Daredevil has been the center of a number of critically acclaimed tales that serve as inspiration for creators throughout the history of modern comics. Many of those creators, in turn, have found themselves blessed with the opportunity to contribute to the adventures of the Man Without Fear and have become legends in their own right. “Daredevil: End of Days” brings a handful of those creative giants together to deliver the story of Daredevil’s — and Matt Murdock’s — final days.
Any final Daredevil story has to spread the love around to those characters synonymous with the words “Daredevil” and “comics”: Bullseye and Kingpin, Foggy Nelson and Ben Urich. Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack write the final fights between Daredevil and two of the most iconic villains in his rogue’s gallery. One of those battles begins the narrative in “End of Days” when former Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, inspired by his friend Matt Murdock, sets out to tell the ultimate tribute to Daredevil.
Bendis and Mack give the story over to seasoned veteran artists Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz, who both share some history with Daredevil. Janson brings grit and grime and street-level gutter-filth-covered beauty to this book while Sienkiewicz spins it all through the psychedelic dryer. Add in some masterfully placed bonus painted panels from Sienkiewicz and this comic almost transcends the scope of its characters and creators to become an art book. Almost. Janson and Sienkiewicz break convention more than once, including one spread with thirty-two gritty, detailed panels wonderfully colored to near tangibility by “Punisher” colorist Matt Hollingsworth. The unexpected becomes the norm for this issue as the artists elect to frequently tell the story across the spread and more than a few times provide Bendis and Mack with strong enough storytelling that even sound effects aren’t required to keep the narrative moving forward.
The review copy provided to CBR included one very unfortunate typo: “sensei” is replaced by “senses,” slightly changing the context of the narrative from Ben Urich. That narrative pitches the story into past tense as Joe Caramagna employs the juxtaposition of polished cold, electric blue caption boxes that Urich uses to narrate his Daredevil piece against the dingy typeface used for Urich’s inner thoughts. Every aspect of this issue has come together to build into an unforgettable Daredevil story.
Once upon a time, this book would have been one of the wonderfully oversized softcover graphic novels Marvel pumped out in the 1980s. What it is, however, is the comic book equivalent to a greatest hits album or a gonzo final farewell stadium tour from a legendary band. This band has Janson on bass, Mack on drums, Sienkiewicz playing a mean, feedback-laced fuzzy guitar and Bendis wailing out vocals like he’s never going to do it again. If none of these creators ever touches ol’ Hornhead again, they can all rest well knowing they gave Daredevil fans an adventure on the path to immortality to become an influential Daredevil classic.