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Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age
Review by David E. Miller

Story
Daredevil Vol. 11 Review: Cover Image
Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age

Story
Brian Michael Bendis
 
art
Alex Maleev
 
Colors
Dave Stewart

Publisher
Marvel Comics
 
Format
Softcover Collection
 
Publish Date
May 4, 2005
 
Cover Price
$13.99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Take a deep breath before plunging into the best creative team to encounter Daredevil since Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen. This Golden Age storyline dives right into all of the issues that writer Brian Michael Bendis has been exploring since he blessed this character with his writing prowess. The microwaved story so far: Matt Murdock has been married and divorced, outed by the press as Daredevil, defeated Wilson Fisk — the Kingpin, and taken over as the new Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. Confused? Reward yourself by reading the previous ten volumes and thank me later. If you are up to speed and are not sure if you want to continue, then let me give you a teaser — this story gives the origin of the Kingpin before Fisk, complete with flashbacks that mimic the art of the era in which the story is taking place. Still not convinced? Read on.

It is important for the reader to keep the storylines and timelines in order throughout this story because Bendis jumps back and forth many times. No worries though, you’ll be wide-eyed the entire time. Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age (which collects issues 66-70), begins with an old man being dropped off in modern day Hell’s Kitchen by his parole officer. Directly from jail, Alexander Bont has no conception of the current world. As the first flashback begins, the world turns black and white and we see a young Bont catch a lucky break in escaping from The Angel(yes, the same Angel from Timely’s Marvel Mysery Comics). The story then moves back to color, but rather the silver age, as Daredevil encounters Bont as the Kingpin. It turns out that Daredevil put Bont away, and Matt Murdock refused to be Bont’s lawyer.

In the present, before Bont gets out of jail he learns that Murdock and Daredevil are one and the same and he wants revenge. Badly. Bont knows he can’t do it alone so he strong-arms the services of the Gladiator, aka Melvin Potter. You won’t want to miss what Potter actually does as a day job. In the meantime, Daredevil is still fighting the press rumors, and takes on a pupil. Bont and the Gladiator capture Murdock and almost kill and humiliate him. Without further disrespecting Bendis, the story continues in a very textured manner and simply must be read.

Daredevil Vol. 11 Review: Interior ImageBendis’ run on Daredevil is very special. Many writers take a character and put their own spin on them but do not leave the character any better off as a persona. Bendis approaches from another angle. He respects where the character has been and what other writers have put them through. He then takes that and develops it to create a richer character that is infinitely more human once he is done with it. Bendis then takes other characters in that hero’s world and develops them as well. What the reader is left with is a densely created world in which these full characters inhabit. Therefore, their problems seem more real and the reader cares more about them.

In this story, Daredevil is faced with a number of problems all at once, and the true pleasure derived in reading it is to see him come out, despite insurmountable odds, on top. It gives hope to the common man to see a hero with a perceived handicap triumph time and again. In Golden Age, Daredevil finds another demon from his past that has come back to haunt him and the way in which the elements in his life pull around him to help him succeed make this a story worth reading independently as well as part of the phenomenal series that Bendis has written.

Art

Daredevil Vol. 11 Review: Interior Image 2Alex Maleev compliments Bendis like few other creative teams. It is almost as if Bendis dreams in Maleev’s artwork. A flashback can be a very delicate event when put in the wrong artists’ hands, but Maleev effortlessly is able to allow the reader to ‘get’ what is going on. Any fan of the golden and silver ages will immediately recognize that Maleev is taking the reader back in time in order to better transport them to the era in which the characters are developing.

The world of Daredevil is gritty and dark, and Maleev is able to capture this noir with his attention to detail. It’s the little things that are important in the metropolitan city that Matt Murdock inhabits. The art captures this detail to the extent that the characters almost seem animated against a photographic background. All of these elements add up to a heart racing cinematic experience that brings anticipation with each page turned.

Capturing the colors of the different eras in tone and clarity is no small task, but Dave Stewart seamlessly makes the many transitions necessary. The reader will feel like they are traveling in a windowless time machine as the eras move back and forth.

Bonus Features
Unfortunately, there aren’t any. It is fantastic that Marvel has the marketing foresight to publish these collections in conjunction with or soon after the last collected issue hits the stands. However, even including something as simple as artists’ conceptions of characters or pin-ups would greatly add to the appeal of the collection. Any additional carrot that lets the reader know that you are willing to go that extra mile can go a long way.
Final Words

Bendis continues in his ability to innovate and take his characters to the next level. He gives the reader an intimate portrait of each character and allows them to feel that they can identify with each character on some level. The writers who have written the best Daredevil storylines have been the ones that have explored why this man is without fear and the lengths he is willing to go to to prove it. It is true that this storyline is not for those looking for traditional action comic flare, but rather for the intellectual reader who is willing to explore why a man becomes a hero or a villain. This is one of the strongest storylines in what will surely be regarded as a classic arc of this storied character. Bendis’ gift is that he regards and respects the history of the character and never takes a cheap or easy shortcut to bringing out the best in Daredevil. Simply put, a person would have to be blind to ignore Bendis’ run on Daredevil, and Golden Age is no exception.

Highly Recommended


David E. Miller (email) has been involved in the comic book industry for almost 20 years. He started out attending Serendipity Comic Book Conventions in Suburban Philly and befriending top independent creators like Reggie Byers(Shuriken for Comico). He parlayed his industry expertise into recruiting the Honorary Board for the New York City Comic Book Museum. His highest related achievement was sitting down with Stan Lee in his studio office for an hour talking history. His lowest was selling off most of his collection in High School.
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