Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Golden Age: Part 1 of 4
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Alex Maleev
Colored by: Dave Stewart
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Jennifer Lee
Publisher: Marvel Comics/Marvel Knights
Alex Maleev, step forward and take a bow. You deserve it for this issue.
Working in three different styles, his “typical” style, black and white art vaguely reminiscent of Bendis’s own from Torso, and the benday dotted (yup that is what those little dots are called) art reminiscent of pulp comics of yore, Maleev’s art chronicles three eras in the history of Hell Kitchen through the eyes of former mob boss (the kingpin before Kingpin, if you will) Alexander Bont. He nails each period and each style with equal finesse and talent. I have always enjoyed Maleev’s work, but this effort shows that he does have the ability to take his art in different directions, a skill that always impresses me.
Of course, impressive or not, the art would not mean a thing without the words to back it up. Bendis this time out is surprisingly sparse with his dialogue. Unlike Murdock, whose inner thoughts provide the narrative backbone to most of Bendis’s run, Bont has no such running commentary on his life. The bulk of his lines are seen in flashback until the final few panels where he reveals to a former partner just what he is looking to do now that he is out of the joint.
In addition to a far more quiet POV character, Bendis also makes the decision to be economic in his exposition. The art, as prior mentioned, makes it clear which era the action is taking place in. Much of the action allows you to infer the events that follow and what occurs in the gaps between the three eras, but inference is all the reader has. Events, heretofore, speak for themselves and their overall context is only beginning to take shape.
This is not what I was expecting from chapter 1 of this new arc, but, admittedly, I’d be hard pressed to verbalize what my expectations would have been anyway. The important thing is that the Daredevil creative team has succeeded again in crafting an open chapter that tells much, reveals little, and draws the audience in closer. For those who have complained that it has felt as though the title has been spinning its wheels as of late, this story does feel like a genuine departure of the “is he or isn’t he Daredevil” mega-arc that seemed to have come to a close last issue. Thus, it is a good jumping on or jumping back on point for those not currently buying the book.
On another note, doesn’t old Bont look a lot like Robert Duvall. Nothing to do with anything, just an observation.