Marvel’s raft of high-numbered anniversary issues continues with this week’s Daredevil #500. It might be a fairly transparent renumbering stunt, but if I’m being honest, I prefer reverting to the original numbering over restarting from a new #1, so I’m going to let it slide without complaining.
The issue caps off Ed Brubaker’s run on the character, which followed Brian Bendis’ wildly popular turn. If I’m being honest, it’s my opinion that Brubaker’s run didn’t really live up to its predecessor, and only became interesting in the last year or so when things became a little more self-consciously superheroic. Still, Andy Diggle has already got some good Marvel comics under his belt, so I’m not sad to see the baton handed to him.
But before then – Brubaker gets to deliver his finale. It was fairly obvious from the start where this storyline was going in terms of a “shocking revelation”, but that makes the realisation of it no less brilliant. Brubaker spent a long time setting up his board, from the White Tiger and Black Tarantula, to Fisk, Foggy, Milla and Dakota. Seeing the culmination of that reminds you why Brubaker is one of Marvel’s most valued writers, and it’s just a pity it took so long to get to this point. The new status quo for Daredevil isn’t a million miles away from what Bendis did with the character, but it does feel like it’ll explore new territory, rather than simply continue the tone of the book – and if we’re being honest, that change in direction doesn’t come too soon.
As good as the writing is, it’s Lark who truly excels with some superb action scenes that display their sense of acrobatic movement exactly as a Daredevil book should. The issue is interspersed with flashback scenes, and one in particular, to Matt’s childhood, gave me a genuine jolt, when the art style switched to Romita Jr.-esque “Man Without Fear” look, apparently Klaus Janson’s inks over Lark’s pencils, although you’d be hard pressed to say it wasn’t Romita Jr. himself. It’s not unusual to concentrate more on the writing than the art when reading a comic, but that makes it a much nicer surprise when the art alone manages to shock you.
The rest of the issue is rounded out with a new story by Ann Nocenti and David Aja, a reprint of Daredevil #171, a pin-up gallery and a cover gallery of all 500 issues. Since it culminates a multi-year storyline, the lead story might not be particularly interesting to readers who turn up for the anniversary alone, but the rest of the issue should more than justify the price. Definitely worth a look.