And welcome to the Twelve Days of Bendis, my little Christmas gift to you all.
For the next twelve days, following the traditional designation for the twelve days of Christmas, I will be popping out these little quick-fire reviews of one of the comics industry’s biggest names: Brian Michael Bendis.
I will be diving into twelve individual issues (provided by Pinkie) to give my thoughts and opinions on this fairly divisive story-teller. Some are good, some are bad. So, let’s get on to the review!
As these reviews are strictly about the writing, I won’t be providing a rubric. These are purely off-the-cuff, super reactionary reviews.
So, here, on the first day of Christmas, we’ll be going over Daredevil #16 from 2001.
This is an excellent issue!
Just for some background, I’ve read some of Bendis’ work before. Namely Alias and Civil War II.
One is amazing.
One is not.
The only other exposure I’ve really had is through Pinkie, who is not always a big fan of his work. From what I gather, the general consensus is that Bendis is really good with street-level heroes and intimate stories, but trash when it comes to the bigger stuff.
Luckily, this issue plays to Bendis’ strengths, and it REALLY shows.
This issue is basically all about Ben Urich, Daredevil’s favourite reporter, and his quest to discover what’s wrong with the son of a low-level costumed criminal known as Leapfrog.
Now, part of what makes this issue so compelling is the art (which is simply gorgeous – even if the artist totally stole Leo DiCaprio’s face for Peter Parker…don’t ask), but a lot of it has to do with how Bendis has handled the writing. He’s not afraid to have just panels and panels of nothing, allowing the artist to tell the story through the characters and their expressions – and I can only imagine the behind-the-scenes notes he probably left!
Despite this, there is still quite a lot of reading. The dialogue is hardly sparse, and it always serves a purpose. None of this stuff is fluff.
Something I really liked about this issue is the way Bendis shows this kid’s mental turmoil. The kid, as it turns out, is suffering some kind of catatonic episode where he just repeats this comic book-type dialogue over and over where a villain named Fury fights and defeats Daredevil. The entire opening of the issue is based around this, and it’s the only place you’ll ever see those classic super-hero-comic rectangular narrator boxes. Everywhere else, in the “real” world, if no one is speaking then there is no writing.
It’s a little thing, but it really helps to ground this narrative and make it feel more real, which in turn helps make it more unsettling. I mean, this kid is pretty young to be so obsessed with killing Daredevil.
The realistic writing paired with the ultra-realistic drawing style that makes up most of the issue come together to create this really excellent, atmospheric short story that I’m excited to read more of in the future.
We’ll be covering arguably Bendis’ most famous and beloved series, Ultimate Spider-Man!
Until then, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
- Voices are clear – you can really tell characters apart
- Story promotes intrigue
- Spooky child
- Nothing! Yet...