Dark, violent, somber, gritty—all of these words would be good adjectives to describe the tone of this comic. These are elements I love, yet find missing from many Marvel titles—but they are all present and accounted for right from the brutal opening sequence of Daredevil: End of Days #1. As if you can’t tell from the cover art and title, Daredevil: End of Days tells the (out of continuity) story of Daredevil/Matt Murdock’s demise. This story is told through the perspective and writing of reporter, Ben Urich. Though racked with guilt and despair, Urich has been tasked with writing an article for a dying newspaper which will detail the story of how “The Man Without Fear” got to this point. His piece will serve as a requiem to the fallen hero. I couldn’t help but wonder if including the backdrop of a dying newspaper is a pontification by the writers on the transformation from print to digital format slowly taking place in the comic book industry. Urich’s investigation will prove difficult, but eventually wind up uncovering a mystery to be solved.
The writing in Daredevil: End of Days is excellent. Though the timeline of the plot jumps around a bit, the story flows and is really coherent, making it easy to follow. Bendis and Mack have both done a wonderful job with Daredevil in the past, and together they promise to bring something special to this story. Daredevil’s origin and history is touched upon, making End of Days totally accessible to new readers without getting too bogged down by rehashing prior events which would be familiar to longtime fans. The exposition, “written” by Ben Urich’s reporter character, is somber and detailed while being lean, mean, and economical style of prose (Hemingway would certainly approve). At times the dialogue is explosive, showing us an extreme, not watered-down, and completely bad-ass side of Daredevil that I absolutely love. This debut issue is balanced nicely by offering readers an instant hook to pique our interest, a solid background that lays the foundation for this miniseries, exciting action, and real substance that quickly advances the story.
The artwork holds up nicely on its end as well. It should go without saying that Klaus Janson is no stranger to Daredevil. Together with Frank Miller, he helped to define and forge the modern character that fans know and love. Here his pencils crackle with manic energy. Bill Sienkiewicz adds the finishes, as well as juxtaposed paintings throughout the issue. The layouts are varied and interesting, running the gamut from splash-pages and spreads, to more tradition pages, and even a couple of pages with 16 panels. My only real criticism of the art would be that at times Daredevil looks ridiculously muscular for my personal tastes. On one page (which I have included below) his biceps appear to be larger than his thighs. Let it be noted, however, that the image I included is the most extreme example in this issue. Overall, the art is quite good and I enjoyed it.
If it can keep up this momentum, End of Days has the potential to take a place in the upper pantheon of the best Daredevil stories of all-time. The public reception to Daredevil: End of Days appears to be overwhelming positive, with people in comic shops talking about it reverently and the social networks abuzz with praise. Hell, even I felt compelled to write an extremely positive review (and if you know me and what comics I normally choose to review, that really speaks volumes). I also appreciate the fact that this buzz seems to be generated organically by the fans, and not by having it repeatedly shoved down our throats with advertising oversaturation (I’m looking at you AvX and Marvel NOW!). Good work should always rise on its own merits, and this is the case here. Daredevil: End of Days #1 just might be the best comic I read last week. I highly recommend checking it out.