Thursday, August 03, 2006

THE MURDOCH PAPERS

Daredevil: The Murdoch Papers is the last collection of the Bendis/Maleev run. It's been a strange run. I've enjoyed most of the "Daredevil's secret identity is publicly revealed" story. The idea that the revelation would cause Matt Murdoch, trial lawyer, to sue the paper that done did the revealing for libel and defamation was a pretty great one. Bendis' ability to capture the surface qualities of David Mamet's dialogue creates a wonderfully bouncy soundscape for the characters to opperate in. His decision to make Daredevil become increasingly more effective as a vigilante, but less effective as a human being was interesting as well. Bendis even took it so far as to have DD assume the role of his most hated enemy: the Kingpin of Crime.

It was all enjoyable super hero noir stuff until the creators made the strange decision to jump the story one-year later and skip the whole experience of seeing Daredevil become this new thing. We got a bit of a he-said, she said look at that year in Decalogue, but that story just turned out to be a bit of a shaggy dog tale. That story really seemed to suck the momentum out of the series, and I'm not sure I would have picked up the latest book if I hadn't been bored out of my mind at work.

In this collection, the FBI investigating Daredevil, ninja exgirlfriend Elektra, superspy exgirlfriend Black Widow and the Kingpin return to play out the endgame for this story. It's all fairly well-plotted out with the Kingpin manipulating several chess pieces (or checkers pieces...) to acheive his dual goals of freedom and ridding himself of the devil. There's a wonderfully ridiculous scene involving SWAT teams fighting ninjas fighting superheroes fighting supervilains. There's a number of scenes where Murdoch's wife keeps getting in the way of the superheroing. There's some good plot twists. There's Night Nurse.

What there isn't, after all these issues (55), is a stable of really interesting characters. There's Murdoch. The entire series is about him. We see his character mostly through others' eyes, but we never really see the filter. They're all cyphers for an answer set. Characters' feelings for Daredevil are x. Their treatment of his secret identity is y. Add some other stuff in there and solve for x and y. Then you take all the possible Xs and all the possible Ys and you plug each response into a character without really giving us more of the character.

This series, a sequel to Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and David Mazzuccheli's runs twenty years ago doesn't give us what those series did. They took the joke character of the Kingpin and turned him into a crime lord and human monster. They made Bullseye a super assasin who actually assassintated. They gave us ninja fatale Elektra. They redefined beat-reporter Ben Urich. Bendis doesn't really give us that. He transforms Murdoch, and that story is quite enjoyable and he gives us twists on old characters and gives us some new ones, but none of them seem real. None seem to have a life outside of what they think about Daredevil.

It's a good, fun book, and the ending is an interesting way to go with the story. But in the end, I'm not sure if it was everything it could have been.

3 Comments:

Blogger Marcos Perez said...

can i borrow that? and the comics jornal 30th (only if your down).

im cheap! ill return your sloth.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Marcos Perez said...

done not down

3:05 PM  
Blogger Justin J. Fox said...

I'm done enough. I'll bring'em cause I'm down.

4:54 PM  

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