50 Greatest Daredevil Stories: #20-11

17. "Last Rites" (Daredevil #297-300)

Talk about being tossed into the deep end! D.G. Chichester's first story arc as the new writer on Daredevil served as a sort of reboot of the book, resolving all of Ann Nocenti's open storylines as well as walking back the changes from Frank Miller's Born Again story, as Daredevil works with a federal prosecutor to take down the Kingpin...

Chichester does a good job exploring the Kingpin's origins as his whole world falls apart around him. At the same time, though, he also does strong work exploring what it is like to be on the other side of something like this. After seeing the Kingpin systematically destroy Matt Murdock's life in Born Again, does Matt Murdock really have it in him to do the same thing to another human being? It's pretty trying on one's soul, and Chichester explores that cost nicely. Lee Weeks and Al Williamson are excellent on the artwork for the storyline.

16. "End of Days" (Daredevil: End of Days #1-8)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack with art by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz (with occasional painted pages by Mack), End of Days is a striking Citizen Kane riff with Ben Urich plating the Jerry Thompson, as he tries to piece together the meaning of Daredevil's final words, "Mapone." It is a decade or so into the future and Daredevil has been beaten to death by Bullsye. By examining his death, we get to learn more about Matt Murdock's life and, of course, the lives of the various people who have crossed his paths over the years and learn of their last interaction with Daredevil, people like the Punisher, Black Widow, Typhoid Mary, Elektra and, in this sequence, Maya Lopez...

The mystery of who the fellow running around in the Daredevil costume is the other major mystery of the book. Bendis and Mack make a shocking narrative choice at the end of #7 that I found quite bold.

15. "The King of Hell's Kitchen" (Daredevil Vol.2 #56-60)

This was a very clever storyline where Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev deal with the repurcussions of having made Daredevil the new Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. The theory is that during all of Bendis' run up until this point, Matt was basically still dealing with the death of Karen Page back in the first story arc of this volume. That is not to say that Bendis is necessarily agreeing with Ben Urich that Matt suffered a nervous breakdown, per se, but that he definitely is still dealing with Karen's death and that is affecting all of his actions since. That's an inventive approach for the Matt Murdock character and I was really impressed that Bendis came up with that for this arc. This story also deals with Matt Murdock slowly but surely being forced to embrace his superhero identity after a year of "just" being the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. It's so rare to see a superhero say, basically, "I screwed up," and yet that's the basis for this storyline. Very cool stuff. Plus you get to see Maleev draw some awesome superhero action as Matt and his hero friends defend Hell's Kitchen from the Yakuza, who had decided to take over from Matt...

In a lot of ways, THIS is the climax of Bendis' run on Daredevil, with everything else being the falling action and the denouement.

14. "The Murdock Papers" (Daredevil Vol.2 #76-81)

Speaking of denouement, that would be "The Murdock Papers," the final storyline of Bendis and Maleev's run, as the Kingpin shows up to offer the FBI quite a deal. In exchange for immunity, he will deliver "the Murdock papers," proof positive that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. The FBI had been embarrassed for quite a while trying to prove it, so even though the deal is a messed up one, they accept it. This then leads to Daredevil trying to find those papers first, with the help of his former loves, Elektra and Black Widow...

But is the Kingpin playing a whole other kind of game? This storyline managed to both wrap up Bendis and Maleev's run while giving incoming writer Ed Brubaker one heck of a place to start off his own run on the book.

Read on to the next page for #13-11!

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