Review: Daredevil #116 (8.5/10)

Mar 8, 2009

Review: Daredevil #116 (8.5/10)

Mar 8, 2009

This issue is a refreshingly modern take on a comic book villain whose portrayal here is light years away from the failed evil genius bad guys of yesteryear. While I have a lot of fun reading silver age Daredevil, the villains always seem very one-note and not nearly as menacing as they (or their creators) would like to think. While Daredevil is not known for his stellar rogues gallery, his are not the only early villains who seem like parodies of themselves.

The Kingpin has always, at least in his appearances in Daredevil, come across as a rather compelling character. He is not a misunderstood looser with a basement full of reality-altering gadgets, nor an unfeeling psychopath along the lines of the two Bullseyes. Wilson Fisk is by no means a good guy or a compassionate person, but he is capable of close and even loving personal relationships. His love for his now deceased wife Vanessa is well documented, and in this story, he finds love with a new woman.

I would imagine that there are some readers who take issue with this development, but in my mind, the Kingpin is the perfect case for a closer look at the blurred line between good and evil, and why people make the choices they do. And this isn’t the first time we have seen the Kingpin in a slightly different light. Brubaker set us up for a new kind of relationship between Matt and Wilson Fisk during his first arc when the two formed an unholy alliance to escape from prison, and I think that what he has in mind for the coming issues will be something new, and I’m very curious about how this will all play out.

Another theme that is present in this issue is that of destiny. Are people destined to repeat the same mistakes, and make the same choices? Does a person’s past always catch up with them in the end? Whether or not the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ the belief that true change is impossible will keep a person stuck in the same pattern. At the end of the issue, when Fisk’s abandoned life catches up with him, it reinforces his own belief that he is useless when he is “soft” and that his power and sense of control come from being detached and drawing strength from his brutality. Do we have the old Kingpin back? Perhaps. At the same time, it is hard to look at him the same way again.

I found this issue, on the whole, to be a very tense read. In a good way. The ending is revealed at the very beginning of the issue, but rather than take away from the suspense, this plot device seems to make the story even stronger and gives the reader a sense of impending doom.

The artwork is phenomenal. The panel layouts are a little more creative than what we usually see and penciler David Aja is a true master at capturing the little moments between Fisk and his new love Marta, as well as the environment around them. It’s always interesting to see how artists choose to portray the Kingpin. When the style is more cartoonish, the Kingpin is often depicted as superhumanly large, which suits that style just fine. When the art is intended to be a closer reflection of real proportions, the artist always faces the challenge of making Fisk seem larger than life and dwarfing everyone around him without making him seem like something from another planet. I think Aja does a great job with this.

It seems like Brubaker put a lot of thought into the Kingpin’s return and what kind of man he wants him to be, and this issue also ties together the previous and current arcs in ways that don’t seem too far-fetched, while still keeping us readers in the dark about excatly what lies ahead. My interest is certainly piqued.


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