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review 2017-06-24 21:17
Daredevil vol. 12: Decalogue by Bendis & Maleev
Daredevil, Vol. 12: Decalogue - Alex Maleev,Brian Michael Bendis

I liked this a lot better than most fans do. I think it might be lowered expectations, having already read it and there being quite a few years between then and now. I understand that the promise of learning what happened in the "missing year" was far too intriguing, and the actual payoff being something like the Doctor Who episode Love & Monsters was ultimately disappointing for most readers. But, for me, the result was a personal story, and a fairly bizarre one--one of the stranger one, actually, in Bendis' run. An enjoyable, standalone story that I like considerably more than most of fandom.

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review 2017-06-16 19:50
Daredevil vol. 13: The Murdock Papers by Bendis & Maleev
Daredevil, Vol. 13: The Murdock Papers - Alex Maleev,Brian Michael Bendis

An absolutely fantastic high note to end on, with a surprisingly inevitable conclusion that refuses to "comics" its way out of the hole that Matt has pretty much dug himself into. Anytime there's a ton of Elektra, I'm happy, and this run was good to Natasha, too (though I remember being hugely amused by the banter, and now it just makes me cringe. I never want to read the term 'ninja skank' again.)


This review took me a while to build to, and it wasn't because of the material, but because, the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to write about hero worship. Though I'd read comics all throughout the 90's, specifically X-Men and anything else I could get my hands on from Marvel, it wasn't until the early 2000's that I found comics that really changed me.


The Marvel Knights imprint was a huge part of this. I actually own all of Ennis' Punisher, every volume, which, even when I was young and slightly spoiled by my parents, was an indulgence. But I've read them to death, and they had me convinced, for a long time, that Ennis could do no wrong. This is... obviously not true. The MAX extension of his run on Punisher taught me that, though that's still pretty exceptional, it began to miss his humor. And then I read Crossed and realized that his sense of humor had just become laughing at every and anyone who was offended and/or sick at the extreme ideas he keeps throwing at you.


Between Bendis' run on Daredevil and the Marvel Knights Elektra that he penned, I had the same sort of blind admiration for him. Of course, reading Daredevil now from the beginning, older and more mature, and not just infatuated with what he was doing I see the many cracks in the facade. But is that necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't dim my enjoyment of it, though I did get that WHAT WAS I THINKING? feeling an awful lot. It doesn't change the way it hit me back then, or what it meant to me, or even my desire to reread it. Being able to see it critically is actually a boon to the material.


And, hey! At least they're not Gail Simone, whose writing never let me down, but her fervent defense of Barbara regaining the ability to walk, and the way she interacted with disabled fans about it, turned me off of her personally, and that is much, much worse.

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review 2017-06-06 19:30
Daredevil vol. 11: The Golden Age by Bendis & Maleev
Daredevil, Vol. 11: Golden Age - Alex Maleev,Brian Michael Bendis

Did I just give a Bendis/Maleev Daredevil three and a half stars? Yes, yes I did. Because it's a short arc and padded with a lot about Alexander Bont, the kingpin of Hell's Kitchen before Wilson Fisk (and, in this run, Matt as well.) Using an experimental format of showing Bont's rise to power in black and white, and Daredevil's past with him (and Melvin Potter aka Gladiator) being presented in sort-of vintage dot-color, it recaps their history with one another and... it's underwhelming.


Really, this was only ever going to be of interest to a die-hard DD fan, and even I felt my attention waning. In the present, Bont, using Potter, captures Matt and has Melvin beat the ever loving crap out of him, and then decides to expose him. There isn't much here. Matt's in peril, and then he's... not, saved partially by bureaucracy and Agent Del Toro, who's also found herself the new inheritor of the White Tiger amulet's power (Tamora Pierce wrote an exceptional run of comics about Del Toro as the character, but that was pretty much the extent of her time as White Tiger before Marvel gave the mantel over to her niece Ava Ayala.)


