Greg Hunter

Comic Preview: Daredevil #500

In Comics on August 19, 2009 at 12:07 AM

DD500

The 500th issue of Marvel Comics’ Daredevil arrives tomorrow, which is also the culmination of writer Ed Brubaker’s tenure on the series. Before passing Daredevil along to rising star Andy Diggle, Brubaker will complete the book’s current “Return of the King” story arc. So far, “Return of the King” has seen the character form a tenuous alliance with his recently-returned arch-enemy, crime boss Wilson Fisk, against ninja clan The Hand*–an alliance that Fisk violated, well, immediately. Diggle has hinted that Brubaker’s last issue is a game-changer, an issue that will alter the Daredevil title’s perpetually-unstable status quo. It could also go a long way in determining where Brubaker will rank among previous DD writers.

If there’s a knock against Brubaker’s run, it’s that he’s essentially retelling archetypal Daredevil stories. Issues preceeding “Return of the King” had Matt Murdock’s life systematically dismantled by an unforseen enemy, and Murdock lose a loved one because of the life he has chosen (events that also took place in Frank Miller’s Born Again and Kevin Smith’s Guardian Devil, two of the better-known Daredevil story arcs in the title’s history). “Return of the King” itself features Murdock and Fisk asking themselves if they’ll ever escape the violence in their lives and how long they’ll keep fighting one another–which seems to happen nearly every time Fisk makes an appearance. (The answers, as always, are no, and till one dies). The arguable highlight of Brubaker’s Daredevil issues positioned Murdock in prison alongside the many thugs he put there, but this was picked up from a cliffhanger that previous writer Brian Michael Bendis left.

Brubaker elevated Marvel’s Captain America to unforseen levels of popularity and acclaim by telling stories no one had either the inspiration, audacity, or editorial approval to tell. For as long as Brubaker’s been writing Captain America, it has overshadowed Daredevil, and rightfully so: his work on the latter has been less ambitious, if still skillfully told. In fairness, Brubaker finished the arc leading to “Return of the King” with a clever twist on an old story (The Hand targeted Murdock because they wanted to make him into their leader). If “Return of the King” ends with a similar inversion of stock plotlines, Brubaker might yet have a Daredevil story that stands equal with the ones it resembles.

*Who gained new life** through parody as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adversaries The Foot Clan. The more you know-!

**Pun intended. A person actually does gain new life as part of The Hand–each member is killed and resurrected during initiation. The more you know-!

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