“Daredevil: Return of the King” by Ed Brubaker

I’d nearly given up on the Daredevil series a while back, thoroughly fed up with many things, but especially the character of Milla, who the creators seemed to think was an interesting, compelling story element, rather than a whiny, clingy, bore. I was tempted back, though, by the latest collection Return of the King as it’s the last that the creative team of Brubaker, Lark and Aja are doing.

I always enjoy Lark’s art, and Brubaker is one of my favorite writers in comics these days with his work on Criminal. Still, there were a lot of elements I felt I’d been through too many times before: the Kingpin is back! Is he good or bad? Evil ninjas! Foggy and Daredevil’s girl in danger! And finally, something that’s become kind of an unfortunate hallmark of Brubaker’s run on the series: Matt Murdoch acts like a complete and utter a-hole!

The familiar story elements made me appreciate how DC has turned the Batman franchise on its head, with Bruce Wayne out of the picture, Richard Grayson in the batsuit and Wayne’s illegitimate son as Robin. These series are so old, that everything HAD been done before, and the only way to really take a new direction is to do it radically and not by halves. Brubaker’s run did have some solid elements, like Murdoch’s stay in Ryker’s. But the obsessive focus on the drippy Milla along with Murdoch’s nasty side made it hard for me to like.

Return of the King, though, was pretty good. It has the familiar elements, but it nicely ties up a lot of characters and themes from Brubaker’s run, like the Owl and Milla. And it leaves Murdoch in a very interesting place for the next team to start from. It’s not a good place to start the series (for that go back to Frank Miller’s Born Again) but for any fans who’d left during the run, it’s a good reminder that series ebb and flow, and that Daredevil, the character or the series, isn’t a lost cause.

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