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Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age by Brian Michael Bendis


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

Expectations.

Sometimes, it's all about expectations. A mediocre book by one of my favorite authors is a greater disappointment than a poor book from a writer who's new to me. And a great book by a new author can be a greater thrill than an equally great book from an author that I know.

Which isn't to say that Daredevil: Golden Age is great, mind you. It's just that Marvel and DC have churned out so many steaming piles of dung in the form of graphic novels, that a relatively good one comes as a positive shock.

As this one was. To my amazement, it was actually well-written, funny, and even pretty intelligent. It managed to avoid the many cliches of the genre. I was - I'll admit it - even a bit impressed! And that's all the more surprising to me because I've never been much of a fan of Daredevil as a character.

To the specifics: the book deals with some of the history of Daredevil and Hell's Kitchen, the area that he...protects, I guess you'd call it. The art style is very reminiscent of the style used in Frank Miller's Batman: Year One; I call it it the prune face school of art, because most characters look like an implosion of wrinkles like the villain Pruneface in the old Dick Tracy comics. The exception is the hero(es) and their romantic interests; they're relatively smooth and cleanly-drawn. As you might guess, I'm not a huge fan of that particular art style.

The storyline itself has been put through what I like to call the Ronco Plot Disjoint-O-Matic. That is, the plot jumps back and forth between relatively ancient history (many years ago), less-ancient history (some years ago), recent history, and "now". The art style changes to reflect the era that's being represented, which is actually a nice touch; I liked it. Ancient history was black and white, and it worked well for me.

But while I understand the use of flashback and telling the story out of chronological sequence, I think that tool was overused here.

That was the bad side of the book from my perspective, neither complaint being particularly damning. The good side? The dialog never insulted my intelligence. The "ancient history" segments were actually refreshing; instead of battling each other, the heroes actually battled crime - organized crime. And yet Bendis was able to make that interesting. The whole thing had more of a "real" feeling to it than 97% of the comics that I've read (leaving out Alan Moore, that is).

Now that I think of it, there was a bit of a hero-vs-hero battle - but it's impressive that I didn't realize it until this moment. Even so, it was very well handled. In fact, it was part of the best sequence in the book: a delightfully terse and convincing explanation of why some people put on tights and fight crime.

It may be worth mentioning that Spiderman make a short appearance, and adds a very nice touch of humor to the book.

All in all, if you're tired of the cliches of the superhero genre (or of poorly handled cliches), I'd say that Daredevil: Golden Age is well worth checking out. It's not utterly self-contained; clearly it's part of a continuing story. But even though I'm relatively ignorant about the character, I found it easy to follow the plot and very enjoyable. I plan to check out other books in the series.

In a fractional system I'd have given this a 3.5. To be honest, it might even deserve a 4.0...but I'm trying not to be swept away in reaction to my original low expectations.

View all my reviews.
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