cover image Daredevil: King of Hell's Kitchen

Daredevil: King of Hell's Kitchen

Brian Michael Bendis, . . Marvel, $13.99 (120pp) ISBN 978-0-7851-1337-9

Bendis's lengthy, award-winning crime saga comes to a close in this volume, as story lines conclude and questions are answered. Bendis has transformed Daredevil into a gritty crime novel, focusing on the inner life of the brooding hero while steeping him in the crime and gore of his Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. This installment finds Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer also known as Daredevil, the reigning kingpin of the neighborhood, having dispatched his crime boss nemesis in an earlier volume. In a well-spun morality play, Bendis asks what happens when a superhero crosses the line from defender to boss, from benevolent defensive power to real, offensive vigilante. His dialogue and pacing is among the sharpest found in superhero comics. Bendis is essentially writing a short crime film with each issue, the effect complemented by Maleev's realistic, cinematic visuals, which rely on striking dramatic compositions and lengthy closeups to tell the story. Old-fashioned cartooning and subtle characterization aren't Maleev's forte, but with such a noir story, his soot- and shadow-drenched drawings are all that are required. Still, Bendis is the star. His Daredevil is a thoroughly modern detective, and his dilemmas—personal, moral and political—seem deeply felt and relevant. (Sept.)