotted throughout these first 5-issues – there’s just so many different aspects to this title that you’re going to be reading it again and again….like me.
As if a strong story development like this wasn’t good enough to keep you hooked there’s the artwork from Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz & Matt Hollingsworth which floods the pages with deep gritty art and some impressive 2-page spreads that capture the action and mystery in equal measure. There’s the added bonus of some Mack interiors as well as some amazing cover art work from Alex Maleev on mains and Mack again on variants.
Depth, mystery and strong, powerful characters alongside this kind of art is pretty much a no-brainer for this to be a must-read and it rests on top of my reading pile every month…..too good to save until last and I’m too involved to let my interest slip by any longer. Even better when you consider that Mack, Janson & Sienkiewicz are heading to London Super Comic Con next weekend…..and they’re on my must-see list for this title alone.
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