PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age

Ryan Paul

These two moments in time move towards convergence, as the story of Bont's rise and fall dovetails with Daredevil's career as a superhero.

Daredevil Vol. 11

Publisher: Marvel Knights
Subtitle: Golden Age
Contributors: Alex Maleev (Artist)
Price: $13.99
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Item Type: Comic
Length: 120
Publication Date: 2005-05
Amazon

Comic Timing

Shakespeare's Othello confronts the audience (and reader) with an interesting conundrum concerning the passage of time. The play seems to hold closely with the classical unity of time; that is, the events in the play transpire roughly over the same length of time as the actual performance. Yet, Desdemona's alleged infidelities with Cassio are described in such a manner as to imply a much longer passage of time, creating two conflicting chronologies within the play. Shakespeare's playful use of "double time" has been noted by many critics, and in fact the playwright experimented often with notions of the passage of time, perhaps most obviously in the romance The Winter's Tale, which even features Time as a character.

Comics, particularly the long-running series, feature perhaps the most complicated notion of time of any contemporary artistic media. Consider Batman, for example. Appearing first in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939, he has fought crime for over sixty years. Some of his sidekicks have matured, others have died. His past, present, and future have been explored by various writers; even alternative histories and imaginative potential futures have been told. Yet, as time marches by in his comics, he still remains somehow youthful (or at least pre-middle aged). Nearly every other comic series is rife with similar irreconcilable chronological issues, a characteristic of the medium that Bendis and Maleev attempt to use to their advantage in Daredevil Vol. 11: Golden Age.

The greatest strength of Bendis' work on Daredevil, just as on his creator-owned series Powers, is the mixture of intriguing stand-alone storylines and grand over-arching narratives. The grand story behind Bendis' Daredevil deals with problems of identity, specifically how the blind lawyer Matthew Murdock deals with his life once his secret superhero identity has been revealed (to make a long story short: denial and lawsuits). In Golden Age, this problem continues to plague Murdock as a character from a hitherto unknown past returns.

The story begins in 1946, as a small-time crook named Alexander Bont takes advantage of Lucky Luciano's deportation to consolidate his own power as New York's first Kingpin of Crime. At the same time, we also see the events of "today" as an octogenarian Bont, recently released from a multi-decade prison sentence, takes his revenge upon Murdock/Daredevil. As the storyline progresses, these two moments in time move towards convergence, as the story of Bont's rise and fall dovetails with Daredevil's career as a superhero and current struggles.

To differentiate between time periods, Alex Maleev employs three separate styles. For the 1940s, the art is a black and white, pulp-esque sketch style. While I don't know how accurate an imitation of 1940s comics this is, it certainly provides a stark contrast with the second style: Maleev's characteristic dark-hued and subtly nuanced art. The third style bridges the gap, a '60s-'70s Jack Kirby homage, complete with the "pixelated" look of newsprint comic strips.

It is in this in-between era that Daredevil and Bont meet, as an aging, established Bont begins to experience legal difficulties and runs afoul of both aspects of the title characters identity before being sent off to jail for seemingly the rest of his life. When an aged Bont learns the news that Murdock has been outed as Daredevil, he sets out to get revenge on the man who helped end his reign as crime boss. At the same time, Bont moves full circle within the arc of his own life as a villain, a life that began with the murder nearly 60 years earlier of another costumed hero. And for Murdock, he is brought again into conflict with a former enemy thought reformed, and a present-day adversary becomes, perhaps, an ally.

The logistics of the story at times detract from the gritty realism that Bendis has brought to Daredevil during his long run. Simple math highlights the implausibility of the story. Assume that Bont, when sent to jail, was roughly 50, as his visual depiction makes him appear. At the same time, a fresh-out-of-law-school Murdock was at least 25. The much-aged Bont is at least 75 in Daredevil's present day, making Murdock 50. Clearly, however, Matt is as young as ever, looking not a day over 35. Neither does his co-worker, the completely un-superheroic Foggy Nelson, appear to have aged at all. Thus we can see the "problem" inherent in superhero comics: the comics must progress in order to remain current and evolve with changing tastes, but the characters must remain in a kind of timeless limbo, aging little despite the years that go by. Bendis writes Daredevil less as a superhero book than as a true crime or mystery book, but the restrictions of the superhero genre seem to conflict with the verisimilitude required in realistic crime stories.

Despite this awkward "double time", Golden Age works successfully as an almost allegorical commentary on the passage of time itself. Time here is cyclical. Bont's life is bookended by his conflicts with two superheroes, and his inability to escape from his past traps him within the cycle of crime and death. Murdock too seems trapped, as friends become enemies, and enemies become friends, his present life continually complicated by his past. And the most important time cycle occurs outside of the boundaries of any individual's life, as the criminal world of Daredevil renews itself over and over again. Bont's assumption of power from the Luciano syndicate opened the volume, while the rise of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin who has battled for years with Daredevil, closes it out. Another major theme in Bendis' work on this title has been Murdock's attempts to end Fisk's criminal enterprises once and for all. The volume scheduled after Golden Age will tell the story of the year following what appeared to be Daredevil's final takedown of Fisk. Golden Age's close implies the rise of yet another Kingpin to take Fisk's place, and another after that. If Bendis succeeds at anything, it is foreshadowing the ultimate failure and futility of Murdock's and in fact, any hero's noble endeavors.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.