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Daredevil: End of Days #5 – Bendis & Mack Unchained

This doesn't actually happen in the book. But maybe this cover is foreshadowing. Gruesome, ain't it?

Daredevil: End of Days #5

Daredevil: End Of Days can’t end fast enough for me. I don’t say that in a negative light, I say it because the suspense of what exactly Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack are doing here is killing me. As End Of Days continues, they shed more and more light on the nature of the beast but never reveals it. Is this a story about a world without heroes? Is it a story about the breakdown of the superhero and villain psyche once they’ve outlived their usefulness? Is it just the story of reporter Ben Urich tracking down the last true mystery from a world already shrouded in shadow? With each issue we get a new answer but also new questions.

The dystopian future is here. Ben Urich is old. His best days of journalism are behind him. Now, in the twilight of his existence, he’s faced with a final mystery. On the day Daredevil was killed by Bullseye, he uttered the word “Mapone.” The word had such power over Bullseye that it forced the hit man to kill himself by ricocheting a bullet of four walls in a cheap motel. End Of Days #5 opens with Urich finding this out from an imprisoned Punisher. According to the former vigilante, Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, had dirt on everyone he ever fought. Punisher claims to know what “Mapone” means and why it drove Bullseye crazy.  He also dances around the issue that Murodock was secretly training a Daredevil replacement.

Naturally, Punisher isn’t talking. Instead, he uses Urich as a patsy to escape prison. Once out, he returns to killing those he deems necessary to die. Through a series of events, Urich is tossed out of a hospital window. While contemplating his own death, Urich looks up to see Daredevil rushing down to save him.  Is this one of the trainees Punisher was talking about, or is Urich imagining things just before the end? Probably the latter, but with End Of Days, anything is possible.

Outside of the simple mystery, Bendis and Mack do a great job of presenting the melancholy of a world without heroes. One particularly moving scene is a simple recorded message left by Peter Parker telling Ben he can’t help him. It’s not a complex scene, but there’s a desperate sadness to Peter’s “Voice” that is upsetting. It feels like the heroes have given up, not just faded away. If they manage not to screw up the ending, Daredevil: End Of Days could be one of the best series of 2013.

The art is in interesting brew of images. Klaus Janson handles the pencils, while Bill Sienkiewicz does the full color painted splash pages. Both artists ping pong off each other well. Janson tells the lion’s share of the story with his inspired noir style. The saturated rain, the heavy feeling of melancholy, it all works beneath the foundation of masterfully well done human forms and action scenes. It’s beautiful work for a story that never ceases to gripping and exciting.

9

(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)