Daredevil #500

I'm no fan of this renumbering nonsense, but there's little doubt that "Daredevil" #500 is one of the best Marvel comics of the year. Ed Brubaker has had a strong run on this series, and since the "Lady Bullseye" arc, and this current "Return of the King" storyline, his work has been better than ever. He seemed to break free from the post-Bendis doldrums, and so did his Matt Murdock, who ends Brubaker's run at the top of the world. Or at the top of a very twisted world of his own making.

"Return of the King" wraps up as the main story in this gigantically-oversized issue, and the all-star art team of Lark, Gaudiano, Janson, Samnee, and Azaceta illustrate a story in which plot pieces fall into place, the inevitable showdown between the Kingpin, Lady Bullseye, the Hand, and Daredevil gets explosive, and a new status quo is established just in time for Andy Diggle to take over.

We get a preview of Diggle's "Daredevil" after the Brubaker tale, and although it's nowhere near the league of the feature story (mostly because Billy Tan is no Michael Lark -- not even close -- and Justin Ponsor is no Matt Hollingsworth), it does a nice job establishing that Matt Murdock has moved past his dark, sad years. He has a renewed purpose now, and when Diggle brings in a bit of Norman Osborn and bit of the new Hawkeye (who's actually Bullseye, of course) we know that Daredevil has officially reentered the Marvel Universe proper.

It's been a great little corner of New York since the Bendis days, but it will be nice to see Daredevil get out of his own mopey little world for a while, and who better to spark some conflict that his old nemesis?

"Daredevil" #500 also includes a stunning little gem of a story by Ann Nocenti and David Aja. It's set in Daredevil's past and Aja uses a "Born Again"-era Mazzucchelli art style as his model. But he's David Aja, so he can pull it off with a verve all his own. As good as the feature story is, this little "3 Jacks" tale might be worth the $4.99 cover price all by itself. It's that impressive.

And the issue doesn't even stop there. It also includes a series of pin-ups by some Daredevil artists of yore (and even a pin-up drawn by one Brian Michael Bendis), along with a reprint of a classic Frank Miller "Daredevil" story from issue #191. All of it worth looking at. All of it worth savoring, even if the reprint is familiar to you.

This is a fine farewell to Brubaker, Lark, and Gaudiano's "Daredevil," and with its jam-packed pages, this is a comic book not to be missed.

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