spoilers to follow
When it comes to comic books, there are some characters I feel like an authority on. When talking to others about the X-Men or Batman, I simply assume I’m the bigger fan and work from there. There’s only one other character I feel like I know as well as those two.
He’s one of my favorite superheroes. He’s street-level, stubborn and self-destructive. He has one the coolest costumes out there and can scare the pants of criminals. He’s a lawyer and a ninja. He’s not as heartless as Batman is often played up to be and he’s big into changing people’s lives, not just locking them away. He’s deals with Bullseye, the Kingpin, the Owl, Elektra, Typhoid Mary, the Hand and general crime on a nightly basis. He’s blind. He’s awesome. I discovered Matt Murdock when I was a teenager, just getting into comics. I started with the movie, pointed my interest towards Frank Miller’s run and went from there. I found the character relatable and inspiring. He was more interesting than all the other heroes out there.
So, when I don’t like a Daredevil comic, I tend to think my opinion is in the right.
Daredevil: End of Days is a bad comic book. But, on Goodreads, it has a four star average. People seem to like it. I read a five star review for the last issue. Either I’m wrong or the world is wrong. Well, like Murdock, I’m a bit stubborn. The world has no idea what it’s talking about.
I was excited to pick the trade up from the library. Brian Micheal Bendis was back and his run on Daredevil is incredible. Just thinking about the concept of this story, the last Daredevil story, caused my imagination to run wild. The art is gorgeous. It had things going for it before I even opened it up.
Then I opened it up. The warning signs were right there. The story begins with the last fight between Daredevil and Bullseye. Bullseye kills Daredevil, but not before Matt says his final word, Mapone. From this simple beginning, I already had two problems. The first being how Daredevil died. Bullseye jams a rod through his head. It’s bloody, it’s gruesome and it’s an example of the problems I’m having with modern comics. Superheroes used to die in heroic, operatic ways. They wouldn’t be simply stabbed or shot. They would be consumed by an alien energy, while holding it back to keep Earth safe. They used to close portals and sacrifice themselves doing it, they used to mean something. But today, when we know a hero will always come back from the dead, if a writer really wants to convince us the character is dead, he has to kill the hero in a realistic and unquestionable way. A hero can come back through a portal, but the can’t come back from a rod in their brain. And that’s how Bendis kills Daredevil; unheroically and saving no one in his sacrifice. And with that, Daredevil is written out of the next seven and half issues about his final days.
Which brings me to the second problem I have. Ben Urich discovers Daredevil’s final word, Mapone, and begins his search to what it might mean. With that, the Citizen Kane comparison is made and Bendis pats himself on the back for being so clever to borrow from such a famous movie. The problem is, is that there are no hints or answers given. The next seven issues are other characters from Daredevil’s life talking about life and themselves, not Matt or his death. They all think they know the meaning of ‘Mapone’ but wont tell us. It dawned on me that when the Punisher is the brightest and optimistic guest star in your story, you’re doing something wrong. Throughout the story, Bullseye kills himself because of the meaning of Mapone. In the seventh issue, Ben is kill by the Hand.
So, with one issue left, Bendis tries to seal the deal on how awesome his book is. The new Daredevil is Ben Urich’s son, who means very little to the rest of Daredevil’s lore. Then, we learn the true meaning of Mapone, the secret being it’s the name of Daredevil’s blind and skillful daughter. And the book ends.
Why would Bullseye kill himself? If, lets say, he knew the meaning of Mapone, we would be led to believe that he killed himself because he could never fully beat Daredevil, because of his legacy. Which wouldn’t make sense for Bullseye, because he would just go off and try to kill Mapone and the new Daredevil. Bullseye isn’t the Joker, he doesn’t require Daredevil to exist. If anything, he would see a new Daredevil as a new toy to kill. Bullseye’s suicide is an out of character misdirection with no fulfillment. So, now, not only is Daredevil’s death meaningless, but so is Bullseye’s.
A big problem with this story is that Bendis, who should know the character better than this, treats Daredevil like Batman. Batman would train new kids, he would cement his legacy, he would take pride in Batman never dying because he’s a symbol. That’s Batman. Daredevil is not a legacy hero and he’s never been much a symbol. He’s a much more personal character than that. His last story should be all about his last fight. It should be his last match, like his father, who played a bigger role in his life than this comic would have you believe. And I don’t care what future you’re in, people would go to his funeral.
Instead of something that would make for a good, final Daredevil story, Bendis gives us a mystery that has no real clues and a useless ending. He gives us a gritty vision of the character’s future that seems outdated. His lawyer career and his conflicting faith are never touched upon. End of Days tries to show us that Daredevil didn’t really matter, that Matt only made life worse for others and left a lot of bastard children around. It’s a shame.
But at least this means there’s room for a better end for Daredevil. Maybe Bendis will leave the character alone now, Maybe, after we were shown a darker, but pointless future, there’s room for a brighter present.