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Diana dances with the Devil by the pale moonlight, 8/8

Brian Hibbs

I have mixed feelings about DAREDEVIL #99.

On the one hand, Ed Brubaker’s decision to gradually move away from the Frank Miller paradigm is commendable; it’s always nice when writers remember there’s more to Daredevil’s history than the Kingpin, Bullseye and Elektra. And if, when he first started out, Brubaker relied on some of those familiar icons, he’s now making a point of using new characters, and old-timers who never really had a chance to dominate the page while Miller’s definitive A-listers were around. Spotlighting these less-popular individuals puts some variety and unpredictability back into the equation.

Of course, the flip-side of that decision is that once you start bringing in villains and supporting characters who haven’t been around in any meaningful capacity for a while, reintroduction is necessary. You can’t just assume that your readers will peg the Enforcers on sight, or that they’ll recognize the significance of the name “Cranston” without any context. This issue marks a rare misstep for Brubaker, in that he ends the issue (and the arc) on a cliffhanger that doesn’t work if you don’t know who you’re looking at. No one explicitly identifies this character, whose appearance is very similar to another Marvel villain… it’s kind of a mess.

But all that really does is downgrade the issue to GOOD rather than Very Good; Brubaker’s a master at this sort of slow-burn criminal conspiracy thing, and the consistency of Michael Lark’s artwork lends an appropriately dark and murky quality to the story. I also like how our expectations are being toyed with in very subtle ways – I’d grown so accustomed to Milla being an annoying prat that I never thought there might be a deeper reason behind her latest string of freak-outs; and while Lily Lucca seems to fit the “femme fatale” archetype to a T, she might actually be telling the truth when she says she’s not interested in disrupting Matt’s marriage. It’s these little things, as well as the more grandiose unveiling of master plans, that make DAREDEVIL worth a read every month.

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