The end! It's well done, but not particularly interesting.


My library is missing the next volume, so I'm attempting to ILL it, which is taking forever, and I might just end up reading the last volume of the Bendis/Maleev run before I get my hands on it. Sighs. 

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review 2017-06-06 19:19
Daredevil vol. 10: The Widow by Bendis & Maleev
Daredevil, Vol. 10: The Widow - Alex Maleev,Brian Michael Bendis

So, Milla files for annulment, on account of Matt's mental problems being the

false pretenses' under which he married her, and Matt torments himself, torn between his reverence for the sanctity of marriage and love for Milla, and respecting her enough to give her what she wanted. Meanwhile, Natasha Romanova aka The Black Widow is on the run from her own agency and decides to hide in plain sight. With Matt.


Published as a 40th anniversary special for Daredevil, it works because it doesn't necessarily have that big sort of celebration feel to it; it's very much still in tune with the tone of Bendis' run on the comic, somber, dark and semi-realistic but stylish artwork, and that oftentimes rapid-fire banter between the characters. There's plenty of action, with DD and Widow running around, having adventures, and it does have a great sense of fun.


And herein I realized my biggest problem with the way Milla was being written: she's held in too much reverence to banter with Matt the way Foggy and Nat are, she's too serious, and her scenes far too weepy and tense, and it's seemingly made her lose all of her personality. It wasn't that way in the beginning, but she's suffering from the curse of the good girl, being held as an example of what men should aspire to instead of being any sort of fully realized and complex character.


Spoiler: Matt grants her the annulment because he does really love her, and she's shocked and presumably realizing that they're still in love, even after telling him that she could live without him. I know it's that, If you love someone, set them free aesthetic, but it seems particularly shallow here.


The collection ends with a series of vignettes by different artists (all written by Bendis) of how other characters in the Marvel universe reacted to Matt's being outted, as well as a few "missing scenes." They're well done, but nothing necessarily to write home about. They add texture, and they're well-written; they weren't a chore to read, but they ultimately added very little.


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review 2017-06-01 20:28
Daredevil vol. 9: King of Hell's Kitchen by Bendis & Maleev
Daredevil, Vol. 9: King of Hell's Kitchen - Alex Maleev,Brian Michael Bendis

Note: I read these slightly out of order, and Echo: Vision Quest should have been between this and Hardcore, but since it's not really addressing the overall arc, it wasn't a problem.


There was so much I loved about this. Funnier than the past volumes, specifically with Peter Parker showing up, first as part of a group that tries to stage an intervention for Matt (and I loved Stephen Strange here, too) and then, later, when they come to fight with Matt (where Danny Ran also shines).


So, since the last volume, where Matt beat the ever loving crap out of Wilson Fisk and declared himself the new Kingpin, he essentially painted a large target on his back, and the back of his wife (yes, WIFE now) Milla. It takes roughly a year after the last volume, and starts with Urich explaining all that's happened to an unknown part, who turns out to be Milla herself, who's looking for Matt.


Urich's involvement is key as, since Wake Up, he's sort of become the little world weary angel on Matt's shoulder in Bendis' run. He's someone who sees Matt from the outside, unlike Luke or Foggy, and can see the immense self-destruction that Matt is stubbornly unaware of as he barrels onward.


He thinks Matt had a nervous breakdown after Karen's death. By the end of the volume, Matt thinks he might be right. As a reader, I can say that it would certainly explain the slight shift in his personality and morality.


I remember being more sympathetic to Milla. I mean, I'm not unsympathetic. It's a lot to take in. But she's so determined to find him, to tell him how much she loves him, but then she learns that he might have had/be in the middle of having a nervous breakdown and suddenly it's, this isn't what my vows were about! I mean, it's difficult, right? Dealing with the fact that your marriage might have been the product of your spouse's nervous breakdown. And maybe I'm now looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, knowing how grossly Milla will be mishandled in the future.

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