Daredevil vol 2, #26 is the first issue of Brian Michael Bendis’s long run on the book. He had written a previous story arc called Wake Up (issues #16-19) with art by David Mack, but this issue was the beginning of the “Bendis run proper,” with Alex Maleev on art duties.
Bendis definitely changed the tone of Daredevil while on the book, and you feel that change right off the bat in this issue. Daredevil comes across as a different kind of superhero book that appeals to the mature reader in both content and style. This is reflected in Maleev’s realistic-looking art, complete with a washed out and gritty feel.
You also get a taste of that typical Bendis style dialogue in this issue. While it tends to get annoying in his Avengers books and elsewhere, it works pretty well here and gives the reader a sense of the characters being real people.
Here, we are introduced to Sammy Silke, the man who will be instrumental in Matt Murdock’s subsequent downfall. A small-time crook with ties to an influential mob family, he gets his fellow mobsters together to “do a Ceasar” on the Kingpin himself, and the events of the first half of the issue show the fat man’s apparent demise. I like the Ceasar reference, personally, and this scene feels like it’s been cut from a classic gangster movie.
For the second half of the issue, we cut to Matt Murdock delivering his closing argument in a civil case against a shady drug company. It’s a great lawyer scene and a nice introduction to the character, even though I have a hard time swallowing the premise of the case he’s arguing (a drug company selling a form of amphetamine aimed at teens lies to the FDA about nasty side effects though it seems to me that the effects of taking amphetamines would be pretty obvious and that the FDA would never approve or even look at a drug made for illicit purposes anyway).
Matt wins his case, but gets in trouble outside the courthouse when a bomb – or rather, a person – explodes. He realizes immediately that he was the intended target for this hit, and with his head still in disarray he sets out after the bomber, finding him a few blocks away…
Bendis does a fine job of getting inside Matt’s head in this issue. He gets to the heart of his confusion, both physical in his senses being assaulted by the bomb, and the unsettling feeling of knowing that the attack was aimed at him in his then-secret identity, and not at Daredevil. This is a sign of things to come, and he knows that he has reason to worry.
The art is good. Maleev did great work on Daredevil from the very beginning, but I feel that his art got better and better and must admit to liking late Maleev much better than early Maleev. There are some great panels here, but some look a little odd to me, and the art is not as dynamic as it could be. Still, it adds to the overall quality of the issue, the first of many to come.