I have to say that I’m very impressed. This story featured one huge twist most of us saw coming (but one which I’ll refrain from mentioning outright to keep the spoilers to a minimum), and which Brubaker managed to make more palatable than I would have thought possible. It also featured several smaller twists that actually retroactively make the events of the last two arcs much more interesting. Some of you may remember my past complaints about Lady Bullseye’s lack of motivation or the absurdity of what she wanted from Matt. All of those pieces of the puzzle fall into place here, and at the end of the issue, we are indeed left with a new status quo. The way Brubaker makes this happen is pure genius and he really does manage to end his run on the high note we’d all wished for.
The fall-out of this issue could end up being the best thing to happen to this book in years. It could also end up falling completely flat. It all depends on what Andy Diggle chooses to do next. It’s going to demand a high level of familiary with the character to pull this off with Matt “intact,” and time will tell if Diggle’s instincts in this department are on par with his ability to write seriously intriguing plots. I will discuss the new status quo in a separate post tomorrow, where I will also talk about the Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil preview. For the purposes of this review, I’m not going to concern myself with what comes next, but about the merits of the particular issue.
Brubaker goes all out here. He ties up every single plot strand, answers every single one of my questions, and even manages to insert new fan favorite Mr Izo into Matt’s past. I was concerned that there was going to be some pacing issues here, and while some events might seem a little rushed, it’s not to the extent where it ruins the big moments in any way. The most positive thing for me was that Brubaker managed to surprise me even when I thought I’d figured out pretty well how this arc was going to end. I also didn’t think there was any way I was going to be happy with that ending or find it logical. I underestimated Brubaker. I guess this is why he makes his living writing comics while I make my living writing press releases. Amazingly, he also manages to leave the book giving Matt a most unlikely feeling of freedom and optimism, the latter being something that’s been sorely missing from this book for a long time.
Michael Lark turns in a stellar performance, as usual. The scene with Matt and Milla is gorgeous, and I’ve never seen Milla quite so beautiful. Kudos to Matt Hollingworth too for giving just the right tone to moments like these and many others. I’m so grateful that he’s staying as the colorist on this book. There are also pages of the main story by fill-in artists Chris Samnee and Klaus Janson. Both do a great job, and while Janson might be much more of a legend than Samnee, I must admit I’m a die-hard Chris Samnee fan (take a look at his blog).
Among the back-up features is a neat little story by Ann Nocenti that I really enjoyed, even though it is a tad morbid, with some great David Aja art. There is also the reprint of Daredevil #191, which I will have to review separately some time, because it is perhaps my favorite issue of all time. I will get to the Dark Reign tie-in preview tomorrow, so last, but not least, are the pin-ups and the cover gallery. First of all I want to congratulate the webmaster without fear Kuljit Mithra (of manwithoutfear.com fame) for getting his name in the credits by helping out with the covers! I only wish they were just a little bit bigger, but I guess that’s all on Marvel. The pin-ups are also a fun addition and feature some artists I haven’t seen take on Daredevil before. It was also a real thrill seeing Bendis try his hand at drawing Daredevil. I’m relieved that he left those duties to Alex Maleev during his Daredevil run, but he’s not a bad artist at all.
All in all, a very good 500th issue, and one that seems mostly well-received by the critics. I hope that Diggle will be able to fill those shoes, because, with this issue, Brubaker just made them a whole lot bigger.