Retro Review: Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil run
I recently purchased the first omnibus of Ed Brubaker’s Daredevil run. A friend let me read his copies of the second half and I see Marvel is poised to release the second omnibus soon. That said, I just finished reading the whole run and wanted to share my thoughts.
Ed Brubaker doesn’t split a story in splintered Tarantino like fragments and then brilliantly weave them back together in the neo-noir way that Brian Bendis so often did in his Daredevil novel, but he is a master of the raw intelligent telling of Matt Murdock’s life nonetheless. Brubaker’s Daredevil run delivers in his own unique way though it definitely at least begins on the shoulders of Bendis’ run in all the best ways.
Brubaker doesn’t cut up stories like Bendis so what that means is that your questions, which are constantly adding in number, are constantly being answered. Brubaker doesn’t dance around and foreshadow any more than necessary-this is Matt Murdock’s life in this moment. This is it in the next moment, this is what happens next and again and again and again until you realize that Brubaker deconstructs and reconstructs the character and his world as consistently and masterfully as any writer before him. Like Bendis, he has a knack for delving into the character’s rich history without it feeling like a rehash. In the same way it’s brilliant for Bendis to have put Matt through some realistic facsimile of the legal process given his circumstances, it’s brilliant for Brubaker to put Daredevil in the context of great ninjas and sensei’s in the Marvel universe, which also fits comfortably with Brubaker’s Iron Fist writing, giving geeks the satisfying cross acknowledgment of the elite members of the physical combatant community in the Marvel universe while still remaining kung fu movie entertaining every step of the way.
I first realized the straightforward brilliance of Brubaker’s Daredevil after I read his first 12 issue arc regarding Matt Murdock’s stay in prison. It is an entertaining whirlwind how he seemingly puts genies in bottles while creating new ones and is able to wrap up all of the loose ends Bendis left him with simultaneously. Lark’s art is reminiscent of Maleev but like Brubaker to Bendis, is more straightforward, often similar to the art in Brubaker’s Captain America run, which is only a good thing. Fans of Brubaker’s Iron Fist and Cap work will feel cohesion to his world of narratives. Daredevil fans will delight that Marvel chose an equally bold successor for Bendis. Because that’s what it takes to be a great Daredevil writer; boldness. You can’t be afraid to put this character through the wringer, to bring his greatest problems and fears to the forefront, to deal with what is front of you it takes at once a simplistic way to break down the many complex pieces that is Matt Murdock’s life. You have to take simple elements that were always there and do new exciting things with them. How many times have we seen these same pieces on the board move? Daredevil, Foggy, Luke Cage, Kingpin, Bullseye, Turk, the Hand…..but to use these same pieces yet have it all feel so fresh that readers still are on the edges of their seats monthly? Impressive; and it takes boldness to think the unthinkable for Matt Murdock. I’d bet it gets harder every month.
Even when Brubaker reuses old devices like an enraged Daredevil fighting desperately to save a woman he loves, it doesn’t feel like a reshash but rather a solidification of everyone (reader, protagonist, those in protagonists’ life)’s awareness of the all consuming patterns in Matt Murdock’s life all building up the bold and exciting moves Murdock is forced to make at the end of this run. Miller left Daredevil in mental anguish, then without his law license and home, Smith without the love of his life, Bendis without his freedom….Brubaker’s left him without a solid morality and I can’t wait to see where Diggle takes this next. The life of Matt Murdock continues to be my favorite epic in mainstream comic books today.