Daredevil: End of Days #4

"Daredevil: End of Days #4" hosts a surprising number of Daredevil alumni, with Brian Bendis & David Mack co-writing and art from Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz and Alex Maleev. Had they somehow got Frank Miller into the mix, you'd arguably have the characters' main influences covering almost three decades of material. Even without Miller (although his shadow does loom over this book, unsurprisingly) it's pretty impressive to have five credited "main" creators and still, somehow, end up with a book that has such a powerfully individual feel to it.

As expected from a Daredevil book that takes a lot of its structure from Bendis, the pace is slow and deliberate as Ben Urich tries to unravel the final mystery behind Daredevil's death and the last ever word he spoke. In pursuit of the truth, this issue sees him visiting two of Murdock's most challenging foils: Bullseye and Frank Castle -- neither of who are in a condition you'd expect.

At the halfway point, what began as a compelling, Citizen Kane-style mystery has become a tense thriller, and readers, like Urich, can feel the answers slipping away as lines of enquiry are shut down and potential leads turn up dead. The investigation into Bullseye's death is a miniature piece of detective work in itself, and the truth behind it only deepens the mystery of Murdock's final words. At this point, we're probably an issue or two away from the truth beginning to reveal itself, but when the journey is so much fun, who cares about the destination?

Visually, the book is a near-perfect interpretation of the grimy, weathered version of Daredevil created by Miller and continued by Maleev. The sketchy lines and inky shading evoke the look of Daredevil's Hell's Kitchen, filtered through a few years of decline and degradation. It's not a pretty book, but it is full of character and detail, making it impossible to look away from. These aren't just backgrounds, they're depictions of entire worlds.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the miniseries is the complete lack of Murdock himself. Sure, we've had hints that he (or some other Daredevil) might be lurking in the shadows, but for a book that purports to be the "last" Daredevil story, there's actually very little of him in there. In a way, that makes sense -- Daredevil's a character who works in the shadows, using fear as a tool. And that's what he's doing now, even while dead. It's grimly appropriate, and lends a fantastic undertone in a story that might yet go down as one of the best Daredevil yarns in history. "Daredevil: End of Days" is simply a must-read for fans of the character.

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